A story about class:
Shortly after Barack Obama was elected in 2008, a fellow reporter who’d covered President George W. Bush all eight years told me she’d had enough of the travel and stress and strain of the White House beat, that she was moving on…
I asked her if she’d miss covering President Obama.
“Not at all. He’s an inch deep. Bush is a bottomless chasm, a deep, mysterious, emotional, profound man. Obama is all surface — shallow, obvious, robotic, and, frankly, not nearly as smart as he thinks. Bush was the one.”
…By the way, she’s a hardcore Democrat.
But she was right. And that contrast was apparent to all who watched Thursday’s ceremonial event to open W’s new presidential library in Dallas….
Jimmy Carter … was first to speak. But he was, as always, befuddled.
…he opened with, “In 2000, as some of you may remember, there was a disputed election for several weeks.” Nice way to start. He then took credit for giving W the idea to intercede in Sudan… He never mentioned 9-11 and the war on terror, or the commander in chief’s leadership during America’s most trying hour. Which is why his comments lasted just 3¼ minutes.
Bill Clinton followed. He, of course, spoke twice as long, filling his speech with jokes and faux humility. He was his usual affable self… But… Mr. Clinton, for all his prodigious gifts, will always be the class clown…
George H.W. Bush, turning 90 in June, was a welcome respite. Somewhat frail now, he spoke only briefly from his wheelchair, but garnered two standing ovations — and the biggest laugh of the day from his oldest son. After his remarks, just 24 seconds, he shook his boy’s hand and said, deadpan, “Too long?”
President Obama took the podium next. Every bit as cunning as Slick Willy, his speech too was filled with fake self-effacing insights, including one on “the world’s most exclusive club,” which he said “is more like a support group.”… Then, on a day that was intended to be without politics, he hawked his push for amnesty…
Mr. Obama skipped the praise he had laid on W the night before. “Whatever our political differences, President Bush loves this country and loves its people and shares that same concern and was concerned about all people in America, not just those who voted Republican. I think that’s true about him, and I think that’s true about most of us.”
Except it’s not. Especially not this president. He has made his presidency about dividing America — along lines of class, sex, race, sexuality, you name it…
Then, finally, W took the podium…. He gave a profound lesson to his successor and his predecessor: “In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves…
“As president, I tried to act on these principles every day. It wasn’t always easy and it certainly wasn’t always popular … And when our freedom came under attack, we made the tough decisions required to keep the American people safe,” he said to loud applause.
But it was the end that gave us the truest glimpse of the man… With tears in his eyes, his voice breaking, he said: “It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States….” By the end he was in tears, barely able to creak out: “God bless.”..
But there was one last classy move not many saw. The program nearly over, Sgt. 1st Class Alvy R. Powell Jr. came to the side of the stage to perform the “Star Spangled Banner.” A big, powerful black man, Mr. Powell belted out the anthem. With the crowd applauding, the sergeant moved along the line of people, shaking hands with all. After greeting W, he turned to go. But the 43rd president put his hand on the sergeant’s arm and said, “Stay,” just as a chaplain stepped forward to give a benediction.
[From Andrew Bolt.]