The Next Next President

Sebastian has moved on.

"Who is going to be the next president, daddy?" my four-year-old son asks impatiently.

"Barack Obama," I tell him.

"No, I mean after that."

Seabass has caught the perpetual campaign bug.

He was upset he couldn't vote last Tuesday; he's been a McCain aficionado since watching the war hero drive a tank over Obama in the JibJab election video. Plus, a certain five-year-old buddy of his -- a boy whom Sebastian looks up to because he is "superfast" -- was proselytizing for the GOP ticket.

On election eve, Sebastian insisted that his mom (whose distaste for the McCain candidacy would be hard to overstate) help him write "McCain" on a piece of paper, so he could pretend to cast his own ballot.

My son's reaction to the electorate's verdict: "ohhhhh nooooo." Then he became the only person in America to ask whether McCain can run again

This is all great fodder for future father-son bonding. Or maybe it's father-son ribbing. I can picture myself years from now, meeting Sebastian's college girlfriend over dinner and casually bringing up the fact that my son wanted to vote against Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

"Dad, I was four," he'll say, reddening, and kicking me under the table. The same "what are you doing?!" reaction I'd have when my parents would break out the pictures of my 1970's adolescence to share with others, a visual extravaganza featuring lots of polyester, acne, braces and really bad haircuts.

I am not terribly partisan, as readers of Stumped may have gathered, but Obama's win clearly puts the country on the right side of history. Voters sensed that Obama's innate wisdom trumped his relative inexperience, and it is now up to him to prove them right. To do so, he'll have to disappoint his most ardent supporters, win over skeptics and declare his independence from his party's more entrenched interests. He'll have to remain true to his "one America" manifesto from the 2004 convention and the idea that no one party holds a monopoly on good ideas, moral values or patriotism.

My hope is that Obama will prove such a strong, unifying leader that this election will appear as significant in retrospect, years from now, as it does at the moment. I tend to roll my eyes when people say this is the most important election of our lifetime, because we seem to say that every four years. But this one, I suspect, will stand out -- along with such sea changes as the 1932 or 1980 elections. But it is too soon to say.

It certainly was an entertaining year, and I was privileged to witness it and share it with you in this campaign-themed column, which must now be retired, along with all those yard signs and nasty TV ads.

I can't wait to tell Seabass as he grows older about Snipergate, my personal favorite mini-drama of the election year, when Hillary Clinton "misremembered" being shot at by snipers and having to run "zig-zag" after getting off a plane in Bosnia. (Maybe it was the unforgettable scene from "The In-Laws" with Peter Falk that confused her.) I can't wait to tell him about Sarah Palin's claim to be an expert on foreign policy because she could see Russia from her house (oh wait, that was Tina Fey). And about "Marcusgate" (as in Neiman Marcus and a certain little shopping spree).

But most of all, I will invoke this election year to Seabass at certain challenging moments as he grows up, when he may be worried about an opposing team's prowess on a sports pitch, or may be fretting about seemingly daunting odds in other endeavors.

I will tell him to think about Obama, and how this young senator with the funny name calmly, self-assuredly, took on what appeared to be one of the most formidable, well-endowed and predestined candidacies of all time (Hillary Clinton's, that is); about how he prevailed in the end, by believing in himself and in what he was doing, by sticking to his game plan without worrying about what the other candidates were or were not doing, to the point where Obama's confidence in himself became so contagious, by election day his once Quixotic candidacy was the one that was formidable, well-endowed, predestined.

The odds against you are not an immutable reality; they are largely what you think they are. That is the inspiring takeaway from this election, one to be relished for years to come.

As for making your peace with our next president, Sebastian, I suspect one of Obama's crucial decisions for his first 100 day in office -- getting his girls a puppy -- will help bring you into the fold.

Thanks to everyone for reading Stumped, and for all the great questions throughout the year.

By Andres Martinez |  November 8, 2008; 12:00 AM ET
Previous: Is It Possible to be Objective Covering Politics? |

Comments

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"The Bosnia thing was an embellishment more than a flat out lie"

An embellishment? I saw the video of the kid reading her the poem on the tarmac.

It is said that you don't forget being under sniper fire. But it's equally true that you don't remember it, if you weren't. She was stealing a story from Olympia Snowe, Cynically. It was an outright lie, clearly. There's no way to depict it as anything else, without telling another outright lie!

"Embellishment?" Bosh!

