In preparing his speech he asked himself what bipartisanship meant. He found two answers, one involving strong beliefs and willingness to debate, and the other taking up arms against one’s enemies. Powell said that the founding fathers envisioned the former form of partisanship in government, and they expected us to find compromises and consensuses in dealing with our differences.
Powell ended with a metaphor of a dictatorship being an ocean liner going directly from one point to another, while democracy is a lifeboat bobbing and weaving, rising and falling in the waves, yet ultimately reaching its destination. Peter and I agreed that it wasn’t a sterling finish!
Joe told a story I had heard him tell before. Its his Jesse Helms story about is learning that the meaning of bipartisanship is to freely question fellow senators’ political judgment, but not their motives.
Learned from his mentor Mike Mansfield. Biden came into Mansfield’s office as Helms was railing against the Americans for Disability Act.
Biden lit into Helms, and Mansfield informed him that Helms and his wife had just adopted an orphaned disabled boy in Charlotte. Biden never again attacked an opponent’s motives, only his judgment.
Biden ended by quoting a beautiful Shamus Heaney: poem that I’ll have to look up. It ended with savoring the rare moment when hope and history rhyme.
Faith Hill singing
Gotta get her CD. She just forgot her words and laughed about it.
Completely disarming, enchanting. She’s a real person, despite the success and hype. And a democrat! Gotta support that.
Obama speaking: now.
He says that Powell is remarkable for focus on fairness, caring for people. That is his reputation. His wife Alma is honored nearly as much as Colin is. They’ve developed a foundation apparently devoted to children.
Obama says tonight we rededicate ourselves to the work that begins tomorrow.
Other speakers were Sen. John Warner, with hosting by Claire McCaskill.
Warner predicted that Sen. McCaskill would be the first female majority leader. He praised McCain’s concession speech as having a place in history and spoke highly of Obama’s tendency to reach out for input.
McCaskill was an engaging host. Great job of moving it along and keeping the program about the speakers and not her.
Here are some notes I wrote from the speeches I heard tonight. Peter and I went to one of 3 bipartisan dinners – inaugural dinners honoring leaders of bipartisanship. This was an Obama innovation; past eve of inauguration dinners have been high-funder candle-lit banquets. Ours honored Colin Powell. Seated near us were Steven Spielberg, Austin Goulsby (an Obama econ whiz), and the newly elected Oregon senator whose name I don’t know. We sat with a table of Seattleites, loosely hosted by our friend.