2008: Best of Times, Worst of Times

The Year in Politics

Everyone will remember swimming superstar Michael Phelps, standing on the podium eight times to receive a gold medal while the Star Spangled Banner played.

But, arguably, the real national anthem this year was the sound of endless presidential campaign ads and candidates' speeches. The oldest democracy in the world pulled out all the stops in '08, reminding everyone that anything is possible in the United States.

Along the way, the campaign made household names out of both Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. But, in the end, there was one winner: Barack Obama.

It was a moment not just about a man but about an idea, a country "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

That idea, first engraved in Washington, was recalled this year in Philadelphia in a speech by then-candidate Obama.

"Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy, particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own," Obama said. "But what we know -- what we have seen -- is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope -- the audacity to hope -- for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."

After the events of the past year, it would seem that anything is possible in 2009.

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