November 5th, 2008

The Right Man Won

Well, that's a relief!

I'm not a fan of Obama- I'm not a fan of any politician- but I think the right man won.

I believe this'll be my eleventh American president. I've just counted them on my fingers. My first was Truman. Have I left anyone out?

Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. Hang on, That makes Obama the twelfth. So I did miscount. I believe I skipped straight from Kennedy to Nixon. Sorry, LBJ!

There aren't any heroes in that list. By which, I mean anyone I regard as a hero. The one who comes closest is Ike, whom I respect for his speech on the military-industrial complex. And for his war record, obviously.

The only American president who makes my personal pantheon is Abe Lincoln.

The Times recently asked a panel of experts to rate the presidents in order of excellence. Lincoln came top, followed by Washington and FDR. The full list is here. Dubya ties with Nixon at the bottom, above Harrison (who died after catching a chill at his inauguration), Van Buren ( responsible for the genocide of native Americans), Pierce (who mismanaged everything and was disowned by his own party while in office) and Buchanan (worst of the worst, who failed to prevent the Civil War).

Ike comes in at number 6, by the way. He sent troops into Little Rock to enforce the desegregation of schools. He also desegregated the army. I hadn't realised just how radical and forceful a president he was.

Obama comes into office on a great wave of hope. Some of my friends have been disturbed by the messianic tone of his campaign. But "he's not the Messiah, he's just a....." Well, you know the rest.  Remember that he inherits the most god-awful mess: two misbegotten wars, an economic crisis at home and abroad, American prestige more battered and bruised than at any time I can remember.

Don't expect too much of him, folks.