Thankful For Hope And Change
As I began my annual ritual of putting up the Christmas decorations in time to flip the switch on Thanksgiving evening, I found myself overcome and a bit teary this year. I admit that it’s always a trip down memory lane for me when I retrieve my stored treasures from the closet and lovingly remember where each one came from and when it came along. To me, Christmas is as much a holiday where I celebrate my personal history as anything else. Sorry to the extremely devout, but that’s how I feel each year.
But not to rush Thanksgiving away, I wish to point out that, for me, it is the beginning of the opening of my own private memory file each year. Cluttering that disc are memories from childhood Thanksgivings in the often icy days of late November Oklahoma when my mother would proudly play hostess to my dad’s family by putting her uncharacteristic good cooking skills on display. It includes my first Thanksgiving away from Oklahoma in Zirndorf, Germany, where, due to wrinkled “dress greens” because of having just arrived, I couldn’t partake in my unit’s Thanksgiving dinner feast and instead was introduced by newly found friends to the wonders of German Wienerschnitzel. Yummy! There are countless other memories there to which I will add tomorrow when I gather with my family at my brother’s house in Katy, Texas.
But the memory that plays the loudest in my mind this year is that of four years ago. It was the Thanksgiving that I gave up on hope. Karl Rove – who I think looks like the Phantom of the Opera – had so impressed me with his political wizardry that I believed him when he predicted 40 more years of Republican rule. At the age of 55 and hopelessly unemployed, this was yet another blow. How had he done it?
Had the election been stolen in Ohio as it had been four years earlier in Florida? Had the American electorate lost their minds? Or in an even more paranoid thought, had the Republicans managed to install paperless voting machines all across the nation
so that they could control and fix elections indefinitely? All these things weighed down my mind four years ago. How in the world had George W. Bush – a Gilligan if ever I have seen one – and Donald Rumsfeld – an evil-faced jack-o-lantern – and Dick “Dr. Strangelove” Cheney managed to prolong Halloween for another four years?
Four years ago I came to believe that the time of intelligent Presidents and governments had passed our nation by and I was doomed to a life of poverty as my wife and I approached retirement. So I sat Mrs. Jack down over Thanksgiving dinner and presented my plan for survival. It involved getting ourselves out of debt, first. That meant we had to cash in our luxury Houston condominium near downtown that we loved and use the profits we had made there to buy a mobile home and a piece of land in the country and begin living a debt-free, cash-only lifestyle. The money didn’t go as far as we would have liked, but Mrs. Jack’s employment until last year helped us to liquidate our last debts, and we find ourselves today in a much better place.
So while I blame the most outrageous Administration in my lifetime for the horrible fix the nation finds itself in, I also thank the monsters of Halloween that got re-elected four years ago for being so obvious to me that I took my survival into my own hands. But this Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful that they are about to go. I’m also thankful for their shameful bungling of Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, and the crashing economy that finally awakened the American electorate to what they had just done to themselves. I am also thankful to John McCain for being such a lousy campaigner. His herky-jerky run for the presidency really helped many to overcome their fears of a black President and see Barack Obama for the brilliant mind that he is.
I also want to thank four women for making real political impacts this year. First, and foremost, Hillary Clinton, who showed that the nation would take a serious woman seriously for President. I’m also thankful that Barack Obama can see her value as Secretary of State. I think she will do a great job. And, of course, we must include that zany governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin, for showing a side of the Republican Party that they have long denied existed. That would be the racist, radical right that came shouting racial epithets and menacing threats against the black man in the race. Thanks, Sarah, for bringing your hateful friends out of the closet for the rest of the nation to see – oh, and a few moderate Republicans who were equally appalled when being forced to look at who they had been in bed with.
And, of course, we must thank the two ladies-in-waiting who attended the rise and fall of Sarah Palin — Katie Couric and Tina Fey. Thanks, Katie, for exposing what an uneducated dolt John McCain was willing to put a fragile heartbeat away from the presidency. Had it not been for Katie, some of those moderate Republicans might have been misled into thinking that Mrs. Palin might be smart because she was a Governor. It was fun to watch as the moderate wing of the Republican Party peeled away person by person, ashamed of what their leader had wrought.
But the most fun to watch was Tina Fey. Never had such a brilliant actress been so strategically positioned to assume the posture of such a stumbling, bumbling political figure. The talented Ms. Fey instinctively knew that she didn’t even have to change the words of Sarah Palin to point out the lunacy of her candidacy. Over and over, Saturday after Saturday, the former SNL writer/comic came back home to turn in the performance of her career. Thank you, Tina Fey, for making an old man in Texas who has a hard time staying up past 10:00 p.m. laugh his ass off repeatedly. You’re the best! You deserve some sort of award. Has an SNL performer ever received an Emmy? Well, the time has come!
I do want to thank one other famous person while I’m at it. That would be David Gregory of MSNBC who so enraged me by asking every hour on the hour, “What’s wrong with Barack Obama,” until he finally angered me to the point of getting up out of my recliner and doing something about it. I owe my new avocation, Left Eye on the Media, and new identity, Left-Eyed Jack, to Mr. Gregory. So, thanks, David, for being such an asshole! It helped an old man get back in the game.
I also want to thank my lovely wife, Mrs. Jack, for making it all possible with her love of the computer and internet. She was able to do the “publishing” for me, allowing me to do what I like, writing. And I also want to thank a few friends I have met along the way, WillPen over at WillPen’s World, More Light Than Heat, and Intelligent by Design for their continued readership and comments of support. I would also like to give a shout out and a big thanks to Mudflats up in Alaska for sending me lots of readers. And how could I forget Helen over at Margaret and Helen’s excellent website for making me laugh so hard I practically wet myself. Thank you, Helen! There are many others around the world who have given me the support and courage to continue on in my newly found endeavor. It just goes to show what a difference four years can make in one’s life.
But most of all, I want to thank a skinny, mixed-race guy from Illinois for listening to Oprah Winfrey and taking a huge leap of faith and bringing so many of us along for the ride in his “impossible dream machine.” Thanks a million, President-Elect Obama. You have restored my hope in my country and the promise to bring the change that we so desperately need to move forward. Not since John F. Kennedy have I been so inspired by a leader. Despite all the bad news that comes across the television every day, I feel hope and am encouraged to get up each and every day and rally as much support as I can for your cause. You make me feel like I did as a child when my Dad came home from work. “Daddy’s home. Now, everything will be okay.”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYBODY!
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!