Ya know what’s a funny thing? Time. I got to thinking about time when I read an item about Barry and Joe visiting Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to Frank Buckles. Frank was America’s last living World War One veteran. He was totally venerable – living to the ripe old age of 110.
My mind started wandering to what I might have said to his assembled family under such circumstances if I were President. Without having a staff to brief me and otherwise unfamiliar with Frank’s station in life, the first thing that leaps out at me is the enormity of the events through which his life was intertwined.
Born in Nineteen Ought One. To paraphrase Andrew “Dice” Clay, “Remember the 20th Century? Frank f#%@d her.” A body could get a PhD in 20th Century history, right, so it’s impractical to even begin laying out what Frank saw in his lifetime. But a couple of highlights popped into my mind.
The automobile, Human flight, Telephone, Television, Prohibition, The Big One in which Frank fought, The Great Depression, WWII, Cold War, Berlin Airlift, Israel, Baby Boom, Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, The Ramones, Berlin Wall falling, 9/11, Afgan/Iraq wars…
Some lifetime. Frank also saw twenty different men elected as President in his 110 years. Which would be, if I was President, a pretty humbling thing. Just another in a long line of men entrusted with the keys to the Oval Office. Like all things in life, I imagine Frank might say, “Sometimes you get chicken, sometimes you get feathers…” if you ever asked him about it.
I figure Frank – and I probably should be calling him Mr. Buckles, no disrespect intended – was full of pithy, homespun wisdom. “It’s like when you’re having ham and eggs for breakfast, the chicken is participating but the pig is committed,” he’d always say. Sitting in a trench cursing the guy who came up with the idea of urinating on the gas mask that’s saving your life to activate it before a mustard gas attack really hones one’s sardonic wit.
Anyway, I have no way of knowing what was said between Barry, Joe, and the Buckles clan and quite frankly have no desire to know. But what does strike me is how Frank’s lifetime compares with Obama’s current situation. Echoing a frighteningly common refrain from the New York Times, Obama recently waxed melancholy over how much easier it would be if he were Premier of China. No shit? Why not go all-in with Grand Poobah ala Kim Jung-il?
Obama’s biggest problem is a lack of perspective on his place in history. Did he really think being President was an easy job? Does he really think the current events he was elected to manage are unprecedented in their scale and volume?
If so, then call me a Birther. He wasn’t born in Kenya. He was deposited on Earth by extraterrestrials. America was hoodwinked into electing a utter nincompoop. You want renewable energy? Install turbines near Lincoln, FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Reagan’s final resting places to harness the force of their bodies spinning in their respective graves.
The events of Frank’s lifetime didn’t happen in a vacuum independent of one another. Surprisingly enough, they often required the vision and active leadership of the so-called Leader of the Free World to engineer and manage. Not only that, things don’t always break in an nice, orderly, sequential fashion. Life’s a bitch, and she’s a surly, unforgiving one at that.
I spent eight long years defending President Bush in a “My mother, drunk or sober” kind of way but at least he could pour piss out of a boot if you told him the instructions were on the sole. Thankfully, we can look to Frank for guidance as we endeavor to persevere. He kept plugging along for one hundred and ten years. Sixty years from now we’ll all be able to look back and laugh at the folly of President Barack Obama. We’ll see better and God help us we’ll probably see worse.
See ya in Valhalla when I get there, Mr. Buckles. Godspeed and good hunting.