January 3rd, 2008: With thousands gleefully clamoring for a new movement, Barack Obama celebrated on the very first stop to an epic quest that would eventually take him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While the New York media was quick in understanding what was happening, the old guard would not go away quietly. Desperately, they rallied behind Iowa's 3rd place finisher, blissfully unaware, or more likely, still in denial of the reality that in 2008, change trumps experience.
Especially the "march along with the illegal invasion, illegal spying, illegal torture, and whatever else appeases Dick/Bush" experience that most Dems championed before Howard Dean became party chair.
The experienced Formers (former President, Bill Clinton; former General, Wesley Clarke; former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright; and former Senator, as well as soon to be former New School president, Bob Kerrey) surrounding "New York's" junior Senator in defeat told the story better than any victorious Obama shot ever could. The above image would have been complete had then governor, Eliot Spitzer, not been busy with another late night engagement. His stand-in, then Lieutenant Governor, David Paterson, adds a schmeer of freshness to this overly ripe crop, but not enough to keep the tectonic plates from moving.
Those plates kept moving throughout the roller coaster year. Just like that, the nearly impossible to pinpoint moment of change was this time captured for all of America to see. 2008 was on like Tiger Dong.
Not in at least a generation has a single year given so many significant moments, each dominating the world of politics, finances, sports, movies, and music. OK, not movies and certainly not music. Jennifer Aniston is still desperately chasing her white whale. Sean Penn and Philip Seymour Hoffman are still by far and away the best actors on earth. Miley Cyrus is thankfully inching her way to being legal, and Britney Spears accomplished something too. Not sure what because we don't usually cover crap, but gossip columnists almost double her age seem orgasmically ecstatic that she's "back." Apparently Chris Brown is pretty popular as well. We don't listen to crap either but word on the street is that he just might be the next Cisco. Then there's the Jonas Brothers, who are very Hanson-like, minus the edge of course.
So back to the real stuff.
The Democratic primaries, billed as a symbolic one month coronation for Hillary, who in the summer of 2007 held a 30 point lead over her nearest challenger, became anything but after January 3rd. Both Obama and John Edwards finished ahead of her in Iowa, setting the stage for a brief 3 horse race. One which had the makings of (with Obama running as the Robert F. Kennedy-like movement, Edwards as the Eugene McCarthy-like intellectual populist, and Clinton as the Hubert Humphrey-like establishment) a 1968 styled battle. The Republicans too had what, for them, was a feisty collection of primaries as religious populist Mike Huckabee surprised in Iowa while neo-con John McCain and pro-business Mitt Romney exchanged victories in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina.
Like everything else in the 24 hour news cycle and the world of uber-big money politics, however, the drama was over before it really started. By the end of the month, the 15 minutes of fame were up on what fast became a dwindling field. After three straight third place finishes, Edwards joined the minor candidates in dropping out, thus guaranteeing the Democratic nomination to either an African-American, or a woman. Potential Republican heavyweights such as Fred "Get off my lawn!" Thompson, who never seemed to awaken from nappy time, and Rudy "9/11-9/11-9/11" Guiliani, who thought he was simply running for President of Florida, dropped out as well, guaranteeing the Republican nomination to either a really rich white guy, or a really rich and really old white guy.
The Super Tuesday primaries fell just two days after Superbowl Sunday. This year's game featured the greatest upset since Broadway Joe's defeat of the unstoppable Colts. Eli Manning's scramble and throw plus the catch made by David Tyree's helmet kept the Giants alive in what became (after Plaxico Burress' grab for six) the game winning drive against the previously unbeaten (18-0) and seemingly invincible New England Patriots.
On February 5th, McCain looked like those pre-Superbowl, Perfect Pats. Dismantling Republican opposition while scoring victories from coast to coast in a near sweep that for all intent and purpose clinched the Republican nomination.
On the same night, Obama was more like Tyree's helmet. Scrapping away and barely hanging on, but in doing so, also creating a clear path to victory. The remaining four months of Democratic primaries were a back and forth affair. Really, a lot more forth with a little bit of back at the end for Obama as several Clinton wins to finish the primary season only made the final outcome cosmetically close. In fact, while waiting for her "Bobby Kennedy/Sirhan-Sirhan" moment, Clinton continued campaigning into June, nearly three months after her fate had been sealed. Like those last second Tom Brady to Randy Moss Superbowl bombs, Clinton's attempts were entertaining, if not futile.
In between the many primaries, the press rejoiced over the Eliot Spitzer prosta scandal, the Jeremiah Wright angry black man scandal, the Bill Ayers sleeper cell scandal, and the Vito Fossella double life scandal. After some scandal-free downtime and after the Chinese massacre in Tibet as well as a deadly Chinese earthquake and Sharon Stone's moronic statements liking the two, Beijing played host to possibly the greatest set of games of them all. Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Nasia Liukin, and the Redeem Team dominated the news until John Edwards got back in the picture. Not as a VP candidate, but instead, because of his own baby-mamma drama.
Shortly later, the national conventions themselves gave ACORN ballot stuffer and socialist, Barack Hussein Obama, friend of Reverend Wright and of Father Michael Pfleger, but still a secret Muslim, the chance to build on the small but steady lead he had held over McCain.
Needing a game changer to match Obama's fireworks (real ones, not the digitally enhanced job Beijing tried pulling at the Olympics) filled nomination acceptance speech in front of 70,000 supporters, McCain found one in a political unknown. Oh, ya betcha!
Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska (four times the land mass of Texas but with only a slightly larger population than Staten Island) certainly changed the game, and did so in a way not seen since Dan Quayle was teaching grade school kids how to spell potato. In fairness, that was before grade schools became breeding grounds for guns and hot teachers. Not that any hot teacher could match a sharp shooting hot Governor anyway!