Columns, Opinion

KAZI: OB won: Can OB?

So change happened last week, right? Massive paradigm shift: empire stricken back, beginning of a new hope. If you look online, you’ll find Barack Obama action figures that come with ‘-‘- get this ‘-‘- a light saber. Dubya shouldn’t be too mad about not having a toy of his own. He got the one with a cool black suit and a mask. His light saber is red though.

President Obama’s clever strategy of not being George Bush paid off well. I think he did one of those market research studies and saw that whenever people were asked what they wanted in the president of the USA, they wrote ‘Not George Bush.’

But things aren’t so rosy for the prez right now. I just heard that his crew, rolling 50 deep into 1600 Pennshizzlevania Ave, were horrified at the dearth of technology. If you read your news, you’ll see that half the White House phones aren’t working, and everybody is using Gmail until the DSL bill is paid. Computers are old and dilapidated, running on memories of youth and Windows XP. Raccoons live in fridges, wiring’s all frayed and electrocuting the First Rat population. The Lincoln Bedroom is held together with duct tape. Nuclear codes are just a bunch of plastic Scrabble blocks. Man, oh man.

OK, so it’s not as bad as that. But these are dudes who chant, ‘yes we can’ and think different on Macbooks. They use social networking and Web 2.0 and Facebook and YouTube to spread the word! They can’t be tied down to ancient machines with hieroglyphic command prompts! (i.e. Windows 3.0, which first incorporated icons in PCs.) I’m a great proponent of asking people to suck it up as long as I don’t have to myself, but this really is a bit much. I know more than two people who will say that this a Parthian shot by the Bush administration, more than three who’re going to make a joke about how the last president, God bless him now that he’s gone, never used a computer when a crayon could do.

But my fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans and Wookies alike! This is not the time to put on your tinfoil hat or brandish your light saber. Put it back with your Obama action figure. This is good ol’ incompetence, the same thing that’s been driving the car industry, not finding BLTs in Iraq, you know, subsidizing stupidity kind of thing. Not much to be done about it because, as it said on a T-shirt I once saw: [expletive] happens.

I guess I wouldn’t want to have my MacBook taken away for a clunky ol’ Dell that’s still got smudges on it from the last goober who tried to install notavirus.exe. And I’ll wait for Conan O’Brien to say something clever about the most powerful man in the world not having a working phone in his office. (For what it’s worth, neither did Palpatine.) But these sigh of relief Luddite jokes are good things.

Why? Because the fact that we know about it is a reassurance. Yes, we’ve let stupid people get away with stupid things in the past. We still have in place the world’s most effective accountability system – gossipy newspapers and a fundamental curiosity that makes us care about Obama’s cell phone preferences. (Remember all that stuff about his BlackBerry addiction? He’s finally been allowed to keep it, but he has to change his ring tone to Journey.)

When there’s dirt on a cog, we know about the cog, we look for the source of dirt and more often than not, we clean it up and stop the same mistake from happening again. This general rule was kind of waived for the last government in terms of one or two details, like war under false pretences, illegally torturing innocent people (‘I thought Rambo was a documentary!’) and the wrong dude becoming president. Historically, however, even the president answers to the people. This has served America well.

Most important – and this is why I dance – as of Jan. 21, we have in place an actually-elected commander in chief who’s not going to run after tin-pot dictators, lower himself to their level or kill their people better than they do. (I won’t blame the financial crisis on Dubya because that was decades in the making.) I think that the audacity of America’s hope (oh no, I didn’t) lies in the fact that we as a nation will never abandon the values that tie us together: democracy, justice, equality, opportunity. And this system is so well set in place that even when we make mistakes, they are automatically corrected by the democratic process. Eventually.

And here’s the best reason for us to not worry: after our eight-year run of bad luck, we are set for a while. Until these unpleasant memories become the stuff of a long time ago, a travesty far, far away.

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