Recollections of Another Inauguration

Politics, US Politics

As we sit here on the last day of G. W. Bush’s presidency, I can’t help remembering what I thought we were getting eight years ago.  I just read this Vanity Fair article by Brian Smith describing his visits to the White House as a friend of Barbara Bush (the President’s daughter).  He describes joining the family for dinners and movies in the early days of the Bush administration.  While his story is interesting in itself, what it brought back for me was my expectations from eight years ago for our new President.  Sure, we knew “W” was not as qualified as Vice President Gore.  Heck, he didn’t even win the popular vote.  But Americans were ok with George.  He was an everyday guy despite his family’s riches and political history.  He was a devoted family man, Christian, recovered hard partier, etc and we were looking for a care-taker President.  Times were good, the economy was flying high, and unemployment was very low.  All we needed was someone to keep up the good times and honestly, we were suffering from a bit of Clinton fatigue.  Bush had a reputation, a good one, from his Texas days.  Words like bi-partisan and modest came from both sides in Texas.  He might not have been the brightest bulb in the pack, but all we wanted was the status quo… and we blew it.  You can’t have an average Joe as the President of the United States.  You can’t be ok with the status quo in an ever changing world.  So this time, we’re going the other way.  We elected the smart, accomplished guy.  The guy who thinks before he speaks, then speaks clearly and eloquently.  The guy who thinks bipartisanship means listening to the other side instead of inviting them over for a cookout.  I think we learned our lesson, but it sure was a painful experience.



  1. sozobe  •  Jan 20, 2009 @6:53 am


    I don’t think I had any particular powers of prognostication but I never had a moment where I thought Bush was OK. I was extremely anti-Bush throughout. He walked past my house (parade route) during the campaign in 2000 and I stood there with my arms crossed, glaring at him. The election results were cause for anguish. I was very, very worried about what he would do — war and the environment were my main concerns I think — right from the outset.

    Whew, so glad to see him go! In fact that makes me gladder than I’ve been — I just haven’t thought about him much lately.

  2. engineer  •  Jan 20, 2009 @8:47 am

    I wasn’t particularly anti-Bush until the run-up to the Iraq war. I was naive. I dismissed concerns about torture saying “the United States would never do that.” I owe Bush for my education about such things. I like to believe that we have guiding principles and will do the best we can, but now I must accept that there are politicians who will discard everything our forefathers strived for for a few votes.

  3. nimh  •  Jan 20, 2009 @11:18 am

    Ooow, I have some very different recollections of the GWB inauguration. I mean the start of his presidency, I dont remember the inauguration per se. From what I remember people were pretty much in smash-your-head-against-the-wall, cant-believe-this-really-happened, frustrated anguish.

    Then again, of course, I’m not American, and wasn’t in America. But I do remember the furious, bitter debates between online acquaintances – those who were voting Nader and those who tried to force them to change their mind… Yes Gore was a bit of a dud, but Bush had to be stopped!

    My now-gf – who’s been pretty much lukewarm and only incidentally interested in this year’s elections (she didnt vote, either) – actually tried imposing a sex boycott on her then-bf if he didnt change his mind about voting Nader. :) (He did anyway, and she just became disaffected from politics altogether.)

    Oh my. Seems long ago now. In comparison with the disappointment of 2000, the 2004 defeat was almost a shrug – it sucked seeing that the majority of Americans were really that stupid – again – but you know, we were used to it and Kerry was a gasbag anyway, so it was almost calculated in from the start.

    Whole new generation now …

  4. nimh  •  Jan 20, 2009 @11:32 am

    Then again, from my Euro background Ronald Reagan was already Evil Incarnate … only a decade afterward did I get round to begrudgingly grant him the one or two strategical successes.

    I mean, he had torture on his hands too, for one, with his agents training torture skills to the secret service cops of Central American dictators… not to mention what he did to the poor, the homeless, the AIDS-sufferers. Evil’s a big word, but damn.

    That’s why I’m optimistic about Obama – not that he’ll be Mr. Clean – but on economic policy too, he at least seems to be the first President with both a shot and a desire to really reverse the course America took 30-40 years ago. Carter never had a chance and Clinton didnt have the fire.

    One can hope .. ;-)

  5. engineer  •  Jan 20, 2009 @2:03 pm

    In 2000, I really didn’t see the real Bush. The 2004 election was the one that really upset me. Everyone knew all the bad stuff, but gay marriage was the topic of the day. I was a lot more disappointed in America then. But the country made it up to me this time around.

  6. dlowan  •  Jun 5, 2009 @1:38 am

    Gosh…I can’t remember how I really felt about Bush at the beginning.

    I would have preferred Gore, of course…but I honestly cannot recall if I had strong anti-Bush feelings over and above what I would feel for most US presidents..particularly conservative ones.

    If I knew about the christian right stuff then I would have been pretty worried, though.