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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Day After Tomorrow

Ken Kerr Bio

First of all, it will not be close. Barack Obama will win perhaps as many as 355-360 electoral votes. The poplar vote will be closer, no more than 52% for Obama. So, tomorrow is not in question. What is in question is the day after tomorrow.

The day after tomorrow, we can expect near-universal approval among our friends and allies throughout the world. The election of Obama signals a US willingness to change. The world will appreciate that we traded in a cowboy for a professor, carelessness for caution, brashness and impulse for thoughtfulness and insight. We forget that as much as we are hated and feared, we are counted on throughout the world for stability. Friend and foe alike will welcome a return to a ship-of-state on an even keel.

Over the next 80 days, Obama's transition team will begin to introduce potential cabinet members. We can expect a few republicans: Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar for certain—Arnold Schwarzenegger, a curious possibility.

However, Barack Obama is inheriting a wounded America. We have to put his campaign in perspective. He set out a plan for change and a vision for a future. A crippled economy, a crushing deficit, and two poorly-waged wars will overshadow many of his bold initiatives. The very thing that ensured Obama's victory will make it difficult for him to deliver on the promise of his presidency.

It is likely that we will continue to run deficits beyond Obama's first term. We will continue to see widespread unemployment, limited lending, and anemic growth. Obama's plan to invest in infrastructure can help with employment but without some kind of dotcom-like economic phenomenon, it is hard to see how we can pay-as-we-go.

A Manhattan/Apollo-size energy initiative has the potential of producing innovative breakthroughs in fuel cell, alternative energy technologies. But those will be hard to sell in a war-weary, bailout-battered, recession-racked budget year - Or years.

But enough about what won't happen. Here is what will happen the day after tomorrow.

The day after tomorrow, we can expect President-Elect Senator Obama to be prominently seen in Republican company on the Senate floor. Even though the Democrats are unlikely to reach the filibuster-proof-majority of 60 (58 seems more likely), there will be any number of Republican lawmakers all-too-willing to associated with a president elect, and then president who has just won a landslide.

The day after tomorrow, John McCain will lay low for a while. He will then work to restore a reputation reduced by a cascade of bad choices, bad advice, bad decisions, and bad timing. He will remind us why we once admired him. And we will do so once again.

The day after tomorrow, Sarah Palin will continue to splinter the Republican Party. She will solidify her core constituency of rural, white, uneducated, self-identified-Christians who will huddle around her in anger and defiance that their vision of American was rejected by a preponderance of the electorate. What remains of GOP "leadership" will quickly destroy her by year's end—unless the rest of us get bored and ignore her before then. The GOP will not embrace Ultra-rural, -right, -religious, -anti-intellectualism as a brand.

Each Tuesday, following the first Monday of November, of every even-numbered year divisible evenly by four, we collectively stand at a crossroads—a mythical, metaphorical place of monumental decision. Throughout literature and across cultures, the crossroads is a place where we pause and look ahead. We choose a direction and go down a road together—for better or worse.

Eight years ago, we followed the same path as Robert Johnson. This year, we follow Robert Frost.

And we start the day after tomorrow.


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