Speaking of Presidents

I like mine. He's kind, intelligent and funny. He's curious. Not necessarily big ears curious, although that too. But he wants to know stuff. He likes figuring stuff out. He's the community organizer in chief. And if I know anything about community organizers (and I used to pal around with one), they like to get stuff done.

I'm a Democrat. Unabashed. Although I did register Republican to cast my very first vote at age 21 in the Illinois presidential primary, so that I could vote for Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican woman who was running against Barry Goldwater. You'll hear me repeat myself ad nauseum that I am still proud of my first vote. Of course, I voted for Johnson in the general. And I'm proud of that one too.

And the other guys? Those other presidents I didn't vote for? Can't say I was too crazy about any of them. Didn't like Nixon, but had moments of uneasy sympathy for the man.

Could not stand Ronald Reagan! I seceded from the Union on first news of his election and ever since have had the urge to flinch when someone urges me to trust the wisdom of the American people as a whole. I remember when Reagan described "his people" - and I could see no part of me in that description. And I saw first hand the dismantling of much-needed social safety net structures that have not been rebuilt since that time. I suppose I felt as strongly about the Reagan presidency as some tea party people feel about Obama's.

Couldn't warm up to Bush 41 but had no extreme negative feelings about him either. Bush 43 didn't provoke any strong negative vibes either - not at first. Oh, I didn't like him. I didn't want to have a beer with him. He reminded me of guys who sidle up to you in a bar and say "come here often?" But until 9/11, he was just one of those Republican presidents who inexplicably resonated with a sizeable portion of the American public with whom I, in turn, did not resonate.

Then came Iraq. I can't say I was categorically against the invasion of Afghanistan. I've spent enough time in bars to know when the fight is gonna happen. No getting out of that one. But Iraq? The idea was so insane, I don't think I took it seriously until the day the bombs began to fall.

All the same, I didn't go along with people who referred off hand to the "Bush Crime Family." Or even with those that insisted it was all a plot about oil. No doubt hopes for oil were involved. But no, I'm convinced that Bush 43 believed that he was doing a good thing. I have this vision of Dubya in his dotage mumbling inarticulately (how else?), "We did good, Laura, didn't we?" as tears mount in his rheumy old eyes, and Laura patting his hand and reassuring him, "Of course we did, George. We meant well."

I think that they all, in their own way, meant well. Obviously, that's not enough. Reagan nearly wrecked the social structure of the country while trying to construct it into some kind of old-fashioned small town. Bush 43 nearly wrecked the position of the country on the world stage, narrowing its useful power to a mere military presence. Elections have consequences.

So I'll stick it out with my president, President Barack Obama. He's not perfect either, but I'm sure he wants to get some good stuff done.