Posted by: thrh | November 9, 2008 12:13 AM

Are you kidding me? Sebastian my a_ss! This is just your way of bringing up this lame subject. haven't we had enough of this 2 year campaign without you starting it all over again before we even get rid of the chimp-in-chief. No wonder people hate the media. Go find some real news to report. This is nothing but a bunch of bulls_hit designed to fill space so you can earn a paycheck. Get a real job you miserable hack.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | November 8, 2008 11:05 PM

Mr. Martinez, I enjoyed your column. You are a brilliant and insightful writer.

I was a young adult during the Viet Nam War. I think I speak for a lot of my fellow Americans of that era when I ask that you not refer to Mr. McCain as a war hero. He took pride in bombing innocent civilians who he still calls "Gooks." The war in which Mr. McCain served was an illegal war and he was and is a war criminal. The real heroes were those who refused to participate in one of the most horrific criminal undertakings ever perpetrated against humanity.

Posted by: kencitoma | November 8, 2008 10:18 PM

Also, do you know when Harriet Tubman got the right to vote?


Answer: She didn't the 14th ammendment in 1865 gave AA males the right to vote- later some southern states instituted provisions to impede voting- but the constitution supported the right.
Harriet Tubman died in 1912- the 19th ammendment, giving women the right to vote- passed in 1920.

Posted by: nycLeon | November 8, 2008 10:16 PM

Justvisiting,

The Bosnia thing was an embellishment more than a flat out lie- a flat out lie is when you tell people that you are going to renegotiate NAFTA and then send your envoy to Canada to tell the Canadian government "well, not really..."

Hillary was a good and qualified female candidate. It was not just about her. She worked against female stereotypes- Lady McBeth controlling, Ophelia emotional, etc. that were created in a narrative for her. Chris Matthews said that her only qualification is having had a husband who had affairs and Hannety said that he crosses his legs every time she speaks- if Matthews had said that Obama's only qualification is that he speaks like an African American minister (since his record in the state senate and senate are almost nonexistant) and Hannety said that he grabs his wallet every time he sees Obama- playing into AA stereotypes- everyone would have yelled racism. Geraldine Ferraro directly challenged the treatment the press was giving Barack, questioning the reasoning for it and was called a racist. Powers called Hillary a witch and is likely to become part of the new administration. Sexism underlied the whole campaign. Then, however much I hate the policies that Palin stood for, we went about stereotyping her with the "airheaded beauty queen" label- something the press never did to W- who made much bigger gaffes and never earned a position in his life. So when Napolatino runs and the lesbian rumors come out, or when Boxer is called crazy, or McLowski matronly, or Sebelius inexperienced, or McCaskill called old- when the stereotypes are placed on them- preventing a woman from occupying the office, even though women make up 52% of the population- will it be about each of their individual personalities as well. Is individual personality the reason that there are only 17 female leaders of nations out of some ~230 nations?

Look, I worked for the Obama campaign for the last 2 months, going to Pennsylvania for weeks, running phone banks, etc. to keep away from a right wing government. I have always been a leftist and an activist. Let's not act like there was no sexism in this thing- the idea that we are still focused on the skin color of the candidate- who did not grow up with a family of that color or in a state with pervasive racism- and ignore the fact that the "establishment candidate" had some features quite different from the establishment- we are propogating the same issues that cause women to get paid .77 for the same job a man earns 1.00 for.

Posted by: nycLeon | November 8, 2008 10:06 PM

As an ardent supporter of Ronald Reagan when I was five because he looked friendlier than any of the other guys, I have to chuckle at this article. Sebastian may or may not shift his allegiances when he grows up, but his votes will undoubtedly be better informed for his engagement now.

As for fwells, if you'd stop railing against the "shortsightedness" of young women for a moment, maybe you'd realize that we already outnumber men at undergraduate institutions, and we're making strides at the graduate level in those fields where we aren't already well-represented. There will be no shortage of qualified female candidates in the near future, and no hesitancy on the part of the electorate to consider them...provided they refrain from easily disproven claims about Bosnian sniper fire and jets on eBay. More importantly, if Obama somehow does turn out to be such a failure that Sarah Palin looks like a good alternative in retrospect, I think we'll have much bigger concerns on our hands than gender.

Posted by: justvisiting73 | November 8, 2008 9:43 PM

Great column, Mr. Martinez! Do we have to wait 4 years before bringing you back?

Posted by: hughabramson | November 8, 2008 8:18 PM

Anyone who even mentions the next campaign after what we've just been forced to endure needs to be deported.

Posted by: TerrifiedAmerican | November 8, 2008 8:17 PM

Seabass has nothing to fear. McCain was a lousy choice. But still the only choice for president.

