I've gotten a number of e-mails and letters lately from Republicans asking why they should give President-elect Barack Obama a break, when, as one wrote, "the Flyer has spent the past eight years bashing President Bush at every turn."
Well, not exactly. More like the last six years.
When President Bush was first elected in 2000, it took weeks for the chaos to settle in the aftermath of "dangling chads" and the suspended vote count in Florida. In fact, at this date in 2000, we still weren't sure who had won the election. After Al Gore's subsequent concession and, weeks later, Bush's inauguration, we editorialized that it was time to move forward and give the new president a chance to heal a badly divided nation. Perhaps, we pondered, this president is truly what he says he is: "a uniter, not a divider." It was time to give "compassionate conservatism" a chance.
Unfortunately, Bush was neither compassionate nor conservative and certainly not a uniter. Still, we didn't hurl too much criticism at the president during his first few months in office. And after the horrors of 9/11, we fully supported the president's decision to invade Afghanistan. You can look it up.
Then things started to fall apart. Let me refresh your memory a bit. (You might want to sing this next part to the tune of REM's "The End of the World As We Know It"): Weapons of mass destruction, coalition of the willing; faith-based, staying chaste, Katrina, FEMA, toxic waste; Halliburton, Abu Ghraib, politicizing DOJ; Harriet Miers, Terry Schiavo, Brownie, Cheney, Tom DeLay; Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza, North Korea, and Iran; Al Gonzales, waterboarding, Guantanamo, Afghanistan; Walter Reed, "bring 'em on," Miller, Libby, Rove, and Plame; stem-cell research, global warming, creationism is God's way; cronyism, signing statements, spying by the NSA; Jeff Gannon, Armstrong Williams, WorldCom, Enron, Kenny Lay; up or down vote, cut and run, stay the course, don't take my gun; no oversight, deregulation, can't leave until the job is done ...
Man, I'm sorry about that. I got lost there for a minute. Must be this new cold medicine. But seriously, as we did eight years ago, we urge you to give the new president a chance to actually, you know, do something before trashing him. He's not going to steal your 401(k) accounts, as Rush Limbaugh is charging. He's not going to take your guns or induct you into some coercive form of national service, despite the rumors being spread on the Internet.
Let's give the new guy a chance. If he screws up, we'll be the first in line to let him know how we feel about it.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...