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Daily News Editorial

Nov 6, 2008

By now the vote tallies are in and we know, for the most part, who the winners are from Tuesday’s election.

Barack Obama did what many thought would never happen, at least in their lifetimes – win the presidency of the United States as an African-American.

But he did, with a resounding win that put him well over the needed electoral votes.

So how did he do it?

Early in his political career, Obama spoke of “reframing dialogues,” or looking at problems through new perspectives. In the case of the presidential election victory over John McCain, Obama not only broke the color barrier, he also broke the ideological barrier. He dispensed with terms such as “left” and “right.” For the past 40 years, the centrist mentality of moving toward the center of public opinion has driven most political campaigns.

That is not how Obama waged this campaign, though.

He did in fact reframe the dialogues of the race to view common issues and common problems. And by doing so, he controlled the dialogues.

He didn’t do it all by himself, though.

Look at the similarity between the rhetoric that Obama used after learning that he was elected with John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

”We may not get there in one year or even in one term,” Obama said. ”But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.”

Kennedy’ said the following in his inaugural address:

“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

While he ran against Hillary Clinton, Obama didn’t keep that from borrowing from her husband’s political strategy of developing a groundswell of public support, building from the grassroots up.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” F.D.R. said in his first inaugural address. That saying very closely matches Obama’s mantra of “the audacity of hope.”

When South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, former Senate minority leader, lost his bid for re-election, he asked Obama if he would like the veteran politian’s political consultants and expertise handed to him on a satin pillow. Obama, of course, accepted the offer.

Obama is a brilliant student of political rhetoric and a master of political organization. No one can argue that. And he has a Democratic Congress and Senate behind him.

How he proves himself as president will not be through an abuse of power, but by building coalitions of support for programs that address the problems of all Americans.

If he can pull that off, it will be a miracle.