My evening began “Outside the Perimeter,” in Cumming, where I was assigned to gather voter reaction:
The mood was not quite as buoyant at Spondivits up in Cumming where a host of regulars — uniformly blue collar and all McCain supporters — were prepared for defeat.
“I don’t know anyone who voted for Obama,” Forsyth County contractor Jeff Jones said. “One guy in my neighborhood had an Obama sign in his yard, but I don’t know him.”
Still, Jones predicted an Obama “blowout,” an outcome that has him concerned. He doesn’t think Obama has the necessary experience.
“Isn’t he a Muslim?” Jones asked. “That’s what everyone’s been telling me.”
Nursing a cocktail, Cindy Hazard spoke for the room.
“We’re screwed,” said Hazard, a controller for a heating and air-conditioning company.
She said the mood among her co-workers is similar to that after Sept. 11.
“Everybody’s scared,” the Cumming resident said. “I think [Obama] has misled a lot of people.”
Navy and Air Force veteran Brian Kelly said Obama doesn’t understand the importance of America’s position as a world superpower.
“I fought for America. I believe in the Stars and Bars,” said Kelly, of Cumming. “He doesn’t like the Stars and Bars.”
Despite the dire projections, the mood was not so somber.
“We’re drinking heavily,” Jones said.
Around 11:30 p.m. I rolled into downtown where I observed a party in search of a destination. The exuberance was completely rational. No one was hurt. No property was damaged. Just pure, unadulterated joy.
I immediately thought of the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” after Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch. Not sure if that makes sense, but it’s difficult describing the energy that flowed through the streets last night. I’m just glad I was there to experience it.
I felt genuine sympathy for John McCain as he delivered his concession last night. Foiled again, thanks in large part to the fiendish Dr. Moreau (Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, take your pick) and his Maji Bush 43.
McCain’s loss to Bush in 2000 revealed plenty about the GOP. Experience didn’t matter. Reform was irrelevant. Competence was an afterthought. McCain paid the price. Irony can be cruel.
That’s not to say McCain was an innocent victim. Key personnel decisions (hiring Steve Schmidt, selecting Sarah Palin) raised serious questions about his judgment.
The fat manatee and his ilk are certain to blame McCain for going too soft on Obama. As if 20 Jeremiah Wright commercials would’ve made all the difference.
You can bet the blowhards will take no responsibility for pushing McCain away from the center. Independents helped decide this election; Obama won them by five percentage points. Before this election, the thought of McCain losing indies was akin to Andrew Jackson coming up short in the South.
There was no avoiding the Republican desperation, though McCain could’ve tried harder. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, considering the GOP base is shrinking and increasingly shrill. Apologists need look no further than the crowd’s behavior — booing every mention of Obama — during McCain’s speech.
The senator from Arizona deserved better. His choice of presidential anecdote (one of my favorites) was telling: Teddy Roosevelt’s controversial dinner invitation to Booker T. Washington.
Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina warned that “the action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they will learn their place again.” Publicly Roosevelt expressed disappointment and “contemptuous indifference” to the political firestorm, defiantly proclaiming, “I shall have [Washington] to dine just as often as I please.”
Defiance inspired many of McCain’s finer moments. Too bad he couldn’t — or wouldn’t — defy his party one last time.