Eight years. Eight years of being told that only one man could keep this country safe from the terrorists. Eight years of being told that only one man could keep the great American economic engine running at full speed. Eight years of being told that if we let the other guy be president of the United States, then we might as well wrap our heads in multi-colored head scarves and bend over to kiss our butts goodbye.
Eight years. And now President Bush tells us that the individual in the Oval Office is not that important. “Presidents will come and go with their strengths and weaknesses, but the ship of state sails on because of the institution being greater than the person,” he told the American Enterprise Institute.
Really? ‘Cause I distinctly remember then-candidate Bush and his minions telling me that the man sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office will make all the difference in the world. I remember that gang telling me that a vote for Al Gore was a vote to continue the eight year reign of Bill Clinton. I remember that gang telling me how that was a bad thing, and that it was time to put a man with integrity in the Oval Office. This they told me after they told me about many bad things that John McCain had done and how it would be a bad thing to nominate Senator McCain as the Republican candidate for the Oval Office.
Four years later, with President Bush firmly seated in the Oval Office chair and this country firmly entrenched in a couple of “nation-building” exercises, the President and his minions again aggressively informed all of us that a vote for him was a vote for security, economic and national, while a vote that put the other guy, Senator John Kerry, in the Oval Office was a vote for anarchy and disaster.
Skip forward to 2008. President Bush was no longer running for the Oval Office, but his minions were hard at work convincing us that a vote for the other guy was a vote of surrender to the terrorists and a vote for economic disaster. They also informed us that the current economic disaster was not the fault of the current occupant of the Oval Office, but rather the fault of the previous guy. Seems everything wrong with the country can be blamed on that guy. What would the Republican Party do without Bill Clinton, aka the Bogeyman?
So, who did President Bush’s minions suggest as the best person to occupy the Oval Office and keep the country safe and fix the economic mess that the cursed Bogeyman had gotten us into? Why, Senator John McCain, of course. See, candidate George Bush and his minions were just kidding back in 2000 when they told us that John McCain was unfit to fill the seat in the Oval Office. Heck, those same minions were the folks in charge of the McCain campaign this time around and they were telling us that we might as well just leave the country if we vote that other guy into the Oval Office.
So, now that other guy (Barack Obama) is slated to occupy the Oval Office. He’s inherited a basket-case of an economy, a serious lack of integrity in the private and the public sectors of American life, and two exercises in ill-advised nation-building. Oh, and he’s got to go fight a war in one of those nations all over again because we forgot to finish the war in Afghanistan before we rushed off to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. That darn Bill Clinton. See what he’s gotten us into?
But, now President Bush is telling us that the occupant of the Oval Office just doesn’t matter. Did the President have a sudden revelation now that he’s no longer going to be the guy sitting in the Oval Office? Or was he fibbing to us in 2000, 2004, and 2008? Was he fibbing at all of those fundraisers for Republican senators, congresspersons, governors, and dogcatchers when he told us that it was a matter of national survival to have the right guy sitting in the big chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office? Is the President just a big kidder? A practical jokester? Was it all an illusion?
Well, I beg to differ, Mr. President. It is important who sits in the Oval Office. The wrong guy can savage the Constitution of this great land. The wrong guy can destroy a once in a generation chance to change a world gone haywire by trying to use limited military might to remake the seething cauldron of hatred in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The wrong guy can claim to bring accountability and integrity to the highest office of the land, but having never been held accountable himself instead bring a culture that says, “We’re in charge, and whatever we say is right, is right. So there.” The wrong guy can tell the country that everything is just fine and dandy with the economy when the raft is teetering on the edge of the waterfall. The right guy might help the ship of state muddle through the turmoil. The wrong guy……..well, we all know what can happen with the wrong guy sitting in the Oval Office.
It matters, Mr. President. It matters, but it seems that the joke has been on us.