Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009

One year from the past Sunday, a new President-elect will take the oath of office before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and millions of Americans watching on their televisions. If we are lucky, it will usher in a new era for this country, an era punctuated by a return to justice, respect for the Constitution, respect for basic human rights, and an understanding of the limits of presidential power. I believe George W. Bush will ultimately be judged as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. Even accounting for the ineffectual presidencies of the Gilded Age and the stain of corruption attached to the two terms served by Ulysses S. Grant, the Bush administration must be regarded as an even worse failure, both in terms of domestic and foreign policies. Even the Nixon administration, which we remember primarily for its demise in the Watergate scandal, can be remembered for some positive accomplishments, most notably the warming of relations between the U.S. and China. Reagan, whom I've always regarded as one of the most intellectually limited of our Chief Executives, looks comparatively benign next to the idiocy of Bush. Indeed, when Reagan was in office I always thought, "Well, we can't do any worse." I was so wrong.

What can we expect for 2009 and beyond? Regardless of the new president's party affiliation, we should demand an end to this illegal war and expect a strenuous effort to restore the nation's reputation within the worldwide community. Americans should also expect the next president to uphold the oath of office, unlike President Bush, who regularly trampled on the system of "checks and balances" established by the Constitution.

Among the current Republican candidates, several are particularly troubling. Huckabee should have been disqualified after the first debate for declaring that he did not believe in evolution, preferring the Genesis creation mythology as the source for his belief. He also too closely reflects the dangerous vision of the Republican party's religious fascists who labor constantly to bring down the constitutional wall that separates church and state. (The "Religious Right's" misreading of our early history and the Constitution is one of the gravest threats to this nation.) Giuliani too closely resembles Bush in temperament. (Thankfully, Rudy's numbers are declining in the polls.) McCain has a record of occasional moderation, but one wonders if he'll compromise his often maverick stance on critical issues just to secure votes. Romney, his controversial Mormonism aside, just seems so lacking in charisma and intellectual "oomph." He's fast becoming the John Kerry of the 2008 campaign.

Unfortunately, even the current Democratic front-runners haven't attracted my support at this point. Although I like Hillary Clinton (and still like Bill), I don't think she's electable in a national contest. Fudge-brained conservatives in the South and Midwest will do everything in their power to combat her candidacy and bring out the Republican minions to vote. I like Obama's optimism and think he represents a welcome challenge to the status quo, but believe he would make a more viable candidate in 2012. I just don't think he has sufficient experience in government yet to navigate the murky political waters of Washington.

From the beginning, I had hoped Al Gore would run. He's clearly the most qualified to do the job, and he possesses a gravitas and intellectual curiosity that smug George Bush doesn't carry even on his best days. (And as I've said before, we'll all be better off when Bush sits isolated and out of touch on his Texas ranch, condemned to obscurity, the harsh judgment of scholars, and the dustbin of American history. One hopes that in the future he'll come to recognize the tragedy of his two terms in office. One suspects, however, that he doesn't possess the requisite humility, since he's been trumpeting his own infallibility since taking office.) Alas, Gore will not run, and I will have a hard time making up my mind in November. (Of course, I will NOT be voting Republican in November and could not, with a clear conscience, cast a vote for any Republican candidate.) Nevertheless, I'm sustained by the thought that in 363 days, Bush will no longer be President of the United States.


jblack designs said...

You said, "We'll all be better off when Bush sits isolated and out of touch on his Texas ranch."

I say: Maybe you'll be better off, but those of us who live in this neck of the woods are dreading the day when it drifts even further into neo-con hell.

Hopefully, he'll be sitting in some fancy-pants house in Dallas and only come to Crawford for photo ops. Gotta pretend you're one of the people every now and again, right?

BooCat said...

Dear BrianC,
I'd vote for Ole Scratch, "hisself," popped right up out of Hell, rather than vote Republican this fall! If that is being a "yellow dog," then so be it. I don't think this country can endure four more years of the Republican Party. We are going to be hanging on fang and claw to make it to January 2009 as it is.