Do you know what I’ve discovered? I can’t believe I’m not living in a nightmare. I woke up this morning to our President-elect in an ongoing twitter war with the CIA (Oh, my God, has this man lost his mind?!), Saturday Night Live, and Rep. John Lewis (a civil rights icon)—all in the last forty-eight hours. Shoot me now!
Of course, it hasn’t helped Trump’s case that I’ve been watching all the emotional farewell rounds of the Obamas on TV—from Oprah to Jimmy Fallon to 60 Minutes to President Obama’s good-bye speech. Not to mention the surprise honor that President Obama bestowed upon Vice President Biden that made us all lose our composure. Their friendship is enviable. I’ve also been crying for days because I realized that a grown-up will be turning over the keys to the kingdom on January 20th to a petulant child who doesn’t read, loves grabbing “kittens,” and gives credibility to bullies as his friends.
The juxtaposition of President Obama and Trump couldn’t be more black and white. One is the embodiment of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream,” and the other is a Central Casting character of my worst nightmare. On top of everything, Trump hasn’t acknowledged Martin Luther King Day as most Presidents have in the past, and as of this posting, has cancelled his trip to tour the new African-American Museum on Monday where he could actually learn why going after Congressman John Lewis was a big mistake—huge! Maybe his actions will change, but as of this posting, he’s acting anything but presidential.
The Bible says that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses . . .” If that is so, it seems as if that cloud is watching the “big game” in another galaxy because right about now, the baton is being passed from someone who I consider will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents (who did seem to have a heavenly cheering squad while in office) to someone who historians will label as the worst of the worst as presidents go.
As I fretted over all this, I feel asleep on the keyboard of my computer, and I dreamt . . . In my dream, I sent an email to heaven in search of Dr. King. Perhaps he could ease my aching heart.
DEAR DR. KING:
First of all, happy birthday, Sir! We sure do miss you down here. There is so much more of your legacy that needs to be fleshed out. Had you lived, you’d be 87 years old, and if you had lived this long, you would surely have had a heart attack today. Oh, not that things haven’t gotten a helluva (can I say that?) lot better than when you were in our midst, but we still have a long way to go. Don’t know if you’ve been watching, but we are about to say good-bye to your dream, Dr. King: a Black man and his family whose character is beyond reproach. A Black man who won not just one term but TWO terms as President of the United States. Bet you didn’t see that coming?
Dr. King, not only was this our first Black president, but he had the nerve to be named Barack Hussein Obama. I’d have to say that God has a fabulous sense of humor—the two of you must still be cracking up over that one. Anyway, tell God that he sent us a really good guy to be our leader eight years ago. Although he was treated with the worst disdain, racism, and obstructionism of any president we’ve ever had, President Obama had the character that you said we all should be judged by. When the haters went low, he and his wife went high. It was a marvel to behold. No preacher that I’ve ever known or who has ever criticized Barack Obama’s Christian faith has ever modeled this type of Christlike behavior towards his haters as has our departing President. The President-Elect (you may know him as “Trump the Tweeter”) led the so-called birther movement against your man for years trying to delegitimize his presidency and quite a few people believed him.
You probably already know this as part of that great cloud of witnesses that watch over us, but in spite of the fact that the GOP leaders made a concerted, coordinated effort to thwart Barack Obama’s every move and make him a one-term president, he still did an outstanding job. According to the Washington Monthly, he . . .
Rescued the Economy, Passed Wall Street Reform, Negotiated a Deal to Block A Nuclear Iran, Secured U.S. Commitment to a Global Agreement on Climate Change,
Eliminated Osama bin Laden
Ended U.S. Combat Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Turned Around the U.S. Auto Industry, Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’’ Supported Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages, Reversed Bush Torture Policies, Established Rules to Limit Carbon Emissions from Power Plants, Normalized Relations with Cuba, Protected DREAMers from Deportation
Passed Health Care Reform
Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Funding, Appointed first Latina Judge, Diversified the Federal Bureaucracy, Passed Fair Sentencing Act, Revived the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Reduced the Threat from Nuclear Weapons, Cut the Deficit, Strengthened Women’s Right to Fair Pay, Expanded Health Coverage for Children
Just to name a few . . . And yet the dude who will take President Obama’s place on January 20th and his GOP cronies are doing everything in their power to turn back any good he might have done.
But I will not dwell on the negative. This week as the orange Twitter King takes the throne, I will think on all that is good and lovely about President and Mrs. Obama. How their legacy to us is not only Barack’s intelligent, patient, strong leadership, but Michelle’s intelligent, witty, inclusive, and beautiful spirit as FLOTUS. I will celebrate Barack’s stellar character as a husband and father and Michelle’s indomitable strength as a woman, wife, and mother—much assailed by her haters who always “went high when they went low.” I will always remember and celebrate President Obama’s legacy as “Comforter in Chief”—his amazing grace at Sandy Hook, Charleston, and Orlando.
Most of all, I will remember his legacy of HOPE—the “audacity of hope!” The other day, my eight-year-old grandson was asked by his mother where he would like to go to college when he grows up. He said: “Probably Harvard or MIT.” (I had no idea Harvard or MIT existed until I was in college—it certainly never crossed my mind that I could ever aspire to matriculate there.) His mother replied: “Oh, like Barack Obama. Do you want to be President when you grow up?” My little African-American grandson who has never known any other President in his short life responded—without hesitation: “Sure, why not?”
Dr. King, I want to thank you for paving the way for Barack Hussein Obama to become our president with your own life and sacrifices. You’ll be happy to know that on top of all that President Obama did for our nation is the icing on the cake that his two-term administration was without a trace of scandal because of his stellar character.
By the way, the next time you bump into Jesus, would you please ask him what his strategy is for our country with this new turn of events regarding the orange king with the Putin fetish? Most of us are a tad bit hysterical with fear and trepidation for the future. We could use a little touch from God right about now. Take care, and Happy Birthday, Dr. King!
ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA” MOMENT) ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA
I am discovering that what I want to broadcast to the world is: Thank you, President Obama. You have changed our nation—for the better—forever! Then I want to get on a plane on Friday in the wee hours of the morning of Trump’s inauguration and fly to another country before I have to witness the ceremony of the abomination that is to come. I think I’ll go down to Mexico (my bags are already packed), drown my sorrows in copious margaritas with my wonderful husband, get a couple massages, and return sometime next week when all is said and done with “he, who shall not be named” moving into the White House. (I promise to slip back into the country before President-Elect Trump erects the wall between Mexico and the United States.) But even if he manages not to fuck up his first term in office (only one term, God, please—if you love us!), he’s still no Barack Obama and never will be!
INSPIRATIONAL KING/OBAMA QUOTES
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Martin Luther King, Jr II
“If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.”—Barack Obama (after winning Democratic primary in 2008)
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”—President Obama
“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”—President Obama
“But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”—President Obama’s Farewell
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