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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Call Me Mr. Sunshine

I am a pessimistic bastard.

I don't know if I was born that way or if someone, somewhere down the line indoctrinated me to hate all that is sunshine and daisies but a pessimistic bastard I am and a pessimistic bastard I remain. So as I took some time off from my Misanthropes Anonymous meeting this week (no such organization exists...but should) to glance at a paper or watch some television, I was bombarded with news that people like me celebrate: bad. 

Apparently, the economy is in pretty bad shape. I know this is not necessarily "news". As a mater of fact, I wrote about the situation exactly one week ago. In that post, I mentioned that the government was tossing around a plan to rescue the failing banks and financial institutions that were dragging the economy down with them. But here is the "news" aspect of this old story: multiple news outlets are reporting as soon as two hours ago that "key Democrats and Republicans of Congress (i.e elected ideological hacks with lots of money) "  have come up with an outline for the proposed $700 billion buyout of the failed institutions. 

That is scary. Very scary. As an informed citizen, I do not know how to react. The idea of a total economic failure is scary...but so is the idea of adding nearly another trillion dollars to this ever growing debt of ours. I can't fully comprehend the impact of what "economic failure" means.  Will we simply be waiting in line for our weekly gas ration, or living on the street burning $100 bills for warmth and eating out of garbage. Conversely, I do not fully understand the complications of the government stepping in to rescue corporate executives who have failed at their job. As an informed citizen, it turns out I am not very informed. But as a pessimist, this is a rare opportunity. This is an opportunity to see men and women in the public eye and how they react when the public eye turns to them for answers and perspective. 
I am really only referring to men in particular: President Bush, Senator Obama and Senator McCain and how they have all dealt with this crisis and more than that, how they have dealt with each other. Earlier this week, John McCain publicly requested to Barack Obama to postpone their first presidential debate so that the Arizona Senator could focus on the bipartisan Congressional effort to develop a bailout plan. Obama said: no thanks. Okay, what he really said was he believes the debate should go forward so the American people can better get to know the men who could potentially dealing with this crisis . Then President Bush's disembodied head appeared on television and gave sent America a dire warning that the economy is failing and that the only solution is to trust the government.

Can I get a collective: Whaaaa? All three of these men stepped forward and did something that us pessimists despise: something different. Familiarity breeds contempt and even MORE familiarity is how pessimists are born (that and the molten lava of a is a complicated process).  The campaign and politics-weary among us EXPECT politicians to do more of the same. We expect John McCain a.k.a The Maverick, to ignore the economy and a bipartisan effort to fix it, after all, didn't he say he didn't fully understand the economies ways and isn't he well, The Maverick. We expect the rookie Barack Obama to continue to preach the ways of change and help the bipartisan effort to not only fix the economy but use it as an opportunity to further express disappointment in the Bush presidency. And we certainly expect George W. Bush, perhaps the most vilified man on planet Earth for the past eight years, to stay in his corner, wait for the nightmare be over and preach the Party mantra: "everything is fine"

But they didn't. And  the pessimists among us begin to lose hope. Of course, we can always pray that McCain used the crisis as an opportunity to take a break from the brutal campaign life, that Obama is a heartless jackass who sensed weakness from his opponent and refused to let him give in and that Bush is just exaggerating the situation to try to justify John McCain's request to halt the debate. There is hope for all us pessimists that that is what these men did, but I don't think that is the case.

I think John McCain believes that now is the time for action, tangible action and he wants to roll up his sleeves, drop what is important to himself as a man and do what is right for the country. I think Barack Obama believes in his cause and believes that what is right for the country is to help pick who will be running it just over a month from now. And I think George W. Bush, yes him, believes that now is the time for candor and to say: "you know what, everything ISN'T okay and as much as I don't like it: the government and a Democrat-controlled Congress are the only ones who can fix it."

Here are three men that are couldn't be more different in their beliefs, couldn't be more different in their life experiences and couldn't be more different in the power that they hold but they are three men who, for what its worth, decided not to be politicians for a brief moment. So try as I might, I can't be a pessimistic bastard today. I can only hope that the political machine swallows them whole. Can you imagine an entire government of non-partisan people who say what they mean?

Blech! If that happens I might even crack a smile. I shudder at the thought.

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