Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush. Love them or hate them, they were The President, as Obama is today.
Tannersville, Pennsylvania is a small town of a few hundred people, the heart of “Real” America, and I was in the home of some real Americans.
- Carol, a beautiful young college student and athlete,
- Daniel, her father, a former athlete, originally from Moscow, USSR,
- Elizabeth, her mother, a physician, originally from Brooklyn, New York.
I was at a funeral for Francine, Carol’s grandmother, Daniel’s mother-in-law, and Elizabeth’s mom.
Alice, another friend of the family, was there with her husband Bob, a former Navy “swab,” currently a Merchant Marine. Bob loves the sea. He sailed all over the world. He hates President Clinton. So does Alice. I’m not sure who hates him more, but the hate is palpable. I didn’t ask how they feel about Obama.
President Clinton has been out of office for close to 9 years, but it looks to me like the nature of the Presidential gig is such that people either love them or hate them, forever. President Reagan left office almost 21 years ago, and people still either love him or hate him. (Personally, I don’t regard him as a good President, but no longer regard him as “the worst in my lifetime.” It’s not that he looks better, but that the bar got lower.) Ditto for Nixon, who was elected in ’68, inaugurated in ’69, and who resigned in in disgrace in August, ’74.
Obama is finding out about the love-hate nature of the gig. A South Carolinian named Joe Wilson seems likely to fall into the “hate him forever” category. In Eastern Pennsylvania, you are probably more likely to find people who hate Clinton than love him, but love or hate, you expect Americans to know when he was elected, inaugurated, and President.
And that’s what I’m writing about. What is really strange is that Bob and Alice swear that Bill Clinton was President during “Operation Desert Storm” and when Bob was discharged from the Navy in 1991. We all know that Clinton was elected in November, 1992, and inaugurated in January, 1993, and serverd until George W. Bush was inaugurated in January, ’01. George H. W. Bush, being elected in ’88, inaugurated in ’89, and serving until Clinton was inaugurated in ’93, was President throughout 1991.
GHW Bush is famous for two things:
- “Operation Desert Storm” and
- Raising Taxes to pay for infrastructure.
It seems that Bob and Alice don’t know when Clinton was President, who was President during “Desert Storm,” when Bob was discharged, or who who was President at that time.
I don’t know Bob and Alice well and frankly, I don’t want to get to know them. I tried to explain to them, calmly, that Clinton was elected in ’92 and inaugurated in “93. These are non-controversial historical facts. Whether you love and hate Clinton, whether you argue over whether he was a good or bad President, the dates of his election, Inauguration, and transfer of power are non-controversial. You won’t find Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or one of those other right-wing pundit/comic/entertainers arguing over when Clinton was elected or inaugurated. It’s like arguing over whether the color of the sky or the location of the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge.
I rarely step back from a discussion. But I refused to engage Alice and Bob. I am not interested in a shouting match with people who display a basic incapacity to understand the color of the sky or the location of a bridge. As Kenny Rogers once said, we have to “know when to hold em, and know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” This was a time to walk away, slowly. I don’t know if they were out of aces; they might have had four of them, and they might have been all clubs; they sure were not playing with a full deck.