Originally written for Brit’ Mag, February 2009 (www.brit-mag.com)
Well folks, it’s a fact. McCain, Bush and the rest of the Republican cronies “misunderestimated” the Democratic ticket and on January 20th, the American people elected the first black president. No more “Bushisms” or unpopular decisions, no more lies about mysterious weapons of mass destruction, no more shoe dodging.
With the new U.S. president Barack Obama, Americans have not only shed the dead, tired skin of the Republican party, but they have regained world popularity, hope in the future, possibilities for national health insurance and a leader who looks great on a t-shirt.
But wait a second, aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves?
True, Obama-mania was the current that pushed the Democratic Party to a win in November. After months of campaigning, Obama was spotted in more locations at once than Sarkozy, his image popping up everywhere: on mugs, shoes, bumper stickers, dolls, homemade rap videos… even coffee blends. Towns, avenues and schools across the nation were named after the new prez, an act normally practiced post-mortem. The only thing stopping the U.S. from creating an Obama stamp is that it is illegal under federal law to do so with a living figure.
Yet, now that the Obama craze has tapered off, it’s down to business and Americans are waiting for the new president to deliver. The pundits and the people want to know what the big guy is actually going to do.
Forget four years – the real focus is on what Obama will accomplish in his first 100 days. Some say it’s the economic mess that will have to be cleaned up, while others cite national security as the top priority. He’s sure to face criticism over his decisions in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the rapidity with which he is actually able to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which he intends to do within his first week in the White House. Then there’s Biden’s infamous remark that has everyone wondering whether Obama will be “tested” with an international crisis within his first six months, just to get his feet wet.
Regardless of what Obama does first, speed will no doubt be a factor – and he’s bound to disappoint a thousand or two on this one. While “the first 100 days” is a nice catch-phrase, Obama will have trouble meeting the expectations of an exasperated American public who has been waiting for change for much too long.
Socialism was touted as evil amongst the Republicans during the campaign, but much of what Americans want is something resembling the throwback European socialist model: comprehensive universal healthcare, unemployment aid, paid back-to-work training, social services… and more vacation days, while we’re at it. Isn’t this what everyone wants and should have? Sure, but will we have to wait another four years before we get it?
As Americans watch from the sidelines, anxiously chewing their fingernails, Obama has one thing to his credit: crisis. Things are so incredibly bad at the moment that one needn’t knock on wood before saying, “At least things can’t get any worse.” Even one new piece of legislation may feed the need for change that Americans have so desperately craved since Obama first announced his nomination. With so much hope and expectation involved, one might say that Obama’s got this one in the bag.
After all, nothing could be more grim than Bush who, among his many notorious phrases, said this aboard Air Force One in 2003: “I’m the master of low expectations…. I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.”
Halleluiah, yes we did.
A few things we’ll miss about Bush
Slip-ups, trip-ups, hiccups – who can forget these classic Bushisms from the last eight years? Despite his unpopularity, Bush has certainly been an entertaining president. Here are just a few things we’ll miss hearing…
— “They misunderestimated me.” – George W. Bush, Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
— “People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in’s house and say I love you.” -Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002
— “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” – Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002
— “The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the – the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.” – George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003
— “When a drug comes in from Canada, I wanna make sure it cures ya, not kill ya… I’ve got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you. And one — my worry is that it looks like it’s from Canada, and it might be from a third world.” – George W. Bush, second presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004
— “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” – George W. Bush, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
— “Wow! Brazil is big.” – George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005
— Maria Bartiromo: “I’m curious, have you ever googled anybody? Do you use Google?”
President Bush: “Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see — I’ve forgot the name of the program — but you get the satellite, and you can — like, I kinda like to look at the ranch. It remind me of where I wanna be sometimes.” – interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Oct. 24, 2006
— “I heard somebody say, ‘Where’s (Nelson) Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead. Because Saddam killed all the Mandelas.” – George W. Bush, on the former South African president, who is still very much alive, Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2007
— “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” – George W. Bush, in parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008
(Thanks to http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushdumbquotes.htm for these quotes)