John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Getting on the Right Side of History

Posted on November 5, 2008



            Sometimes you are the windshield, and sometimes you are the bug, as the song goes.


            Last night, the GOP was the bug.  And we got crushed pretty convincingly.


            Watching Barack Obama give his speech last night, I couldn’t help but be moved by the historic symbolism of yesterday’s election.  I wandered down to the White House last night and saw the elation of young Democrats, students, African-Americans, and I was taken aback.   I did some international television, and you could tell how excited they were that America was taking this giant step forward.


            Had John McCain won, he wouldn’t have inspired that kind of emotion from his family, let alone the rest of the world.


            Obama is the quintessential 21st century politician, while McCain was the last gasp of the 20th century.  


            The famous golfer Bobby Jones once said upon seeing Jack Nicklaus hit a golf ball, “Nicklaus played a game with which I am not familiar."


            Obama played a political game with which the Republicans were not familiar. 


            He out-organized the Republicans at a grassroots level.  He out-raised the Republicans by hundreds of millions of dollars.  He out-communicated McCain, keeping with a disciplined message,.   McCain veered from one attack to another, ending up an incoherent mess. 


            Despite all of that, Obama won because of historic circumstances that he had nothing to do with.  It wasn’t because of Barack Obama that George Bush was so unpopular.  It wasn’t because of Barack Obama that the financial system crashed, giving the Democrat a huge advantage late in the campaign.  It wasn’t because of Obama that our success in Iraq took security off the front pages.  In fact, Obama did everything he could to stop progress in Iraq. 


            But Obama did exploit each of these opportunities to put McCain on the defensive. 


            Obama’s rhetoric is masterful.  He doesn’t say much that hasn’t been poll-tested and thoroughly vetted.  But he can sure say it with elegance and panache.


            I can’t stop thinking that I was on the wrong side of history on this one.  Thirty years from now, the election will be seen as a turning point in the nation’s journey, as a larger symbol of America acting, well, like Americans again. 


            I voted against Obama and would do so again tomorrow if I had the chance.  But that doesn’t mean I miss what his election means to our nation’s history as a symbol of progress and healing.  


            I don’t like being on the wrong side of history.  It is my hope that we as Republicans start working hard to get our party back on the right side of history again.

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