On politics and pretzels

Sometimes, when reading the newspaper or listening to President Obama's voice boom confidently through the nightly news, I have to stop myself and think, what year is it again? Was the Bush administration really so long ago, or does time pass faster when competency reigns?

It's funny, remembering how much of my adolescence and young adult years were spent either fervently protesting against or shying away from our government and its faulty representatives. One of my dearest high school friends recently contacted me after stumbling across a column I had written in our 2002 school newspaper. I don't remember the column's full title, but I'm quite sure that the words "Good ole GW" and "pretzel" were in there somewhere. Remember when he choked on a pretzel and that made the news? Remember that?

I received my first "hate" mail after the publication of that 500-word essay. We were required to let the student in question, a girl whose name I remember but won't share, print her own rebuttal editorial. I kind of admired her for that, though it stung because her political party was still frustratingly in power, and would be for far longer than we could imagine, even then. But what felt the best was knowing that no matter what she said or did, no one could deny that George Bush had faced down the dangers of a carby treat and had lived to tell the tale. There were bruises - again, this was news.

Photo credit: BBC

We wonder now why irony has become such a popular literary trend. For those of us who came of age during the Bush administration, who protested weekly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, who wrote snarky editorials and campaigned for Kerry, and yes, maybe even Gore--irony was not a choice. It was our default, and it had to be.

Years later, facing one of the most tragic economic depressions in recent American history, we plod on, though I don't feel the same need for irony. Obama isn't perfect, but he's assertive and diplomatic, and he's never made the headlines for indigestion. Hamburgers at local joints, yes, but he manages somehow to always keep them down.