I’ve just gotten back from our every-other-year holiday pilgrimage to Germany, my husband’s home and where his entire family continues to live. Over various kinds of ‘wurst’, breads, cakes and cookies, and lots of wine, the conversation would frequently enough turn to politics. Not about the job that German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is doing. Nooo! It was always the election of Barack Obama… and how wonderful it was.

If it were just our family members who were responding this way, I might just chalk it up to the fact that they know I’m an Obama supporter so they support him, too. Not to mention their eagerness for Chris and I to produce kinder of mixed ethnic and national heritage who could also grow up to be president of the United States; a by-product of the hope spurred by the Obama phenomenon.

The reality is, all over I ran across surprising expressions of how optimistic Germans (and the world, in general) are about Obama’s election. I walked into several bookstores and found almost as many books about our President-elect as you might find in any Barnes & Noble. And not all of those books were mere German translations of American writing. Some were written by Europeans themselves, even a European journalist who covered the election.

There’s something to be said about this renewed enthusiasm around the world for America. Interestingly enough, it has little to do with anything, in terms of policy, that Obama has done. It has everything to do with his tone, especially in direct contrast to almost everything President Bush has done over the last 8 years. And, too, the tone of the Bush administration, which has done us no favors abroad.

Of course my observation about the world’s response to Obama isn’t original; we’ve been hearing about it since before Election Day. I’m only noting it from a very personal perspective; something I saw with my own eyes.

It’s an expectation that we’ll return to civility, and respect for people (and countries and cultures) who are different from us. And maybe, just maybe, the rest of the political world will adopt J.R. Hoeft’s New Year’s resolution to be more civil.

But this is Virginia, where every year is a political year. And with the news that Gov. Tim Kaine is set to be the next Chairman of the DNC, we’re seeing another something for Republicans to jump on with heavy criticism, despite the fact that, whether or not you agree with him politically, he’s shown us that his interest in putting Virginia first and moving the Commonwealth forward is sincere. That’s all about tone. And with Kaine at the head of the DNC, that tone, which is still very popular here in used-to-be-reliably-red Virginia, might just make Democrats an even more palatable option than they were on November 4.