Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks But No Thanks

Here's what the current occupant of the nation's highest office did yesterday:

The importance of having two turkeys at the ready was proved yesterday, when disaster was narrowly averted in this, Bush's final turkey-pardoning moment. The Washington Post has learned that one of the turkeys came down with a cold the night before the pardoning ceremony!

"A little congested," a source involved in the closed-door turkey operation said.

Just like that, the chosen bird was demoted to vice turkey status, and no one would be the wiser.

"Number 2 became Number 1 in the middle of the night," said another source, who asked to be identified only as a member of the turkey-raising family.

And so it was that on a bright, chilly morning in the Rose Garden, President Bush was able to preside smoothly over his last turkey pardoning.


This year's national turkey and his alternate both kicked back on Pardon Eve at a suite in the Willard Hotel, a serious upgrade over the digs of their recent predecessors, who holed up at the charming, but fading -- and now closed -- Hotel Washington.

In contrast, the guy who will replace Bush at the White House decided to help people who will never quite afford the swanky digs at the Willard:

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife took their daughters to work at a food bank on the day before Thanksgiving, saying they wanted to show the girls the meaning of the holiday, especially when so many people are struggling.

Ten-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha joined their parents to shake hands and give holiday wishes to hundreds of people who had been lined up for hours at the food bank on Chicago's South Side.

Sasha wore a pink stocking hat over her pigtails and Malia had on a purple striped hat as the family handed out wrapped chickens to the needy in the chilly outdoor courtyard. Those seeking food on Wednesday at St. Columbanus also received boxes with potatoes, oranges, fresh bread, peanut butter, canned goods, oatmeal, spaghetti and coffee.

The president-elect, dressed casually in a leather jacket, black scarf and khaki pants, was in a jovial mood, calling out "happy Thanksgiving" and telling everyone "you can call me Barack."

He told reporters that he wants the girls "to learn the importance of how fortunate they are, and to make sure they're giving back."

I've never been able to quite grok the turkey-pardoning thing anyway; in a world full of ridiculous and meaningless traditions, this is surely one of the more inscrutably tedious. But let's play the game for a moment -- the "tradition", such as it is, is meant to symbolize mercy, compassion, empathy. Which person is embodying those traits to a greater degree by his respective symbolic action?

And perhaps more importantly, when did Bush ever put those values of mercy, compassion, and empathy into action? He brought needless death and destruction to distant shores, and he diddled and fumbled while the economy of the world lawn-darted, and millions of his citizens lost their jobs, homes, businesses, futures. He departs with a seamless wake of failure and havoc, a man who was groomed from childhood by the best educational institutions this nation has to offer, but whose petulance and willfulness, incuriosity and ignorance, bequeath a legacy that will take a concerted effort by the US and the rest of the world to overcome.

And while Bush and Cheney have not exactly obstructed or impeded Obama's efforts to put together an economic team that can hit the ground running in January, they've also done nothing to facilitate the transition, nothing to help the process, nothing save extending meager unemployment benefits to even acknowledge that a lot of people out there are royally screwed, that it's a long two months until competent people even get a chance to implement a new, hopefully proactive plan of attack. They're just fucking around, like they always do and always have, playing with turkeys, Mister Man brushing up on his borscht-belt schtick.

Today also happens to be my wedding anniversary, so I do have plenty to be thankful for -- a happy marriage, a wonderful family, good health, and right now spectacular weather. And leaving a job (as of next week) that I had become disillusioned with anyway. But the large-scale thing that I (and I imagine most Americans) can also be thankful for is Bush's impending departure, the imminent and hopefully permanent removal from public life of a person who had a nasty and regressive impact on the lives of most Americans as well as millions around the world, a man under whose tenure only the lives of his haves and have-mores actually improved.

I think it's safe to say, even among a fair number of self-styled conservatives, that Bush is someone who never should have been there in the first place, someone who made the country and the world worse than he found it, who polarized and impoverished both the political debate and the economic stratification of this country. He will never have the self-awareness to be ashamed or embarrassed at what he's done. I think a lot of us are ashamed and embarrassed for his actions and inactions, as well as of and by them. That's a good thing; it means we might still have a drop of team spirit left in us. We still give a damn.

Were I a person of faith I'd put my trust in a just and vengeful god to mete out an appropriate fate for Bush and his minions, but since empirical reality mitigates that flight of fancy, I'll settle for him just going away, spending the rest of his days covering his nut on the wingnut rubber-chicken circuit. They deserve each other. All any of them care about is money anyway; may they all choke on it.

In the meantime, y'all have a great Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy the Lions' historic run to an unprecedented 0-16 season -- unless, as Michael Silver posits, they can squeak past the inconsistent Saints. I dunno; I think we're looking at 0-16, and probably 2-14 next year for the hapless Lions, whose organizational culture makes the Raiders' look competent. They're that bad.

Update: Re the Titans-Lions blowout, nice move by the Titans who, at 3:39 left in the game and a 37-point lead, and most of their starters still in, challenge a measly (if athletic) 20-yard catch by Detroit WR Calvin Johnson that took the Lions to their own 40. The catch stood, but still -- stay classy, Jeff Fisher!


Marius said...

Happy anniversary, Heywood. Hope things are looking up for you guys.

Heywood J. said...

Thanks, man. Things are going okay, actually. The things that I can control, I'm good with -- I feel like my résumé and my interview skills are frog's-ass tight. That's about all anyone can do, that and cultivate some decent contacts and leads.

It's just a matter of finding a good opportunity, beating the rest of the crowd to it, and once on board, being able to feel like hard work will actually pay off. Onward and upward.