There are moments when our passion for something is truly born. I've often cited those few minutes on South Street in Boston as the time that music took over. I heard the notes to Uncle Tupelo's "New Madrid" while lounging around on a lazy weekend afternoon and things have honestly never been the same.
When it comes to my now near-obsessive interest in politics and policy, I think it was a combination of events. First off, near the end of the 1990s there were a series of health issues within my family that brought on an interest in public policy. And then there was a profile of Al Gore in the New York Times. Within this piece, the writer highlighted not only Gore's lifelong interest in the environment, but his vast curiosity about about space, the stars and the unknown. The author went on to write about a fundraiser on Long Island. As the bigwigs awaited Gore's presence and words, Tipper Gore, unable to track down her husband, finally found him about a mile from the gathering, lying on a hill looking up at the stars. The importance of the event inside and the race seemed lost in his almost childlike interest in the mysteries and possibilities of the undiscovered. This brought me back to my childhood. I spent many a night with the blinds to my bedroom window slightly open at the top. For some reason, I couldn't keep my eyes away from the sky and stars. This article, combined with Al and Tipper's interest in health care, made me believe.
The rest is history relative to the outcome. I remember sitting in the MTV offices on the day that the Supreme Court delivered its 5-4 decision. A good friend and I were saddened, disgusted, angered. We felt cheated. Something just didn't feel just. We disliked Bush from the outset. We found him to be a pompous, arrogant frat boy who'd failed in almost every endeavor, yet his name and his family's power brought him to the most important role in the World.
The unraveling that followed has been far beyond our wildest fears. Over the past eight years, my belief in this country has been tested time and again. But every single time I witnessed Bush's unforgiveable mistakes, I tried to think of the possibilities of what could come. But his acts just kept adding up. There was Richard Clarke's warning about an Al Qaeda attack, a fact that his been grossly ignored by the mass media. There were the tax cuts for the most financially comfortable. There was lack of oversight with respect to our entire economy. There was Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. There was the illegal wiretapping. And the waterboarding. The job losses. The egregious and blatant efforts to help pollute the environment. Six million more without health care. Iraq. WMDs. Church and State.
All that said, I think the images from his eight years that define him in my eyes are the pictures and videos from the streets of New Orleans in 2005. I remember watching the news round-the-clock, and on the second day, sitting alone in my apartment, standing up and wailing, "Where is our president!?!?!!" I mean, I didn't vote for the guy, but I had to at least expect some sort of response to the horror that was drowning an entire American city. As the days played out and the bodies floated and the city's citizens howled for help, my anger towards this man deepened. Over time, I somehow managed to shift a lot of this anger to clock-watching.
When George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, he presided over more executions than any governor in modern history. He was so at ease with the chair, that he picked up the nickname the "Texecutioner". 152 put to death in his six years. Since "winning" the presidency, it would be impossible to count the number of human beings to either die, lose limbs and/or suffer irreparable mental and physical torture under his watch. I am just 35 years old, and if I live to be 100, I can't imagine us ever having to endure a president as cold, unfair and deceitful as George W. Bush.
In just four days, it's finally over. This has been a presidency for the ages, one that will ultimately be judged by the passing of time, but as he steps aside, it's impossible to reflect and not feel overwhelmed by his disgraceful "leadership" both here and abroad. As I sit here with my eyes on the clock, I realize that we're just a few days away.