The Year Anything Was Possible
December 31, 2008 2 Comments
To me, 2008 was The Year Anything Was Possible. I remember the moment it dawned on me. I had been thinking it all year long, but at about 8:27 p.m. (pacific) or so Oct. 29, I realized without a doubt that in 2008 the rules were being re-written and Anything Really Was Possible.
It had been a year of Believing and Hoping and doing the math over and over, but that night, I knew.
By the end of 2007 it seemed as though there was real potential on so many fronts. And as 2008 dawned, the depression and gray cloud that had hung over the US since the USSC handed Bush the White House finally began to peel back.
The end was finally in sight. His time was over. There really was light at the end of this tunnel. We only had to make it through 12 more months, 12 months in which we would see his influence wane as the next presidency began to take shape right before our eyes. On January 1, that still seemed like either Hillary Clinton (most likely) or Rudy Giuliani (equally as likely, really).
But just three days later, the rest of the country caught up to what many of us saw: a new candidate, who not only talked about change but actually, himself, seemed to represent the very shift this country needed – away from the bickering, away from the personal politics, away from the Boomers.
When, on January 3, Barack Obama, a half-black intellectual with a funny name shocked just about every pundit in the country by thrashing both Hillary and John Edwards in the Iowa Caucuses, the buzz began to build: this guy is different. This guy could actually do it. Was it really possible?
On the Republican side, John McCain, the one-time Maverick who stood up to the establishment in 2000 and gave George W. Bush all he could handle in the primary (before Bush’s people [allegedly] started planting ugly rumors in South Carolina about Mac’s adopted orphan daughter and knocked the real war hero and bipartisan right off the map) was lagging. But thanks to Rudy’s ridiculous and ultimately suicidal decision to entirely forgo the first two contests, there was no clear leader, allowing smiley unknown Arkansas Conservative Mike Huckabee to sneak in and eke out a victory amongst the corn. Anything was Possible.
A few days later, Hillary came roaring back in New Hampshire, a state that was leaning heavily in Obama’s favor until he picked up the victory in Iowa – Anything Was Possible – and Johnny Mac once again found his name at the top of the pile and the buzz began to once again build behind the former war hero who at one time spoke his mind but had since become a Bush apologist. After being all but left for the wolves in late 2007, Mac was once again the guy to beat, especially after Rudy – whose decision to skip NH and IA meant no one had heard a peep from him in the media for weeks – finally folded like an off-suit 7-2 after Florida. Anything was Possible.
Then, out of nowhere, the New York Giants took down the heavily-favored and undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots were the best team the game has ever seen and the Giants, whose 2007 campaign started out with back-to-back losses but ended with a wild card berth (despite a final-week loss to the Pats), stuck it to pretty boy Tom Brady with a ridiculous, last minute 32-yard pass that David Tyree caught, literally, with his helmet and a last-second touchdown. Anything was Possible.
On Super Tuesday, Obama beat Hillary again, gaining an insurmountable lead. It didn’t matter that Hillary refused to admit it. Anyone with a calculator could now see that she was not going to have the juice to catch up and instead started turning to her friends in the Party faithful – the Superdelegates. But even they seemed poised for something different and held out. Anything was Possible.
Also in February, the US Navy shot out of the sky an old spy satellite that was crashing to Earth, a nearly impossible shot.
As the year went on, two of the most unlikely of candidates from the vast field of wanna-bes emerged as the party nominees. The Clintons had been defeated despite pulling out every stop they could muster, which was incredible in its own right, but then when Hillary actually acknowledged Obama as the nominee? After months of refusing to say die even though the math was never in her favor? Anything was Possible.
In June, The Hold Steady released the record that would become not only the message of the year for me, but also the most fun rock album to hit shelves since, well, their last record: “Stay Positive.” The album is primarily about aging and refusing to see it and how as we get older, we have to be careful because “the kids at the shows now have kids of their own and our sing-a-long songs will their scriptures.” It’s a great record and while not always upbeat, it is always fun. We gotta Stay Positive.
