I heard a soprano almost sing those words in the spring of 2008.
We had all been through, since Bush v. Gore, the worst presidency in history. We did not know who would come after: Barack Obama or John McCain. The choice was stark.
The soprano voice rang out through the Tishmann Auditorium at the New School in New York, which is a mini-Radio City Music Hall in style. She had just participated in a panel on new media.
The audience had wearily entered the hall, weighed down by the horrors of the Bush years: Bush lying us to war, Bush laughing at the gap between the rich and poor increasing, etc.
We left the hall not so bummed out as when we entered -- if not tapdancing, singing or floating six inches off the ground as we would on election night.
The soprano was none other than the founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna.
The program ended with her words, "It is an exciting time to be alive," ringing in our ears.
After the applause, I went up to her with two books. I asked her to sign my copy of her new book, On Becoming Fearless, and I gave her an inscribed copy of my book The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now. She was sitting at a table. She looked up, thanked me and invited me to write for The Huffington Post.
I now reprise her line: It is an exciting time to be alive.
I will mention first the city where I have lived since 1967, New York:
Our mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio, has enunciated the three political practices that underly his thought and action -- and lo and behold they are the same as mine! They are FDR's New Deal, European-style social democracy, and liberation theology. I can't believe it. It's an exciting time to be alive!
Of course, after that New School panel in 2008, Barack Obama went on to win the presidency. It has been a tough five years since, and there will be three more to his presidency. But I think he is the best president since Kennedy, or perhaps even since FDR. Here are a few of my reasons for saying this:
1. He saved the economy.
2. He got us out of Iraq (and he was the only major candidate in 2008 who had opposed the 2003 invasion).
3. He signed the Affordable Care Act.
I praise this individual, Barack Obama. But I look at the institutions of government that he must be responsible for, and there is room for criticism:
1. Guatanamo should be closed.
2. Drone warfare should be scrapped.
T3. The NSA should be harnessed.
4. We should make peace in the Middle East.
It is an exciting time for progressives: Barack Obama, Bill de Blasio, Pope Francis, the presidents of Iran and France, Hassan Rouhani and François Hollande.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to these and all of good will!
As my father used to say on New Year's Eve, "May the best of this year be the worst of next."
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