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Laurence Tribe

Sent: Sun, 9 Nov 2008 10:11:57 PM Eastern Standard Time
Subject: This is worth reading Laurence Tribe on Obama

 
Subj: Laurence Tribe on Obama

 
The Next President
 Morning-After Pride
 Laurence H. Tribe 11.05.08, 12:30 PM ET

I am watching the sun rise over Lake Michigan in the land of  Lincoln
on this new day in America. This is the morning after a  great divide
in the biography of the United States. As a nation, we  have come of
age. I flew to Chicago on Tuesday afternoon to witness history as
the United States of America went to the polls on Election Day, 2008. 

Hours later, as President-Elect Barack Obama spoke in Grant
Park to  claim his victory before a great throng of supporters and
an eagerly listening world--almost exactly 40 years after the
chaos of 1968--I felt myself in the flow of time, a minor
participant in a  great saga punctuated by events that shaped my
life, as it shaped  the lives of so many others.
The year 1968 was, for me and most of my friends, a year of
tragedy  and disillusion. Through the years that followed, years
punctuated by Watergate and Vietnam and by decades of political
polarization and paralysis, politics was the game that
disappointed. Yesterday  it was the game that delivered. The work of
governing lies ahead,  but the sun is rising and the challenges we
face--in reconstructing  a broken economy, restoring a
threatened constitution, ending a  misguided war and waging a necessary
one, starting to heal a  wounded planet--look from here like
opportunities to be seized, not obstacles to be feared.
How different this feels from the crazy election of
2000, brought  to an abrupt and puzzling end by the Supreme Court's
ill-starred  decision to stop counting the ballots, when another new
president was installed to preside over a nearly dysfunctional country.
Having served as counsel before the court to the losing
candidate during that sad chapter in our democratic trajectory, I
returned to ordinary life but wondered when, if ever, I could
fully believe in  the process again.As the decade progressed, the most
impressive student I had ever  taught was quietly pursuing his own
political trajectory. In 1989,  I had met Barack Obama and hired him as
my research assistant while 
he was still just a first-year Harvard law student. His stunning 
combination of analytical brilliance and personal charisma, 
openness and maturity, vision and pragmatism, was unmistakable
from my very first encounter with the future
president. I thought about that encounter as he and his wife
Michelle each gave me a hug in one of the off-stage tents in Grant
Park last  night. I recalled it as I found myself unable to express
in words my sense of gratitude and of possibility. The
president-elect and  the first lady-designate both thanked me for
the part I had played  in Barack Obama's education and his rise to
power, but it was I, of course, who owed thanks to them, thanks
for the journey on which  they had embarked to reclaim America for
all who dare to hope.There will be countless efforts to dissect
their improbable path from that cold winter morning in
Springfield, Ill., nearly two years ago--when a still-new senator
from Illinois announced his  candidacy for the highest office in
the land--to the unseasonably warm evening in Chicago when that
quest reached its climax and when  those who had led it confronted
the daunting challenges of actually governing. This is not another
attempt at such dissection. Nor is  this another post-mortem on the
failed efforts of president-elect Obama's more than formidable
foes. It is simply a personal note to commemorate a milestone in a
great nation's history. As an immigrant to the United States,
born in Shanghai to Russian Jewish parents who brought me with
them when they settled in  California in 1947, I have always felt
great pride--both in that ancestry and in the gift of citizenship
conferred on me by the nation that went on to provide me with such
extraordinary  opportunities--to thrive and to give something back
for all that I  have been given. My pride in that citizenship has
never been greater than it is today. Truth to tell, I find myself
unable to stop smiling, just as last night I found it difficult to
stop crying. Barack Obama's unique ability to explain and to
motivate, coupled  with his signature ability to listen and to
learn, and linked with  the calm that marked his nearly flawless
campaign, will serve him-- and all of us--well as we grapple with as
daunting a set of problems as the nation has faced in
three-quarters of a century. It is of course true that only time
will tell just how successful this  brave, brilliant and caring man
will be in charting a new course  for the country, something that
will depend only partly on decisions that Obama will make as
president. But one thing is already certain: The very fact of
Barack Obama's  election at this defining moment--quite apart from
the programs he  pursues and the ways in which he pursues
them--already speaks ; volumes to everyone on the planet. His
election in and of itself 
 displays how dramatically America has
moved to transcend the 
divisions of its past and bids fair to give
us a new lease on life  in a world that had come, and not without
reason, to see us in an 
 awful light--a world that will now give
this nation a fresh look  and a second chance. The
sun is now high over Lake Michigan. It is a new day in America. 
 We can do this. Yes, we can.

 Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb
university professor and 
; professor of constitutional law at
Harvard.
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