02/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bumper Stickers, Lapel Pins and Sound Bytes, Oh My!

I remember the first time I saw one . . . a white on black bumper sticker with large clear lettering:


There was small print underneath it, too small for me to read. At an intersection, I inched the bumper of my car as close as I dared to the car sporting the date so I could read the words. Now they say things like "Barack Obama Inauguration Day," and "The end of an error," but the originals read:

Bush's Last Day

This was a few years ago. I smiled at the time. And said something like, "Amen," out loud.

On Thursday evening this past week, I watched the outgoing president's thirteen minute farewell to the nation speech. Speechless is how he left me. History, by its nature is subject to revision because of the permeability of memory, but I have to agree with Arianna Huffington's summation on The Rachel Maddow Show. She said (in her magnificent Greek accent), "I have to go with Art Garfunkel on this. 'Still crazy after all these years.'"

It's hard to strike me dumb, but #43 managed it. Afghanistan is a young democracy encouraging girls to go to school -- and having acid thrown in their faces for their trouble. Iraq is a friend of the United States in the Middle East -- Hamas is bombing Gaza at the same moment. New Orleans is doing just fine thanks after Katrina. The bottom line? According to his lapel pin flagged self, America is a better America because of George W. Bush.

The Great Rabbi of Nazareth teaches a spectacular lesson about bearing self-witness in the Gospel of John. "If I bear witness of myself, then my testimony is not true." The law of the land at the time insisted that three witnesses were necessary to establish truth.

Mr. Bush has had plenty more than three witnesses. In fact, the full complement of the American people have watched the past eight years in varying degrees of shock, awe, incredulity, and acclaim. His revisionist, self-witnessing history remains appalling.

And yet, and yet . . . on Tuesday, we enter a new era with new bumper stickers, new lapel pins and new sound bytes. Perhaps Mr. Obama might take a page out of the masterpiece of L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?

What he needs to be a great leader are three things he has developed over the many years of his public service: a brain, a heart, the noive. The October 1900 issue of Kindergarten Magazine characterizes these archetypes as "the really thoughtful Scarecrow, the truly tender Tin Woodsman, and the fearless Cowardly Lion."

Let's see Mr. Obama taking the Oath of Office, swearing to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States with thoughtfulness, tenderness, and fearlessness. I'll gladly bear witness to that.

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