Friday, January 23, 2009

A Class Act

I will now stick my foot into a political cowpie and comment on the events of the week. This is, of course, simply a ruse to cause my irrational friends to reveal themselves in the comments. (It's a miracle I have any blog readers at all).

I watched the inaugural proceedings with unabated interest and a sense of excitement that always accompanies these types of events. I was very relieved to see Bush leave office - not because I think he's evil incarnate or anything (I truly believe he is a decent man who did what he thought was best for our country. Yes, he made mistakes, and I profoundly disagree with some of his policies, like any person who has held the office of president, but I don't believe for one second that he was the lying scoundrel so many have made him out to be) but because I was relieved for his sake. Here is a man who was roundly abused for every decision he made, called "stupid" and "incompetent" for eight long years, and was never given the least bit of recognition for things he did well. I can't imagine the level of exhaustion, discouragement and stress he endured. So I'm happy he can move on to better things, away from the unforgiving eye of the press corps.

But most of all, I was looking forward to an end of the petty sniping that has plagued the last eight years. I thought Tuesday would be the first of hopefully many days where we could put aside our differences and come together as Americans, grateful to live in a country where the magnitude of something as rare as the peaceful transfer of power overwhelmed any urge to throw rotten tomatoes at the departing president. Sadly, I was disappointed as many, including the exultant media, could not quench the childish impulse to kick President Bush on his way out the door. Tom Brokaw, Chris Matthews... everyone had to take a shot. Including the crowd outside the Capitol, who gleefully sang "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!" to President Bush.


I'm not sure what it is that makes individuals think they have knowledge and information superior to the president, (Like George Burns said, "It's too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxis and cutting hair.") but at least their behavior reveals them as being incapable of having a rational discussion of policy and politics. If you are unwilling to concede that the president just might be privy to some information that you do not have, or that his team of advisers might know a bit more about a given issue than your team of advisers, then a logical and reasonable discussion is simply impossible. No one knows the burdens that that are carried by the president, and they show it in their inability to appreciate his efforts in the slightest.

So now that the former president and his lovely wife are home in Texas, I am happy to take a deep breath, and with the reasonable members of the population, move on. And I was happy to see that both the departing president and the incoming president behaved with class and dignity befitting such a sober and important occasion.

There were many moments I enjoyed. I love ceremonial things - parades and military marches, the swearing in, the inaugural ball. But the moment that struck me most was not Obama's speech, Michelle Obama's gift to Laura Bush (very classy), or her beautiful ballgown, it was when a reporter took President Obama aside and tried to get him to say something derogatory about Chief Justice Roberts and his swearing-in flub earlier in the day. I immediately cringed and thought, "Give the guy a break, he's only human. You try getting up in front of millions of people, knowing you are participating in something historic that will be replayed on the airwaves for generations to come, and do it without making a mistake." But I was pleased and proud to hear Obama say that he and Justice Roberts had both made mistakes, and that Roberts had actually helped him at one point during the swearing in, so he was appreciative of Roberts's efforts. Very classy.

This was reiterated the next day when Vice President Biden could not resist his two-year old impulse to make a snide comment about Justice Roberts's memory. In the background you could see President Obama's face tighten, and a subtle shake of his head as he tried to prevent Biden from saying anything more. I think these two instances speak volumes about the man, and I hope it's a reflection of what we can look forward to for the next (probably) eight years.

God Bless President Bush for his service, and may God Bless President Obama as well.


Sara said...

I whole-heartedly agree with every word you wrote - in fact I had a conversation very similar to this the day after the inauguration.

I was saddened by the lack of decorum by the general populace and most of the press and immensely impressed with the grace and dignity of both the outgoing and incoming Presidents.

May God Bless them - they're going to need it.

Kristen and Jared said...

The George Burns quote is awesome! Thanks for sharing.

fiona said...

I totally agree, as you know. I didn't know about the Pres Obama and Justice Roberts thing, though, and I'm very glad to hear it, but not necessarily surprised. Obama seems to be a decent man, and I will surely support him as our president. And I love Pres Bush, he's a good man, too, who did his best to protect our country, and I will always appreciate him. It's so ignorant and immature of people to make those petty, biting remarks about him. Puh-lease! You try running a country! Peace and good will to both men and their families, and to the whole country. And world.

overlyactive said...

I'm sad to say that the whole political scene has disenchanted me completely. I have distanced myself so much that I didn't even watch any of the inauguration. So I'm glad to get the readers digest from you.

singingrae said...

Totally agree. While I can't help fearing what may be in our liberal future, I certainly hope for the best.
Why can't we celebrate the good things instead of defaming and abusing? Bush couldn't stay, so why not honor him for the good he did? Run a special, write a cheerful review, salute a man who did the best he could with some very tough situations. It makes me sad.

Catherine said...

Amen. Said well. Love catching up on your blog Bonnie.

Stephanie Black said...

Excellent blog, Bonnie!

Lempskies said...

I found your blog from MyDonkeyFive. I think Bush was sincere & did do some things very well. My brother is in Iraq right now (he's an AF doc) & says he thinks the surge has been successful & the country is more secure than it was previously, but no one gives Bush credit for that.

Obama is incredibly tactful & diplomatic. He's so good at being able to get a point accross without tearing others down. That will serve us well domestically and internationally. His speech was inspiring.

Oliver said...

Class is greatly absent in our society today. It is refreshing to see people who have class. Now to teach it to our children.

Julia said...

All those people who claimed they wanted unity under Obama became total liars when they dissed Bush and Biden for being human. Nice.