Rooting for president and country
Chris Timberlake, Staff Writer
When President Bill Clinton entered the Oval Office for the first time as president, there was a letter waiting for him on his desk from his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush.
It has become customary for outgoing presidents to leave such notes, so the gesture was nothing out of the ordinary. Bush’s words, however, were quite extraordinary.
‘You will be our President when you read this note,’ Bush wrote. ‘I am rooting hard for you.’
Clinton, a Democrat, had emerged victorious in a rough-and-tumble three-man race that also included Independent Ross Perot. The Clinton victory denied Bush, the Republican, a second term. Yet, here was Bush, encouraging the young president in his first day on the job, a gesture that so touched Clinton that he says he re-reads the letter at least once a year. (He also left a copy of that letter with the note he wrote for his successor, President George W. Bush.)
Maybe those encouraging words say more about the elder Bush than they do about anything: Staying above the fray. That was 1993. Blink your eyes a few times and it’s 2013. Hate radio stirs the stink on a daily basis, and ‘opinion journalism masquerading as news’ is actually a term that could describe not one but two cable news outlets.
In the recently completed presidential election, social media fanned the flames of partisanship in a woefully divisive manner. When Barack Obama takes the oath of office for his second inauguration in private on Sunday then during public ceremonies on Monday, he will do so much like he did in 2009, leading a deeply divided country.
The nation has certainly survived worse. From the time Abraham Lincoln was elected president in November 1860 until his inauguration in March 1861, seven states seceded from the Union and the Civil War began the following month.
Inauguration Day is a truly great day, a celebration of our democracy that, whether you won or lost, should be commemorated on this Inauguration Day and all of those that follow.
I would like to think there will be more than just those who voted for the president who will be ‘rooting hard’ for him as he begins his second term next week, but I know that is painfully na’ve. Judging from election results here in 2008 and 2012, we’re hardly living in Obama country.
So, if you can’t ‘ or won’t ‘ root for the president, hopefully, you can at least root for our country.
I will be doing both.