Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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January 20, 2009

For some time now Garnet Rogers has been singing a kick-ass song called "Junior." It begins: "Born on second base, you thought you hit a double / You don't speak for me." I whooped and hollered the first time I heard it, and whenever I had Get a Witness in Uhura Mazda's CD player, I'd repeat that track several times, bellowing along with the windows open. Since November 4, Garnet's been saying in concert that he looks forward to retiring that song.

Today's the day.

Today's the day, and though I hate to admit it in public, I feel sorry for George W. Bush. I sure don't regret the departure of quite possibly the worst president in U.S. history and the end of quite possibly the most arrogant, lawless administration ever, but I feel sorry for the schmuck who was so far out of his league that he'll probably never know just how bad his performance was. Some people like to think that it's cream that rises to the top; others are sure that it's scum. The Bush II administration provides abundant evidence for the latter, but Dubya himself argues for a third option: mediocrity. Mediocrity rises to the top.

Not just any mediocrity, mind you. Garnet Rogers nailed it: "Born on second base, you thought you hit a double." Mediocrity backed by big money and big connections rises to the top. And once it gets there, it can wreak as much havoc as any evil mastermind. Evil masterminds make better antagonists and villains and mediocre schmucks; no wonder they're so popular in superhero comics and TV, book, and movie thrillers. And in monotheistic religions: without Satan, so the feeling goes, what would make us mortals pay attention to God?

Mediocrity is the bigger problem. Mediocrity and everything that enables it to rise to the top. Money for sure, and connections: without them George W. Bush would have washed out long before he got a foot on the road to the White House. But don't forget all the people who let mediocrity rise because it's easier to manipulate. In that, the outgoing George has a few things in common with his namesake the king of England who presided over the departure of thirteen colonies from the British Empire. Funny how the republican, electoral form of government falls heir to the worst faults of hereditary monarchy.


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