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11.03.08

The Boys on the Bus

The night of the Iowa caucuses, before Obama arrived at the Hy-Vee Hall to give his victory speech, a local drum-and-step group entertained the waiting crowd in a cordoned-off area next to the press pen. The kids were all African-American—the youngest, probably 8-years-old, and the oldest around 15. All over the country, African-Americans were still worried that white voters wouldn't support a black man. And given their youth, growing up black in Iowa, you'd forgive these kids for being cynical and skeptical as well.

But they were ecstatic. The look on their faces as they spun those cymbals and stomped their feet was pure joy. And for the first time it hit me that they could have their own president. Not that Obama would be the "black" president, but that they would feel he was president of everyone, including them. They would be able to see themselves in him.

It would be that much harder to say, “What's the point in trying?” And it would be that much easier to dream big.

Maybe good political reporters aren't supposed to be moved by stuff like that. If so, I'll plead guilty. Because what I remember from that night are the beaming faces of those kids and trying really hard to make sure none of my colleagues saw me cry.