Here’s an optimistic scenario:
Months from now we’ll look back on August 09 and recognize it as a turning point. Yes, the republicans whooped us. They stirred their base around health care, captured the media and cleverly spread innuendo, fear and misinformation.
But instead of getting flustered and indignant, we wised up.
We learned that in every campaign for reform - financial regulation, global warming, labor law, gay rights - our esteemed opponents will do all they can to trick, scare and confuse the public.
Good thing we figured this out early on, before a mid-term or – God forbid – a presidential election.
We also determined that we don’t have to disparage or demonize anybody, and that it’s a damn good idea to continue to look for support among religious voters, gun owners, suburban moderates, you name it.
And we settled into the comforting notion that we have a smart, capable, disciplined president who makes mistakes and then learns from them.
Finally, we’ll remember August 09 for the death of Ted Kennedy and its dignified aftermath. The three Kennedys were central to my generation’s political identity and our relationship to American history. The lesson from Ted, among many others, is that political maturity means understanding both possibilities and limitations. But you keep your head up and you stay in the game.