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     Volume 7 Issue 45 | November 14, 2008 |

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Writing the Wrong

A Few Words Dedicated to the Other Guy (s)

Sharbari Ahmed

Well it is official. Now most of us do not have to flee our beloved land and Tina Fey will not have to flee planet Earth.

Last Tuesday was a heady day for many obvious reasons, but the surprises just kept on coming. The first one was that Obama (my man, please refer to the article Barack and Me where I outline our rather tempestuous ideological relationship early on) took Ohio, a swing state, North Carolina, traditionally known as a swing state for a different reason (many an innocent black man was lynched thereI know, I know, but I am feeling like I now have been given back the right as an American to say any damn thing I please), and Pennsylvania, where Puritanical America was invented or maybe that was Massachusetts, who has redeemed itself by consistently voting Democratic. I have a registered Republican friend who went down to PA to campaign for Mr. Obama; so much has the tide turned.

But I think the most gratifying surprise of the day was the eloquent, gracious, expansive, and unifying concession speech given by John McCain. When his supporters booed, he quieted them down at once and set about the task at hand, which was to remind the American people who we were and why we were powerful. He outlined the historic, symbolic significance of Obama's win, what it meant for our children and for those who fought and died protecting the very freedom we exercised on that soggy (In Connecticut), but jubilant day. Gone was the cheek nodule ridden, angry, condescending, and dare I say it, bigoted, man we saw in the debates. He was humbled, almost abashed as he quietly accepted the loss as his failure and not his supporters. It was the classiest moment of the entire McCain campaign. The actual failure, in my unschooled opinion, lies with the brain trust that advised him to take on Ms. Palin as his running mate but as usual no one bothered to ask me. But I am being ungracious about Sarah, and I should not be. The country will now ride the transition trail and that must be done with forgiveness, magnanimity and delicacy. Qualities that stand all human beings in good stead. Especially for those of us who have been watching the past eight years in horror and wondering why the universe had forsaken us. We need to do this in order to heal and shed the accumulated bad karma that has settled like a shroud over this great nation of ours. I can say that now, great nation, though I know we still have a long way to go. And I found myself doing just that, being generous with the other guys and gals. With McCain it was easy, but you know what? I even did it with Dubbya! I did! I admit it.

When I told my friend in Dhaka about Bush's generous speech congratulating Obama and his family, and how I actually bought it, she was surprised. I told her that he talked about the “little boy” raised by his grandparents and single mother and how proud they would have been to see him become our leader. He uttered these words without missing a beat, and I have to tell you, I believed him. Maybe I am being too maudlin and caught up in the moment, but I do feel that the manner in which Obama ran his campaign and what he symbolises in part created the generosity we saw from both McCain and President Bush. They are now forced to acknowledge that the American people have spoken loudly and bravely and they rose to meet those voices. As leaders should do. Conversely, our Mrs. Clinton, if you recollect, was not as gracious in her concession speech at times.

Bush's voice was steady and his gaze was unwavering. As I watched him tell reporters and the people that he would be in constant contact I was reminded of some thing former UK PM Tony Blair said about him when asked what he really thought of Bush he said (I am paraphrasing here) “Look, I like the guy. He's down to earth and nice.”

I am sure there are a few million Iraqis who would disagree. As well as some Afghanis, maybe even an American or two, but there is an everyman quality about Bush that makes him seem less onerous than other malignant dictators. I can imagine sharing some Q with him at the ranch in Crawford and listening to stories about nights of drunken revelry. This of course would be after they sent me through a metal detector for being Muslim. But his everyman, pleasantly ordinary qualities came out when he gave is speech about Obama's win and made him seem human to me for the first time in a long time. There is no doubt he and the other President, Cheney, have driven this country and her reputation into the ground, but we need to put some of that damage, not all of it because we cannot forget how close we came to resembling Nazi Germany behind us and start the healing process. Obama needs us to maintain a high level of optimism and generosity to aid him in his transition and to unify the country and that is the strong message McCain sent to his supporters on Tuesday night.

I know Bangladesh heads into her general elections next month and I think all the officials and politicians involved need to tear a page out of America's book on this one. It behooves the parties involved to show one another the generosity of spirit and unity that is so sorely lacking it seems. This country, the US has been so powerfully divided for so long and yet there appears to be an olive branch extended across the aisle. Yes, we have some sore losers, and some gloating winners, but in general, Americans are breathing lighter now. So, hats off to the GOP, please don't bomb anything or issue fake terror alerts before January 20th, 2009, when my man can walk into the oval office and start one of the most incredible chapters in US history (I hope). McCain done good, but I feel I should end with a quote. On the day of election ecstatic revelers stood in front of the White House and chanted over and over again: “Who's house? Barack's house!”
And so it is.


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