Edge of the west
Earth to Joe, hello. Notes from election day.
9 a.m.: I knew it the minute I walked out to my car early Tuesday morning and encountered two very beautiful and very elderly Latinas, dressed to the nines, long formal dresses, fancy hats, full makeup, the whole shebang and then the finishing touch —the “I voted” sticker in red, white and blue regalia stuck proudly to their lapels. This is a done deal is what I’m thinking right about here. Buenos dias America.
10 a.m.: Done deal alright. I drive down to the polling place at Virginia Park but have to make a U-turn, vowing to come back later, because that line stretches all the way across the parking lot into the street —unheard of in these parts.
11 a.m.: Stop in for a cup of coffee at the Unurban on Pico and there’s something in the air besides the aroma of the daily roast. Nobody says a word but it’s as if everybody’s winking at everybody or something.
12 noon: Sean Hannity’s right-radio hate show signs on with a new intro: “Conservatives in exile. Welcome to your home of the conservative underground.” So before a single vote is counted, Hannity has purged himself into exile, as well he might, knowing full well that payback is hell after years of unabashed hatefulness that has helped steer this country to the brink of a second civil war.
1 p.m.: Back to Virginia Park and no, Virginia, the line has not died down, in fact is longer. It feels like nothing so much as a sort of tailgate party over here, people festive, exuberant, anxious for the big game to start.
2 p.m.: Finally I am handed my ballot and make it to the voting booth where I will try to fight through “The Bradley Effect.” That’s what they call what happened to African American mayor Tom Bradley, who was way ahead in polling for the gubernatorial election in 1982 but then inexplicably lost when hordes of white guys who said they were voting for him in tracking polls did just the opposite in the privacy of the voting booth.
3 p.m.: Karl Rove, evil genius behind the Bush phenomenon, predicts on Fox News an Obama landslide, and Britt Hume’s face looks like it’s about to drop off his head.
4 p.m.: How about “The Reverse Bradley Effect”? That would be right wingers spouting their anti-Obama rhetoric until they step into the gravitas of the voting booth where reality sets in at the tip of their stylus, and they punch in Obama’s name not ever daring to tell a single soul. See, the polls are now closed in Indiana, always first to go red in these things, deep red, and exit polling shows the Democrat giving the Republican all he can handle. Unheard of.
5 p.m.: The polls close in my home state of Pennsylvania, the one they all said would be the key to the election, and before they can even get the county-by-county graphics on screen, the anchormen on all the networks declare the state for Obama, and I’m thinking like the state motto says, and all of America now knows: “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania.”
6 p.m.: The crowd is growing at Chicago’s Grant Park for the presumptive Obama celebration, and this is the same Grant Park that was the staging area for the barb-wire laced jeeps the cops would use to quell the riots in the streets at the 1968 Democratic Convention. You’ve come a long way baby. This scene tonight is dripping with good will, peace, and love and they estimate up to a million citizens will be drawn to Grant Park tonight.
7 p.m.: That fancy color-coded electoral map they all use is turning from red to blue so fast it’s not even passing through purple. “Ohio, Oh why oh?” Words I wrote to start my post-tragic 2004 election column right here in this paper. You remember, that election where the presidency goes to John Kerry if Ohio comes in, but where there were so many voting irregularities that the whole bunch of them governing the state were soon thereafter booted out? Well, different year, different story. Ohio? Oh my oh. Britt Hume has just placed Ohio officially in the Obama column, barring unforeseen shenanigans. And they’re falling now one after the other in rapid splendor following the lead of Ohio who just couldn’t keep its thumb in the dike any longer. Here they come now: Virginia, New Mexico, Iowa, even North Carolina in the heart of Dixie! All red states turning blue, or as Jack Buck once said of a certain Kirk Gibson home run: “I don’t believe what I just saw with my own two eyes.”
8 p.m.: 8:08 to be precise. “NBC News is now able to declare Barrack Obama as the next president of the United Sates.”
Joe the Plumber just got his roto rooted.
Sara the Hockey Mom just got body-checked right on back up North to Alaska.
Rush the Limp Ball just got his wealth spread.
And Barrack the Organizer just got a whole lot bigger of a community to organize.
10 p.m.: The man speaks to the throngs and you know how that one goes. Let me steal his ending on this dia muy hermoso:
God bless America.
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