Manna for liberals long in the wilderness


Although the inauguration day spread at the Scituate home of longtime liberal political activist Kate Coyne-McCoy included an array of frittatas, grilled sausages, roast potatoes, and Champagne, the main sustenance for a like-minded group of about dozen guests was the political manna represented by the swearing-in of Barack Obama.

Last summer, Coyne-McCoy, the Northeast regional director for EMILY's List, hosted a straw Democratic presidential poll in which Hillary Clinton, in a reflection of the conventional wisdom of the moment, emerged as the winner. Coyne-McCoy's personal preference at the time was John Edwards, and she personally favored Obama after Edwards dropped out, because, she says, he most embodied the prospect of change.

On the verge of joyful tears this afternoon after Obama was sworn in, Coyne-McCoy called it her happiest moment since the birth of her children. Her guests were similarly ebullient, reacting with applause and whoops to Obama's speech and the spirited benediction by Joseph Lowery, who had founded the SCLC with Martin Luther King Jr.

Last summer, Coyne-McCoy says, "I was convinced there was no way we [Democrats] couldn't win." But she believed at the time that America was not ready to elect an African-American president.

The 1999 Congressional candidate found it hard to put into words her joy about Obama succeeding George W. Bush. "I can not describe how I've felt for days," she said, as she pulled a pan of roasted potatoes from her oven. Not just does Obama represent a polar opposite to his predecessor, she said, "he's an African-American with an African-American family," thereby embodying the possibility of change in America. "It really, to me, is a big deal."

As Coyne-McCoy, who gave away the tickets she had received for today's inauguration, spoke, the enthusiastic throng of tens of thousands in DC who were awaiting the ascent of a new president lent flesh to her words.

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