On the eve
In years to come, I will tell you, my daughters, about a great man who served this country for eight years. I will tell you how even as he stepped into the Oval Office, a group of people, including his eventual successor, invented flimsy excuses to attack his legitimacy. I will tell you how so many of his colleagues, who swore oaths to support and advance the American people, vowed to block him at every step along the way. I will tell you how he held himself through all of this, for eight years, with dignity and grace. I will tell you how he showed the nation how to be a partner, and a parent, and, eventually, a leader. How he manifested empathy, humility, and compassion. How he was not afraid to hold two ideas in his head at the same time, as thinking people do. How he made it clear that you could love both books AND sports, without apology or compromise. How he held up music, and art, and culture, with pride.
I will tell you how I cried when he took office, and also when he left.
I will hold him up as an example.
And then I will tell you another story.
This story will be about one of his early attackers, a man who thought first and foremost about himself. It will be a story about how this man brought a very different style to his leadership, focused on attacks, instead of peace; on dividing, instead of joining; and on personal benefit, rather than personal sacrifice. It will be a story about how this man made enemies, and kept enemies, and cultivated enemies. How this man sought out flattery and discarded the truth when it served his purposes.
I will also hold this man up as an example.
I hope, my daughters, that you learn as much from my stories about this man as you do from my stories about the other. I hope that the examples of these two men will make an impression upon you, and that you, and your friends, and your friends’ friends, and your entire generation, will see that you have a choice. You can decide how you want to see the world. You can decide how you want to be in the world. You can decide WHO you want to be in the world.
May this be the silver lining.