Here we are, America, the last full day of the Bush presidency and one day away from welcoming our new president, President-elect Barack Obama and his second in command, Vice President-elect Joe Biden to lead this fractured nation which is still the United States of America.
On this day, which is the celebration of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who died tragically and taken well before his time, it is my belief he is smiling down from the heavens above fully knowing that America finally got it. His “I Have a Dream” speech came to fruition. As a child seeing the civil rights struggle beamed into my living room which often became violent, never, never did I think I would see this day that an African-American would rise to the highest office in this land. That is not only a testament to Barack Obama, but to we the people.
I am almost at a loss for words in how I am feeling now since these last eight years have been long and arduous, but especially arduous for those whose cries went unheard by President Bush.
As President Bush sought to isolate this nation by pulling out of treaties and his go it alone strategy when it came to the Iraq War, this last day, it is President Bush who is isolated as polling numbers are the lowest in modern-day history and where Pres.-elect Obama comes in with higher approval ratings which are higher than the late President Ronald Reagan.
As we all know, the Vice President-elect takes his oath of office first, which states, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” And while “says that the Vice President and other government officers should take an oath upholding the Constitution. It does not specify the form of that oath.”
For a brief moment in time, our president will be President Bush and the vice president will be, Vice President Biden. I have always found that to be fascinating for some reason. On the campaign trail, Biden often laid out the case as a prosecutorial figure why we should not elect Senator John McCain often tying him to President Bush, yet in that brief time, he is his second in command. Try wrapping your brain around that one.
Like millions of Americans and billions from around the world, we await with baited breath for Pres.-elect Obama to take the oath of office as he is sworn in using the ‘Lincoln Bible’. As he recites these words, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God” Those gathered not only in Washington, D.C., from coast-to-coast here in America and those who live in all corners of the world will finally come to realize that the Bush presidency is over.
In reciting that oath, it is not only a constitutional transfer of power from one president to another, but a mystical one as well. You cannot actually see the power of the presidency transferring from President George W. Bush to President-elect Barack Obama, but the power transfers right before our eyes. We are witnessing history right before us. In just a blink of an eye, we look to a new president for leadership. In the blink of an eye, our military leaders and the forces that they command answer to a new Commander in Chief and the mantle of the presidency rests squarely on his shoulders. That leader will then be known as President Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. A new chapter then begins in our American history.
Normally the mantle of the presidency, would weigh heavily upon the new president, but in this case especially what awaits our new president, that mantle will most likely weigh several tons.
As we live out this last day of the Bush presidency, one must wonder what President Bush’s take on the hundreds of thousands so far who have come to Washington, D.C. to bear witness to this transfer of power. Are these the masses he lost as he chose to wage war on an innocent people, namely the Iraqi people? I have seen people interviewed coming from all corners of this planet who are truly mesmerized by President-elect Obama and could they be welcoming us back into the world community? I would hazard a guess that they are. Are these thousands upon thousands gathered representatives of those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina as President Bush turned his back on them as well?
Even as I type this, one cannot conceive of a new president, but here we are on the cusp of a new day. Right after our new president recites the oath of office, his staff will immediately descend on the White House to take charge under his command to start working to undo these past eight years.
Some things will be easier than others to turn back and our new president has asked for our patience and that we must do. Many can opine on how to do it, but we are not there in the Oval Office and it is not we who will bear the responsibility in any decision making process. We elected this man as our president in a clear and decisive victory.
While some presidents in the past had to rely heavily on speech writers since they may not have had the gift of prose, this new president does having written two books, Dreams of My Father in which he won a Grammy Award for and the Audacity of Hope. Between events in which we have seen President-elect Obama he has been working on his speech in the days leading up to the inauguration and we will await his charge and message to a thirsty nation.
Other speakers and a poet will speak to usher in our new chapter and we also await to hear their messages as well. Some may not agree with who he picked to speak to we the people, but still their words are now a part of our American tapestry.
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