Salvaged from the trash can: Congratulations, President Kerry

Monday night, while I was still foolishly trusting the polls, I started preparing myself for the worst and wrote a piece presuming a Kerry victory. I’m too much of a Yankee packrat to let anything go to waste, so I figured I’d toss it out here for people to see and mock me over.

It’s over. Despite our best efforts, it’s now become obvious that President Bush has followed his father’s example of a one-term presidency and Senator John Forbes Kerry will be the next president of the United States.

This isn’t easy for me to write. I’ve literally lost count of the number of pieces I’ve written decrying this event, the number of people I’ve argued this with. And I’m sure that there will be plenty of claims and evidence of voter fraud, accusations of stolen elections, and all sorts of vituperation and recriminations in the upcoming weeks, if not years.

But not from me.

I recall when the current President Bush took office after the “long national nightmare” of Florida’s electile dysfunction of 2000. The hostility, the hatred, the divisiveness carried through to the highest levels of government, and I recall the Democrats trashing the White House as they left, blocking nearly every single appointment the president put forth, and in general being as uncooperative and obstructionist as they could. As I recall (quite possibly incorrectly), Bush didn’t even have an entire cabinet by the time 9/11 occurred and changed everything. I sincerely hope the Republicans in Congress don’t choose this time — a time of war — to engage in a bit of payback. President Kerry deserves to have his choice in his closest advisors, within reason, and it’s nothing short of sheer pettiness to deny him that right without compelling reasons.

I recall a bit more about the early days of the George W. Bush administration. I recall my boss at the time calling him “President Quayle” and myself wondering just why he had bothered to run for president. I remember when I myself ran for political office in college, where my primary motivation was to “keep the power away from the pinheads currently making the decisions,” and wondered if that was it. The alternative seemed to be he was running solely because it was expected of him, and becoming president was the goal in and of itself — no real plans for what to do once he got into office.

And then September 11 happened, and changed the world.

President Bush, who I had largely dismissed as a caretaker President, the Anti-Clinton, the beneficiary of the backlash against the previous eight years, suddenly found purpose in his presidency. Some of the Christian Right openly speculated that his election was God’s way of making sure we’d be ready for the horrible events of that day, and I found it difficult to casually dismiss the idea. I was reminded of Harry Truman, another caretaker and minor-league politician who suddenly found himself having to handle far more than he’d ever anticipated, and far exceeding everyone’s expectations.

John Kerry has always reminded me of the pre-9/11 George W. Bush. He always seemed to have his eyes firmly set on winning the presidency, but no real plans for what he would do once he got there, other than not be George W. Bush. And heaven knows his record in government hasn’t given me much cause for hope — he’s always struck me as a bit of a dilettante, content to simply be a Senator and not overly concerned about the responsibilities that go with the office. And it’s been easy for him to do so — he’s a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, serving in the (generous) shadow of Ted Kennedy. Last time he ran for re-election, the Republicans didn’t even bother to run someone against him.

I’m hoping I’m wrong. But if I’m wrong, I hope that President Kerry also finds his purpose and his reason for achieving the Oval Office. And I’m hoping that the price of his self-discovery is nowhere near as horrifying as 9/11 was. The Presidency has a tendency of inflicting great changes, for better or ill, on the men (so far) that assume its mantle. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter were crumbled under the weight. John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush found their life’s fulfillment through it. Here’s hoping President Kerry can continue to emulate his role model, with whom he shares initials and a common history.

And congratulations to President Kerry’s supporters. You won, and we lost. But I leave you with these cautionary words, the lyrics to a song. It was written by Joss Whedon, and appeared in the episode “Once More, With Feeling” from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (One finds wisdom in the strangest places, and I freely admit to being a huge Buffy fan.)

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle’s done, and we kind of won,
So we sound our vict’ry cheer.
Where do we go from here?

Why is the path unclear,
When we know home is near?
Understand we’ll go hand in hand,
But we’ll walk alone in fear.
Tell me
Where do we go from here?

When does “The End” appear?
When do the trumpets cheer?
The curtains close on a kiss –
God knows we can tell the end is near.
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?

Loose Ends and Links of Note
Greg Palast Is A Moron

15 Comments

  1. Kevin Haryett November 4, 2004
  2. Hunter November 5, 2004
  3. bains November 5, 2004
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  5. docweasel November 5, 2004
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  12. McCain November 5, 2004
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  14. Mike November 6, 2004
  15. Mike November 6, 2004