Thanks to MM Obama has been elevated way above his pay grade. In 4 years the only people not disappointed by Obama will be Republicans.


Posted by: kungfubarbie | November 8, 2008 7:37 PM

That kid is an idiot, and his question illustrates the shortsightedness of many Americans.

What an absolute waste of an article (glad I only read the title).

Posted by: JohnGalt1 | November 8, 2008 7:06 PM

Clearly there was nothing historic or different about Hillary's campaign- it was just part of the old white male establishment...wait- some parts of that don't fit so well.

This country never engages in issues because we are in love with superficiality. Obama's skin color- which has nothing to do with the culture he grew up in (Hawaii, white family)- is actually relatively irrelevant if he can guide us to progressive policies. If he can, he is a success; if he can't he is just another pol.

Posted by: nycLeon | November 8, 2008 7:00 PM

Electorate now age55 and over---4.5 million people will die each year/60% Republican. Directly replace by voters 18-22, at least 2-1 Obama. Net deaths in 4 years=18 million. Net gains for Democrats, at least for Obama=9.6 million votes.

Posted by: majorteddy | November 8, 2008 6:04 PM

"I am not terribly partisan, as readers of Stumped may have gathered, but Obama's win clearly puts the country on the right side of history."

It's been four days since the election and you can already make this statement with a straight face? The worst part about the press this year wasn't the bias, but rather, the pretentiousness.

Posted by: HookInMouth | November 8, 2008 5:14 PM

"I can't wait to tell him about Sarah Palin's claim to be an expert on foreign policy because she could see Russia from her house (oh wait, that was Tina Fey)."

No, you were right the first time, it DID come from Palin's mouth initially and then Tina Fey simply recited, line for line, the words spoken by Palin in her comedic skit on Palin. So, yuu had it RIGHT - Palin spoke all those words in her Couric interview. Tina just repeated them on SNL!

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | November 8, 2008 3:51 PM

Sarah Palin/Jeb Bush 2012
Newt/Coulter 2012
Donald Duck/Minnie Mouse 2012

Posted by: adevine1 | November 8, 2008 2:25 PM

Did anyone ever ask this question when Bill Clinton, George Bush I & II, Richard Nixon, etc. were elected? You know, for all the lip service you people are giving to the "historic" nature of Obama's win, you can't wait to get him out of office. What an effing joke you are.

Posted by: ehperkins1971 | November 8, 2008 1:53 PM

Mr. Martinez - Be sure to put a copy of this column away and share it with Seabass when he turns 18 or so.

Posted by: john91011 | November 8, 2008 1:19 PM

If obama's first week is any indication of what is to come (it usually is) - we can expect the same old, same old. For all you folks who thought you were getting a visioinary - try again in 2012

Posted by: Kingofkings1 | November 8, 2008 12:40 PM

Newt Gingrich is already running with his group whose name I don't remember. He will lose to Obama in 2012. In 2016 it will be someone we haven't heard of yet.

Posted by: fmrgwva | November 8, 2008 12:15 PM

I had to laugh about your son writing a ballot for McCain. For me it was my 7 year old granddaughter - an Obama supporter in a very red state. She would even hold periodic polls in her first grade class - and was sad that McCain would always win.

I decided to take her into the voting booth with me. She got to draw the line that cast a vote for Obama and learned how to vote a party line in other races. Then she was able to put the ballots into the voting machine, actually casting her vote. The ladies at the voting place even gave her an "I Voted" sticker.

Now I don't know how legal it is for a minor to vote for a grandparent, but I do know that she'll always remember that SHE cast a ballot for Obama in this election. It was a great civic lesson on the responsibility to vote and it gave her an understanding that individuals have a periodic opportunity to formally express their will during an election.

Posted by: KHMJr | November 8, 2008 12:14 PM

"To do so, he'll have to disappoint his most ardent supporters, win over skeptics and declare his independence from his party's more entrenched interests."

The country chose a Democrat for president, a stronger majority of Democrats for the House, and more Democrats fot the Senate.

Why does the next president have to run away from his proposals to align himself with those whose policies have failed and been rejected by the voters?

After all, McCain ran as the one who would have really different positions from Bush. Bush won in 2000 as "a compassionate conservative," and "a unitetr, not a divider." Why do the chattering classes think the it's all right for the right-wing to pretend to be less right-wing in order to win an election but that liberals must abandon their principles when they gain office?

Posted by: F_L_Palmer | November 8, 2008 12:12 PM

Some people should quit prognosticating, especially Republican shills on message boards. Your track record is abysmal. Obama won Indiana. Indiana.

