Lots to say in coming days about Obama’s victory, which leaves me feeling buoyant today despite the magnitude of the problems that await him. He delivered a fine victory speech with resonant echoes of Lincoln, King, and Kennedy. He seemed (and this is part of the Obama mystique) happy but appropriately serious and slightly detached from the celebration, as if already grappling, at least mentally, with the problems he seems eager to attack.
We don’t know right now how he will tackle the panoply of crises that face us, how (or if) he will restrain the pent-up appetites of his own party bosses, how he will extricate us from Iraq, how he will deal with the economy, whether he will assemble a bipartisan cabinet, how he will represent us in the world, or how he will educate the country as to the limitations of our power both domestically and abroad.
But whatever he does he will do with a highly capable mind, a capacity for reflection, an ability to deal with complexity, and– this is key, and was perhaps Bush’s key failing–he will be able to speak to the American people and let them know that a serious, functioning intellect is at work on their behalf. Even those who disagree with him can take comfort in knowing that he understands what he is saying. He has many of the tools that should help him succeed. Now we’ll see what he does with them.