It's time to give the devil his due.
And I'm here to do it. I'm here to tip my hat to George Bush.
That's right. You heard me. We owe a debt of gratitude to this president, and I'm here to acknowledge it.
Mr. Bush, I'd like to say thank you.
Thank you for making such a thorough mess of your presidency that the citizens of this country want a change so vast, so enormous that we are willing to elect either a black man or a woman to the White House.
We needed a president as dismal, as greedy, as incompetent as you to pave the way for Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton (although it's looking as if Obama will take it).
Think of it! It's a sea change in attitude. Seven years ago, I'd have said never in my lifetime will America be able to shake off its prejudices enough to elect a black guy or a woman to lead us.
But you changed all that, Mr. Bush! You and the other rich white guys who think money and power are your birthright. You and your ilk in Congress who have ignored us regular folks.
You guys are the best!
If you had been merely mediocre, sir, voters might well have accepted business as usual for the next presidency.
But you weren't mediocre at all! You were stupendously, incredibly, magnificently terrible. And now we're ready for a stupendous, incredible, magnificent change.
Because you ignored those living in poverty and without health insurance, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored the sinking middle class and declared war on gay Americans, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored corporate greed and the excesses of Wall Street, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored global warming and the future of our good earth, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored the Constitution and trampled our civil liberties, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored those who said Iraq was no threat and squandered priceless lives and billions of dollars, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
Because you ignored America's history of honor and integrity and have lost our standing in the world, we're ready for a black man or a woman in the White House.
You're the best, Mr. Bush!
It's been so easy these past seven years to make fun of you, sir. But behind that cynical humor have been such pain and disappointment. I've been so angry at the voters who put you into the White House. Twice. And I've had such fear for the future because those same voters will put the next president into the White House, too.
But my fears are being put to rest. My faith in the American people is being restored as I watch these primaries and caucuses. Men and women, black and white, Asian and Hispanic - people are coming together to hope and believe in the future again.
Occasionally, I hear from readers who denigrate Barrack Obama's message of hope. Oh, he's just selling hope, they say, as though it were something of little value.
Well, if he's selling, I'm buying. It feels so good to be hopeful, and I haven't felt good in so long. It's like a wonderful breath of fresh air flowing through the land, cleansing the dirt of your administration, sir, and blowing away the stench of your greed.
I sometimes hear people console themselves when misfortune strikes by saying: There's a reason for everything. God has a plan.
I don't know if that's true, really. I'd like to think so, but I don't know.
But if it's true - if there really is a reason for everything in the grand scheme of things - then I'm prepared to say this: Our misfortune in having you in the White House, Mr. Bush, has served us well in the long run.
And so I thank you.
* * *
A few week's ago, I ran a timeline of George Bush's failures to illustrate that he can do a lot of damage in the space of a year, so we'd better not get too complacent as his imperial presidency winds down.
One reader wanted to know where I got the timeline. Fair question. It came from www.inthesetimes.com although similar timelines are available at dozens of Web sites. I should have given credit to the Web site when I ran it.
I'd urge you to check it out. I used only one year's worth of his failures in that column, but the site offers a timeline of his first four years in office. It's a chilling reminder of his relentless betrayal of our country.
* * *
There are 330 days 'til Jan. 20, 2009.
Beth's column appears on Monday. firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 Hudson Valley Media Group