The interminable 2012 presidential campaign came to a dramatic end this week, with President Obama winning re-election over Mitt Romney in what many analysts are saying was a surprise finish.
Why the surprise? Many folks were predicting a very late night Tuesday as the votes rolled in from across the land. Who would be up? Or down? What would the margin be? Would either man ever get the required 270 electoral votes to secure the presidency for the next four years? When would that moment occur?
It occurred shortly after 10 p.m., Texas Panhandle time, Tuesday. Barack Obama won his second term with 332 electoral votes — pending the likely decision to award him all of Florida’s 29 electoral votes. They’re still counting the ballots in the Sunshine State, so we might not get a final result for a few days.
But the deal is done. And now comes the post-election analysis.
The PBS NewsHour has been providing non-stop coverage of the election and its aftermath. It will keep doing so nightly on KACV-TV, beginning at 6. The NewsHour features some first-rate analysis each Friday night, with liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields and conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks hashing out — sometimes duking it out, verbally of course — their different perspectives on the political landscape. Their exchange this week ought to be worth hearing as they examine the issues that drove this campaign. They’ll examine how Obama won and how Romney lost.
That’s not all. Stay tuned after that for a 7 p.m. broadcast of Washington Week in Review. This show features a panel discussion, hosted by longtime PBS journalist Gwen Ifill. This panel, too, will examine the election, its aftermath and consequence, seeking to look ahead to what the future brings.
This was a sometimes-brutal campaign. Both sides managed to sling plenty of arrows at the other during the course of the campaign. But one of the many fine qualities of public television is that principals manage to argue their differences without shouting. Imagine a world in which an exchange of ideas in any venue can occur with civility and decorum.
Imagine it … and know it can be done.