The Last Week
As the final days of the Bush Presidency arrive a grim, foreboding waiting is starting to take hold upon those who have watched this process unfold a few times. The entire elected staff is packing, nothing will get done on the federal agenda, while the pardon lists are being pared and refined. Bush is easily one of the worst Presidents America has ever seen and it’s entirely likely the frenetic pardons of the last week will be as heinous as the last eight years were.
Initial signs for the final seven days are very bad, Bush and the Executive team are being what they’ve always been, assholes, demanding all of the remaining reeking $750 billion bailout funds when anybody else would be asking for box tape. I’m the President, I’m the President! Bush ranted once when being crossed, and although Obama didn’t mean to with his major economic address he provoked the utterly immature, spiteful elements of Bush’s ego, I’m afraid, and pugnacious, stupid actions from Bush are sure to follow.
Last week a very nice, very classy invitation to the Obama inaugural arrived, a token gesture to those on some contribution graph threshold, of course, but still what I found to be a genuinely touching gesture. I slowly fingered the absurdly expensive creamy paper with good ink and perfect font, so wanting to believe in the two men about to be sworn in from the script of the page, so wanting to hope and to be inspired, for new good things to finally spread forth from the White House for our little people, suffering so long under the abuse of Bush.
Appointments to the Senate of Burris and possibly Kennedy have been a slimy, embarrassing episode of mortifying magnitude, the economic news on employment, car sales and industrial production tripped into the horror range, Gaza has blown up far beyond horror, and California tumbled ever further down its cliff to extremely serious civic failure, the human political news has been classically depressing, but that wasn’t what stayed my soul when I handled that invitation.
I was genuinely surprised at the news Thursday investors who had been ripped off in the notorious Madoff ponzi scheme are asking for a federal bailout, and that this was being taken seriously, small-time investors who lost their little people money (cough) of a million or less could get it back. Insurance, auto, finance, they’re all getting bailed out, well, why not? In times of solid fuel booster deficits tax cuts are being bandied about, that good old Republican mojo, and there is never any talk in the least that the most bloated, massive Defense budget on the planet will be pared so those precious dollars can be spent on our people.
There is nothing of sacrifice in any of this, of giving up something, just a fat syringe of eternally borrowed cash frantically pumped into whatever handy American artery seems necessary on our sick, dysfunctional political body. Can a human or a society truly change without the notion that some things must be given up, that labor and work are required on faith for works that are beyond ourselves?
Much to the surprise of my gay, female Episcopal priest I showed up at church last Tuesday and, among other things, signed up for three weekly hours of grounds labor every Tuesday. I’m angry and dismissive of Christians for very good reasons, but the Episcopal Church is still a very good one, my priest is an amazing human, and emotionally I have been one stuck, sorry son of a bitch for the last 60 days. Everyone knows it, shit, I still won’t go to Sunday services but Jesus I’ve got to do something different, it's one of the things on my list.
So I’ll start the office job Tuesdays at 0600 to toil and trim, mow and weed, till and plant, scuffed and dirty at church in the fading winter light, thinking about change and love and mistakes and hope’n regret, my hands at least doing something completely outside of my own interest. Irrational, but after a year we’ll see what happens.
Let’s be extremely clear I am no goody-two-shoes preaching something to anybody, please, hell, I am simply lost and looking to serve. There has to be a lot more Americans like me who can serve and accept a lot of sacrifice, and I don’t see us getting out of this canyon of a ditch we’re in without those two crucial elements moving forward, that’s all. Bailouts to everybody with tax cuts doesn’t cut it.
I do think Obama is wise and intelligent enough to see that, times are extremely difficult with a crushing workload swarming the frenzied public agenda. There are still 10 days yet to go, 10 days that could contain some extremely bad news of felonies forever unaccountable, and then Obama will have his chance. Stay steady and accept whatever the next 10 days delivers, and then at last be ready with service and sacrifice to heed the urgent call of leadership from President Obama.