The Onliest One

Barack headlined a classy inaugural today. 44 ascended, with grace, accepting the keys to the gate of the greatest nation man has known.
George W. Bush on Tuesday brought the curtain down silently on his turbulent eight-year presidency, taking a final stroll in the Oval Office and bidding an emotional goodbye to loyal aides.
It was a good day for White America, as watching on TV, one had the distinct impression that this day belonged to Black America. It's good that Black America got to be part of such an elegant day - one that was held on behalf of a man they view as one of their own.
Mr. Bush said not a word in public before leaving Washington for his home state of Texas, but gave a private speech to former staffers at the air force base that is home to Air Force One, now President Barack Obama's airplane.
Black America deserved to have a day like this, and now that it has happened, perhaps it will make it harder for those who wish to keep us fixated on skin color, rather than character content, to get away with it.
In his last hours before leaving office, Mr. Bush spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and former White House chief of staff Andy Card... Mr. Bush also took a final walk through the Oval Office and "gave me a big kiss on the forehead, which I will never forget," Ms. Perino said as she cheerfully handed out candies in boxes emblazoned with the presidential seal.
In the meantime, a symbolic change has taken place. A class of people that has felt closed out from power now knows the feeling of being on the inside. This is a good thing, one that can allow individuals to focus on the course of their lives being the result of self-determination, rather than victimhood.
For the first time since January 20, 2001, his helicopter was not called "Marine One" and the airplane was not "Air Force One" -- both call signs reserved for the U.S. president in office.
As President Bush flies out for suburban life in Texas - just another man in a McMansion on another soulless cul-de-sac, and Barack moves his family into the White House, we are reminded of the great thing our nation has achieved. In a moment, one leader goes from the center of power to the outside, having graciously handed off the baton to the next in line, in orderly, civilized transition. The power is not theirs - it is on loan from We, the People.
Mr. Bush, who avoided major controversy with his final pardons, also made a point of co-operating extensively with President Obama on his transition to power -- the first since the terrorist strikes seven years ago.
The most powerful part for me, personally, was watching President Bush climb the stairs to the helicopter after sharing hugs with the Obamas. This I found moving - in the flash of a moment, he goes from being the Only One to the Lonely One - the victim of the orderly change of power.
That spirit was evident barely two hours before President Obama's swearing in, as Mr. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush gave Obama and wife Michelle Obama a warm welcome of handshakes and kisses under the White House's north portico before the ritual coffee chat.
Presidents were important men, in my mind, until Bill Clinton was elected. Since then, I view them, more appropriately, mostly as people whose lust for power is so bloated that they must be seen as flawed. Now, my esteem is reserved for the office rather than the man who holds it. Tomorrow, the race thrill should be put on the back burner, where it belongs, and Barack will just be the guy in charge - holding the keys to the Republic until the rise of 45.