Here I am sitting around the old cracker-barrel off Lexington Avenue as Thanksgiving approaches, and I know I should be counting my blessings and dreaming of the forthcoming family feast, but I can't help but dispense a few words of political advice (a habit hard for this guy to break) even as we await the end of the Bush years and the beginning of the Obama era.
Yes, I wept my tears of joy and thanked Jove, Jehovah, Jesus and Allah for the great awakening of the American voter on election night although it took a charismatic candidate and an economic catastrophe to do so; still I have a few cautionary words. We have been forced to dance with the devil for eight years, and it is hard not to believe that the Great Man has arrived to save us. Resist it. Fight it. Slam the door on it and keep it out of your life. If necessary and this is extreme, put aside all books on great presidents by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Great he may prove to be (and I'm one of those who truly admires the man) permit him to prove it. What Obama needs is not a stadium of wide eyed cheerleaders but a country of sharp eyed skeptics. Not the buffoons at Fox News who are still suffering PEST - Post Election Shock Trauma - but supporters who are looking hard at his decisions from before day one. Yes, I know he has not yet been sworn in and it is only fair to give him the famous benefit of the doubt, but that doesn't mean that we can't start doubting now, since early doubt comes with benefits such as reality.
Some personal doubts. This old Dem thought the embrace and forgiveness of Lieberman was a moral disgrace, and yes, I am told time and again by the cheerleaders that it just reflects Obama's strategic brilliance. Brilliance? After all the hard work of those who put Obama in the White House, why must we face that smug, mewing Howdy Doody of political hacks back in a leadership position? Lieberman is a man certain to eat the olive branch Obama offered and ultimately spit it out in his face. If that's the brilliance of Obama I will take the old dull retribution of an FDR which means that those who betray us and try to bring us down should themselves be brought down. It disappoints me that Rahm Emanuel was a party to this Lieberman pardon. Emanuel's great virtue seems to be that he is a liberal who is mean as a snake, and there aren't too many Dems with that particular Rovian viper-power, and is this what Emanuel advised? Is he to be our cursing, f--king Gandhi from Chicago?
And I raise a heavy skeptical eyebrow at the idea of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. She may prove to be a great choice but with a brilliant Richard Holbrooke available, why pick the one candidate who continually defended her vote for the Iraq war and faced imaginary bullets in Bulgaria or wherever the hell her fantasy of heroism under fire took her during the long battle weary campaign? I admit I was voting for her in the beginning of her campaign - I admired her spirit and her smarts - but found her campaign tactics unacceptable as the campaign continued and I switched to Obama. She might have thought Obama unfit to answer the red telephone at three in the morning, but some of us think she might not be the one best suited to dial that phone. I keep voting for her as my Senator in New York because I admire her political skills, and believe that she is what my state needs, a liberal, caring and very effective politician. She's hard working and tough, a policy wonk who is good at her senating or whatever the verb is for such folks. But Secretary of State? We need someone to caution Obama on some future wars, not goad him on. Already I am deeply disturbed by the idea of further adventures in Afghanistan, a monumental disaster waiting to happen. See Rory Stewart in the Sunday New York Times for details.
And are we really going to allow those Auto-Execustiffs who came to Washington as billionaire beggars to take the big bucks without offering the best program for building successful, fuel efficient American cars with the lowest impact on our endangered environment? I do believe that we must not use Bush's catastrophic decisions as the yardstick by which we measure the future decisions of Obama. But I will put this out of mind as Thanksgiving approaches and I will be rewarded with a trio of adorable grand-daughters and a fine turkey made by my beautiful, talented daughter in law Lise, and an amazing secret recipe cranberry fool made by my gorgeous wife of 55 years. Still, when the turkey and the cranberry fool are gone it will not serve us to be left as political fools. Skeptics of the world unite. We have nothing to lose but our illusions. It serves us well to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, something that goes for potentially overdone turkeys and potentially over praised future Presidents. Have a great Thanksgiving.