Almost Tuesday: Respecting the Man and The Office
So let us at last bid good bye to Bush, who leaves the office of President in far worse shape than when he received it eight very long years ago. The damage he has done to this country and to the world is unconscionable. Let us gladly and willingly let Bush disappear into his plush Dallas neighborhood (leaving the ranch that was never really a ranch at all, merely a prop, to brush and tumbleweeds) and be heard from no more. Let him live a quiet life, as untroubled by the press and the attentions of the outside world as he himself is untroubled by reflection or self-recrimination, and by his sometimes ironic, and almost always ignoble actions.
May his soul rot in hell when he departs this earth; may his cronies rot with him as well.
Let us turn and leave him and face our future, bleak that it is, yet hopeful and promising at the same time.
Never in my life have I seen a country so excited, jubilant, celebratory about and welcoming to an incoming president. Part of our celebratory mood must certainly be part of our pride - pride in the long road we’ve traversed in race-relations in this country. Racial inequities and prejudice have not disappeared from our national landscape - not at all - but we’ve made significant progress. And we have pride too in a victory well-planned and executed, yet a victory hard won.
Part of our mood must be the sheer joy and absolute relief at the departure of Bush and cronies - at the defeat of Rovian thinking that infected even McCain’s campaign. Part of our joy is the triumph over hard-line, arrogant, and irrational conservatives. Do not mistake me, do not misinterpret me - you can be a conservative and be rational and humble, and do the right things. But the tone and tenor of conservatism our country has experienced in the past eight years has not truly been conservatism; rather, that tone and tenor has bordered on fascism and fanaticism.
Yet the changing of the guard does not mean the recession will magically disappear, the war come to a sudden halt, the massive debt we’ve accumulated in the last eight years evaporate. President-elect Obama is, after all, a mere man (a damned smart one, that’s for sure, but still just a man) and not a miracle-worker, not the Messiah (and Lord knows, we don’t want a Messiah anyway - we’ve already had our full of one president who thought he was doing God’s will - and that’ s quite enough, thank you).
We will have a reasonable man, not an ideologue at the helm. Science, reason, debate, analysis, depth and breadth of knowledge - all these things matter again. During an interview several weeks ago, President-elect Obama said words I have not heard spoken with any intent from a president in eight years: science, culture, art, and poetry. He said in times of hardship, these are the things that define a country - its people - these are the things which bring sustenance and comfort - and help us carry on.
President-elect Obama has already made some decisions that I agree with and some with which I disagree. But I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt, to trust and wait and see what will happen. He has my trust because this man explains why he does what he does, and with some eloquence at that. I am aligned with this leader in basic philosophy and in the manner of his thinking - his ability to follow a line of reason and explain his rationale. He will make mistakes - as all Presidents do - but he won’t make them because he didn’t take the time to seek counsel, hear multiple points of view, study, and reflect before coming to a decision. His mistakes won’t come from arrogance or negligence or incompetency. His mistakes will come because he is not perfect - and I can live with that.
President-elect Obama. I like those words as they roll off my tongue, as they appear in type. President Obama. I like that even better. In the last eight years, I have refused to call Bush by the title of his office - I couldn’t provide that level of respect for not only did the man not deserve it, but he demeaned the office as well.
But by Tuesday afternoon, I will be able to respect both the office and the man who holds it.
That’s something indeed.