2008 is coming to an end. A wretched year overall, but you know me, eternal optimist, glass half full, all that. I'm coming out of it feeling pretty good.
Obama won. Like a buddy of mine said the day after that happened, it felt kind of good to let go. They wanted it, they got it. No more "Bush this, Bush that, blah blah blah Bush this and that." Who was the first person to put an end to that? Obama, George Bush's newest, biggest fan.
American elected a grossly underqualified candidate largely because he was charming, black, had good timing, and got a free ride from the national media. You know what would have happened if it went the other way. There would be no end to the "racist America" denunciations, the Palin-bashing, the McCain deathwatch. And however contradictory and complicated the racial aspect of the race ended up being, I'm glad we've crossed that threshold. Maybe we can start to move past race in this country. Obama, tear down that wall! An end to racial preferences. Make the dream real, and let us finanly in the country judge a man by the content of his character …
Speaking of which, still an enigma. How can we judge a man when we don't know what the content is?
But Obama appears to be largely adopting the Bush foreign policy, so there is something to look forward to in 2009. Iraq finally has been acknowledged as a win … not least by Obama, who now plans to listen to the generals … and the counter-insurgency advocate who presided over Iraq is now running the war in Afghanistan, too. Apparently he's been having some second thoughts about Guantanamo.
Terrorists are on the run everywhere. Gaza's feeling the heat and so is Pakistan. The Taliban has been all along and is about to feel more. Maybe Obama will back Israel's dismantling of terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. Maybe he'll take tough stands against Iran, Russia, China, al-Qaeda and other threats to world peace, stability, democracy and free enterprise. Obama ironically may yet prove to be the president who legitimizes George Bush and his tough stands in defense of our nation and our values in the world.
Maybe the new socialism both sides have adopted will work, and the world's economy won't go any farther down the toilet. Let's hope so. We're apparently stuck with it, anyway, the new socialism, so we might as well get used to it and focus on channeling it.
As tough as things are for many people, we're plugging on. Look on the bright side. Gas prices are way down and expected to stay there. And what are the chances Obama's going to pass any boondoggle socialized health-care mandates? Knock on wood. All the predictions conservatives made about Obama's unknowns and unreliability have turned out to be true … only for the so-called progressives, if not exactly as the cons predicted. But it's early yet, and hope as we might, there are no firm indicators of lasting, substantive change. All it's been good for so far are a few laughs and a couple sighs of relief.
Closer to home, my own business, newspapering, is coming apart at the seams. But like so much else that doesn't follow the script, my own newspaper, the much-maligned tabloid whose doom has been predicted for decades, is operating in the black, lean and mean, while the staid Boston Globe, bought for $1.1 billion by the New York Times 15 years ago, reportedly is now worth $20 million, loaded with overpaid do-nothings with job protections, and the absentee landlord has a cash-flow problem. We never know how these things are going to go, but maybe a white knight will step in to save the Boston Globe and keep this a healthy, two-newspaper town. I hope so. There will be shakeups large and small in my industry in the coming year, much as there will be in the automotive and other industries. They will not necessarily be bad things. If anything, we've learned in this decade, nothing follows the script.
2009 promises to be a wild ride, and the world could well look a lot different by this time next year. I'm staying optimistic.
OK, now I have to go drive 30 miles through white-out conditions because I'm lucky enough to still have a job. Happy New Year!