Our first Times Watch entry in what promises to be a long list comes from New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns's piece the day after Barack Obama's Election Day victory, "Vaulting the Racial Divide, Obama Persuaded Americans to Follow." Brace yourself for sugar shock:
Even during the darkest hours of his presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois held on to his improbable, unshakable conviction that America was ready to step across the color line.
In a country long divided, Mr. Obama had a singular appeal: he is biracial and Ivy League educated; a stirring speaker who shoots hoops and quotes the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr; a politician who grooves to the rapper Jay-Z and loves the lyricism of the cellist Yo-Yo Ma; a man of remarkable control and startling boldness....He was also something completely new: an African-American presidential candidate without a race-based agenda. And his message of unity and his promise of a new way of thinking seemed to inspire -- or least offer some reassurance -- to a country staggered by two wars, a convulsing economy and sometimes bewildering global change.