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Congratulations to President-Elect Obama

10:58 PM, Nov 4, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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I do not know who he is. I do not know which Obama will show up in Washington, D.C. to govern. My good feelings for him have diminished considerably throughout the campaign, as I've become increasingly convinced that his post-partisan, post-racial pitch was naught but a political pose.

But Obama has lived a colorful life, a patchwork American life of obstacles overcome and unlikely victories and self-made dreams. It is hard not to admire his accomplishments even as I criticize his policies and ideology. He ran an incredible campaign, humbling the Clinton machine with a candidacy fueled more by remarkable charisma than experience. He spoke words people wanted to hear and created one of the greatest brands in modern political history in startlingly short order.

His race and his middle name, long touted as obstacles to Obama's ascendence, were not obstacles to the American people. Racism and xenophobia were background buzz in a clean campaign, existing largely in liberals' nightmares rather than in real life. It is a testament to both candidates and the American electorate that, even if the wrong man was elected, he was elected for right reasons.

I will never be a conservative who writes paeans to Obama's uplifting message and transcendent candidacy. I don't find him either uplifting or transcendent, and would argue that his opportunism precludes both. But I will try my best to hope for good judgment, pray for pragmatism, and never wish ill for the country just because it would mean ill for Obama and his party.

That has been one of the more execrable tendencies of parts of the far left (and even some elected Democrats) while out of power, and it's one to which Republicans should not succumb.

This is America. We all live to regroup and fight another day. Soon, we'll be back to talking about Obama's self-involved speeches and their inefficacy against rogue regimes going nuclear. And, we may be delving into the small matter of his campaign contributions. But for tonight, congrats to Obama. It was a race well run.

Next, let's get started on 2010. We've got plenty of work to do.