I really had a great time watching all the pomp and awe surrounding the inauguration yesterday. I remember other inaugurations but I do not remember being this excited. Of course, that could be because for the last 5 years, I have not cared too much for politics or our President. I watched the Clinton inauguration – the first time he was elected. I was a little disenchanted the 2nd time. Needless to say, for many Americans, this was a historic Inauguration and it carried many firsts. Aside from the obvious firsts, it is also the first time, during my generation, that the image of the President has morphed into something…. well, truly American! I am not just talking about race. I am talking about how the President holds himself out to the public- how he holds himself out to the world. He really portrays an image of grace, dignity, and calm. He is eloquent and his manners are impeccable. It is so refreshing to have a President whom you can respect and be proud to have America represented in the global sphere. Yesterday’s inaugural festivities were no exception.
I know the media played up the “race” thing a bit too much – panning the National Mall and the audience for African-Americans but this truly was about the nation and I wish the coverage would have been more well, more “race neutral”. It is hard to ignore that he is the first black President and it is exciting especially for those who braved and survived the Civil Rights movement but I think it is more about race now and I am really excited at what the future holds for all people – regardless of race, religion, and national origin. Foreign countries are most excited of all – could this be the beginning of good relations with other nations? My expectations are not that high but most everyone expects a lot. I just hope that he is allowed a chance instead of branded a failure because he did not deliver right away- after all, he is just one man and part of a bureaucracy which never seems to get anything done. Needless to say, the image he portrays and continues to do so will serve him and our nation well and I look forward to the journey. The struggles are many, and I hope the country can make it.
Yesterday I had the first opportunity to meet who my new boss at my full-time job is going to be and this weekend, I will meet my new commander down at my Reserves position too. Two new bosses in a week! Wow! That is a lot of change. Sure, I am not new to the concept, with 7 years active duty, and several different positions at each assignment, I had the opportunity to have many different bosses. Each boss over the years has had his or her own management/leadership style and each has likes and dislikes and as I have learned after having 6 bosses in 7 years, you kinda have to deal with it and like a box of Whitman’s Sampler Chocolates, you just do not know what you’re gonna get. In the end, the boss is the boss and you have to adapt and overcome.
In my case, both new bosses have something in common- they are both policy men- they are bureaucrats, rule followers, color within the lines, and love policy and process. I could, of course, care less for policy, process, and staying within the lines. I have always marched to a different tune and love to be creative when I can-kinda hard in a bureaucracy, huh? Needless to say, this will be a good complement to me because I am not a detail-oriented person but rather, prefer big picture. I am very anxious, excited, and at the same time being cautiously optimistic. I am very pleased about one of the bosses because he immediately told us that he believes in family first and a family friendly workplace. He is even on a committee in our Department to further said goals. That is positive for me as we expect another change here soon – a new baby while another one is still in diapers. Needless to say, the question has crossed my mind- when it comes to a battle between family friendly and process/policy or rules, which one will trump? Hmm…. we will find out soon enough I am sure.
On January 20, 2009, I will also have a new commander in chief and of course, a lot of change is coming to the government in general. I am excited but also nervous about all these changes… but I think it is good to keep on your toes and if you fall into a rut and there is no prospect of change, the economy and other aspects of life stagnate so…. as 2009 gets underway, I am just taking it one day at a time and hope that all the change is positive or if it is not, that I hope I can get through it …. ’til change happens again.
Yahoo News Story can be found at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081207/pl_nm/us_usa_obama_smoking_3
This morning, I was listening to a local radio station which was hosting a discussion on our President-Elect’s smoking habits. It was an interesting discussion. One guy claimed he did not know before the election that Obama was a smoker. Duh- he must not watch the news then because it was everywhere before the election. Second, another DJ was claiming he did not want a smoking President because that is not an image a President should be portraying in our modern day age. Granted, I think smoking is horrible. I would have a hard time if I were Michele Obama and had to kiss this man. Fortunately, I kiss another man’s mouth.
