I've mentioned this to a couple of friends, but I found myself just amazed at it again this morning. I was watching the Obama press conference on the television. Once again he gave a nod to the current administration for their cooperation during the transfer of office. I rarely applaud the Bush administration, but give credit where it's due and thusfar it appears to be due.
However, I am struck by how quickly this transition is taking place. Bush is hardly mentioned anywhere. Sure, he gets his coverage when he goes on a trip or has a few words to say about Mumbai (another absolutely amazing thing - the press is calling it "Mumbai" instead of "Bombay"...something they've refused to do for years), but it's so obvious that when it comes to anything substantial, the press has moved on.
Clearly, this just isn't because he's an unliked president. I recall when Carter left office. He wasn't well liked at the time and yet he wasn't completely ignored in the way Bush has been. Reagan was not a very well liked person either, contrary to what some would have you believe. Not as bad off as Carter by a long shot, but Reagan wasn't particularly popular and the country was ready to move on and yet, he wasn't ignored. Al Gore ran away from the support of Bill Clinton. Clinton was loved in his own party, but the country was tired of the controversies he caused. Still, he wasn't ignored as a lame duck president.
Never in my observations have I seen a president so quickly reduced to a footnote on the day's news. Going back to Mumbai, Bush said a few words and sent Kindasleazy Rice over to diffuse any problems with Pakistan. Still, who got the main coverage? Obama and his words did. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was announcing his national security staff nominations. Even so, the press went to him for leadership and he's not in office yet. A lot could go wrong between now and Inauguration Day, but the press looked to him.
The week prior, Wall Street looked to Obama for financial leadership. Indeed, they gave the thumb's up initially for the appointments. I'm not certain, but I think what we're seeing is unprecedented.
Even people that I speak with daily talk about Obama and his thoughts. Some die hard conservatives that I know are talking about him and not the president. The media, it seems to me, is reflecting the mood of the country. We're ready to move on. We've been ready. Even the conservatives have dumped Bush, though they don't particularly care for Obama. No one is stepping forward in the Republican Party as it's voice and it's leader. McCain has been relugated to the sidelines. Palin is a joke amongst serious conservatives. Romney is seen with suspicion.
Into this void comes a person with an intellectual nature and a calm presentation. He's speaking and we're listening. We're tired of the idiot who we can share that beer with during the college bull session and we're ready to be presented with seriousness and vision. It gives me a shade of hope.
We'll see. As time goes on I expect to find much to disagree with the incoming administration about. But for now I seem to be like the rest of the country - just grateful for the moment.