Posted by: gjcomm | November 8, 2008 11:33 AM

As a 4-year old, Sabastian "seems to have wisdom" that his parent does not have. Sebastian's college girlfriend ought to be real impressed with your sexism and overall disrespect of women. Perhaps by then, younger women will understand what the election of 2008 did for them - set them back 50 years! And the worst part - they helped do it by entering into the negativity of "Senator and former First Lady" Hillary Clinton and "Governor and Mayor" Sarah Palin, giving men continued permission to mock and disrespect women as they have done since time began. The worst part is BOTH of these impressive women had years of executive experience that Mr. "Right side of History" has never had.

Lastly, after the hundreds of books that will be written on the 2008 election cycle, it will be clear that Mr. "Right" was the illigitimate nominee of his party due to the caucus fraud in all 14 states organized online by his fancy hi-tec campaign that he had nothing to do with and MoveOn.Org, an organization of young, white male thugs that now brag they own the dem party. Good luck, Daddy, you're going to need it!

Posted by: fwells | November 8, 2008 11:00 AM

"President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

2016-2024"

Projectile vomit.

Posted by: EnoughISEnough | November 8, 2008 9:53 AM

Read it here. After Obama completes 8 years in 2016, Mark Pryor and Andrew Cuomo will be going for the nomination.

Posted by: Phred2 | November 8, 2008 8:54 AM

"I am not terribly partisan, as readers of Stumped may have gathered, but Obama's win clearly puts the country on the right side of history."

Why? Why are Obama voters on the right side of history? Obama and McCain shared far too many policy positions for voters to pat themselves on the back for electing the "right" candidate. Obama and McCain both supported off-shore drilling, the $700 billion bail-out, increased war in Afghanistan, possible war with Pakistan, both are against gay marriage, both have voted against unions, supported tort reform, FISA, warrant-less wiretaps, the Patriot Act...the list goes on.

So, in light of all these similarities, what distinguishes Obama and McCain? What puts Obama on the right side of history, as you so blatantly have asserted?

Is is merely because we're trusting in some "wisdom" we think he intuitively possesses? If so, that's terribly frightening.

(And before you discount my views, know that I am a former Democrat and FDR progressive.)

Posted by: babachamar | November 8, 2008 8:24 AM

Heckuva' kid!

President Mark Warner, 2016-2024

or

President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
2016-2024

Palin will enjoy moose-hunting.
Rice will enjoy giving speeches at academic forums and becoming either the president of Stanford or Harvard.
I will enjoy watching Obama be the best American president since FDR. We need a Lincoln, and now we've got one. Onward to victory over Al Qaeda.

long life and blue skies,
Mike Tucker
Counterterrorism Specialist & Author,
OPERATION HOTEL CALIFORNIA: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq

Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Posted by: ct6author | November 8, 2008 7:52 AM

"I hear that in Nebraska you can leave your kid at a hospital or something.
Posted by: davidscott1 | November 8, 2008 5:51 AM"

I hear that now that dems are in control, pedophile's will be lurking everywhere again...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 8, 2008 6:49 AM

"I am not terribly partisan, as readers of Stumped may have gathered, but Obama's win clearly puts the country on the right side of history.
Voters sensed that Obama's innate wisdom trumped his relative inexperience, and it is now be up to him to prove them right. To do so, he'll have to disappoint his most ardent supporters, win over skeptics and declare his independence from his party's more entrenched interests. He'll have to remain true to his "one America" manifesto from the 2004 convention and the idea that no one party holds a monopoly on good ideas, moral values or patriotism."

disappoint he will, reelected not...
he will be another carter, we might even have gas lines again...
based on interviews obama was the one to pay their mortgages and gas bills, sad that they will be disappointed and that obama will now hide in the oval office...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 8, 2008 6:46 AM

I hear that in Nebraska you can leave your kid at a hospital or something.

Posted by: davidscott1 | November 8, 2008 5:51 AM

"Obama ... by believing in himself and in what he was doing, by sticking to his game plan without worrying about what the other candidates were or were not doing."

Thank you very much for this statement. We all, can learn from this. Sometimes life can make you wonder whether you have made the right choice when faced with challenges. I am sure when you explain President-elect Obama's candidacy like this to dear Sebastian, he will understand it. God bless America and the rest of us who look up to America.

Posted by: William10 | November 8, 2008 5:48 AM

SERPENTINE HILLARY! SERPENTINE!!!

Posted by: KrisinAL | November 8, 2008 4:05 AM

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