by R. Scott Porter
(Swans - December 15, 2008) Where shall I start? I guess I'll just cut to the chase, as is my habit, and say that I hope 2008 marks the end of extreme incompetence in American governance, especially at the federal level. With the Bush administration, and all those who supported it, we have suffered in the last year, as we did for the seven years before, perhaps the most incompetent administration in American history. Whether intentional or unintentional, their stubborn refusal, until the bitter end, to admit fault, and their tone deaf lack of personal, much less political, savvy has been so very painful to witness that most sentient human beings simply tried to ignore them. That, however, was a huge mistake. That only allowed morons to bring the otherwise intelligent down to their level. Now the climb back to the surface is all the more challenging.
I admit to being physically unable to witness the news for very long for most of '08, and so I will not be able to chronicle the year as well as those historians out there who managed to remain more dispassionate about it all. Every time I forced myself to watch I was equally enraged and dismayed. Our government's ability to respond was seldom equal to the task at hand. There was never, at least for me, a deep feeling of trust in this bunch of privileged lightweights. There was always a nagging feeling that no one who truly cared about me, or mine, was in charge. That made me nervous. I knew, deep down, that I would personally survive, but I feared for my nation, and I feared for the future, for my sons' sake. That is no way to live. Not in this country. We have almost always done better than that.
We just got a little lazy and allowed the worst people to gain power. Then we let them continue with their insane agenda for far too long. Conventional wisdom still ruled the day. We subliminally wanted to trust the status quo. We wanted to believe that those in charge had our best interests in mind. This time around that was especially wrong-headed. This time we got saddled with a truly sinister bunch of thieves. In fact, it turns out that the only thing the Bush administration was competent at was thievery. How much of that George Jr. was aware of is still in question. A thorough investigation is certainly in order. Perhaps he was clueless, as usual. Maybe he was placed in office to play the fool. The true irony of '08 will be if such a righteous people as the American people will not finally admit, en masse, that we were hoodwinked by an admittedly brilliant band of thieves. We should have seen through their charade long ago and brought them to justice. We all need to help each other grow a spine in the future. If we ever fall for such foolishness again we will surely earn the contempt of history, if we have not already forever earned it.
The first test of the Obama administration will be in the selection of the cabinet and other appointments. There cannot be even a hint of cronyism. The primary consideration must be competence. We must immediately put the best and the brightest to work in order to stand a chance of solving the monstrous problems left to us by the Bush administration. The next eight years will have to be a time of renewal, not destruction. It will have to be a time of education, not of "dumbing-down." We will have to return to innovation and invention instead of blind greed. We will never return to our old glory without honesty.
Now, at the end of the year, we might allow ourselves a glimmer of hope, at the risk of once again being disappointed. I pray that Barack Obama can find a way to deliver on his rhetoric. I feel that he is authentic, and I know that he is qualified. I can only hope that he receives the cooperation required to solve the terrible problems we face, and that he manages to stay safe. There is a world-wide sense of relief about America's enduring ability to right our own wrongs, and so there is a good chance that we will be able to earn their respect, and their help, in the future. If we can only, once again, lead the world in compassion and idealism we might be able to convince them to do the right thing in their own countries.
I'm sure this sounds simplistic. I am a simple man, after all. Complexity, in human interactions, too often leads to corruption. If we can keep things simple in the areas of competence and honesty we will find it much easier to solve the complex problems that face us.
Good luck in '09!
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