Barack Obama was right to praise his campaign team last night. I'm not sure we will ever witness a presidential campaign run better than his. Obama continues to score high in many characteristics—his intelligence, his positions, his speechmaking, his composure—but at bottom it seems that it was his campaign—headed by David Plouffe and David Axelrod—that succeeded in framing and highlighting his "taking the high road" qualities while his opponents looked more and more like they were "taking the low road."
Obama benefited from what might best be described as the collapse of the Republican Party—at least for the time being. Along with a host of low points including 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the poor response to Katrina, and the profound shaking up of the economy, the legacy of George Bush will now include the undermining of his own political party.
It wasn't as if people couldn't see this political turnaround coming. As with other debacles of the Bush presidency, there were the warning signs—most obviously in the preceding election results and the 2007-2008 popularity polls. Yet the Bush administration continued to pursue an agenda that seems to have been favorable chiefly not even to his party-at-large but to an increasingly small group of wealthy cronies.
Last night's election occasioned the historic ascent of Barack Obama as well as a historic rejection of Republican politicians, including a significant number in New York. I believe that Obama, with his team, has the abilities to take on the great challenges of this time and achieve the stature of an Abraham Lincoln or an FDR, but only time will tell if he will fulfill his potential. He can do it, but it will require sticking to the "high road" he has followed and persuading others to join him route despite the pressures from powerful "low road" influences.
Obama made history last night, but the real history is to be made in the times ahead. May his campaign continue for years to come.