MICHAEL JEWELL A&E Editor
It took me months and months to reach some sort of catharsis after America re-elected soon-to-be-former President Bush. The half-dead numbness that followed the year of campaigning overshadowed by ever-present, bone-sucking dread broke, reducing me to crying quietly between travel and comparative religions in a chain bookstore. This embarrasses me. It may appear to a reader of this column that I’ve picked up the disturbing habit of crying in public, so this edition is probably not going to help my case that I really don’t go for that sort of sissy stuff. I’m hardly a wonk, but it’s clear to me now that only my investment in U.S. politics can break my stoic façade and reduce me to a blubbering, babbling heap.
So it’s no surprise that I voted for the Obama/Biden ticket. I sat and cried like a punk on my friend’s couch as the results came in. I cried when McCain regained his honor in concession. I cried even more when the junior senator gave his incredible victory speech. I was counting on craven prejudice to pull this one out, and boy, am I happy to be wrong.
But I’m not completely wrong. This historic election has only dragged American political life kicking and screaming and clawing with broken, bloodied fingernails into a more hospitable circle of hell. Now begins the recrimination. President-elect Obama will inherit a hostile media, a disturbingly large chunk of the electorate who thinks that he actually, for real-real is a terrorist, a congress that will never be any better than it ever has been, and the Bush legacy; the dream of the conservative movement brought to life through the lens of eight years of an America with the most inequality, the worst health care, the most backwards, corrupt, bumbling, inflated infrastructure, the worst education system, and the most religion in the industrialized west. Obama is a 21st century president squaring off against the most organized, powerful, and determined movement hell-bent on the erasure of everything that brought us out of the 19th. He has a heroic task ahead of him and he absolutely, undeniable can NOT screw this up.
I was in Chicago in the summer of 2004, and I was witness to the kinetic energy of his campaign that extended throughout the state. Chicagoans felt that they had with them someone special to get behind, and I said “sure, I’ll bite.” Could this brilliant mind have prevailed at any other time but now? Would his path to the White House been as smooth without the foibles and gaffs and embarrassments of Alan Keys during the Senate race, Bill Clinton in South Carolina on the primary campaign trail, and Sarah Palin every day of her public life laid at his feet? I expect no panacea. I don’t like President-elect’s caving to an imaginary political center or his couching his campaign in religious language. The sloganeering failed to impress. I must resist my urge to breathe easy with the most difficult time for my country still ahead. But we have our man in Washington, y’all, and in the face of those who fight against the march of history, I stand proudly behind my President.
A special note to President George W. Bush, in closing:
Adios cowboy, and good riddance. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.