Two Presidents

When Barack Obama visited Ottawa in 2009 the city went wild. People were excited to catch a glimpse of him.

I remember that day well. As my colleagues went up to catch a. glimpse of Obama arriving on Parliament Hill, I stayed in the office to answer the phone.

After all, he’d only been in office about a month at that point. He hadn’t actually done anything besides win an election.

I suspect that, for many historians, that election win will be the high point of the Obama of presidency. While he may have had success with his domestic agenda, his foreign policy was in many ways a disaster. (Though in fairness, he did inherit some bad situations.)

I have no regrets about deciding not to see Obama that day. I’m also surprised that today I am going out of my way to see Obama’s vice president, now president, Joe Biden.

Biden will be speaking in the House of Commons today, and I have a seat reserved. I’m not quite sure what I did to merit the invitation, but I decided not to turn it down. .

Obama inspired people. I doubt Biden inspires anyone outside his own family. I do think though that history will judge his presidency kindly, If only because he has avoided the histrionics of his predecessor, Donald Trump.

I think also my attendance has to do with my age. I may not have another opportunity to be I the same room with the president of the United States. I doubt I’ll be sitting that close to him, but I figure it’s worth the inconvenience of a locked down city core to be able to witness a small part of history. (More about the lockdown tomorrow.)

While Joe Biden doesn’t excite me, I respect and admire his long record for public service. We might disagree on many policies, but I think he means well. Which is more than I can say about Donald Trump.

If you happen to watch the speech, look for me. I have no idea where I will be sitting and probably won’t be on camera, but you never can tell.


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