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Tommy Carcetti

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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 03:49 PM
Number of posts: 42,057

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If nothing else, at least I can say I lived under a historically great President in my lifetime.

I've been lucky to have lived under three Democratic presidents in my lifetime so far. Each one of them brought something unique and tremendous to the table.

Although I was too young to recall President Carter's actual presidency, from all my father's continued glowing on his legacy and character, all that I've read about him, and all that I've seen of him in his post-presidency, I am absolutely convinced he was by far the most moral, honest, upstanding, and decent human being ever to hold the Oval Office. It's why I honor him with my avatar on this site.

On the other hand, I do recall President Clinton's term in office. He was the President in my "formative years." I don't know if there's any other person in politics whose life and character fascinates me and inspires me as much as Bill Clinton. The story of a guy of humble origins but tremendous, raw natural leadership talents. His communication skills, his ability to connect with people every time he opened his mouth and have people resting on his every single word--it was unmatched. Even when he occasionally let us down, his sheer brilliance and persona always overshadowed his flaws. In my office, I have two notable items. One is a personally signed letter my grandfather received from President Clinton shortly after he was elected President. The other is a rather grainy screenshot of the moment of earlier this year when I had the opportunity to finally shake his hand, a moment I had literally dreamed about for years.

But as extraordinary as both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were, neither would probably meet the criteria of being a "great" president in the historical sense. Mind you, it's through a fault of neither of them, but merely a matter of context. President Carter only served one term, and was scapegoated for problems that were beyond his control. President Clinton served in the warm afterglow of a post-Cold War euphoria and thus any problems he did face were arguably too relatively mild to test his true potential. So as unique and tremendous as the assets of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were, historically speaking their presidencies won't be scrutinized along the likes of Lincoln or FDR.

Which brings me to President Obama.

Historically, President Obama could have simply been viewed as a novelty, a gimmick. A sign of a desire to move beyond our racially divided past and nothing more. When he was elected in 2008, I was excited, but feared he would only be a one-term president. I thought that his opponents would do everything and anything to lay every single tremendous problem facing our country (and in 2008, it was daunting) at his feet. And they most certainly did. How I completely underestimated the man was how he was able to overcome that resistance. How he was able to tenaciously push forward when he was being disparaged, being called every single name in the book, even literally having his own legitimacy as an American citizen challenged. And he just did not stop moving forward and pushing on. And he defeated not only his opponents in 2012, but my own pessimism as well.

Yesterday evening when I sat in my dark living room in front of the glowing television watching President Obama give his address, a feeling came over me. All these years I had wondered back to those who lived under Lincoln and FDR with a bit of envy, knowing that for all the turmoil of their times, at least they were able to see a truly great leader as an unshakable captain in the storm. And I suddenly realized that time for me was now, that I was living that moment now. I was watching someone who was able to right this country, someone who had that innate sense of leadership even with only four years prior experience at the federal level. I was watching someone whose voice was a clarion call, whose words would resonate decades after they were first spoken. And as he finished up his speech, I couldn't help the tears welling up because of the moment. This was history. This was greatness. And it was happening at this very moment.

I finally had my great President.

The thought of the likes of Donald Trump--someone so unabashedly unqualified and unfit for any public office, let alone the highest one--being elected President has caused me some anxiety and concern. If we have any sense whatsoever, we will elect President Hillary Clinton to build on the foundations that President Obama has given us. If we elect Donald Trump, well, God help us. I fear the long lasting consequences of such a decision for the lives of my young children and the children they may have. But if that be the case, I'll take solace that at least I'll have some point in my life where I saw a truly great President in action, that my children may have some vague recollection as well, and that there will always remain that undying sense of hope.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Jul 28, 2016, 10:16 AM (2 replies)
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