At Tuesday's funeral services for former President Gerald Ford, George W. Bush said Ford “assumed the presidency when the nation needed a leader of character and humility—and we found it in the man from Grand Rapids. President Ford's time in office was brief, but history will long remember the courage and common sense that helped restore trust in the workings of our democracy.”
Character. Humility. Common sense. The capacity to restore trust. We dare say the presidency of the United States of America needs those qualities now more than in 1974. Sadly, unless Bush is impeached real soon, we'll all have to wait until January 2009 to find them in the White House. In the meantime, here are some slightly less pie-in-the-sky things we'd like to see happen in 2007:
* Let's start in the near future: We'd like to see the Chargers and the Saints in the Super Bowl. It would be fascinating to see what impact it would have on the Chargers' quest for a stadium deal, but, more important, there are some great story lines: Philip Rivers vs. his pal, Drew Brees, the quarterback the Chargers let walk; Saints running back Reggie Bush is a San Diego kid-he grew up in Spring Valley; Saints kicker, formerly a Charger, does charity work in San Diego; and, best of all, how great would that be for the beleaguered people of New Orleans?
* OK, this one's boring, but oh-so-important: The city of San Diego has to get its financial audits for the past three years (going on four) certified, so that the mayor and City Council can use (smart) borrowing as a municipal-finance tool again. We'd urge someone at City Hall to get on the ball, but city leaders' hands appear to be tied; thanks to mistakes of the past, they can do nothing but wait. And while they do, the city's infrastructure is crumbling. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to talk, in positive terms, about the city's future?
* Speaking of city finance, we really want Mayor Jerry Sanders—in his State of the City speech, perhaps—to vow to break out of the box to which he confined himself during his campaign, when, in response to an attack by an opponent, he took new taxes off the table. He has yet to say how he's going to plug the large budget gaps that loom. A real leader would tell the public that taxes might be necessary to provide citizens with adequate services and keep the city from hemorrhaging cops, 2008 political prospects be damned.
* It's nice that homelessness was in the news in 2006, what with a dustup over illegal-lodging tickets and all, but let's make 2007 the year when we actually take the issue seriously. The city needs a center housing a permanent shelter and myriad services aimed at getting our homeless neighbors on some kind of positive path. Get it started now.
* On the national scene, we certainly hope the Democrats are successful in passing a minimum-wage hike (one not linked to an estate-tax repeal), meaningful lobbying reform and a serious amendment to the Republicans' obscene Medicare bill. But we also want a significant increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, because there are a lot of seriously fucked-up men and women (physically and mentally) returning from Iraq, and we want a genuine conversation about removing marijuana from the Schedule I list of the most dangerous drugs, because it's time to get federal drug agents on the same page as state and local police once and for all.
* We have every expectation that liberal Democrats like Henry Waxman and John Conyers will use their new political powers to investigate the Bush administration. On the menu: Were the American people systematically deceived into supporting the invasion of Iraq? Were military leaders pressured to keep their mouths shut about troop levels so that Bush could say he was listening to the “commanders on the ground” who were telling him they have all the troops they need? And were American companies allowed to profit, grossly and inappropriately, from the war?
* And speaking of the war, we have to pull the troops out of there ASAP. The war is a sham built on a foundation of deception, and now 3,003 American servicemen and women (and counting) are dead, we've created a vacuum filled by civil war and ethnic cleansing, and millions of Iraqi people (and maybe hundreds of millions more region-wide) are royally screwed because of the U.S. government's incompetent, foolhardy attempt to impose its will on the Middle East. There seems to be little we can do for Iraq militarily or diplomatically—let's at least save some American lives.
In other words, we want 2007's conversation—in San Diego, in California and in the United States of America—to be about meaningful access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And we want people with money to help us get what we want or get the hell out of the way. Too pie-in-the-sky?