Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union: Is It Over Yet?

Well, I lasted ten minutes.

This was George W. Bush's last State of the Union Address, but more importantly, it was my last time having to listen to George W. Bush give a State of the Union Address.

What was, for the first six years merely irritating, has become in this last, genuinely nauseating.

Forget the details of this man's train wreck of a presidency, forget the substance. Let's talk image alone: what president in history has smirked his way through a State of Union? What is that? What strange tick explains it? What is missing in this man to allow for that?

I lasted long enough to hear Bush lay down the law to Congress on earmarks. It's about transparency, dammit, he lectured. Really? And what about this President's unprecedented use of his so-called "signing statements," wherein he has signed laws but simultaneously noted that he may not actually carry them out as the peoples' representatives have legally instructed him to do?

Transparency? This administration does not know the meaning of the word. Only last week an exhaustive study revealed that, in all, the President and his aides used fully 935 lies to mislead the American people about the War in Iraq.

The only thing transparent about George W. Bush and his entire misbegotten legacy is that its origins were tainted, its entire tenure has been tainted, and everything it has touched has become tainted.

Including us.

And it will take more than a new president to wash it away.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Barack & Roll (Name That Tune)

It's a long road yet to Denver, and the 2008 Democratic nominating convention.
Hell, it's only the morning after the South Carolina primary, and still more than a week from Super-Duper-Tsunami-Spectacular Tuesday. (If the Super Bowl were also held on Super Tuesday, would the nation simply implode from the sheer super-ness of it all?)


...something has subtly or perhaps not so subtly shifted. In the mere space of a month or so, the sheen of brand Bill Clinton has been scratched and dinged, possibly irreparably. And in attacking a fellow Democrat. Hard to believe.

But not just any Democrat.

Yeah, yeah, yeah--it's been a giggle all these years to enjoy Toni Morrison's original observation about Bill Clinton being America's "first black President." But in the nasty hand-to-hand of South Carolina, here was the discomfitting spectacle of that same man beating up on the man who actually is black, and actually is attempting to become the nation's first black president. No joke, no giggle, no Bill and Hill bullshit. The real deal.

And what did he get from the erstwhile "brother?" Low blows. Distortions. And in the waning hours, outright contempt. The former President reminded people that hey, even Jesse Jackson had won South Carolina.

What the hell does that even mean?

One could say that, like Lucy, Clinton's "got some 'splaining to do." But one could also have the feeling now that maybe it doesn't matter.

The original 1992 "two-for-one", value-added-in-the-White House dynamic instead may now become two-for-one, value-reduced. In showing (or reminding) us that it was, is, and will always be about them, that they will say and do anything to get what they're after, both Bill and by extension Hillary have made enemies anew.

Probably not what Hillary and her campaign had in mind. And certainly not what they need. Not with a woman facing the highest negatives of any modern presidential candidate. (Up to 45%, depending on the poll.)

But there it is. Obama wins in South Carolina and, in speaking afterwards, sounds like the Fresh Prince of hope and inspiration. The Clintons speak afterwards, in the wake of their failed mudslinging, and sound like peeved brats who are old and spent.

In 1992, Clinton's theme song was Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow." It could just as well be Obama's now.

For the Clinton's circa 2008? Easy. "Yesterday."