I’ve been privileged to have lived roughly a third of the life of our country and to have seen four of what I consider truly historic — as opposed to merely important — events in our country’s history.
I was 9 months old and don’t remember Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration which, like Ronald Reagan’s, I classify as important to our history, not historic. The first truly historic moment in my memory was Pearl Harbor. I was 9, and I still remember every detail of what I was doing where. The next was the atomic bomb in 1945 in my first teen year, opening the nuclear age. Then in 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon launching the space age. A full generation passed before the second day of infamy, 9/11/2001.
Today, we’re seeing Pearl Harbor, atomic bomb, moon landing and 9/11 joined by Barack Obama’s inauguration as our first black president, confirming and cementing the uniqueness of our national culture as the world’s land of opportunity.
Never mind that he surely is the least experienced, least accomplished, least prepared and least qualified president in our history; he is a powerful symbol of what and who we collectively are. His rhetorical skills won the confidence of the majority, and when Americans are confident, they can work wonders.
Sadly, there are some who want to see Obama fail. As one who voted for a far more qualified candidate, I would remind these that if Obama fails, we and our country fail also. He succeeds; we succeed. It behooves us all to help him in our various ways, and we’ll be helping ourselves. No, that doesn’t mean doing exactly as he proposes. It means improving upon his proposals, making them better and our country’s success sweeter.
Meanwhile, the Georgia legislature is back in session confronted with a full platter but few realistic prospects that most of the meaty part of the menu will be effectively addressed this election year. Positions will depend most on how majorities in both parties calculate the effect those positions will have on their own respective personal agendas, be they re-election, seeking a higher office or what. One thing is for sure. They’ll heed our collective cry to give us more and take less from us. The only realistic source for doing that is the bond — that means debt to be repaid in the future — market.
Hall County’s Casey Cagle is a sure bet to be running for governor two years hence, and all rhetoric aside, that race will be factored into his decisions. Ditto for other gubernatorial candidates now holding other public offices.
Some not now in public office may play bigger roles than now expected. First in mind is former Gov. Roy Barnes. described — perhaps aptly — by many as the big gorilla in the room.
We’ll have a better idea of what really to expect out of this legislative session in a couple of weeks. Finally, it has been amusing in one way to compare Obama’s words and actions in recent weeks with his campaign rhetoric. His big theme was get out of Iraq. On his first day in office, he was going to call the joint chiefs of staff in with an order to get out. He’s "keeping" that promise. They’ll be called in and given the order. Only it must be done "responsibly," which is expected to take a couple of years for combat troops and several more kin advisory roles, roughly the same timetable in President Bush’s strategy.
He was going to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and release untried prisoners. That order, too, will be issued the first or second day. But it has been let known that it’s going to take some real time to accomplish, maybe several years. He’ll be doing the symbolic acts promised to his supporters but far more in the time frame envisioned by his campaign bogey man, George Bush, who, it turns out, was far more right. It’s good Obama was smart enough to finally figure that out.
Ted Oglesby is retired editor of the opinion page. He can be reached at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com.