Newly elected Gov. Brian Sandoval has been in the news a lot since the voters ushered him into office. He has been traveling around making speeches and talking about what he will do for Nevada. If he has any plans for the state’s flailing education system, it seems, he needs to spend time with his own family working on the definitions of “up” and “down.” An alert reader (that is to say, my girlfriend) informed me about a video clip in which one of Sandoval’s children was holding a sign upside down until an aide came and flipped it around.
Sadly, my Internet searches have been unable to find this clip so I could elaborate and come up with a bevy of jokes about it. I had planned on several good jabs, such as “Is this what Sandoval means when he says he will turn Nevada’s education system around?” At the very least, if this did happen it will get the new governor’s people to be more careful before saying “Roll ‘em” when putting the Sandoval family on camera.
Making a politician’s family part of the joke came up again when I watched the episode of Oprah Winfrey’s show this week featuring former President George W. Bush. First let me clarify that I do not watch Oprah; her show’s presence on my digital recorder is my girlfriend’s doing. Given that she and I rarely like the same programs, however, I took advantage of the potentially interesting topic so we could have some quality time together in front of the tube.
One of the things that “43” (as his family calls him, referring to his place in presidential sequence) said was that it hurt him more to see his father, George H.W. Bush, or “41,” criticized as president than it did to be criticized himself. The Bush family is pretty tight, the younger president said, and very protective of each other. This makes me wonder how the very young children of politicians feel when they barely understand the system and hear people are criticizing their office-holding father or mother.
As Bush continued to speak, I came to the conclusion that although I will still never agree with him politically, I wouldn’t mind having a beer with the guy. I also decided it is more difficult to make fun of politicians after seeing them as human beings. Bush spoke very calmly yet sincerely about many of the difficulties he faced, including the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He addressed the often-replayed seven minutes when he was visiting an elementary school classroom where he was first told of the incident. Bush was severely criticized for staying put until his visit was done before heading off to deal with the crisis. He told Oprah he felt that as commander-in-chief he needed to remain calm in the face of such an incident to help quell the nation’s panic. Whether that was his main motivator or just plain old fear, I felt sympathy for his predicament. If I was in his shoes would I have immediately drawn my sword and run out of the room to save the day? No, I probably would have been in shock and needed a few minutes to figure out how to leave the room while hiding the wet spot on my pants.
When the show was over, I felt no desire to see Bush back in office but I did want to read his book and learn about this man who had been our leader — often divisively — for eight years.
President Barack Obama also was on television recently in the informal setting of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” Obama managed to crack a few jokes, or at least play along with Stewart, though overall he was much more serious. This is understandable, given that he is still dealing with the challenges of the office, as opposed to Bush looking back on them. Though I support Obama’s political leanings more than I did his predecessor’s, I look forward to seeing “44” out of office to get his hindsight perspective and see another side of him like I did of Bush.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to see if G.W. has accepted my invitation to go for suds and an Awful Awful at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, despite the outcome of this week’s “Food Wars.”
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.