Monday, 19 January 2009

Growing up with Dubya

It's quite odd, looking back, to realise that today is in fact, January 19th 2009.

For too long, I've been waiting and waiting for this day - and the next. Long before Obama was even in our headlights, I've been waiting for the day when America's 43rd President would be leaving high office.

It's a sobering thought, but pretty much since I left the steady, calm confines ofYsgol Gyfun Dyffryn Taf back in August 2000 to enter the real world, this man they call 'Dubya' has been stalking my every move.

I came to University in Aberystwyth that September. I well remember listening to the 2000 US Presidential election results coming through in the computer room in Pantycelyn that November. I also remember far too well, bursting into said computer room, yelling out 'Al Gore's won Florida!' when it was announced on the US networks. Of course, the rest is history. I can vaguely recall avoiding Dubya's inauguration ceremony that January 20th. It wasn't his victory anyway, so I wasn't going to participate in his moment of crowning glory!

Through my years as a student in Aberystwyth, undergraduate and postgraduate, and into my years in politics in Cardigan, he has remained. The 2004 election night I recall was particularly galling. I'd been laid low by my only bout, to date, of tonsilitis. I was at home in the hills of north Pembrokeshire, recovering. I actually did think that Kerry had a good chance of winning it. I stayed up all night to watch the results (of course) and watched in growing horror as our Dubya held onto Ohio and Florida to secure another 4 years in the White House. How could they re-elect him after Iraq?! I was non-plussed to say the least.

From then on, January 20th 2009 has been a far flung speck of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

In many ways, I have sympathy with Dubya. Like Blair, I credit him with doing what he belived was right. He was blatantly wrong time after time after time, but I sense his belief that he was right, like with Blair, was a guiding principle. Unfortunately, it's a guide that has left the world a much more troubled place than it was on January 20th 2000. It must also be noted however, that for the last 8 years, Sandie Shaw has played a surprisingly significant role in global politics. That is, of course, if you swop Dick Cheney with our Sandie. Dubya, has quite simply, been the puppet on Cheney's string. He's been in charge all along and will be shown by the history books to have been the most powerful VP in US history.

That in a way, is what made the past 8 years so unpalatable. As much as I detested Dubya, the thought of his choking on his pretzel and not seeing it through to the other side, only meant a President Dick Cheney and if there was only one thing worse than Dubya in office, then it was that.

So when Obama came along, not only was it a feeling of relief that January 20th 2009 was finally approaching and Dubya could finally go back to his ranch, but there's also been the feeling of excitement, that actually, we are on the brink of a potentially historic Presidency. Indeed, it will be historic as it is, but Obama seems to have the qualities that will raise him above many of his predecessors. We will see what happens. No doubt we'll feel let down by many of his initiatives (or lack of them) but then with so much hype around his coming, a touch of reality is needed here. Will we see the great change in emphasis in Middle Eastern policy that is needed now more than ever? Maybe, maybe not. With Hillary as Secretary of State I have my doubts, but here's hoping. What there will be though is a new sense of purpose and a feeling of American renewal which is desperately needed.

8 long years. It's a scary concept but just like Reagan in the 80s, Dubya has been there throughout the entirety of this decade. Indeed, with tomorrow, comes the end of back-to-back Presidencies. Not since Jefferson, Madison and Monroe between 1801 and 1825 have we had 2 successive Presidencies that lasted their full two terms. Obama will hopefully make it a 3rd.

Its been a dark decade with Dubya in power. America deserved and deserves better. It's a fantastic country which has been badly let down by its Government. Now, the waiting is finally over. That elusive date, January 20th 2009 is upon us. There's hope and there's relief shared in equal measure.

I grew up in the shadow of Dubya, and now it's time to move on and look forward to a different, more progressive American and global future. In years to come, will they mention the 44th President in the same breath as the 16th, 32nd and 35th? Here's hoping. But I think it's safe to say, that Dubya, the 43rd, will go down in history in the same breath as the 14th, 15th and 29th.

1 comment:

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