That pissed me off for reasons I couldn't fully explain, until I read the Incomparable One, Bob Somerby, and he captured my thoughts (my emphasis):
If those are the rules of the current game, sign us up for “something wrong with you.”
Were we stirred Tuesday night? We’re not quite sure. Teary-eyed? No, although moist at times. And we very much admired Obama when he took the hand of Biden’s mother and led her to the front of the stage. It made us think of Bill Clinton, on Inaugural Day, when he stopped to talk to a man who may have been homeless—and addressed him as “sir.” In each case, we were pleased to have a president who had such excellent judgment. ...
Should we have been “proud of our country” because of “the election of our first African-American president?” Many African-American citizens have reacted to this week’s events with deep emotion; for just one (second-hand) example, read the letter from Donald Graul in this morning’s Post. This week,we’ve often recalled the professor who wrote, earlier this year, about her elderly parents in Mississippi; the professor said she was thrilled that her parents had lived long enough to see Obama’s campaign. For ourselves, if that professor pays travel and lodging, we’ll go down to Mississippi ourselves and carry her parents around on a chair. But when it comes to this part of the question, our own thumb largely comes down on a different part of the scale.
First, we’re not surprised that the country elected Obama, who was in most ways (not necessarily all) the clearly superior candidate. And we don’t plan to pretend we’re surprised, as many big pundits have done (not Krugman). Duh. We recall the way pundits stood in line in 1995, urging Colin Powell to run. And we recall the November 1996 exit polls: Had Powell been the GOP candidate, voters said they would have elected him—said so by a wide margin. (Powell 48, Clinton 36, Perot 8. Just click here.) To heighten the drama, pundits pretend that Tuesday’s election was something no one ever imagined. When they do so, some are lying again, as they do with such endless aplomb.
So no, we actually weren’t surprised to see Obama elected. Nor are we “proud” when voters do sensible things; as in the days when we taught fifth-graders, we expect sensible conduct. Beyond that, our thumb comes down on the part of the scale which says that Barack Obama should get to be Barack Obama, without having the mountain of race hoisted up on his back. It has been a very long time since any white person had to bear the burden of his ethnicity, which was never as big a mountain as race; we’re tired of seeing white folk insist on making Obama be the black guy. Rather than get all excited and proud about “our first African-American president,” we’d like to see people put their focus on having our first recent successful president.
By the way: Many children will not be able picture themselves as president of the United States, though that’s a separate question.
Should we be “proud of our country” for electing Obama? In most ways, he was the clearly superior candidate; why exactly should we be “proud” when voters make such a choice? Frankly, we think our standards have been dumbed way down when we clap ourselves on the back for such conduct.
Beyond that, we think we might to revisit the context in which this decision occurred.
Should we be proud of Tuesday’s outcome? ... How could anyone be “proud” of a country whose structures have conspired, for such a long time, to support these grisly elites in such gruesome, gong-show behavior? Guess what? Your political culture is a screaming disgrace. But so what? Even your smartest, most superlative columnist is saying that you should be proud of the country whose elites refuse to stop behaving that way. Whose elites agree not to tattle. ...
Let’s be clear: Our lack of pride had nothing to do with the conduct of American voters. To our ear, that caller’s decency spoke for itself—and she didn’t even vote the way we did! But why on earth would any sane person be proud of a country of Riches and Dowds—of Milbanks, Joe Kleins, Beinarts and Chaits? People like Talk of the Nation’s caller live inside a culture of clowns—and very few career players are willing to tell them. We’ll praise her decency to the skies. But “proud of our country?” Please.
What kind of country do you live in? Last night, Chris Matthews clowned for the full hour about Sarah Palin, pretending that anonymous claims about her dumbness are somehow plainly accurate. He has no idea if these claims are true—but he’s pimping the world your way now. You see, he wants to run for the Senate—as a Dem. So last night, he kept pimping your novels.
Your country? A hall of mirrors, staffed by clowns. Proud of it? Sorry—we’re not. We’ll proudly sign our name on this list: “Something wrong with us.”
I am pleased to see that the Republicans are out of power. I am pleased to see someone who isn't white elected as president. Then again, as Somerby points out, the nation happily would have elected Colin Powell as president 12 years ago. I think this election gave a lot of people reason to pat themselves on the back for something that does not deserve commendation. I do not think this says something good about "us".
Obama won because he was the media darling (and, BTD, you were right, I was wrong, on the ultimate importance of that condition), not because of his positions, his conduct, or his capabilities. He won on a tide of misogyny, homophobia and crude intimidation. He is already trying to weasel his way out of the high expectations he encouraged people to have of his ability to make things change.
I am not proud of the way in which people I previously respected in the blogosphere willingly turned themselves into caricatures of the media elite they claimed to oppose and/or who descended to the levels of the violence and paranoia of the rightwing fever swamps. This applies to those who supported Obama and those who opposed him, the poles coming to meet each other at the extremes. I am not proud of an election where someone as intelligent and humane as Jeralyn Merrit transforms herself into a facsimile of a hyena, rabidly peddling misogyny, ageism and paranoia, things she did not have to do to make a case for her candidate, or even to soundly criticize the opposition.
I agree with the Incomparable One that our political culture is screaming disgrace and gladly stand in solidarity with him.