Needless to say, I could not help but wonder whether I was concerned about this man leading our country and the free world and why people were so concerned about this considering how many Presidents have smoked cigars or in the case of one President, misused cigars to commit adultery in the White House. Are we really that shallow of a society? Do we not follow what is going on in our economy right now so much so that we are focused on the individual and personal choices a man has made for his health? Granted, as a role model to our nation’s youth, I agree- I do not want the President to be displayed on TV puffing away. But, what the man chooses to do in his home or in the backyard of the White House is his business. People did not freak out excessively when Jack Kennedy was sleeping around with random women, or when FDR was drinking scotch. What about Jimmy Carter and those damn peanuts? Kidding of course, but why was there not an image issue when Clinton had sexual relations of some sort with a White House intern?
I am frankly amazed that people are so concerned about Obama’s smoking that they are not focused on things that matter. If anything, how nice to see a human at the helm who understands health care issues especially the addictions associated with nicotine. Granted, I do worry about self control – I hope he is not vulnerable like this in other areas of his life. But, I simply think people are making too much of this and hopefully, we can all move on to more important things like health care, women’s rights, and of course… oh yeah, the flailing economy.
I feel like an era in American history has begun and come January 21, 2009, a completely new face in Leadership. My parents’ generation had JFK’s camelot. And what an exciting time that was in America. For the first time since I first voted in 1992, I feel like I finally had a voice- a hand in electing someone with grace, charm, sincerity, and intelligence. Someone who truly represents the changing face of America and someone who can positively represent our nation to the world. I remember the excitement when the Berlin wall came down and President Reagan uttered those historic words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” On November 4, 2008, when President-Elect Obama and his family came out to accept and deliver his speech, I felt chills run down my spine as history was made again. I cried, realizing how full of hope I felt and how looking forward, I realize this is my America. This is an America where dreams can come true and opportunity is abundant. As I looked out into the crowd in Chicago, listening intently to our new President-elect, I saw faces of America- black, white, Asian, hispanic, Native American, male, female, and hope- tears of joy and hope.
As they covered the world news, I saw more celebrating- it was like New Year’s Eve – people in the streets hugging, kissing, celebrating, and laughing- because it is truly the dawn of a new era not just for America but for the world. America can restore itself as a Superpower again with the same grace, dignity, and charisma as before. The last 8 years have been horrible for America and its reputation in the ever-changing global sphere. Our generation has not seen this much celebration EVER for the election of a world leader. This was truly monumental. A new face- a face, a voice, a man who unites instead of dividing. A man who represents the changing face of America. A new first family- the new faces of the Camelot of our generation. I know the expectations are high but I am confident that President Obama will deliver. The grace, dignity, respect, charm, and honesty of an office so important, it impacts global relationships and our economy. All of this will finally be restored.
Now that the election hype is behind us and a clear winner has emerged, it is now time for everyone to ask themselves, “Now what?” Our guy was elected and now is the time to get some things done for the nation but are our expectation of President-Elect Barack Obama too high? I think people may be expecting a miracle in the next few years. I hope they can keep these expectations in check because Presidents, while they can influence world leaders, inspire us and make us feel better about what is going on in our country, can rarely make that much change especially quickly.
There is a checks and balances system in place which often becomes a speed bump or a barrier to rapid changes or laws being passed. There is the balance of power issue where Republicans keep Democrats in check and vice versa and often times, party politics and partisanship keeps good things from going forward. Sometimes, parties try to put riders on perfectly good Bills which then prevents them from becoming law. So while 80% of the bill is good for America, 20% could be very bad and so the entire Bill goes down in flames. Too bad the Line Item Veto was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court otherwise, the President could have the power to only pass what he wanted in a Bill preventing this “all or nothing” type scenario for some powerful Bills. Needless to say, I think the people who voted for Barack Obama, our 44th President, need to keep their expectations in check and realize that he is not a messiah who can deliver us from a bad economy, high taxes, high gas bills, and take our sons and daughters out of Iraq immediately. He may have more influence on those issues but he still has to work within the confines of the framework in the Constitution and …. that may be take some time.
So, to all the folks out there who are excited – I Know I am- keep your patience, and do not lose hope and above all, realize that when he takes office, President Obama will be just that- the President of the United States, not a miracle worker. Hopefully, we will see some great things in bringing our country together from this man and the impact will be on the economy, on education, and on employment rights in this great country but if we do not see these changes right away, let’s all not be disappointed.