I was obsessed with politics and current events from a pretty young age; I blame the first gulf war, and Scholastic for selling that map that allowed me to track battles and occupations with tiny flag stickers. And for my entire life, I wanted a president with heart. Reagan was interesting in that all of his speeches seemed broadcast from space; I don’t have a single memory of seeing him on tv in a room with other people, though he did take a lot of walks from helicopters with Nancy in tow. Heart? Not really, but Nancy was excellent at making all of us terrified of jail and instant aneurysm from any use of drugs. Bush Sr. seemed like a good guy to have around if you wanted everyone to be terrified of the USA’s military capabilities. For all the memories I’ve lost, I still remember his inaugural address where he said:
“A new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn; for in man’s heart, if not in fact, the day of the dictator is over. The totalitarian era is passing, its old ideas blown away like leaves from an ancient, lifeless tree.”
Though I was only 10 years old at the time, I remember thinking he was an excellent, terrifying specimen of humanity. When that speech ended, my 10 year old brain said: *boom.* He’s a good peer for Dick Cheney, and I think having dinner with both of them would be like chilling with Darth Vader and the Emperor, and I mean that in the best super villain fangirl way possible.
For most of his presidency, Bill Clinton seemed kinda surprised that he pulled it off. He was a good president for an era when everyone was kinda reclining and assuming economic prosperity would last forever. It’s still hard for me to believe that we spent more money investigating his blowjob than we did investigating 9-11, but there you have it. I’m not saying anything about the idiot who came after Clinton, other than that he should probably stick to painting, and should maybe amend that to paint-by-number. Then there’s Obama, who does things on a regular basis that cause my eyebrow of suspicion to reach for the sky. I’m fully aware he’s an imperfect president. Still, the fact remains that his presidency has been the most profound of my lifetime, and he’s pulled it off in the face of enormous opposition, hostility, and suspicion. He had a lot of heart during his first campaign, and he seems to have gotten comfortable with letting it breathe again in his second term. And this right here is one of his finest hours. Try to imagine Reagan doing this, Clinton, Bush 1 or 2; you can’t. They wouldn’t. You can’t fake this. This is heart. This is history.