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January 12, 2009

Presidents I Have Known

4 With a new president coming in I’ve been thinking about all the presidents I have known. Our relationships have been volatile and not particularly successful. Some of them have  been down right ugly. To get an accurate understanding perhaps we should start at the beginning and work our way through.

The first president I remember is Carter. I remember the hostage crisis and the gas crisis. I remember peanut jokes, and Billy beer. But that’s about it. I was all of 11 years old when Carter gave an early concession and Reagan took the election. I remember Reagan's presidency much better and it is associated in my mind with all the republican administrations since. The, let them eat cake domestic policy, conjoined with all sort of nefarious foreign policy. By the time Reagan left office I was 19 years old. Then we got 4 years of Bush Senior and the other Iraq war, which I also protested. Followed by the days of wine and roses with Clinton. OH… how I loved the man. It was eight wonderful years. Yes, there were disappointments. The whole, don’t ask don’t tell thing is such a charade, Rwanda is unforgivable, and it would have been nice if he could have kept it in his pants (and this is the one I liked). I think you can guess how I've felt about the last eight years with Bush junior.

Now with the inauguration just around the corner. I wonder what my daughter (now 4) will glean from the presidents in her future. What will she learn about politics. I admit my view of Washington is a cynical one, nothing unusual for my generation, raised in a post Watergate world. But I hope my daughter is able to believe in her government in a way I never have.

Obama gives me hope. If he gets a second term, my daughter will be 12 when he leaves office. Is it possible that my daughter’s generation could go forward trusting that their government is actually in the business of improving their world, and not just lining their own pockets. My cynical mind says “unlikely“, but my maternal mind is still hoping.

Every time they try to sling the mud at Obama, he seems to gracefully wipe it away. While equally gracefully pointing out that such behavior is unacceptable. I don’t know how he pulls it off, but he does. If he only eradicates the pettiness in politics, it would be a triumph. But I’m hoping for more of a Kennedyesque thing, or even better (and maybe more appropriately) a FDR thing.

Only time will tell. While I dream of a new WPA rebuilding the infrastructure of America, I steal myself for, what in the past, has been the inevitable fall from grace.

This is an original post for LA Moms Blog

Elise Crane Derby blogs at http://www.elisesramblings.blogspot.com while waiting for the inauguration

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