Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thoughts on the Inauguration, Part 3: On Mr. Bush

As much as I did not agree with many of the policies of Mr. Bush, I feel that I have to say that I did not feel great antipathy for the guy. He is, as so many of his supporters pointed out, a "good man," described often down-to-earth, or folksy. For lots of people, Mr. Bush passed the litmus test of "Would he be fun to have a beer with?"

The problem was that for such an office as the President of the US, we need to elect someone who was not "one of us," not a drinking buddy who knows about as much geography and world affairs as the average guy. Bush has the average mentality; I believe he's as self-serving as most people we run across each day, his smugness is common among the middle class. Had you been contemporaries, he would have been the class clown or the jock in your high school. I'm certain you can easily name at least 15 people you've met in your lifetime who have exactly the same personal qualities as Mr. Bush. But what we need, for every President, for every election to higher office, is a Great Man.

Mr. Bush supported poor policies and failed so badly a lot of the time because he was too average. He was too easily swayed by the people around him, the agendas he followed weren't motivated entirely by the greatest good, but were self-serving. This is not to say he was evil or mean. Unlike many people, I do think he has a good heart, and he really did want to do the right thing. But he literally just couldn't see the whole picture. Bush isn't, and never pretended to be, a thinking man. He was an average guy, and he wasn't up to the job. I wouldn't be, either. Can you honestly say you personally know anyone who would come close to having all the qualities needed to be a good President?

The point of this is not to be harsh to Mr. Bush. Holding down arguably the most difficult job in the world, he was faced with a perfect storm of difficulties. I do think he struggled mightily at times to do his best. It just wasn't enough. He was in over his head.

I started to sing a gentler tune about Bush just before the election of 2004. Ada heard me say that I would definitely not be voting for Bush. She said, "You sound angry. Is he a bad guy?" I realized then that I was angry. But I was angry at his some of his policies, and his seeming nonchalance. He was the same as countless guys I've met over the years--smirky and knee-jerk, but underneath probably well-meaning. I didn't hate him, any more than I hated any of those other smirky guys.

Once I admitted that my problem with Bush was more about what he lacked than who he was, it was clear to me that he wasn't really a "bad guy." Certainly, I didn't want Ada to grow up making snap judgements like that. So I decided then and there that I had to let go of my anger at him. I told her what became my line for every time I was dismayed about the decisions of his administration: "President Bush is not a bad guy, honey. He had his turn at being President, and he did his best. But now it should be time for him to be at home in Texas with his family. He's a good daddy, and a good husband, and now he's going to let someone else take a turn at being President." Yesterday, that's exactly what happened. I wish him well.

President Obama is having his turn now. Unlike Bush, he does have all of those elusive qualities that make a "Great Man," and I believe he will wear the mantle of the Presidency well. I confess to having some misgivings about putting so much pressure on him--he is human, and we may discover that like us, he, too, has feet of clay. The problems our country faces are huge, and (as he has pointed out) there are no quick fixes. Will expectations of Obama exceed his capabilities? Perhaps. Regardless, I am hopeful that Obama's mettle will carry the day. His character shows in his bearing, in his rhetoric, and I think he will also do his best. And that will be more than good enough.

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Lydia said...

I absolutely admire the heck out of this post. What a balanced, head-on, but-no-heart-lacking view of Bush.
OK, in honor of your commentary I'll say "President Bush"!

But I REALLY love writing, saying, and reading these words: President Obama.

Kirie said...

Lydia--thanks for your kind comments. I'm with you on celebrating saying the new moniker for our prez:
President Obama has a great ring to it.

Thanks for visiting my blog! I've been enjoying visiting yours, too.


Anonymous said...

I came across this because I was looking for an idea on how to make a chipmunk outfit. I saw this blog and decided to read it. What exactly are you so in favor of President Obama? His pro abortion stance? His wanting to raise taxes on those that create our jobs and so they decide to go elsewhere where there are less taxes? His lying about going to a church for 20 years where they spout horrible rhetoric about the U.S and saying he never knew they said that stuff? His friendship with a man that admitted he wished he would have done more terroist attacks against the US? Or is it the thought of "making history" for having the first Black president of the United States?

Kirie said...

Wow. I love getting comments, and I love meeting new people through my blog. I guess it didn't occur to me that I'm also opening myself up to getting some harsh comments as well. I debated responding to this comment, but decided to just for the sake of saying my piece back to that person (assuming they have checked the "follow comments" block.)

I'm not going to thank you, Anonymous, for your comment, because it serves no other purpose than to vent your frustrations. It doesn't even serve for debate, because that's not what you want. If you would like to entertain a debate, you would have used an identity of some sort. What you want, then, is a place to be angry. What better place than a blog about craft and poetry and family and writing and cooking? What better place than my blog?

So I'm not going to debate with you. But I will say that I'm sorry you're so angry. Anger is a hard burden to carry, and there is a reason the bible says Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31

If you had really read through my blog posts, you would have an idea that I've got a broader view of politics than you have initially guessed. Perhaps then you wouldn't have seen this post as a target for your vitriol.

Or perhaps not. If a person is hell-bent on seeing the world a certain way, then they will see that everywhere. Including my little blog. When looking for a chipmunk costume idea.

I wish you luck in making the chipmunk outfit.


Hilary said...

I will admit that you are much kinder to him than I believe I am able to be. I do not believe he should have been booed, that was wrong. I do not think he is "evil." And I do agree with your assessment of who he is. But the anger you've been able to let go, I am still holding on to in small measure, as I do not, necessarily, think he's a good man. But neither is he evil. Weak, perhaps. But similar to yoru conversation with Ada, Matty said to me on inauguration day, "Mommy, George Bush is a bad man." And I realized I did something very wrong. And I said,
"No, Honey, George Bush is not a bad man, he's a good person. He jsut wasn't very good at being President, but I'm not very good at math. I'm still a good person, and so is George Bush. Ok?" And later when I picked him up from preschool, he said, "Mommy, president Obama is President now. And George Bush is a good man." And I said to myself, ok, that'll work.

Hilary said...

Oooh, I missed Anonymous's comment when I made my first one. I will simply say that sometimes, people like to be agents of divisiveness in places that are happier than their own. I agree ultimately with Lydia's comment, that this is a very admirable post that is very well-balanced. To say nothing of the fact that this is YOUR blog. and ya get to say what you want. And much like a television show, if one doesn't like what they're reading here, they can "turn it off."

Sandra Foyt said...

Kudos to you for having the fortitude to not completely delete Anonymous. I know that I would've been tempted.

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