There seems to be much hoopla surrounding the Inauguration of Barack Obama and while I certainly see why others may be excited about that, I’m optimistically cautious. He is, indeed, a politician and thus a civil servant and I don’t recall any rock bands playing when I have been hired at the many service jobs I have held in my time.
This is not to say that tomorrow shouldn’t be a day of celebration. But I am considerably more excited that George Bush is leaving the White House than Barack Obama coming in. I like Obama, but not nearly as much as I loathed Bush. Partly because Obama is so much more accessible to me while Bush was always in the air.
Let me explain.
It was 2000 and I was under the influence of some brilliant community college professors in San Diego. Though pretty pissed at Clinton, I was certainly anxious to get Gore into office as I understood the difference between a Democrat and a Republican was at that point (I have since misunderstood it).
I parked at the school, punched the lever for Gore, received my “I voted” sticker and went to work. Later that night I settled into a bar called The Turf Club and watched the results come in on the TV over the bar. I started with a Manhattan. Then they called Florida for Gore and I had another. Then they took Florida back and I had another. Then they called the thing for Bush and I had another. The Navy kids next to me were ecstatic, they said Bush’s victory was good for the military.
Some months later I was hired on at a weekly paper in La Jolla and, being a part of the liberal media, began writing editorials against Bush. I received the requisite mail and was called the obligatory pinko commie and continued my leftist ways unabashed. Then 9/11 happened and Afghanistan and Iraq and American Flags were flying from Hummers all over Southern California and many lunches were spent with me arguing about politics with the sales reps.
One Thursday morning while driving to work I looked out of my Sunroof to see several planes flying in formation heading out to the Pacific. The middle plane had a bulbous front and didn’t look quite right. I didn’t think much of it until I arrived at work and an hour or so later saw the same formation flying back. The classifieds manager told me it was Bush’s plane. Later I learned he had just inferred the mission was accomplished in Iraq. Even though it wasn’t. But there he was up there. Flying over us like a kid in a toy. Not worried about what was going on down below or over in the Middle East.
Fast forward to March of 2006. There I am peddling my bike on the levee in Algiers Point. It’s a few months after The Flood and I am on my way back home from the hotel I worked at. I never saw myself working in a housekeeping department but that was how the Universe unfolded at that stage of my life. I looked toward the Lower Ninth and there he was again. Bush in Marine One way above the Ninth Ward. Peering out the windows of his helicopter in probably the same manner he looked out of Air Force One in the days after The Flood. I stopped and look up at him and watched him scoot around, then disappear.
The last time I saw him was only a few months ago. I knew he was in town but wasn’t paying much attention at that point. My fiancee told me to look up because there was a strange formation in the sky. I went outside and saw a formation of jets leaving contrails across the sky. I knew it was him. Again, up in the sky.
That’s what he was to us – in the air. Though he tried to portray an everyman image it was clear he was a tarnished golden boy. An old money gent with names in his family like “Prescott” and “Herbert Walker.” He said as much by referencing Trent Lott’s destroyed house after the Flood while bodies lay unclaimed at St. Gabriel. Bush was to America as he was to me, in the air, in the air.