Monday, January 19, 2009


OK, I have not updated this blog on over two weeks. So sue me if you are unhappy. However, I have been busy with my other blog, and I have not added much to this one because, frankly, I have not had much to say. Now, on the eve of the inauguration of our next President, I do. Thus, it begins.

I have been watching the news coverage of the events leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Obama and most everything has been upbeat and positive. A lot is being said about the change that will be wrought by his administration, and how this is change we can believe in. I think that it is important to understand that in the November election, President-elect Obama garnered 53% of the popular vote while his opponent had 47% of the vote. The Electoral College went clearly in to Obama's favor, where he posted a 365-173 vote win. While then Senator Obama had a 2-1 margin over Senator McCain in the Electoral College, his margin of victory in the pluralist vote was a mere 6 percent. This means that while the majority of people in the United States voted for Senator Obama, over 59 million people voted for his opponent. What I am trying to express is that while Obama won the election, his margin of victory was not that great. He has his work cut out for him. The U.S. economy is having a lot of problems right now, the Federal spending deficit is approaching a trillion dollars this year, and we are still trying to fight and defeat an ephemeral enemy who hides behind religion to justify why killing civilians is an acceptable practice in this struggle with the U.S. and all that it represents.

The past two weeks I have heard about how "historical" tomorrow's inauguration will be and those words ring hollow to me. What is historical about the inauguration tomorrow is not that the junior Senator from Illinois won, but rather that there will be a peaceful
and lawful exchange of power from one person to the next for a position that is, despite recent events, the most powerful this planet has ever known. After the election last November, the people who did not vote for the winner did not take to the streets in protest. Rather, they accepted that rule of law and that the majority of people voted for one candidate or another. That, dear reader, is what is so extraordinary about the recent election. While and individual voter might bitch and moan that their candidate did not win, but that we all, as Americans, accept that results of each election as vox populi, the voice of the people. Sure, in 2 or 4 years hence, the people on the short side of this election might work a little harder to convince their friends and neighbors why voting for the incumbent just does not make sense based on his or her actions the since the last election. However, the democratic process endures here as it has since 1776 when a group of angry citizens took up arms against the most powerful nation in the world at that time, pledging "our lives, our fortunes and out sacred honor" and made the change can still be felt today.

I wish the new President well. As I wrote above, his plate is full. Some companies in the U.S. are fighting to survive, the financial markets are in shambles and there are threats abroad that will require the expenditure of the nation's blood and treasure to secure its future. Whomever sits in the Oval Office daily lives this phrase from Henry IV: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." The President of the United States wears a virtual crown every day in office, and must constantly be on guard to protect the citizens and national interests of the country. To think that for even a day or a moment that whomever is President does not think about the awesome responsibility of the office is absurd. These past eight years, President Bush has worn that uneasy crown and he has take a tremendous amount of criticism for the actions he took or appeared not to take while in office. However, as President, he took the actions that he felt were in the best interests of the United States. He was no different that President Clinton, or Bush or Reagan or Carter or pick a former President. President Bush did what he thought was right and he will let history judge if his actions where correct or proper.

As Colin Power said as one of his tenants of leadership, "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off." President Truman lived this tenant throughout his presidency. He fired General MacArthur, fought constantly with Congress and made some unpopular decisions regarding economic and domestic policy.
When he left office, Truman was one of the most unpopular chief executives in history. His job approval rating of 22 percent in the Gallup Poll as of February 1952 was actually lower than Richard Nixon's was in August 1974 at 24 percent, the month that Nixon resigned. Public feeling toward Truman grew steadily warmer with the passing years, however, and the period shortly after his death consolidated a partial rehabilitation among both historians and members of the general public. Since leaving office, Truman has fared well in polls ranking the presidents. He has never been listed lower than ninth, and most recently was seventh in a Wall Street Journal poll in 2005.

What I am trying to say is, the jury is still out on President Bush. Many people today despise him for what they feel has done, or not done. However, you cannot judge the work of a President in the time they are in office or even for years after they leave. History will eventually judge whether President Bush was good, bad or indifferent.

I wish President-elect Obama well. I hope that he can deliver change we can believe in as was often said during his campaign. He is taking on an enormous responsibility with a resume that is short on executive leadership. Being a Senator does not mean that you have executive leadership experience. Being a Senator means that you are a member of a very exclusive deliberative body, one where leadership is demonstrated by consensus building. Frankly, I have more executive leadership experience than the President-elect. Being President, as Harry S. Truman knew meant that the buck stopped in the Oval Office. President-elect Obama will soon learn the true meaning of what it means to be in charge.

So, tomorrow, a little after 12 noon eastern standard time, the greatest nation the world has ever known will witness an event that is not extraordinary in what is occurring, but rather that it is occurring at all. The lawful and peaceful transition of authority and responsibility of the Presidency. That, dear reader, is what is so extraordinary and fantastic about what happens the 20th of January on the western steps of the U.S. Capital every four years.


Lisa... said...

Impeccably stated!


Big Johnny said...

Where's my friggin' Winnebago ??!!