Our national pastime is not baseball, though I wish it was. Our national pastime is building people up to bring them back down. As Jon Stewart said on his iconic Crossfire appearance, “I don’t know much about democracy, I have only lived in this country” I don’t know if this is something other cultures do. We love it.
Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan. Barack Obama. Even DC Mayor Adrian Fenty.
1. Mayor Fenty – possibly a victim of his own success, was a phenom. The youngest mayor in DC history, he was the post-racial symbol of how far the city had come. From several decades ago when there was no ‘home rule’ to Marion Barry, this has been a wild ride. And Marion Barry had a tagline before ‘the bitch set me up.’ Before he said that, he was popular for creating jobs. His later mantra was one of redemption; a message too many people here can relate to. And then we got Anthony Williams. Maybe Adrian Fenty is as much a victim of Anthony Williams’ competence as his own. It should be noted that Mr. Williams was not perfect either – he had to be write in candidate when his campaign workers could not procure enough legal signatures – but he was a good mayor. “At least he’s not a crack head,” was no longer good enough. And then we all met Adrian Fenty. Sporting three blackberries he seemed really interested in a dialogue with the city. I was moving when he approached me. I was impressed and went out of my way to vote for him. My expectations were too high. He was a good mayor and yet I voted for Vincent Grey because, as I told WJLA, Mayor Fenty was not the person I expected him to be. Despite the fact that the schools got better, crime went down and the city has a great new bike program. I just didn’t like him. Sorry.
2. President Barack Obama faces a similar dilemma. He promised ‘change you can believe in’ and people expected monumental things. He has actually delivered. Remember, when he entered the White House he had a series of what I like to call ‘Himalayan problems’ – each one is gigantic alone but seen with the others, they appear smaller. The worst economy since the Depression. Two wars. Global warming. The Gulf spill. And he got heath care reform passed. He got financial reform passed. He may have saved the economy with stimulus that was a third tax cuts, not that anyone knows that. He may be able to blame Bill Clinton for his problems. I always said Bill Clinton may have been Al Gore’s biggest problem; and not for the reasons you are thinking. Bill Clinton is brilliant. Absolutely, amazingly brilliant. The problem he is also ‘Bubba’ — the guy who feels your pain and you want to have a beer with. Do not, even for a millisecond, this that is criticism, I would jump in front of a bullet for Bill Clinton. The problem is that many voters in 2000 saw Al Gore and George W. Bush as Bill Clinton split in two; you had the nerd who knew everything and the normal guy you wanted to hang with. We all know how that movie ended. And so as our nation faces this great dilemma, one of the worst crises since our inception, we don’t want a professor – though we need one – we want a guy who gets us. We expected an inspirational figure and we got an intellectual.
3. George W. Bush may have been the best thing to happen for people on the right. I made fun of him as much as anyone, it was easy. At the end of the day, George W. Bush is not the idiot the left made him out to be. Did you know he got better grades at Yale than Senator Kerry? Look it up. He is so smart because he maybe the political equivalent of Keyser Soze, whose greatest gift (or it was the devil) was ‘convincing the world he didn’t exist.’ He made us all believe that if he showed up somewhere and didn’t drool on himself, he had done good that day. And what has that legacy been? Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and Rand Paul. Oh, and Sharon Angle. There are others but it makes me to depressed to think about it. The left dismisses these candidates at our peril.
And so it’s all about building people up to tear them down. I both love that and hate it. Being human, and one of the snarkiest people I know, I kind of like it when some arrogant person gets what they deserve. Being someone who supports competency in government, it bothers me because President Obama has done some amazing things and gotten no real credit while George W. Bush sent us to a war we didn’t need and destroyed the economy but rather than going grey with worry like Obama, he gets to play golf all day. It’s not fair.
Of course, neither is life and that’s why I don’t regret my vote for Vincent Grey. Hope my expectations for him are low enough for me not to be disappointed.