During the summer, gas prices soared to $4 a gallon. The country reeled. That number should not have been possible, but anything was. By year’s end, the trend reversed and the national average for a gallon plummeted to $1.44. Anything was Possible.
In August, despite a good many people not believing it could happen, the Olympics opened in China with a spectacular opening ceremony and gave the world two weeks of great memories and great sports, with little trouble, topped by the record-breaking run of Michael Phelps, whose eight swimming medals set a record, beating the seemingly impossible stats of Mark Spitz. Anything was Possible.
Then at the convention, Hillary and Bill both gave rousing speeches in support of the nominee – think back, this was not a given; there was the very real chance the Clintons (who still didn’t believe Obama could win in a general election) would hijack the convention – and then Hillary herself ended the protracted floor vote her people had spent months planning. Anything was Possible.
The following week, John McCain, who had been campaigning for two years on his experience and his opponent’s lack of it officially handed the election to Obama by picking as his running mate an unknown, neophyte female redneck governor who was more folksy than smart, more lipstick than pitbull and more pretty than anything else. The pick was pure politics and once and for all pulled back the curtain on the McCain campaign to reveal that his entire campaign was all a sham. The Maverick was doing what he was told. Anything was Possible.
As Labor Day came and went, Obama began to pick up steam. But so did the Philadelphia Phillies, making a push for the playoffs as the Mets, like the economy and John McCain’s oval office dreams, tanked. The upstarts from the City of Brotherly Love began looking like champions about the same time as the Upstart from the City of Big Shoulders was as well. As the Phils made their way through the National League Playoffs, knocking off the biggest arm (CC Sabathia) and the biggest bat (Manny Rameirez) in rapid succession, Obama wiped the floor with John McCain at the debates. On Oct. 15, the night of the final presidential debate, the Phillies claimed the National League.
On Oct. 29, after a two-day rain-postponed game (something that had never happened before), the Brad Lidge threw a filthy, filthy slider under the swinging bat of Eric Hinski and the Philadelphia Phillies had won the 2008 World Series, and after 25 years of futility and embarrassment, Philadelphia had a championship again – and from the most unlikely quarter, the Phillies, the most hapless, losingest team in the history of professional sports.
That night, before the game on the East Coast and after the game on the West Coast, Barack Obama ran a 30-minute infomercial, a last pitch, though by that time, his win was all but guaranteed.
At the end of the show, at about 8:27 p.m., the video cut to a live shot of a rally in Florida, where the candidate addressed the crowd and the country. Fresh off watching the impossible happen – a joyful pile on the pitcher’s mound at Citizen’s Bank Park – I saw Obama talk about how in 6 days we can choose a new America, and all I could think was ‘fuck, if the Phillies can win the World Series, anything is possible! This guy can actually win!’
A few days later, Obama did just that, stacking up states so early that the very second that polls closed on the West Coast, every news organization in the planet officially called the election (though it had truthfully been over for hours – maybe weeks – already). America had a new president and not only was he NOT a Republican, he was NOT a baby boomer and he was NOT a white male.
Anything really was possible. The party was nationwide and unstoppable, especially in Chicago.
THEN, to further prove that anything could happen, Obama selected Hillary Clinton, the rival with whom he disagreed most about foreign policy – to be his next Secretary of State.
Late in the year, Axl Rose and a rotating cast of characters disguised as Guns N Roses finally released, after 15 years of work, the album “Chinese Democracy.” The album was long-rumored, partially-leaked and became the “Smile” of 80s metal. Whether it was any good or not is an after thought, the simple fact that it was released was amazing. Anything Was Possible.
THEN President Bush even got on board with the impossible and talked about mistakes and errors in his presidency (albeit in his own way). Even Alan Greenspan testified in front of Congress that his entire world view, his whole ideas of free market conservatism might even be wrong. Anything Was Possible.
(Well, not anything. Cheney remains as callous and evil as ever, refusing even the slightest error…)
THEN even OJ Simpson finally went to jail. It wasn’t for murder, but armed robbery will still keep him behind bars most of, if not all of, the rest of his life.
It was a dizzying year, indeed. Anything Was Possible, and in most cases, the seemingly impossible was what made 2008 worth remembering.