A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Friday, November 11, 2016

Barack, We Hardly Knew Ye

After Jack Kennedy was killed, I promised myself I would never fall in love with a politician again. And I was able to keep that promise for 50 years until a skinny guy with a funny name called Barack Obama came along.
He was everything JFK was, minus the philandering. Whatever else you think of him, you have to admit: The man has style.
I can't decide which is my favorite Obama picture, but it has to be one that shows his special connection with children. I can't help smiling every time I see the one in the Oval Office when he pretended to be caught in a web cast by a 2-year-old in a Spiderman costume.
But the picture that moves me to tears every time is the one of him bending over to let a little African American boy touch his hair. Yes, little boy, the President's hair is just like yours.
But as proud as he made me, nothing compares to his conduct last week, when he so graciously welcomed the man behind the birther movement as his successor. He must have been dying inside, but he never let it show. He has more class in his little finger than that man has in his whole body.
He wanted to change the culture of Washington, but on the day he took office he was handed a crisis not of his own making that he couldn't have anticipated: the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. And the Republicans blocked him at every move. As Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for Obama to be a one-term president."
When Tea Party rallies featured signs depicting him as a gorilla or a witch doctor, they just smiled and looked the other way. When birthers said he wasn't a legitimate president because he was really born in Kenya, they never uttered a peep of disapproval.
When right-wing talk show hosts slandered him, they rubbed their hands in glee. But did they ever stop to think how his daughters must have felt when saw signs depicting him with a bone through his nose?
But as bad as it got, he never complained. He just kept doing his duty - saving the economy, reforming health care, signing an agreement with Iran to diffuse its nuclear weapons, ending the Cuba embargo, taking the first steps toward curbing climate change, killing Osama Bin Laden, and welcoming LGBTs into the American family.
And now it's all going to go away. The new president has promised to dismantle everything Obama accomplished; and with both Congress and the Supreme Court on his side, he's likely to succeed. We are entering a dark age from which we might not emerge for a long time, if ever.
But there's one thing they can't take away: The memory of a time when there was a president who appealed to the better angels of our nature, rather than our worst hatreds and fears. If you think you miss him now, just wait a couple of months.
Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story/And tell it strong and clear if he has not/Don't let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment that was known/As Camelot.

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