When I snapped at Oprah on the TV, my sister-in-law bristled. I retorted, “probably not” under my breath in response to Oprah’s declaration that the next four years were going to be “GREAT!” She was discussing the freshly minted president Obama and she and Will Smith were beside themselves in elation.
My sister-in-law was also happy about the new, young president and was interested in why I didn’t share in the glee. “Why do you say that? How do you know it’s not going to be great?” she asked.
I took a breath and smiled. “Because the expectations are too high. NO one can live up to that,” I replied as I pointed toward the two unhinged celebrities.
She was taken aback. Clearly she was thinking my response was going to be political. But it was not. My response was simply a comment on human nature. And I honestly felt a heaviness for Mr Obama when he entered office because too many hopes and dreams rested in his hands. No one should have that kind of power. And no one should have that kind of weight on them.
Today, we swore in a new president. Some are rioting in the streets and some are dancing. And both sides are wasting their time. Donald J Trump will leave office (in four-to-eight years) with just as much unfinished business as any other president. Just like Mr Obama did …just like Mr Bush did …just like EVERY other president did.
He will do some good things and some bad things and he will definitely be human …just like all his predecessors. If he’s a good president, he’ll set a positive tone for the country and govern in a way that allows people freedom, promotes their prosperity and doesn’t get them killed. And in this unpredictable world …that’s harder to do than you may think.
In this president’s case, the expectations may be so low that he has nowhere to go but up. But I wish we didn’t still hang so many of our aspirations and dreams on the outcome of ONE election. I’m truly saddened by people who seem to have gotten so wrapped up in the presidency that they are moved to tears one way or another. That fascinates me. I don’t believe I’ve ever spent tears on someone seeking or leaving public office. It’s not like they’re in the playoffs. At any rate …
Patton is one of my all time favorite movies. In the final few minutes of the film there is a narration given by George C Scott as Patton. It recounts a certain tradition of Roman conquerers. As they rode, in the lead chariot, through the teeming streets of Rome, they no doubt felt that they were at the center of the universe. But a captured slave would always be standing next to them, in attendance. And the slave would whisper in their ear, as they drank in the adulation of the people …
“All glory is fleeting.”
So …congratulations, Mr President. I hope you are the best president of my lifetime. I hope you do the job well and leave the country better than you found it. But I also hope that if you have enough power to make me happy or sad, rich or poor, hated or loved, cared for or not cared for, that you will divest the office of that power before you leave.
And I hope you always hear …the whisper.