Obama’s historic nomination grips U.S., world

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Some forces hostile to the Bush administration did not have warm words for the Democratic standard bearer.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters on a visit to Rome Wednesday that both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain will be forced to take a “different approach” given what he called the U.S. domestic and foreign-policy failures of recent years.

“Whoever wins the elections, I’m sure the United States will change,” he told the Italian daily La Repubblica. “The United States will have a reduced sphere of influence in the world.”

Moderate and militant Palestinian factions attacked Mr. Obama’s Washington speech yesterday before a major pro-Israel lobby, which included support for Israel’s claim to an undivided Jerusalem as its capital.

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the militant Hamas movement, told Reuters new agency, “We do not differentiate between the two presidential candidates because their policies regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict are the same and are hostile to us.”

Certain contemporary forces still hold sway, however.

“This is history, yes. But Obama’s win has been so anticipated by both the press and public in recent months that the drama of it gets undercut. It loses its sense of ‘historicity,’ so to speak,” said Robert Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

The customary gravitas associated with history is not always intact either. Some analysts criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for her jaunty speech after Mr. Obama’s win, calling it a breech of etiquette.

“This was his night. An historic night,” said MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. “And on that night, she’s sticking a sharp stick in his eye, saying listen: You either make me vice president, or you put me on the Supreme Court if that’s what I want.”

Then there is another reality: Moments come and go.

“Yes, this is history. But the victory passes and we have the next historical moment to consider. For Obama, that is whether he chooses Hillary Clinton as his running mate, and how he further defines himself in the campaign,” said David M. Abshire, director of the Center for the Study of the Presidency.

Some cite an altogether different historic angle.

“The American people rejected Senator Hillary Clinton because they couldn’t stand the thought of another Clinton administration,” said former White House aide Kathleen Willey, who was subpoenaed in 1997 to testify in Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton.

“The country clearly wants to move past the Clinton era and its echoes of past controversies and disappointments,” Mrs. Willey said.

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