Great Expectations

By Samantha Hayes – Chicago, Illinois

November 5th, 2008

Much will be said today about Barack Obama’s Presidential victory. His inspirational speech in Grant Park, the emotional response from supporters all over the country, his now significant place in American history.  The world was watching. And I was able to observe all of it up close. From my vantage point, under the white news media tent standing almost shoulder to shoulder with other reporters, I could hear the cheers of Obama supporters when he won a state, and their boos when the call when to McCain.  I saw tears in their eyes when Obama came on stage to speak.  People hugged and congratulated each other on what they saw as their victory Tuesday. They took pictures of themselves and held up cell phones so friends could hear and experience even just a little bit of what they were seeing first hand.  The gathering in Grant Park may have been as big as a rock concert, but the feeling inside was totally different. This election may have been fought over the policies of both candidates and big issues of our time, but in the end, I could tell this was also a very emotional transition.  And fortunately in America, the transition is also peaceful.

John McCain called to congratulate Barack Obama before making a graceful public concession in Arizona. Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, also called to congratulate him. President George Bush, from the White House this morning, said he had talked to Obama and welcomed him and his family to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in a rare personal statement, said as an African-American she is especially proud.  I’m sure some people will say it’s all for show, and the politics of Washington is inevitable and right around the corner, but I’m still awed by the way we transition power in this country.

It’s a very quick shift into high gear for Obama’s team which is in transition from campaigning, to analyzing and evaluating who will be best to help him govern the country in a time of enormous challenges.  But they’ve already been working on this for several months. Obama’s team says cabinet announcements will trickle out next week.  For now, Obama is relying on advisory groups that have guided him during his campaign.

The announcement of upcoming appointments and senior hires will be the first glimpse of Obama’s vision for his new administration.  His selections will say a lot about how he plans to govern and if he will make good on his campaign promises of bipartisanship and restricting the role of lobbyists.  Obama won the election in a landslide with his promise of change. That’s why tens of thousands of people came to see him in Chicago last night. They are anxious for the next step, and have great expectations for their new President.

Samantha Hayes is a national correspondent for CNN Newsource based in Washington, D.C. She contributes political stories to KSAT-12. You can learn more about her here.

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