Coming into 2008, my priority as CityBeat editor was implementing our “refreshment” project, with new features, an updated cover look, section fronts that made our opinion columns more prominent and a redesigned Web site. My priority as the organization’s lead editorial voice was to help get a Democrat elected president.
How did I do? I’d say I accomplished both goals, though you’re a better judge of how successful our paper and web upgrades are.
There’s no debate, however, over Barack Obama’s election as president. It was a monumental victory for hope and change over cynicism and stagnation. It was a rare win for those of us who embrace progressive values, particularly in conservative Hamilton County, where Obama became the first Democrat to win the presidential vote since 1964.
Given that CityBeat and The Cincinnati Herald endorsed Obama for president while The Enquirer backed John McCain, I definitely share in the thrill of feeling that the city and county are moving toward a more open and tolerant future. At least for this critical election.
Looking back over 2008, here were some of what I consider highlights from my editorials:
On the convergence of Fat Tuesday and the Super Tuesday primaries (issue of Feb. 6): “One of my favorite Mardi Gras sayings is from an old-line (parade) krewe whose motto in Latin translates to ‘While we live, let us live.’ With all the excitement around Super Tuesday, perhaps the presidential hopefuls might appropriate the sentiment: While we vote, let us vote!”
On the Super Tuesday results, which meant that Ohio’s March 4 primary would help break the deadlock between Hillary Clinton and Obama (Feb. 13): “The SurveyUSA poll released last weekend shows Clinton with a 56-39 percent lead over Obama in the state. It’s actually the first time Obama has been within 20 points of Clinton in any poll in Ohio since last summer. But momentum is clearly on Obama’s side. He has a chance to win every post- Super Tuesday primary before Ohio voters get a crack at the race. … The fun’s just starting. Hell, the way things are going, maybe even Indiana and Kentucky voters will have a say in May when their primaries roll around.”
Our endorsement for Obama in the Ohio primary (Feb.
20): “You can argue over degrees of difference in their plans for the economy or for dealing with immigration, but Clinton and Obama aren’t far apart on the solutions that interest progressives. So why do we favor Obama? The federal government — and the country in general — needs real change now. After 20 years of Bush/Clinton/Bush presidencies, we just can’t add four more years of another Clinton. … We offer no endorsement in the Republican primary and hope Sen. John McCain finishes a distant second in November.”
On Obama’s Feb. 25 “Rock star” campaign appearance at UC (March 5): “The parallels between music and politics have been in my head for a while. I’ve always been the kind of music fan who tried to find unknown bands and then soured on acts when they got ‘too popular.’ I seem to be the same way with politicians. I’ve voted for plenty of third party candidates and tended to back presidential long-shots like Bill Bradley, Howard Dean and Bill Richardson. I moved from Richardson to John Edwards to Obama through this Democratic cycle and settled on Obama.”
On watching the John Adams series on HBO (April 16): “Adams was pompous, ambitious and bull-headed, plus he seems to have been a poor father while a dedicated husband. His and his colleagues’ faults and rivalries had as much to do with shaping the United States as their saintly dedication to duty. Even their Constitution, which all presidents swear to defend, has been amended 27 times, so they didn’t think of everything. Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama aren’t perfect human beings, and that’s OK. They can’t be disqualified because they have faults or are ambitious or don’t have all the answers. Dedication to a higher calling, sorely lacking the past eight years, would be good enough for me.”
On Obama’s speech at the national NAACP convention in Cincinnati (July 16): “Obama isn’t a curiosity any longer. He’s the next President of the United States, and everyone at the NAACP event — including Obama himself — knew it. … Obama’s message to the NAACP was the kind of speech you hear from a president who’s trying to set a tone for his office and the country. Minus the verbal fireworks, he added moral certainty and gravitas. He left Cincinnati in February a novelty, and he came back in July a leader.”
On the dog days of August before the Democratic National Convention (Aug. 20): “The whole nomination process has been exhausting. Isn’t Obama president yet? What’s the hold-up? Why are Cheney and Bush still around? Obama’s campaign has relied heavily on emotional connections and personal appeal, and it’s almost impossible to sustain that kind of momentum. You just get tired after a while of being impressed and excited and optimistic.”
On McCain’s sadly negative campaign (Oct. 8): “The McCain campaign has decided to go down ugly. Damn the economy or the war, they’re going to fight it out in the trenches over Obama’s relationships with pastors and old acquaintances and maybe incite a little racist invective along the way. … I’ve had the image of McCain as George Costanza facing an enraged Jerry Seinfeld, shrugging his shoulders and saying, ‘I’ve got nothing, Jerry. Nothing!’ ”
Our endorsement of Obama for president (Oct. 15): “Ultimately, the most impressive thing about Obama’s run for the presidency is that his campaign has come across as planned out, strategic and thoughtful. Imagine a president who plans, strategizes and thinks. A crazy concept, we know, but that sort of leader is desperately needed right now. … One thing is for sure: When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2009, the world changes and everything becomes possible. That sounds like a future we can believe in.”
The issue after the election (Nov. 5): “Obama was the first presidential finalist from my generation, someone who grew up in the 1960s and whose children are about the same age as mine. I feel a sense of hope and anticipation as I recall John F. Kennedy’s words in his inaugural address that ‘the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.’ … Can we finally close the door on the concepts of ‘glass ceilings’ and ‘permanent victimhood’ so prevalent in American society? Maybe not, but certainly we can see that the U.S. is closer than ever to healing those old wounds and treating every citizen fairly and equally.”
More post-election musings (Nov. 12): “You know the old saying about dogs that chase cars: What are they going to do with the car if they ever catch it? Last week Barack Obama caught a car. Hell, he caught every car in the country at the same time. By extension, all of us who supported Obama in his presidential bid caught a piece of the car, too. So what do we do now?”
Yes, what do we do now? I can’t wait to find out.
CONTACT JOHN FOX: email@example.com