“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
I don’t think there is anyone presently alive that doesn’t think that perhaps the most famous opening line ever written in fiction doesn’t apply to England and theUnited States in the opening two decades of the 21st century.
The contrast seems to be on display on an almost daily basis. In England there is Brexit struggle – do we go, do we stay. In the United States there are the ceaseless tweets emanating from President Johnny Pontiac’s unsecured iPhone. The sides are evenly divided in England, in theUnited States it always seems to be the President against the world, with the President occaisionaly taking on the role of Victim in Chief.
The last several days have provided a clear contrast between the best of times and the worst of times, the death of President George H W Bush the 41st President of the United States. 41 was probably the last everyman President our generation will see. There will no doubt be others but not in this half of the 21st century.
41 was a war hero, an ambassador, a spy, a devoted husband, father, grandfather and if you believe Maureen Dowd he was also a closet nice guy to liberal journalists, while the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania ?Avenue is an openly Machiavellian manipulator supreme without shame or scruples.
So there you have it, this week our focus has been drawn to 41 vs 45 as if we are on a nationwide debate as to which Super Bowl ranks as the greatest of all time. For me it has quietly come down to two very brief moments in the Rotunda of our nation’s capitol. Two salutes.
One from President Johnny Pontiac with his dark haired Estonian Barbie first lady at his side. This salute looked so plastic, much like the Esotonian Barbie’s smil. President Pontiac standing stone faced, no doubt suffering from year sof agony caused by the after effects of stone bruises that prevented him from learning how and when to properly salute.
The other salute, rising from a wheel chair with great difficulty and assistance came from a lifelong competitor, war hero & friend. Former Senate Majority Leader, permanently disfigured and disabled World War II veteran Bob Dole.
I close my eyes and reflect upon having seen both salutes to the last great everyman President and come to the same conclusion time and again. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..”