In my extensive travels since Election Day, a large number of fellow citizens have been asking me one question.
Actually, it's only a couple of walks around the block, and three people, but they all want to know the same thing: "How long is the honeymoon going to last?"
We can agree It's certainly over for the Republicans. Just ask Sarah Palin. She's the one with all those knives in her back. There are so many questions. Like was that towel she was wearing part of that 150-thousand dollar wardrobe? Will she be returning that? Or how much do you think it would go for on EBay? So many questions.
Governor Palin is still learning about Africa to be sure but mainly about national politics. The big lesson here is that all the individuals on the defeated side make damned sure someone else gets the blame. That way they can come back another time and make big money failing again.
Call me crazy, though, but perhaps, my friends, as John McCain would say, we're talking not about losers but winners...and the primo winner Barack Obama. How long will HIS honeymoon with us last?
And a honeymoon it is. After all, not only did Obama make history, but he actually got people to look past the national discouragement and cast overwhelming votes to throw the rascals out.
There is strong evidence he couldn't have done it without the docile, star struck media. So a telling sign that normalcy is returning will come when the first reporters stop wiping the tears of joy from their eyes and return to the role we're supposed to play, the irritating skeptics.
We'll know the bliss subsiding when the coverage starts getting snitty again. Of course, before that happens, the president-elect will complete his victory lap and actually do something, or name someone. It shouldn't be long.
Honeymoons usually last until the bills come due...until reality rolls over the euphoria and erodes the passion. As we know the reality this new president faces is crushing.
Change will not come easily nor will it happen quickly, particularly since those who benefit from the ways things are couldn't care less about the ways things should be. They are not going to give up their advantages without a nasty fight. It will all get confusing, and tedious.
Add to that the political dimensions. President Obama will be dealing not only with the Republicans who will soon return from battling each other to the Democrats. Count on them to pounce on any mistake. But he will also have to fend off the overzealous in his own party, who see the election as a mandate to take extreme measures in haste.
As for the rest of us, we are a nation that is impatient for change, and scared of it at the same time. Any president has to reconcile those competing instincts, no more so than now.
Nothing can take the edge off a honeymoon than worrying when it will be over. So the answer to that question is "Soon enough" or really "Too soon".
Hopefully, this one will serve the usual purpose and provide a foundation for a lasting, constructive, respectful relationship between Barack Obama and his really, REALLY extended national family. If it works we'll be able to thrive "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health".
Let's enjoy the distraction for a short while, a brief break from the brutal problems we have to solve. As we revel in the new with all its possibility, we are still confronted with the same old certainty of more tough times in our shared future.