No one who was alive last week will ever forget where he or she was when Barack Obama became president. It was a glorious occasion, full of hope and spirit and peace.

We made a large kettle of vegetable soup and watched the ceremonies unfold on TV. There was Dan Quayle and Al Gore, representing the ex-vice presidents, probably the least prestigious political club. There was Sen. Ted Kennedy, looking healthy and cheerful.

We laughed when we saw Dick Cheney wheeled out of the White House, too weakened by his eight-year crime spree to even walk to his limousine, but ready to beat someone to death with his cane.

There was Chief Justice John Roberts, deliberately sabotaging the oath of office in an effort to embarrass our new president.

The only thing that could have made the day better would have been to see Bush and Cheney frog-marched off the stage in handcuffs and flown to a CIA prison in Romania.

The inauguration itself was fun, but watching President Obama govern is even more enjoyable. In just under a week, he's done things that I thought were impossible.

His strategy is impeccable, kind of like Bush's playbook in reverse: embrace your enemies while marginalizing their opposition to your policies.

At a meeting with congressional leaders, the president silenced one critic by saying, in effect, "You may have a point. But you're forgetting one thing. I WON, bitch. So you can either get onboard or get beaten in the next election."

So even before he really begins, he's neutralized Limbaugh and the fascist talk-show circuit. He's given Republicans incentive to help him succeed. And he's building goodwill with both our friends and adversaries.

This kind of leadership - honest diplomacy tempered with masterful political gamesmanship - is something that's been missing for decades in Washington.

It's amusing to see the conservative media try and attack Obama. What enrages them most, apparently, is the level of support and patriotism he invokes from his supporters.

The conservatives mock Obama, calling him "the Messiah" and "The Chosen One" because, unlike any politician on their team, our new president is actually respected and admired.

If you want to talk about creepy cult religions, look at the way they worshipped Ronald Reagan, naming roads, parks and airports after him. Or the way they idolized Bush after Sept. 11.

If that's the biggest argument they have against Obama, then they're destined for failure. The repudiation of the conservative movement and the collapse of the Republican Party are the best things to happen to America in 50 years.

The best thing about our new president is that he is calm and measured and not prone to rash judgments. He has a grace and style and quiet confidence that will stabilize the nation.

I like the America I see now. For the first time in my life, black Americans, Hispanic Americans and poor white Americans feel like they have a friend in Washington. They know if anyone can overturn the rigged system, it's Obama.

It won't be easy. He will stumble on occasion. The forces allied against him are strong. The stench of sulfur in the White House from eight years of satanic rule is still overpowering.

Obama has pulled back the curtains and opened the windows to bring in fresh air, but it's going to take time. We need patience, we need strength and we need to remain unified behind our president.

The common man and woman haven't had a friend like Obama in Washington for 75 years or more. We can't let the forces of evil destroy him the way they did Carter, Clinton, Gore and Kerry.

Fox News can protest all it wants. The wealthy can try to stand in the way. But close to 70 million of us voted for change and, for the first time, we outnumber them.

We're going to do it, my friends. We're going to make this country the greatest in the world once again. We're going to fix the economy, restore justice, feed the hungry and earn the respect of the rest of the world.

I've never been more proud to be an American and I've never been more hopeful about the future. May God bless and protect our president and his family. And may God bless the United States of America.

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