Early in his campaign for the presidency my child went to work for Senator Barack Obama as in intern in Iowa. He was at least 30 points behind Senator Clinton and I thought "this will be a nice summer adventure after college." I had read both his books and commended those to my kid's reading. I told my child he was a fresh face, something I hadn't seen since John and Bobby. A person that seemed to have a very good grasp of his principles. Plus he voiced his opposition to our mindless invasion of Iraq when every other candidate of consequence had backed Bush virtually without even so much as a question. For that he was deserving of a hard look.
He was young, exciting and gave one whale of a speech. I met him twice during the campaign and met Michelle once. I said maybe a handful of unmemorable words to him and had a few more seconds of inconsequential discussion with Michelle.
You know when you meet someone though you sometimes get a sense of "hey, I like this person," or you sometimes get a sense of "yuck." The Obamas were simply amazing. I count myself lucky for being provided the opportunity to meet them.
I backed him with my child and with my money and with my time. And I wasn't a wet-behind-the-ears star-struck "Kool-aid" drinker fresh out of college. I can remember where I was when John was shot in Dallas and watched in horror the evening news clips as shots rang out following another amazing speech by Bobby.
And, I had switched parties because as the Democrats scrambled to demonstrate their backbone in Vietnam they ended up demonstrating how stupid such a political ploy was. For some reason I didn't vote for Nixon. I wanted that war over as well and he certainly wasn't the person who was going to bring that thing to a close (it brought itself to a close through no help from him or Henry).
I did, however, vote for Ford as for all his faults he seemed to have the country's best interests in mind. I wasn't enamored by his pardon of Nixon, but I understood his reasoning and history has arguably demonstrated he was probably right.
I sit now on the evening before President Obama will commit us to a deeper quagmire in Afghanistan. He was right when he said this is the war we should have been fighting, but he's wrong in being backed into a strategy that commits more troops to this continued folly of nation building in a part of the world that hasn't seen a legitimate nation in generations.
We are invaders and occupiers who allegedly came with righteous intentions and since then have done little right. Afghanistan and this asinine and wasteful strategy is Bush's legacy, but it is now President Obama's war.
Here is what will happen. Afghanistan is not winnable. Yes, we can continue to chase the madmen into nuclear armed Pakistan and further destabilize that pitiful excuse for a government and by introducing more troops we will undoubtedly accomplish this goal. But I question the intelligence of the people who are making this decision. And when you stand the two Administrations together side-by-side there is no question which has the much greater intellect. Afghanistan and the decision to further increase our footprint there demonstrates how even very, very smart people, an incredibly intelligent man, can make stupid decisions.
One can excuse the criminality of Bush as he simply was too stupid to surround himself with anything but maniacal maniacs who to this day attempt to defend the atrocities they wrought from 9-11 (and undeniably this was on their watch, although undeniably the people who are to blame are still wanted "Dead or Alive" [and, yes, I know there are those who think this was an inside job--okay, whatever]), to Katrina, to the economy to the abyss of Iraq.
But President Obama surrounded himself with highly intelligent people. People who actually read books about things other than goats. People who understand history. People who have experience. People who realize that not all things we disagree with in the world can be resolved at the end of a cruise missile and that blowing stuff up sometimes blows up on us. There is intellect surrounding him that knows better.
And yet we continue down a failed path to insure...to insure...to insure...what? That the incredibly brave men and women who have already made the ultimate sacrifice did not do so in vein? The "why stay in Vietnam" excuse? Surely not.
Here is what will happen. We're going in with more firepower, more troops, more resources and another gazillion dollars. And this is the note that this incredible man's presidency will end on, a presidency that started with such hope and such promise and dies on some desolate, isolated, cold and windy mountainside in a land that time forgot and no one else cares about. How unfortunate, too, as the next messiah will be another "conservative" everyone would enjoy having a beer with, but will sit and read goat books while the nation is attacked, allow an American city to simply drown and will think the way to work in our complex world is through the same bullying he used when he was a child. And that end, too, will be another tragic part of Bush's already indescribably tragic legacy.
Too bad, too, as for many of us this President brought us hope for the first time in recent memory.