-update: The report on the 6:30 news was well done. My fifteen seconds of fame included me talking about Big Bird and Reagan in the same sentence. Go me! You can view it here.
This morning, I attended an inauguration gathering sponsored by Quaker Oatmeal specifically geared toward bloggers. Fifteen of these gatherings took place nationwide, but the St. Louis party, hosted by Dana, was the only one catering specifically to conservatives. I was, of course, honored to be invited and thrilled to take part in this historical moment with people who understand and feel the same as I do.
I will be honest here. I really liked George W. Bush. Did he do everything right? No. But please, tell me what president has. Did he make some mistakes? Yes. But please, tell me what president has not. George Bush dealt with some of the gravest hardships of any president in recent history. There are no playbooks for how to handle such events as 9/11, a crushing economy, deadly hurricanes and extremeist terrorism. Could he have handled some things better? Yes, I believe he could have. But, I also believe that he truly loves this country and the people in it and wanted nothing more than to serve us all well. And he did serve us well. Though few seem to want to admit it (and why, I don't fully understand), America is a safer place thanks to George Bush. Yes, we are in an economic crisis. And yes, I understand that that happened on his watch. But, I do not believe that he is solely to blame. I will not go further than that in this post, but I wanted to acknowledge the elephant.
I think what I love and respect most about George Bush is the fact that he is a man of deep conviction. There were times when I felt that he needed to be more open to the guidance and counsel of others. He came off as arrogant, which is part of his job. You have to be arrogant to be president - it's the nature of your post. I think the closest I have ever seen to a truly humble politician is John McCain, but again, that's not a tangent I want to explore right now. I think there were times when President Bush could have been more open-minded to outside counsel. Just because he possessed a grain of arrogance, however, did not make him a bad leader. He is sensitive and kind-hearted. How many countless stories are there of him reaching out to the American people who were grieving? How many letters did he personally write to the families of fallen soldiers? How many times did he sit with one of our wounded servicemen and cry? However you may feel about his policies, you cannot call him cold or heartless. He is a good man. And I am proud that he was our president.
Having said that, it is time to move forward. I did not vote for Barack Obama. I still do not agree with many of the ideals that he has placed before us as a nation. My number one reservation is his view on the right to life. I do not now, nor will I ever, agree with this policy and the implications that follow and I will not apologize for my feelings on this issue. And there are other policies that concern me, but outweighing all of those is the fact that Barack Obama is now my president and I will respect that, no matter what.
There is no denying the appeal of Barack Obama. He is young, he is a great orator, he is magnetic and filled with promise. His speech today was everything that I expected it to be. It was what I would have expected had McCain been voted to office, though delivered with greater aplomb, no doubt. It was lofty and ideal, in many ways unrealistic but motivating nonetheless. I want Barack Obama to succeed as president and I will be praying that he does. But I don't want it for him, I want it for America. I want him to succeed because I want my children to grow up in a country that is great, a country where people take care of one another. A country that looks outside our own borders and seeks to protect and nuture others. I want Barack Obama to succeed because if he does not, then what does that mean for us?
I am proud of us as a country for coming so far. I am proud that we have elected a black man to be president of our country. I am proud that we can stand together and, despite our feelings about the policies behind the man, know that this moment, this day is historical. I love this country.
Today is a good day. My God is in control, of that I am sure and I do not waver in that conviction. And now President Obama has a full plate. I pray with every fiber of my being that he move forward in wisdom and that the values that make our country so great stay firmly affixed. Though the phrase has become somewhat cliche over the years, I say it now with the utmost reverence. May God truly bless America.
--Just fyi - Channel 5 (KSDK) was there today filming the get together and interviewed several of us at the end. We should be on either the 5:00 or the 6:00 news tonight so those of you who are local, tune in! I felt a little bit like Will Ferrel as Ricky Bobby in the movie Talladega Nights when they interviewed me. "I don't really know what to do with my hands." I told the reporter that if I looked or sounded at all like an idiot that they were to cut me immediately so we'll see what happens!