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A New World

I thought Obama's speech was fine, maybe even a little less impressive than some of his previous big addresses. Until the final section, when he approached a sort of transcendence. The story of the 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper and his question about what sort of America his daughters will experience if they live to see the next century was one of those powerful passages that will linger for a long time.

When my wife and I put our son to bed about 5 hours ago, it was one world. When he wakes up in about 5 hours, it'll be a new world. He won't know that, of course. He's 20 months old. All he knows about Obama is that it's a word he hears older people saying; it's a word--three syllables, lots of vowels--he seems to enjoy saying himself. But as he gets older and becomes more aware, he'll realize Obama is actually a person, and not just a person but a president. In fact, the first president he'll ever know will be a black man. I can't say for certain what impact that will have on him down the line, but I can't imagine it'll be a negative one.

Obama has a lot of work ahead of him--as he himself seems to realize. Have you ever seen a less joyous president-elect?  Indeed, as I write this, I can hear the TV talkers in the background already chewing over Obama's potential secretaries of state and treasury and defense. And who knows, four years from now, maybe Obama, having failed to solve our financial crisis and successfully resolve our two wars, will have been deemed a flop and we'll be ushering in a new president-elect. But, for one moment at least, I'm pushing those concerns aside and thinking about what this night will mean years from now, when the people who tried to comprehend its significance are no longer around; and the people who slept through it in their cribs are still feeling, in ways large and small, its impact. 

--Jason Zengerle