I'm glad to have the 43rd person to add to my list of Presidents. Don't ever forget to count Grover Cleveland twice. At mid day today as the inauguration was rolling I hoisted my coffee cup and realized that it was now obsolete. My coffee cup has all the presidents on it, or it did until today. Now I'm missing one. I need a new cup.
So now it's midnight. After inauguration. The parties are probably still going strong in Washington, but I hope Mr Obama takes a few minutes away from the revelry to just wander the halls of the white house by himself. I hope our new president can find a moment to be just a man and to savor the awesome position he has achieved. Before he gets put through the harsh, aging process our presidents go through, I sincerely wish President Obama one night to just be giddy with the excitement and the novelty of it all, before the job itself puts it's crushing pressure upon his shoulders.
I hope he is allowed to wander the darkened halls of the White House tonight, alone, in his pajamas, to just explore his new domain. I love that image. Hopefully too he can be left alone in silence so he can hear in the distance the shadows of those who occupied that house before him. As he wanders and passes by the portraits of his predecessors I hope he quietly listens to their ghostly murmurs, and finds solace in his membership in this exclusive club. And I hope he passes the portrait of James K. Polk and pauses for a moment, and smiles and nods to the old curmudgeon. Across the hall ole Harry Truman gives the "new guy" a wink and wishes him the best.
Then as our newly elected leader walks into his new office I hope he sits down at his desk and rifles through all the drawers thinking to himself, "this is my desk now." Then I truly hope in one of the drawers is a gift that looks like it was wrapped by a seven year old and has a big bow on it and a tag that says, "To Barak, from George" Barack is spelled wrong. He opens it and within is a special totem passed down from one chief executive to another, and a note from Mr. Bush wishing him the best, because in spite of all our political fighting I like to think of all of us belonging to the fraternity of America. Under the gift I hope Barack sees carved into the bottom of the drawer, "Bill was here."
I wish this for him. Before he is expected to perform miracles, I hope he can just be the man who is in awe of his own accomplishment. To be able to enjoy his moment.
Good luck sir. I'll be sending you your card on Presidents Day. Someday no matter what you accomplish you will have a stamp, and a coin, and a few schools named for you. Do your best. Follow your conscience, and do what you think is best for us. Be true to your principles, for even if we don't agree that is all you can do. Make the hard decisions. Be willing to make the unpopular decisions, and lead. People love to have someone to look to. To be our king. So be our king for 4 to 8 years and then step aside graciously. This republic can succeed. It will succeed. And don't forget to have some fun.
And listen to the ghostly voices murmuring in the halls. They know how you feel.