44th


Today we got a new president.

One thing I’ve learned about this country from living in California is it has an east coast bias when it comes to scheduling important events. The inauguration was 12 pm Eastern, which equates to 9 am Pacific. Those of us on the west coast who didn’t make plans to watch the ceremony were just waking and getting ready for work when the doings kicked off.

I thought maybe I’d miss it, thought I’d still be on the bus when Barack Obama took the oath. At the time I wasn’t sure when it was scheduled. Biden I couldn’t care less about. Someone once said the job of vice president is about as appealing as a bucket of spit (though Dick Cheney got quite a bit out of it), and watching the old cat take possession of that bucket seemed just about as attractive. Boorr-ing. I’d rather listen to the slightly retarded guy on the bus who reads the DMV’s Driver Handbook aloud because he’s studying to get his permit. Actually, on second thought…

So I thought the best part happened when I was on the bus. But when I got to work I checked the Los Angeles Times and nothing was mentioned of Obama except that the swearing was scheduled for around 9 am. I jumped on the New York Times and found live streaming video of the ceremony. When it loaded I saw firing cannons and white smoke. Obama was shaking hands so I knew I had missed it. But I heard the speech.

President. For eight years that word has come loaded with lies, greed, manipulation, destruction, death, and war. It referred to, in my opinion, a vile man with contemptible bedfellows and selfish principles. However, I often wondered what I’d think of George W. Bush if I had had a frank, personal conversation with the man — a chat that ignored politics. Maybe we’d have sat back with a couple beers and talked about baseball, football, drugs, booze, women, Texas, and Iowa. Maybe he would have opened up and revealed his inner most thoughts to me. Maybe I’d have thought he was a good guy. He did a few good things, like launching the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS in 2003 and allowing the Cuban National Team to participate in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. But his record as president and commander-in-chief will always keep me from changing my mind about him and his cronies politically.

President. That word is fresh now, like a bright new piece of paper ready to be fed into a typewriter. When I read the word on the NYT tonight I immediately though of the usual suspect out of habit, but then happily corrected myself. “It means someone else now,” I thought. Hope surrounds Obama’s presidency and the words that will be hammered on that piece of paper. (My mom told me Obama wrote his inauguration speech himself. If that’s true, we have a good writer living in the White House.)

I’m not a Republicrat so I didn’t vote for Obama. I was one of the 161,195 who cast their ballots for Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente. Although my voting record and political ideology are that of a dissenter (I’m still politically homeless), I wish our new president the best and hope he can deliver the change he has come to personify.

Out with the old. In with the new.

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