Surreality

Nxon's second

When Nixon took the second oath as president, I attended his outdoor inauguration.  We lived just a few blocks away from the Capitol.  There were shiny new ‘No Parking  Inaugural’ signs on our street and we took them as souvenirs. For some reason, we thought we could become rich on political memorabilia. We were young.

Walking home after Nixon’s ceremony, I tripped and fell.  As blood spurted from my knee, I thought to myself, “This is an omen.”

Thirty-three years later, on Inauguration Day 2017, I backed my car out of the garage and hit my husband’s car, which is always parked in the driveway. As soon as we heard the metallic thump, I knew it was omen time.

(I’d like to say right up front that my mishaps MIGHT have something to do with impeachment, but these are different times, and we no longer call Washington home. I suspect the political climate where I live in Florida could still be pro-Nixon.)

Of course, Nixon’s lies did him in.  Truth won. Those were exciting times to live in Washington.  During Watergate, we got up at the crack of dawn to read The Washington Post. I repeat, we got up BEFORE DAWN to read a newspaper!

Make no mistake about it, other presidents have failed to tell the truth. Eisenhower about the U2s, Johnson, when it really made a difference in Vietnam. Clinton, about sex, George W about Iraq , and Obama about health care/keeping your own doctor. Reagan just seemed to be an actor reciting a script, waiting for applause. (At least he had a script, the present president seems lacking in either Reagan’s charm or scripting).  Oh, and on Reagan’s watch, we sold weapons to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. To Iran.

flagpolecap
In my vision, Ike wore his General’s attire

Is it any wonder boomers like myself are cynical? I mean, Eisenhower lied?  When I was little I thought the general himself sat on a flag pole and looked out over the country to see how things were going. My mom said I was convinced of this, although I wondered where god sat.

Now,  many year later, I am depressed and fretting. Nobody’s on the flag pole and there is no waiting for the friendly ‘thunk’ of the morning newspaper.  I can get all the news I want whenever I want it.  I don’t even have to get up in the morning, I can get it while I am in bed. Perhaps that’s the problem.  We have our choice — rumor, hearsay, solid reporting, so-so reporting, biased reporting, and even lousy reporting. And someone in the White House, once again, with no firm grasp of the truth. Long ago, I was a reporter too. I get it. But the First Amendment rocks, and now I read what I want, starting with The New York Times and The Post.

Some of the new lingo leaves me puzzled, however.  New words like pivot, double down, surreal, equivalency, normalize and my favorite phrase, dog whistle, must be decoded.

divot
Divot caused by pivot

Pivot, for instance, rhymes with divot. I bet when you pivot hard you could cause a divot. It makes a mess.

Double down has to do with Blackjack. Same thing as never apologize, just make a bigger bet and keep on talkin.

 

Lobster Telephone 1936 Salvador Dal? 1904-1989 Purchased 1981 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03257
Lobster Telephone 1936 Salvador Dali

Surreal drives me crazy.  If you fail to understand or are surprised by anything at all, it’s surreal.  Salvador Dali is absolutely whirling in his grave, and probably loving it.

Normalize speaks for itself. Someone in the White House needs it, apparently.

Equivalency implies that all things can be equal.

And false equivalency means comparing things that are not alike. That came up in the campaign. As in, mention one’s sins, mention the other’s, and OMG they are both equal, and we are all doomed. Really?

blog_dog_whistle

Which brings us back to dog whistle. I looked this one up, and I still am not sure, other than dogs, who can hear one. Is it a secret threat, or a secret message?

tabs
When our son first learned to read, tabloids attracted him. Waiting in the checkout line, I had to explain. “Why,” he asked. Why indeed?

Fake news seems to be whatever you don’t agree with. That’s a simple definition, but I’m not into it.

Alternative facts are the ones you agree with if you don’t agree with the true facts. And, as my journalism prof told us, there are no true facts. Just facts.

 

alternativefacts

I tell you, it’s surreal. Really.

 

 

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Dear President Obama

whitehouseDear President Obama,

Before you leave office, (and also to relieve my stress about the current election), I want to thank you for being President in such turbulent times. When you took office, things were so bleak I had my doubts about the state of the nation because of the financial meltdown. I am sure I couldn’t, in a million years, imagine what that was like for you. dreamsfrom

One of the reasons I voted for you was because I loved your book, Dreams From My Father. “A writer, ” I thought to myself, “this is going to be really cool.” Then you got stuck with all that really important financial stuff, and I thought, “not fair.”

Throughout your Presidency, I came to appreciate your positive presence. Frankly, when I read your second book I thought you might be a bit naive about politics. I worked on The Hill for members of Congress in the 1970s, as well as a newspaper reporter, and I must admit my jaded attitude and general skepticism has worsened as I have gotten older. But you still seem to believe in the audacity of hope. And for that I thank you.audacity

Without compare, you are the coolest President ever. The Press Club dinners you attended, and especially your riff on Donald Trump were as funny as any comedian’s. Further, you are not afraid to sing, dance or poke fun at yourself. You are not afraid to be sad nor are you afraid to act like a dad. Dr. Suess would be proud. Me too.

You and Michelle are a fantastically classy couple and I take a Mom-like pride in how handsome and beautiful you both look all dressed up, representing our country. dressedup

And your daughters are very impressive too, just in the fact that they seem fairly normal and grounded. That’s an achievement anywhere, but in the White House, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is to preserve family life.

I also cannot envision having a job where I was opposed at every turn and compromise was ruled out simply because the goal was to thwart. That would drive me nuts. Constant criticism all the time, even hatred—I don’t know how you stand it. But you have, and for that I think you deserve thanks so big there is not even a word for it.

Most recently, preserving land and habitat, namely, the Papahanaumokua Marine Monument, the Katahdin Woods and Waters and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Monuments (and others) makes you a hero in my eyes. I volunteer at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and treasure time outdoors, especially watching birds. Habitat preservation is close to my heart. Thank-you.

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Pacific Marine Sanctuary
Pacific Marine Sanctuary

These are just a few of the things you deserve thanks for, but I can only list so many. I am sad you must leave the Presidency, but you may have mixed feelings. I hope it has been worth it for you personally and for your family. Certainly, all Americans owe you a giant heap of gratitude for even taking the job.

May the next stage of your life bring you much joy. Write, reflect, and remember, many Americans like me offer our thanks. And we will miss you as our President.oniononion_logo