WASHINGTON -- The history-making moment with which we're now all familiar seems to have surpassed inevitability and entered the realm of foregoneness.
There seems no stopping Barack Obama, not solely because of his obvious appeal but because, who really wants to be the one who stands athwart history yelling "Stop!" when this particular history is so compelling?
And so charged.
It is compelling, no matter one's politics. Watching Obama give his celebration speech Tuesday night, I became aware that I was smiling. I slapped myself, of course, but the fool thing wouldn't go away.
It is hard not to smile when Obama is smiling, but it was more than the animal impulse to mimicry. It was simply satisfying to witness the birth of this new political offspring after centuries of labor. We were all midwives in that moment. Bravo.
It's too bad John McCain didn't say something along those lines instead of starting the general election off with a badly delivered attack on Obama. McCain's performance Tuesday provided a glimpse of the downer aspect of competing with this particular foe.
Suddenly, the Old Warrior was grumpy ol' granddad breaking up the keg party.
McCain will have to fight that bummer rap throughout the campaign as he says what he must to bring Obama down. He will also have to battle something else less tangible, which is the human attraction to momentousness, the desire to be part of the unfolding drama. (Involuntary smiling is an early symptom.)
Not everyone's swooning, clearly. Republicans want to stop Obama for all the right reasons (increased government confiscation of earnings, redistribution of wealth, and the prospect of a President Obama empowering enemies through therapeutic chats). Nevertheless, many GOP insiders -- resigned to the growing probability of a Democratic surge -- long ago shifted their focus to 2012.
Some Hillary supporters would also like to stop Obama as a protest, believing they've been cheated in their quest to place the first female in the presidency. We witness in that reaction the downside of winning when someone else's "first" is thwarted in the process.
But overall, as headlines around the world have treated Obama's nomination as the second coming, there is a perceptible undercurrent of fait accompli.
"For the time being, Barack Obama is changing the world," wrote one British columnist. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas bestowed the force on Obama, declaring him a hero "for all of us that have dreams and hope."
All that remains is for Obama's visage to appear on some petrified Mayan bagel.