Excuse me if I'm wrong, but isn't that William Ayres, the domestic terrorist Sara Palin said Obama palled around with, sitting about three rows back of Obama during the swearing-in ceremonies? Most of us have seen the TV instant replay and still photos of that particular scene. The guy appears in back of Obama's right shoulder.
If it is Ayres, the more I think about it the more I think "Wow!" Seating arrangements at a presidential inauguration usually are assigned by a pecking order, family and the most powerful closest to the incoming prez. From the camera angle I saw, President Bush was seated further from Obama than the alleged Mr. Ayres.
Now, I have nothing against Ayres. The flap during the primaries and general election campaign Republicans raised by Obama's association with Ayres I felt trivial and something not worth writing about. But, it was a legitimate issue and never believed Obama adequately explained. I reluctantly accepted Obama and, later, Ayres explanations only because the importance of the issue didn't amount to squat as far as Obama's qualifications for president. It was a case of the Republicans throwing slime at the wall, hoping it would stick.
It is seeing it in that light is why his appearance, again, if it was Ayres, was an eye grabber. Is it because their association was closer than we were led to believe? Was Obama using the occasion to flaunt those former critics? Was Ayres there as a symbol of Obama's efforts to unite the country as was his choice of the anti-gay Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the opening inaugural prayer?
Obama is such an astute politician one would think the best approach would be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. That seemed to be why he hid his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in the Illinois state capitol basement when he announced his presidency.
This is the week that was for former President George Bush and as millions of others, I say good riddance. But, let's not forget some of the few things he got right.
Bush should be commended for his comparatively few number of pardons and orders of clemency. He believed the process was unfair to those who were denied access or did not curry favor with the administration. He insisted pardons were considered only after serving five years in prison. He required both the judge and prosecutor to sign off for presidential pardons. Based on political pressure to do otherwise, Bush granted clemency but not pardons to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, for perjury and to the two U.S. Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing Mexican drug runner and then lied in a cover-up. Those were gutsy decisions by the self-proclaimed decider in chief. Compare that to Bill Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich after his wife donated millions to his new foundation.
Left-wing liberals fail to give adequate credit for Bush's financial assistance to African nations to help fight AIDs and malaria.
They rarely mention Bush's greatest domestic success for providing affordable drugs to seniors under the Medicare Part D plan. (Without such assistance, this writer would be long dead from diabetes-related illnesses.)
Bush himself rates his "No Child Left Behind" school educational program as a great accomplishment. He considers keeping America safe since Sept. 11, 2001, another monumental victory. To argue otherwise would be disingenuous because the education program is still a work in progress and the nation's security is fragile in these times of Islamic fundamental extremists.
It's nice to see a new kid in town to pick up the pieces of Bush's litany of ill-conceived policies and style running the country.