A couple of weeks ago, er, maybe last week (yeah, it was totally a week ago Saturday), we had an 8am meeting at the Bookstore I work at. The entire staff. 8am, on a Saturday. After the meeting, I walked down to the Mall and made my way east towards the Archives Metro stop. As I approached the National Archives, I could hear Martin Luther King Jr. bellowing, “MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE COMING OF THE LORD!” A bunch of protesters had scrambled up the scaffolding in front of the building and were blasting the speech. Although I don’t precisely recall, I think the gigantic banner they’d unfurled demanded the impeachment of George W. Bush.
I had a “what the fuck” moment. Talk about closing the barn door after you’ve already burned the barn down.
I had a similar moment when I read Gail Collins’ op-ed this weekend:
Thanksgiving is next week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning.
Putting Barack Obama in charge immediately isn’t impossible. Dick Cheney, obviously, would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We’re desperate, but not crazy.) Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she’d defer to her party’s incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing.
As a bonus, the Pelosi presidency would put a woman in the White House this year after all.
Okay, so, let’s imagine our wildest dreams coming true: George W. Bush resigning two months before his term is over? Why not get really creative and imagine Kerry whipping him in ’04 by 99.99% of the vote? Y’know what, screw that, I’m going to dream of lots of beautiful women who want to have meaningless sex with me. Seriously, though, this is a pretty major case of Barn Door Syndrome. At this point in his administration, all George W. has responsibility for is making sure Obama’s interior decorators are allowed to measure the windows for new blinds.
Second, Nancy Pelosi scares the shit out of me. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was because I didn’t believe the “uber liberal” hype and believe that he’d change the political tone in Washington by building consensus with Republicans, an approach necessitating a govern-from-the-middle administration. While I believe divided government is the best government, I also felt that Obama won’t force a Democratic-majority Congress to bend to his will blindly (and that even if he wanted to, Blue Dog Democrats would block him from doing so) …
… and with all that said, I don’t think Pelosi has the level of judgement not to pursue a highly partisan agenda, even if she only has two months, even if she only has no time to actually make things happen. There’s a deference that lame-duck presidents, in the waning days of their administration, show to their successors, and I don’t know it’s something Pelosi would be capable of. Collins writes that Pelosi’s presidency would make “right-wing talk-show hosts … succumb to apoplexy”, and while it’s a cute remark, I think Pelosi is one of those people polarizing enough to threaten the good will Obama is generating by his so-far middle-of-the-road approach to his transition to the White House.
Can I see a show of hands? How many people want George W. out and Barack in?
Well, of course my hand’ll go up, I voted for Obama: clearly, I want him in the White House (or I wouldn’t have, y’know, voted for him). But, despite how Collins phrases this, a vote for Obama wasn’t necessarily a vote against Bush, in the way a vote for Gore in ’00 or Kerry in ’04 was, Bush wasn’t running this year, and he’d be gone regardless of who won.