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The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama - McCain: 349 - 162 (Approximately)

I stayed up till about 04:10 last night watching the BBC's Presidential Election results broadcast, just long enough to hear Ohio called for Obama, at which time I think he he had 207 electoral college votes to McCain's 95 and the outcome seemed clear.

This morning it is all over - perhaps not technically a psephological landslide but a dramatic result nonetheless.

And the speeches... how different it might have been: it was said last night that the voice of the true McCain, the voice of the independent maverick, had been sacrificed to the perceived need to grab "the Republican base" (the base which Sarah Palin so memorably "energized") - certainly I found the negativity and, at times, nastiness of the later stages of the Republican campaign unedifying in the extreme - but in defeat John McCain seemed to have refound his voice.

I thought his conceding speech simple but powerful. McCain in defeat was a far, far better man than McCain the candidate: patriotism verging on jingoism is almost de rigueur for candidates to high office, but in his unnecessarily gracious acceptance of defeat, McCain's simpler and humbler patriotism shone through, particularly when he referred to Obama as "my president" when he could have referred to him by the formulaic phrase "next president of the United States" without ungraciousness; I warmed to him then, even as I shuddered at the contumeliousness of the response from the Republican faithful.

Had it been possible for McCain to retain his authentic voice I think the outcome could have been considerably closer.

As for Barack Obama. I'm no fan of political speechifying, but I was impressed by the powerful balance he struck: it was a speech that inspired by calling upon those qualities the American people define themselves by - strength, industry, honour, inclusiveness - without for a moment sounding like a platitudinous roll-call. He speaks well and thoughtfully, and at times movingly.

A remarkable election indeed... I feel America re-awakening, as if from a troubled sleep. America is beginning to believe again.

Historic Stuff.