Happy Anniversary, Mr PresidentJanuary 20, 2010
On this day last year Barack Hussein Obama was being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. He had made history as the first African American to hold the highest office in the world. The world was jubilant and had high hopes. After eight years of George ‘Dubya’ Bush, Americans felt they could hold their heads up once again, because this new broom was going to clean up and make great changes. Fast forward to now and this great hope has had low ratings in the opinion polls and received an anniversary present he could’ve done without – losing a previously Democratic seat to a Republican called Scott Brown, which could jeopardise his plans for a health reform. Looks like the scare stories about our British NHS have worked a treat.
The honeymoon period is well and truly over and like all relationships, the fault finding takes over, eventually leading to an acrimonious split. We’ll see how he fares for the rest of his tenure, but if this is an indication of how it’ll go, he’ll be out so fast his feet won’t touch the ground come the next election. One of the great things about human beings is our ability to let hope override experience, because of course “It will be better this time.” This is best illustrated by our attitude in the dying hours of December 31st, every year without fail: “Last year was awful, but this year’s going to be the best yet!” That optimism can also one of our greatest failings as it blinds us to the reality of a situation, leading us to be disappointed once again.
I was as excited as everyone else watching the swearing in of the 44th president, but I was also aware as I listened to callers on the radio in London over the following days, that the euphoria was going to lead some people to disappointment, because they didn’t really listen to what he’d said. I don’t remember him cheerleading and declaring he’d sort everything out in an instant. In fact he was very sober. He knew he’d inherited a big fat turd that he now had to try and remove and he made it clear the changes wouldn’t happen overnight. In fact, as I remember it, he emphasised how it was going to be hard, how there would be setbacks and disappointments and that it was time to put away childish things. That doesn’t sound to me like someone who promised the moon, but gave a hunk of cheese instead.
Or did I miss something?