And not dedicate a song to President Obama as he leaves the scene.

The reason I wasn’t going to dedicate a song to him is because, from Lyndon Johnson onward, only one song can ever be dedicated to a departing U.S. President, and I was inclined to be generous toward Obama because I remembered the night he was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

After that evening was over, I happened to catch a bit on PBS where Tavis Smiley convened Cornel West and Julianne Malveaux to comment on the significance of it all.

You would have thought the last dog died.

No group of liberals I saw this season were anywhere near as depressed by the election of Donald Trump as that blacker-than-thou trio was on the night the first African-American candidate to receive the nomination of a major American political party failed to surpass Martin Luther King.

I remember thinking: “If these are his friends. He is going to have one tough row to hoe.”

He has had one tough row to hoe.

So I really was going to leave it alone–just go ahead and start the new world, where I go back to writing about the music or movies that moved me this week today, instead of waiting until tomorrow.

Then, while I was watching some post-inaugural blather today, I heard Rachel Maddow, desperately clinging to the idea that Obama’s legacy will not be written in sand, reporting that Obama had fought Isis up to his very last day, ordering a bombing strike that killed sixty “fighters” on either Wednesday or Thursday (I lost track even as she was speaking) and another hundred either yesterday or today (ditto).

Not long after, I was flipping around to see who had the best pictures of the parade and caught Lou Dobbs repeating the one hundred figure.

When I looked it up online just now, it was eighty.

But I’m sticking with a hundred, because anything the Pentagon releases to both Rachel Maddow and Lou Dobbs must be the truth.

Hey, by another count I read online today (which seemed about right) our Overlords have launched fifty-seven attempts to overthrow somebody’s government since the end of WWII. They must have gotten good at body counts by now.

So I was still going to let it to.

Then I remembered how I learned about body counts back in the seventies.

It was from a Doonesbury cartoon–beyond my capacity to research at the moment–which went something like this:

Frame One: Conclusion of successful firefight. Soldier (probably B.D. but don’t hold me to it) is standing next to nameless officer. Nameless officer is reporting to headquarters. He is asked to give a count of the enemy dead.

Frame Two: Officer: “What’s the date soldier?”

Frame Three: Soldier: “The fifteenth sir.”

Fame Four: Officer (speaks into field phone): “Fifteen enemy dead here.”

Of course, the memory hazes. Maybe it was seventeen for the seventeenth or eleven for the eleventh.

It wasn’t eighty or sixty or a hundred. We don’t have enough days in the month to rely on the old match-em-to-the-date routine anymore. Not when war is waged strictly by drone and stealth bomber.

That’s the world Barrack Obama found. And that’s the one he leaves to the future.

Same old, same old after all and sometimes it just isn’t enough to say: “What could I do?”

So, in the end, like every departing president from 1968 to now, he earned this:


8 thoughts on “I WAS GOING TO GIVE IT A PASS…

  1. NDJ

    Believe it or not, what your editorial here did was made me pull Brian Waker’s DOONESEBURY AND THE ART OF G.B. TRUDEAU off the shelf and put it on top of my stack of books titled “Oh yeah, I’m gonna start this one tomorrow” …


    • That sounds like a good day. I was gonna get into my adventures carrying Doonesbury books around in a southern rural high school in the 70s (it mostly involved girls asking me what was making me laugh so hard and then giving me some very strange looks when I showed them the cartoon in question….I never tried to explain that reading Doonesbury involved a mindset that couldn’t exactly be captured by any one strip…figured I was in enough trouble as it was).

      But I decided to leave that for another day and stay on point.

  2. Yeah, people who don’t know the strip look at it and see THE WIZARD OF ID and expect a joke a day. Historically, I’d rank these four books as one of the best perspectives we have of the transition from the optimism of the ’60s to the pall of imminent doom that has hung over us since electing 1981:


    As essential to understanding “the Seventies” as reading CATCH-22 or STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is to grokking “the Sixties.”


    PS: You have any breaks in your reading schedule that would allow you to do a reading/writing project with me?

  3. Here’s what I was thinking: you suggest a detective novel to me that I read and review and post on The Round Place In the Middle. In turn, I suggest a science-fiction novel that you read and review and post on Neal Umphred Dot Com. That way, we both become ‘guest bloggers.’

    PS: I haven’t read whodunnit in many, many years . . .

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