America’s fraud-in-chief is finally gone, eight years after he stole a presidency he never won. Eight years too late, with a legacy of death, tragedy, hatred, and economic ruin, we walks away a free man.
History will remember him – because we must not be tempted to forget – as one of the worst disasters every to attach itself, parasite-like, to the white house.
History will remember a stolen and fraudulent election, a series of disasters (natural and man-made) ill-handled, and willfully squandered goodwill. It will remember cronyism, wars fought over nothing, thousands of lives lost for nothing, and billions squandered and wasted. History will remember a death toll, a cost of billions, and and a smoking ruin of an economy.
Were the universe a fair place, we would now jail him for his crimes, and then he would look forward to a burning hell for the next thousand years.
Osama Bin Laden’s death toll pales before that of George W Bush; who’s the better extremist now? Who wins? Osama lives in caves and hides. Our outgoing president will carry an honorific and a pension and the titular respect of a nation. Yet he’s done more damage to freedom and world peace than a dozen bin ladens could hope for, and he’s done it in plain sight.
But I do not believe in a fair universe. I see one random and capricious, un-caring and utterly un-interested in tiny human inventions like good and evil.
The deserved punishment, then, can only be in how we remember. Because history is written by the winners, and the last four years of american history is an epic, resounding FAIL.
I hold hope, however.
I am not Barack Obama’s greatest fan; we have profound philosophical differences. But he has the makings of a good president. He carries with him a kenedy-esque fervor and charm, much as Bill Clinton did sixteen years ago. Yet he lacks Clinton’s smugness, and, if we can believe what we see, he also lacks Clinton’s weakness as a leader.
The jury is far, far out on Barack Obama. He is un-tested, un-tried. Yet I cannot recall a man I’ve seen take office, since I first became aware of politics in 1972, about whom I’ve felt a greater sense of hope. He has an advantage no one since Ford has had; that is, following a leader universally reviled. But unlike Ford, who fell into leadership, Obama was chosen by a significant majority.
Certainly, many of those votes were not for, but against. They were cast against McCain’s loose-cannot Behavior, his age, his anger, his obvious failure to understand the profound failure of the last eight years. And many more cast a vote against Sarah Palin, who single-handedly set women in politics back a decade or more. Those votes were not cast for a dynamic young black man, they were cast against a creepy old white one. So the landslide we saw cannot be credited entirely to Barack’s dynamic speaking and appearance of leadership.
Still – he looks, already, the very image of a world leader.
He’s earned an unenviable job; much like whomever is hired to coach for a disasterous team like the oakland raiders, he may have a swamp too deep to drain in the years he’ll be given.
Personally though, in a month of absolute misery, this one thing feels like hope.
First, the truth of the last eight years needs to be written down. Not the populist lies, as became Reagan’s legacy, but the hard, brutal, un-varnished truth. Katrina’s wake, filled with talk, but not action or money. 9/11, to which we responded by stealing civilil rights, alienating the world, and then marching forth under a crusader’s banner to take back the oil-laden holy land. A banking system in it’s worst state since the great depression. And an election system, once trusted world-wide, now the subject of universal suspicion.
There are a hundred, a thousand more; some we know, some, certainly, only to be learned later if at all. But the hard truth needs to be set down now, while it’s fresh, and while we hold hope. Otherwise we risk the rosy polish of a political machine, leaving our children with a notion that the last eight years were some heroic stand against an imaginary them.
Our teenagers must be taught to think, to read, to act politically. I see their fervor on facebook and myspace; they’re flush with a battle won. But NOW is the time to instill memory of the battles lost. In four, or eight, or twelve years, they’ll be casting ballots, and they must learn now, that today’s world is entirely the result of ballots mis-cast in the recent past.