I distinctly remember discussing this moment online with friends, the audacity to imagine that Obama wouldn't just secure the nomination, but that he might, gasp, win the presidency and survive to give the State of the Union address. Tonight felt like a dream - a fantasy come true (and when does that happen in life? Not so often). As he entered the chamber, with all that anticipation building, I felt a welling of joy that in my lifetime, I get to repeatedly witness the bursting forth of hope, optimism and change.
It felt fitting that after my post on peacekeeping vs. peacemaking, the "not state of the union" speech would talk about recapturing our integrity and values through ending the war, through rejecting the practice of torture. It takes guts to focus on peace, rather than war. Obama will leave 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq and will bring home the forces in 19 instead of 16 months. Yet even with that news, the tone and agenda of tonight's speech had that "peacemaking" spirit about it. We need to contend for the things Obama promised: better education, health care and rebuilding our economy through investing in America.
It was pure joy to see Hillary in her bright, euphoric (even) magenta jacket with a smile as wide as the China Sea, being kissed on the cheek by her former rival. It was incredible to watch Michelle glide into that chamber - sheer class; to behold Ruth Bader Ginsburg up on her feet, looking so happy. Then it was finally time for Barack to enter: The President of the United States - well, reality shattered illusion and what I had only imagined became solid, sure, and better than hoped for.
A campaign of hope pays off in a time of struggle and doubt. Obama's uncanny sense of timing (when he ran, his campaign message and spirit, his ability to read this moment without guile, bitterness or even petty blame) may be his greatest unsung gift. We trust Obama as much for his intuitive sense of what "now" demands as we do for any plans that he puts forward. Obama "gets" us. That's why we trust him.
Tonight felt like a mirror ball's glittering reflections dancing all over our country, reviving our energy and renewing our joy. Much needed, I'd say.
Oh, and the prez? He speaks English with elegance, too. It doesn't get much better than that.