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20 January 2009 @ 11:58 pm
I know it's terribly unfashionable of me, but …  
For the first time in my adult life, I'm excited about American politics. I know it's ridiculous, I know that there is no way Obama can deliver half what people hope for, and I live in fear that he will turn out to be a cynical marketing exercise rather than the sensible man of actual ability he appears to be, and yet …

I was furious about Dubya. Not because he's a Republican, I'd have disagreed a lot with McCain had he won the 2000 nomination, but I would have at least respected him and agreed with a number of his actions because he is a pragmatic and capable man. And I'm a pragmatic and capable woman, so had he managed not to carpet bomb any part of the Middle East, I'd have expressed grudging approval. But, Dubya … Dubya made me feel sorry for Republicans because they deserve far, far better.

It wasn't possible to be excited about Clinton. I was impressed by some of the things he managed, especially regarding the economy, and appalled by others (Rwanda, not Monica. Monica was simply tasteless, but not a sign of political failure in the larger sense. In the smaller sense, WTF, Bill? Who is that stupid??)

The day I am excited about George H.W. Bush will be the day I check myself into care.

Ronald Reagan contained some surprises, he had a few wins, but they were balanced by incredible idiocy, such as allowing HIV to become a massive public health disaster through denial. And it was never exciting watching him. Nerve-racking, absolutely, but that's not quite the same thing. Still, at least we all avoided nuclear annihilation, so that was a win.

Jimmy Carter's mother was never excited about Jimmy Carter, so I see no reason why I should be. He does wonderful work for charity, which is a good thing, but that's all I can say. No, really, there's nothing else in my brain connected to the name. Er, bouncy hair and white teeth?

Gerald Ford was that strange President of my lifetime. After the drama of Spiro Agnew and Nixon, he was like watching a much-respected Head Master take the post. From thousands of miles away, I had the sense that he was nice, and practical and decent. But certainly not exciting.

Richard Nixon was nearly exciting, in the sense that watching a car spin out of control towards a busy crossing is exciting, but I think the more accurate word is startling. Maybe shocking. Perhaps disturbing. I was a little girl, it was all very strange. He was the first president that I was really aware of. When the news of Watergate broke, I asked my Father why it all mattered so much.  'The President should be more conscious of, and answerable to, the law, not less. Not in the letter of the law, but in his conscience. He should hold himself to higher standards.'

Perhaps that is why, despite four decades of watching American politics, despite my innate cynicism, despite the fact that I feel fairly sure I will, at some point in the next eight years, feel disappointed, right now, I am excited. Because Barack Obama seems to agree that, as President, he should hold himself to a higher standard.

If I'm still excited in four, or even eight years, I will be in terrible trouble, as my brain is not wired to stave off disillusionment with politicians.

PS On an unrelated issue, I am behind in replying to comments, but am merrily compiling the Doodle Database. Thanks, and keep your euphemism comments coming here!

PPS HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR YESTERDAY, banbury ! Sorry! I have a brain of sago pudding!

Bubbaabsynthedrinker on January 20th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
Ford was a right evil bastard, but other than that I think you've called them all pretty accurately.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
I was travelling with Dad in East Africa for most of his Presidency, to this day I have to do the order of the 20th century presidents to remember his name ...
Bubbaabsynthedrinker on January 20th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
As do many. Poor Gerald.

Bryoneybryoneybrynn on January 20th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean - the excitement is infectious and Obama seems like a good man and the potential to be a good leader. But I've become so extremely jaded when it comes to 1)change being possible in a large, meaningful way 2)the US acting for the greater good, for real. *shrugs*

Also, I heard murmurings that you were thinking of coming to Azkatraz?? *hopeful eyes*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
It depends on the money situation! But if the money situation is a fluid situation, then sure! Though I'd probably only do a bit of the actual Con, and then rampage around SF for the rest!
Eli/Ellie/ellie_norellie_nor on January 20th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
re. Azkatraz
\o/ I have a similar plan!
Sarah: Nice Hair, Clever, Has Her Own Gun: Oh Hell No ~by:ladypolitikthenotoriousso4 on January 20th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad to know that someone else realizes that Bush doesn't represent the entire Republican party.

I'm a Republican, which I know is a very unstylish thing to admit among fandom people, but it's the truth. And I hate, hate, hate Bush.

I am a real Republican and he doesn't stand for anything that a real Republican would stand for.

I'm proud to say that as a Republican even I voted for Obama, because I know that we're in dire need of a change. Even if he doesn't give us everything he's promised, I'm hoping he'll at least do something to try and heal our country.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Lincoln would have had Dubya put away.

