I figured for my last Observations column of 2008 I would begin with thanking the Kwanzaa Elves for giving Mutandhar el Zeidi the courage to throw his shoes at George W. Bush while the international press rolled cameras. If that is not the perfect ending for what has turned out to be a difficult year I don't know what else is. Actually the shoe toss is the perfect ending for the entire Bush 43rd Presidency.
2008 gave us hope and slowly began to take it away. From Obama to Blagojevitch in less than 12 months, we went from "Yes we can!" to "Oh no he didn't." What's up with that?
Promised change, we got a mortgage meltdown, credit crisis, Wall Street woes, the financial failures of Big 3 Automakers, record unemployment, and retail free fall. Change for the worse was not the change we were looking for. Unfortunately, that's exactly what we're getting. We the people will be cleaning up the mess left by Team Bush and the Neo-cons for a decade or more.
And no, I don't expect the Obama Administration to mitigate the damage done by the 8 years of slash and burn politics as practiced by George W. Bush. The damage has been done. Once the Bush jihad leaves Washington, only then will we begin to understand how much. Unraveling the bureaucratic web of contempt and corruption installed by Bush appointees will be a Herculean task.
I also doubt we will see an end to the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan any time soon. There is still oil and natural gas resources to extract from the the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian highlands and the Caspian Basin. A lot can happen in 16 months and until the United States is energy self-sufficient the chaos and carnage of conflict will continue to destabilize global conditions.
It's clear 2008 was a tumultuous year where once trusted economic paradigms were exposed as credit traps and unsustainable Ponzi schemes. It's also clear Americans would rather drown themselves in celebrity culture and wishful thinking than live within their means, taking full responsibility for the choices they make.
If 2008 needs a poster children to personify the downgrading of the American Dream one need look no further than John McCain and Sarah Palin. Offering up nothing other than empty words and tired policies, it's frightening how many people actually voted for the Drill baby Drill duo.
I wish I honestly believed 2009 will be better, I don't and it won't. Recovering from 16 years of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will take twice that long and trillions of dollars to mitigate the damage done and retire the debt of duplicity and debt created by colonial capitalism.
So thank you Kwanzaa elves for the shoe throwing courage of Mutandhar el Zeidi and the cameras documenting this small step for humankind. It was ideal gift for this holiday season.
Next year change.