Sunday, January 25, 2009


This afternoon Sarah and I took in a matinée at the local two screen cineplex, finally seeing Frost/Nixon. If you are a fan of political biographies, I highly recommend it. The movie centers around a series of interviews between David Frost, a British talk show personality, and Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.

Two things really struck me about the movie...

First, what would it take for a modern day politician to agree to a series of interviews on such a broad range of subjects with no editorial control? Where are the interviews with Roland Regan, George H. W. Bush, or Bill Clinton? Sure, they have memoirs -- tightly controller spin jobs designed to white-wash the record for the sake of legacy -- but where is the inquisitor? Who forces our political leaders to see beyond their own self-image and face the facts of their administration? Say what you will about Richard Nixon, but it took guts to agree to that interview, and it showed a nature of his character you don't often see.

Second, I think my young age takes me out of the target demo for this movie. Viewers are supposed to be rooting against Nixon, or at least rooting for his eventual admission... which is not to saw I wasn't. But I found I was doing it more out of a desire for a NASCAR crash than for some sort of political reckoning. Perhaps if I were of the Watergate generation, I would feel an attachment... but Nixon was so long ago for me that the movie could have just as easily been about Ulysses S. Grant. Which begs the question: what will future generations think of our rage towards the Bush Administration?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reflections on the new Administration

As I watch the Obamas dance in, what I am told, is their fifth ball of the evening, I can't help but pen some thoughts on the new Administration and what it means to me. CNN reports a crowd of 2.2 million were on hand to see the speech in person and there were predictions that the TV viewership would surpass any other TV event in history. Polling indicates that President Obama enjoys higher approval ratings than any incoming President. Globally... well, all I can is my Aunt -- my Aunt who lives in Nicaragua and has more or less dedicated her life to fighting U.S. policy in Latin America -- is genuinely proud of her country's President, and may even, one day, call him her President.

Obama is now at the Western Ball, which includes not only my home state of Washington, but my adopted state of California. Seems like a good time to think about what this all means for me. I already wrote a few words about transitioning from the Loyal Opposition to the Party in Power. But there are other personal implications. For example, this is the very first time I have voted for a winning presidential candidate. It's also the first time I gave any serious money to a candidate... like, got fancy high donor letters thanking me sort of serious. It's the first time I feel like I contributed, both morally and materially, to a campaign that mattered.

It's also a great honor to know people who are preparing to join the White House staff. For the first time my generation is in a position to contribute in a very direct way to our nation. They may not be the most high level jobs ever, but they are in the halls of power and they begin the process of training to, one day, run the nation. My hat is off to them, for their sacrifice (those jobs don't pay well, or offer much in the way of rest and relaxation) and for accepting the heavy burden that comes with being the future. I hope some day I can join them.

To the Administration as a whole, I have but a few words. I told one of my friends who is starting a new White House job that they will have the unique opportunity to make the world a better place, and not just in the metaphorical sense... they could actually go into the office in the morning, and thanks to their work, come out that evening the world would actually be a better place. After saying it, I realized I had transfered my unrealistic expectations of Obama onto his team... which I suppose is only natural, if a tad unfair.

My words then, are this... it's okay to fail in meeting our soaring expectations. But it is not okay to fail alone. The government of America is powerful and can do great things, but the people of America are more powerful yet and we are your greatest resource. If you try to carry the burden alone, and fail, you will not only have squandered an opportunity, you will have turned against the ideals of the campaign you work for. Have enough humility to understand your limitations and seek the wisdom of your fellow countrymen as you seek to fulfill our greatest destiny.

With that I say, good luck America. We've done a great thing today but much remains to be done. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.