George W. Bush began his second term a few weeks after I started this blog. His second Inauguration was even more depressing than the first. The only saving grace about his first day in office that time was that we knew that every 24-hour period brought us closer to the day when he would finally leave Washington for good. I did the math in that bleak moment and realized we had 1,459 more days to go. It seemed like forever. I know it’s ridiculous to blame Bush for every problem facing this country, but at the very least, let’s say that his supreme lack of responsible leadership exacerbated the ills that were on the way. To sum up, many of our worst fears about four more years with Bush and his minions were realized…and then some.
I remember exactly where I was when I wrote on this post on January 21, 2005, the first day of Bush’s second term. I was in Susina Bakery on Beverly Boulevard and La Brea near the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. I was sitting at a table facing the window drinking a latte and eating a plain croissant. I felt sick. Everyone around me was quieter than usual, somber and disheartened. And now, to mark the glorious occasion of Bush’s final full day in office, I have returned to this very same table. The mood is so much different here today. People are laughing, they are talking excitedly. What a contrast. I remember the despair I felt as I wrote the following words:
And now, instead of bemoaning Bush’s arrogance, stupidity, and incompetence any longer, I will simply hoist my latte toward a new era in this country. An era that I hope will bring intelligence, dedication, a shift in priorities, and a renewed sense of our role and responsibility in this world. Sure, we are facing tons of problems and there will be plenty of setbacks. And who could envy the difficult tasks that lie ahead for the new administration? But as I sit in this familiar spot, eating my anniversary croissant, I am—for the first time in years—hopeful.
We made it.