To observe Barack Obama deliver his speech before a joint session of Congress last night after eight years of watching George W. Bush do the same was a little like sitting through hours of a Three Stooges retrospective not realizing that the main feature to follow was Some Like It Hot. The realization that you have just wasted a good chunk of your life being dumbed-down is devastating. Knowing that genius still flourishes, together with the promise of more of the same to come makes the price of the ticket seem like a bargain.
During my lifetime, I have only once experienced anything like the feeling of being witness to a sphinx rising from a desert of despair that I feel now. That was in 1961, when I, as a 15-year-old boy, experienced my first political crush when John F. Kennedy and his remarkable family moved into the White House. Then, it seemed a torch had been passed from the hands of an old, tired-but-wise warrior who looked like my grandfather, to another type of warrior--young, glamorous, eloquent, vigorous, compassionate. The times were much like now--menace from abroad, crippled economy at home. JFK swept in like a stiff ocean breeze, stirring souls like so many palm trees lining a beach. Suddenly, it felt as if we could make it through to the other side. America was on the move again, making the world safer for democracy and offering hope to the unfortunate.
It was Ronald Reagan who said, "It's morning in America". He was wrong. It was only the gaudy glitter of Las Vegas at night, harbinger of the greed and decadence that has brought our economy to its knees, like a street beggar tugging at the sleeve of every passing socialist for relief.
Now, Obama has risen from the desert of the Reagan Legacy, guardian of the temple, where lay our most sacred values, facing directly toward the rising sun. Vandals may take pot shots at his nose but they cannot alter his magnificence, his grandeur, his timeless wisdom. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, President Obama will be there to show it where its light is most needed. I know this because last night, he was truly a shooting star.