Has it been only a year?
Twelve months ago tonight, George W. Bush slept soundly in the White House. The economy was in free-fall. It was still possible that an aging and increasingly erratic John McCain could take the White House (not really possible, but still possible) with Sarah Palin as his rogue-woman -- a heartbeat away from having her manicured fingers on the nuclear launch code.
I spent the day canvassing. I spent the evening canvassing. It was just what we did.
Tonight, one year later, we got to see President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama handing out candy to area schoolchildren on the front steps of the White House:
(Photo: Chicago Tribune)
The president and First Lady Michelle Obama received about 2,600 children and adults invited to trick-or-treat at the White House for Halloween - the highlights: Michelle Obama as Cat Woman, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appearing as Darth Vader, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as Goofy.
The north front of the White House was tinted orange and bedecked for Halloween as children began filing in at 5 p.m EDT.
President Obama, joined by First Lady Michelle ("Cat Woman") Obama and Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, handed out treats from 6:30 pm to 7 pm on the front steps of the White House. The goodies included White House M&M’s, cookes from the White House pastry shop and dried fruit.
The children in costumes came from 11 schools in the greater D.C. area, including five schools in Washington, three in Maryland three in Virginia. More than 2,600 children and adults participated.
(Photo: Chicago Tribune)
After the trick or treating, the President and First Lady hosted more than 200 military families, from all branches of the service, as well as White House staffers and their children.
At the reception, President Obama expressed our country’s gratitude to the military families.
Our nation’s gratitude.
Just as he expressed it by traveling to Dover Air Force Base in the wee hours of October 29, 2009, to welcome home the remains of eighteen Americans, including service members and DEA Agents. Seven of those whose bodies were there were profiled here tonight in diaries here and here.
(Photo: Agence France-Press)
The world is racked with serious problems: Wazirastan is a tinderbox, and both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons. Afghanistan is chaotic. No one has been able to solve the fights that have left Darfur a wasteland of struggling, frightened, hungry people.
Our country’s economy, while showing "economic" signs of recovery, is still a mess. More than ten percent of those who want jobs, or who want jobs that render them not underemployed, can’t find them. The foreclosure rates -- particularly in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida -- are staggering. And it is possible that a wave of commercial real estate foreclosures looms.
But amidst all of this, I have hope. I have hope because, whatever our disagreements (President Obama: Step up and repeal DADT, please!), I trust our President to make smart decisions for our country and for me.
And I know, as I never knew when his predecessor was in office, that he has a heart.