Remember when the world made something like sense, back in that long, dreaming summer of two years ago, before the coming of this walking, talking embodiment of the misshapen original sin America has held to her bosom since before Thomas Jefferson touched quill to parchment, manifested into a human being the way an idea might be hammered into a two-dimensional villain in the clumsiest of B-grade comic books?
Remember when we had a president who was the president of us all? Not some. Not the folks and states who voted for him. Not only the disaffected and scowling mob, knives out, looking for revenge against the other survivors clinging to the seats in the same leaky lifeboat where they, themselves, have found refuge. Not only those who kissed his ring, jumped through flaming hoops and juggled chainsaws to placate and amuse him. But all? Remember when Air Force One swooped into Democratic strongholds and Republican bastions alike when tragedy stuck; even Arkansas, where the majority of our voters wouldn’t even admit the previous resident of the White House was a United States citizen, much less fit for his office, The Man Himself here not to swagger and brag, not to do an hour and a half on his own greatness, not to tell some guy with a Lincoln Continental sticking out of his sodden house like a dagger through his heart that at least he got a nice car outta da deal. Just a president without party other than the love that is supposed to bind us all together as Americans in times of trouble, come here to the darkest heart of the Confederacy to dole out encouragement and a pat on the back from a grateful nation for those suffering in the wake of the latest twister to chew through the state? That actually happened once. We recall it through the veil of years, before time went topsy-turvy and seconds became hours.
For anyone who just read that paragraph and felt indignation at the idea that Barack Obama could be anything other than an opportunist at best and the scowling perpetrator of all the crimes the human heart is err to at worst: Remember what it was like before you felt this way? Remember the days before a thousand culprits snuck that very profitable ball of radioactive indignation into your guts, the reverse operation seen in the legend of the person who wakes up in a motel bathtub full of ice, sans kidneys, the magic marker warning on the mirror saying not “Call 911” this time but “MAGA” and “They’re Coming For Your Guns”? Remember what it was like before you felt a warm, leaden glee at the idea that half your countrymen might be feeling fear, anxiety, anger or remorse?
Remember when there was something on the TV and internet besides this crap?
Remember when we could all agree that doughy, handsy, prep-school silver-spoon polo shirt taintwipes were more in need of a swift kick in their well-padded asses than a seat on the Supreme Court? Remember when we all, regardless of party, prided ourselves on being able to spot an asshole from 10 paces? Remember when the most conservative among us were actually MORE prone than most to think the proper response to finding out a man was an abuser of women or fondler of children was not a ticker-tape rocket ride to higher office but a short trip out behind the dumpster for a dance lesson? Remember when the Rapepublican Party actually stood for something other than winning, retaining power and the daily Twitter-on-the-Shitter sessions of a 71-year-old phone-addicted toddler? Those were the days, we tell ya. The very days.
The Observer remembers, in picture perfect hi-def 4K clarity, like it’s all being played on one of those TVs that’s so good it strips away the Hollywood magic and makes everything look slightly fake. We remember it all, even if others can’t or refuse to, not because living in the past is any way to live, but only because we have come to realize that living through history is more terrifying than we could have ever imagined. To tell you the truth, it feels good to escape for a while back to the days when things at least staked an honest claim to making sense. We hope against hope, here in this dim and haunted land, that we can all get back there someday. But we ain’t holding our breath waiting on it. That’s for damn sure.