Today is the last day in office of the best President I will probably ever see in my lifetime — certainly the finest man to serve as President.
The Right has a weird tendency to speak disparagingly of Obama’s inspirational rhetoric as if that were somehow nothing, as though trying to connect profoundly disconnected people back to whatever meaning still remains in what has become a cold, materialistic, violent nation was some kind of fool’s errand. But a leader needs to get people on board before he can take them anywhere. Obama tried very hard to do that. He tried to include people. He had no shady agenda of trying to enrich his cronies like, well, just about every other President of my lifetime. It’s hard for me to think of the Bushes, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, or Johnson without sense memories of corruption; the Oval Office as pig sty. Like the archetype of the Holy Fool, like the Quixotic hero in a Frank Capra movie, Obama just tried to do the job, tried to make people’s lives better, and for that he was vilified, slandered, blocked and thwarted at every turn. At times, that was actually his opponents’ only agenda — they literally said so. They literally had nothing better to do than stop him from succeeding, even if his efforts would have helped the country.
I’ve often wished Obama were a good deal nastier, less a gentleman, so he could put these petty, beady-eyed pink weasels in their place. Even now, he’s doing more to be civil than a good many of us would do. Would you have a decent word for this oozing cyst whom America’s troglodytes have selected as his successor? Shake Trump’s hand? Give him advice? Attend his inauguration? Be diplomatic when referring to his dangerous inadequacies? After he waged an entire campaign to cast doubt on your American citizenship? And promises not only to undo everything you just did, but everything EVERY President EVER did? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I’d change all the passwords, glue all the desk drawers shut, saw the legs on all the chairs, then move two blocks away from the White House and start a Think Tank called BREAK TRUMP INTO LITTLE PIECES, with a neon sign out front blinking that name. But if Obama acted that way, he wouldn’t be the man we admire. In the age of going low, as the First Lady put it, the Obamas believe in going high.
The only thing that makes me happy about the fact that this is last day is that, in my hero worship, I’ve always seen him as a kind of love child of Lincoln, King and Kennedy, and that particular combination has always made me constantly fear for his safety, lest someone who hates him and those three martyred leaders see the same thing. I pray for him all the time, and I’ll still do it after he leaves office. Because, for a people that goes around spouting noble words on patriotic holidays, there’s an awful lot of dark hatred in this land. To such an extent that on the rare occasion when someone of real character makes it to the highest office in the land, his skin color makes people go berzerk. Something tells me that very shortly some of the very people who rejected him will be fervently wishing for his return.