Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inaugeration Day!

What could I possibly say that isn't being plastered, far more eloquently, across blogs, newspapers, magazines and television screens across the country?

Today sees George Bush leave the White House for the last time. In his stead comes a man who's already earned his place in American history.

With approval ratings of 79% (even Republicans and conservatives can't help rooting for him) Obama's got a tough gig ahead of him. The promise of change is always easier to deliver than change itself. Expectations for Obama's presidency are huge. Can he possibly live up to what we've all imagined him to be capable of?

It's also time to say goodbye to George Bush. Will he be missed? Not by me. I've never been an 'anti Bush' nut, but you'd have to be an idiot not to recognize his shortcomings.

His legacy will be a bloody war overseas, an economic crisis and a political climate in which conservatives encroached alarmingly on territory normally reserved for rational, sane politicians.

But I've sometimes stood for Bush - most noticeably in the 2004 election. My best friend and Wife disagreed with me fiercely, but I somehow think that today's inauguration of Barack Obama proves that Bush winning the 2004 election was the best thing that could have happened.

Imagine if John Kerry had become president? On a campaign based on nothing more than 'Vote for me, because I'm not Bush.' Mediocrity was not the answer: In some ways, things had to get worse before they could get better.

It took four more years of 'Dubya' to change the political climate sufficiently for last year's elections to take place. What historic elections they were!

For the first time in American history, politics was no longer the playground of rich, white men. We nearly had a female president. We nearly had a female vice president. What we ended up with was even more historic - the first African American president in American history.

If we'd had four years of Kerry, could this have happened?

I don't think so. In many ways, it took four years of Bush to make this possible.

But that's not the only reason to recognize George Bush's presidency. Like it or not, he exhibited some admirable traits. He might have been wrong about many things - abstinence-only sex education and the war in Iraq, for example - but he wasn't afraid to stick to his guns. He believed in things and he'd doggedly defend those beliefs even in the face of overwhelming public opinion.

It was that dogged determination to maintain untenable positions which earned him his dismal approval ratings - but in many ways, I think that characteristic will earn him a more favorable consideration by future generations.

He came across as an arrogant, swaggering idiot at times - but was also a very 'real' President, who wasn't afraid to address his own shortcomings. Despite being born with a silver spoon in his mouth - far more elitist than Obama could ever be considered - Bush somehow represented the working and middle-class of 'middle America.'

He didn't 'talk pretty.' He readily admitted he was a 'c' student at college. He used more malapropisms than Larry the Cable Guy. He was a former drunk, once a cocaine abuser and a convicted drunk-driver - yet he became a 'born again' Christian (which somehow gave him the moral authority to attack the rest of America's shortcomings.)

He came across as a likable guy - the sort of bloke you could go for a pint with. For the leader of the free world - and the rich son of a former president - he sure did seem like 'one of us.'


sxychikadee said...

Hip Hip Hooray!

Bush didn't come across as “one of us” to me – he was more like this


Anonymous said...

The lack of class from the left toward GWB makes me sick.

I hope you all get the government you deserve. We Republican's will come clean it up when your done.

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Roland Hulme said...

Hey CK! I hope we get the government we've deserved for the last 4/8 years as well!

Anonymous said...

What a no terrorist attack government?

One that put more money back in your pocket government?

One that let freedom run free even in spite of the fact that the liberal press wasn't playing 'fair' government?

Roland Hulme said...

Erm. I enjoyed the 2005 terrorist attack in London - so while I'm pleased the US was safe, not entirely sure Bush lived up to his promise there.

The $600 he put in my back pocket was very welcome, thank you very much. I'm just p'd off that my son will be left paying the interest for it for the majority of his working life.

And FREEDOM? Freedoms like the right to a fair trial? Not being locked up without charge? Not having your phones tapped without good reason? The right to marry who you want? Face it, even by the most VAGUE standards, Bush really didn't protect the freedoms of anybody except his own interests. How come the 'inalienable rights' or 'all men' (not just Americans) are suddenly fine to be squashed? When Thomas Jefferson wrote the declaration of Independence, I'm pretty sure it was intended to PREVENT some of the basic human rights violations that have occurred in the name of freedom.

Sasha Sappho said...

A-men, Roland. Amen.

I wish I had something more eloquent to say here, but I'm actually still a little in shock - politics being so affecting on a personal level (c'mon, ME, tearing up? at a SPEECH? on TELEVISION?) is still something I'm not sure I can get used to.

Although I'm so happy to have the opportunity.

Just wanted to check in and say hello, and let you know I'm still reading. :) Hugs to you and the Militant family.