Of course, he'd have had Cheney offed in a back alley ...
Sarah: Nice Hair, Clever, Has Her Own Gun: Hitler! ~by: staurthenotoriousso4 on January 20th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
He wouldn't have needed to. Just give Cheney the gun. I'm sure he'd manage to shoot one of them.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
Funniest comment of my day came from a journo friend who sent me a link to the Cheney attending inauguration in wheelchair story. 'One of the short-life Replicants, clearly' she noted.

I have my fingers crossed for you all. It's even possible that Obama is capable enough I do not need to be crossing them. Although, I must say that satirists worldwide must be feeling the loss ...
women's lasers: dem - in ur statesarcasticpixie on January 21st, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
My nana called to inform me that had she been in DC today, she would have made a point of shoving Cheney's wheelchair down a flight of stairs...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
I love your nana!
daybreaqdaybreaq on January 21st, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
Hee! One of the best things about today is Dubya got on a helicopter and flew away! And Cheney got wheeled away! One of the commentators mentioned how "that proud man" probably was hating having to use a wheelchair and all I could think was "Karma, Baby!" I swear he looked just like Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" today!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
OMG! He did indeed! Good call!
Leelaleela_cat on January 20th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
I'm trying very hard not to set myself up for failure where Obama is concerned. The president wields a lot of power, but he's not omnipotent, and I know he doesn't agree with me 100%.

But the hope? It's almost painful after the past I don't know how many years of watching American politics both from inside and outside of this country.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
My taxi driver tonight was eager to tell me that we should count Obama's term a success if he can manage 25% of his program in the face of American resistance to change and the GFC. That was my 60-year-old Australian taxi driver.

The only other times I remember the world feeling this involved was what I can recall of Vietnam, 9/11 and the second Gulf War. As you say, this one is unique for the hope.
the source of all heresies: Obama: ice creamms_worplesdon on January 20th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
I always imagined Jimmy Carter as my long lost grandfather. A really sweet, nice, honest man...but not so much with the politicking. *sigh*

Edited at 2009-01-20 02:48 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 20th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
Hee! I can see that!
women's lasers: dem - obama @ DDsarcasticpixie on January 21st, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
My US 1968-Present professor was a lovely woman from Georgia who called in one of her assistants to do the Carter lecture because, as she noted, she couldn't be unbiased. She grew up on the farm next to the Carters' and still exchanges personalized Christmas cards with Jimmy and Rosalynn every year.

That man was too good to be President.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I think that you could well be on the money there. And I have to say that he has terrible press agents, I have learned more about him in the last 12 hours than in the previous 30 years!
the source of all heresiesms_worplesdon on January 21st, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
Damn. She should have been a judge!
uminohikariuminohikari on January 20th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
So we haven't gotten to late 1900s America yet in class, and I only vaguely recognize these names.

..this may be a bad thing.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
I have to confess that most of my knowledge of the Nixon era comes from Doonesbury ...

It was an interesting and scary period. In the 80s, every single one of my friends had a plan for what we would do if the Americans launched nuclear bombs, since we knew the Russians would target England.
january b. snow: mebanbury on January 20th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! You are not late at all :-) In our family we consider January one big birthday month, cause my nephew's birthday on 20th and my sister's on 26th of January.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
Mine is on the 29th, it's the best month!
women's lasers: dem - hillarysarcasticpixie on January 21st, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Oh, darling lady, come here. Let the 20th-century American historian (no srsly! I has a master's degree! I rly likes this!) share her enthusiasm.

It's easy to get excited about Jimmy Carter when you find out that he's a pro-choice, pro-gay evangelical Christian who has done far more for the world in the last 29 years than he ever could have done from the White House! He was too good to be president! He's like America's Grandpa for Democrats! PEANUTS! PEACE PRIZE!

Of course, I come at this from a totally different perspective, i.e. I am American, 23, and find Bill Clinton v. hot. He still makes many women of my acquaintance excited in-the-pants.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 21st, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
I should emphasise that I was mostly talking about presidencies above. Though since learning last night that he stayed up all night the night before Reagan's inauguration trying to negotiate the hostages' release made me respect him even more. And learning that Reagan had given orders that they were to be interrupted at any time so that Carter could receive the credit made me like Reagan more (there were times I thought I would never be able to like anything about Reagan).

I do respect Carter enormously. But respect isn't the same as excitement. I do, however, think that even if he had been the most charismatic man in the world, his times would still have stymied him.

I've met Bill Clinton, very briefly, I prefer Hillary ;-)
Meredythmeredyth_13 on January 21st, 2009 07:01 am (UTC)
I'm not usually a fan of patriotic rhetoric, but as I said on someone's post (I think it was Sansa, but my brain - she is melty) after reading his speech - if the man really believes what he's saying, and does whatever he can in his political life to bring those sentiments to life in his nation, and the commitments he has made to his people and the world to fruition, then he will be remembered as a great man.

And the rest of us will watch, and hope. (and wish for one of our own sometime soon).