Just a couple of quick thoughts on the inauguration of Barack Obama, who is doomed to disappoint the millions of people who are so caught up in his cult of personality that they seem to honestly expect him to solve every problem faced by the modern world. God help him (and I mean that literally, I don't toss that phrase around) when they realize he's only human.
First up, CNN sent me these two Breaking News Alert e-mails today, sixteen minutes apart:
-- The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States is under way.
-- Barack Obama has been sworn in as the nation's 44th president.
OK. It has been known for years that the inauguration of America's 44th president would take place on January 20, 2009. And we've known since early November that Obama would be that president.
By what possible measure in any possible universe do the two items I quoted (in their entirety) qualify as Breaking News? I'm expecting one in about nine hours that says "Sun rises on Eastern Seaboard of North America", followed closely by "Canadian temperatures dipped below freezing in January".
If for whatever reason Obama had not been sworn in as scheduled, that would have been Breaking News. Breaking News should always be reserved for unforeseen events. If I'm not surprised by it, then it doesn't qualify. "Long-scheduled and heavily publicized event proceeds exactly as planned" is not, was never, and can never be Breaking News.
Today at work I had to listen to a political conversation between woefully uninformed participants. It's a close-quarters cubicle farm, and I couldn't get my MP3 player's headphones on quickly enough to dodge it.
I actually heard this sentence spoken by someone comparing Obama to Bush: "I don't think Obama's as afraid to do the right thing" (as Bush).
If I had been drinking a beverage, it surely would have come squirting out of my nose. This allegation was so ridiculous that I considered going out to the local coffee shop, getting a drink, coming back in, and asking the speaker to repeat it for the express purpose of producing some nostril cappuccino. I'm sure that hearing someone say that sentence, without sarcasm, would have been just as funny the second time around.
Bush is far from perfect. I hope history will be written by people smart and mature enough to see that he did a good - not outstanding, but good - job. Most of his supposed "disasters" were not his fault. To wit: the economy is not the President's responsibility. Iraq's continuing instability is primarily the responsibility of its own people (whether the terrorists who perpetuate it or the average decent citizens who for whatever reason can't / don't put a stop to it). To blame Bush for Katrina is to suggest that he controls the weather. "Other countries" (read "Islamic theocracies and European socialists") not approving of American policies should taken as a compliment. And so on.
Worse, Bush doesn't get credit for the things that he's done very, very right. I actually saw a commenter on another site earlier today write, in response to the correct observation that Bush policies prevented further domestic terror attacks after 9/11, "The lack of terrorist attacks means nothing; I haven't had any problems with Rhinos in my yard ever since I brought my cat home. Therefore, my cat keeps Rhinos away? No."
I trust I don't need to point out the logical error in that spectacularly arrogant display of nitwittery.
The heck with it. I can't resist dropping a hint: how many rhino attacks do you suppose this person's yard suffered before the cat entered the scene?
Back to the point. Obama may or may not be willing to do what's right. At this point, we just don't know. All we've seen are speeches filled with vapid talk of hope and change, and a whole bunch of "present" votes.
Bush, on the other hand, is practically defined by his determination to do what is right regardless of the consequences to his popularity. His low approval ratings are there precisely because he is willing to make difficult decisions and see them through whether or not they're popular. It's easy, in the short term, to achieve mass popularity. Keep the bread and circuses coming, and promise plenty of free ice cream in the mail, and media sycophants will beat a path to your door. It's much harder to demonstrate the courage of your convictions, and to stand up for what is right even when those around you disagree. Sometimes that's what leadership requires.
I wouldn't argue that George W. Bush was the smartest president ever, or the best by pretty much any measure. However, there is absolutely no question that he is a man of principles, a man of integrity, and completely fearless in standing up for what he believes to be right. To suggest otherwise isn't so much insulting to him, as it is too absurd to even consider.
Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the "iCoaster" we got our son for Christmas. Regular $90 at Wal-Mart, marked down to $50 when we bought it, and now down to $40. He loves it.