The peaceful transfer of power in the world's mightiest nation occurred today. Now, truly, that is quite a notion. Think of what that power really is, what is really means, the vastness of it. If you strove most of your life to obtain that level of power, attention, interest, influence, it must be damn hard to walk away, and damn hard to figure out what to do to fill your time, fill that need. George W. Bush didn't look too happy today, did he? "Let's get this over with" was written all over his face. Leaving office as unpopular and unloved as he is, seeing the crowd's reactions to Barack Obama, seeing their hope and need for the world to get better, well, that can't be too pleasant to take in. But I suspect he will reorganize it all in his mind to seem like a triumphant exit. That is what the Bush family does. This was not a family of great leaders, of people with exceptional character and intelligence and diplomacy, just some folks who decided that they WANTED IT and knew how to play the game to win. Sometimes that is all America seems to require: someone who looks like they can win.

It seems like this is so often all it takes to become a leader. Just stand up, look people in the eye, and say something like this: "I project a calm confidence, without being arrogant or maniacal. I look like I am sincere in everything I say. The content of what I say is not all that important, but it does need to contain the appropriate buzzwords to make people think I am well-informed and of somewhat-superior intelligence. I seem to have some kind of plan or focus. I don't need to ever detail that, but I seem like I would know intimately what those plans would be. I appear trustworthy, clean, honest, and someone you could leave your children with for at least an hour or so. I am presentable, reasonably fashionable, and attractive in some way. I know exactly the correct amount and kinds of facial expressions and hand gestures to use to underline my believability and humanity. I do not smell offensive. I seem like I would be a hard worker, but smart enough to spend most my time telling other people what to do. I have good teeth and a pleasant tone to my voice. I am charming in some way, and my tempered assurance and enthusiasm will cause you to think I am special, and put me in a position of power and prominence. Thank you."

I think if you pair that with a top hat, well, world's your oyster and such.

One out, one in. One side happy and hopeful, the other saying hell in a handbasket. Every four years, 'round and 'round.

Bob Dylan -- "Subterranean Homesick Blues"