Monday, February 9, 2009
It was only November when Barack Obama was ensconced in the bliss of not yet being President. Pre-bailout, pre-botched inauguration oath, pre-the already fulminating cries of "same old, same old," there was only victory.
There was late November, when the world rejoiced in Grant Park, the site of the music festival Lollapalooza, in a fashion heretofore reserved for rock stars and the Berlin Wall's deconstruction.
Seeing the masses whooping and hollering immediately after Obama had been declared the next President, it was difficult not to marvel at what this person meant to his fans. Election victories are usually celebrated with saccharine parties in stuffy hotel ballrooms, but this was something else. A massive block party, outdoors, in the cold of a Chicago November. This was the electorate getting its funky on to celebrate an electoral outcome. This was passion meets politic. Parlor meets party.
It was the full extent of that moment, and to be self-evidently metaphysical, that was all we had.
Obama's celebrity had been burgeoning for months, like steam billowing from a gurgling volcano. During the long campaign, remarks like, "If Obama walked into a club, he'd blow the roof off," were commonplace. Street cred was bestowed upon a candidate for the first time since Kennedy, and it quickly replaced race as the cultural superdelegate. Cachet defeated color.
How Obama fares in the crippled economy will help dictate his legacy as President. His reputation as a candidate, however, was cemented in that frigid blowout in Grant Park.
The Executive cool, rebirthed.
Stay Smitten, America