Perhaps I’m too easily romantic about a sense of history, but… has there ever been a time quite like this moment we’re having right now? Yes, in our lifetimes we’ve had radical and sudden leadership changes during times of duress (LBJ sworn-in as President in midair after JFK was killed and the nation was torn over Vietnam) and in our history we’ve had extreme economic downturns where we’ve turned to a charismatic and articulate leader to bring us out of the swamp with decisive and fast action (FDR and the New Deal). But we’ve never quite had all the circumstances that we’ve got now, with all these dogs currently barking at once and problems with seemingly endless scope such as global warming. Hell, Pakistan didn’t have nukes just lying around for the taking back in 1935…So if we are having a lot of wildly unprecedented simultaneous events… then why are our “news gathering” (not “reporting”) services compelled to frame our new President’s performance in contextual conveyances as retro and simplistic as “The First 100 Days”?For one thing, they don’t trust that we’re capable of comprehending significant pieces of information unless the content is framed by something like the word “Pirates!” with a big exclamation point. And almost any examination of how our new President is doing, in comparison to the complexity of what he is actually doing or trying to do, is probably doomed to be hopelessly lame. But I’m not as interested in those reports and packaged reviews of Obama as I am in the more elusive yet important measurement that we might softly elucidate as “How do we feel about how he’s doing?” I mean you and your friends and neighbors… the citizens of the United States, not the windbags that take perfectly good cable television hours and fill them with sleeping gas to create a kind of adult video version of those teddy bears that make womb sounds. How do we feel about how it’s going?Of course we knew Obama ‘fever’ had to morph into new things. Right now, polls reflect enormous continuing support. Faith. Approval. All these are more sophisticated reactions than the initial celebratory exultation, which was historically important but we expected those feelings to evolve. But there are going to be challenges to our emotional and even spiritual embrace of Obama as, for example, Iraq/Afghanistan continues at great cost and one or more of the auto companies goes into bankruptcy and the hemorrhaging of jobs continues into– let’s conservatively say next year. Returning to that “never been here” thing at the top. We haven’t, I don’t think. One can make comparisons (healing after the Civil War in 1865/Chicago in 1968) to anything and everything and it still doesn’t quite compare to the “Wow, what else is going go whack-a-doodle?!” feeling that we have now. I’m not sure this is fair, but does it say something about our current collective sense of chaos and entropy that an airliner full of people landing on the Hudson River makes us happy? Makes us calm? Makes us feel good about sharing? That’s a pretty crazy image, an airliner floating in a river with the passengers standing on the wings. Yet I think many got a kind of solace from it.Yet while each passing day brings us more in touch with what the previous administration ignored or botched or corrupted to suit its needs, we’re not only taking that dark accounting in a kind of stride but we’re also good with picking up the paper and reading almost daily, “New Problems for Obama”. Because, you know, he hasn’t got enough going on yet. Are we so confident in him that we won’t panic if flying saucers attack this summer? Let me suggest that the flying saucers did arrive but the attack was in a form we’re not accustomed to, even from movies. And that “attack” is all of the recently revealed accounting of how Bush/Cheney approved torture, maneuvered to conceal approval of torture, and that a clear goal of the torture was to obtain false reinforcement of the deception upon which the Iraq invasion was sold to the country.Let me then test your patience further by suggesting that rather than any measurement predicated on days or success in any one area right now (The economy is not coming back in 100 days), that we instead measure our new President’s leadership steel and resolve by the degree to which he pursues the prosecution of Bush/Cheney not only for violating global conventions and arguably committing war crimes but for criminally blowing holes in the infrastructure of what our country stands for. Now the issue for many, and rightly so, is going to be a simple one: Shouldn’t we put all of our available resources into tending to the tsunami of economic and other woes we have right now instead of siphoning off energy to prosecuting Bush/Cheney? No. Because if someone lied their way into your home and stole your children under false patriotic pretenses so that they could be sent off to die in a war for oil, you wouldn’t insist that GM and Chrysler first get back on their feet before the bastards that killed your kids felt the strong arm of justice. And you’d think that right about now was a good time to get started on that justice. That would feel right.
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