Several weeks prior to the primary vote, when it was clear that Obama would win, we began to see essays that pleaded for restraint against lording it over Clinton supporters, despite the intensity of that long, fierce fight. The public compliance with that plea was, at least from an Obama supporter's pov, impressive. Obama and his new administration will face a similar but far greater challenge in the wake of the election, and it will be just as important, maybe more important and even more difficult, to make that same extended effort.
There've recently been calls on several sites for, eventually, a kind of "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" as a way to address the frustration not only of over-the-top conduct by McCain, but even (or especially) the actions of Bush et al. One such suggestion prompted comments like "yeah, but don't forget revenge! we need to punish them!" Which of course defeats the point of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and - most importantly - exacerbates the critical, tragic divisiveness that Obama is trying to overcome. Punishment, public humiliation, acknowledgement may be intellectually and emotionally gratifying in the short term, but at enormous long-term cost.
"Affinity politics," as used by the editor of the Anchorage paper in conversation on NPR, is alogical participation in the democratic process, where the voter instinctively decides "this candidate is like me" and closes down any further consideration of issues or facts. Faced with facts like a birth certificate, affinity voters will invent a story to spin it rather than step back and think about either the fact or the spin. And the flip side of this is that those of us in the loyal opposition are seen, by affinity, as surrogates for our candidate. So if I (carelessly, regretfully) make a 5-second snarky comment on Sarah Palin in a gym full of Cavuto fans, they perceive it as Obama directly insulting themselves.
Let's all meditate on Maya Angelou's famous quote "they will never remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." That's the secret of Palin's success with her base, and it is the key to Obama's long-term effectiveness (and perhaps even to his safety). Please, let's all summon the discipline and community that we strived for following the primary, and find those common bonds with even those who seem most mystifying to us. Don't expect them to reciprocate, but do hope that they will restrain themselves as well, and that a year or so from now we will find ourselves all a little closer to Obama's goals.