Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Something's Bothering Me


Am I the only one waiting for the real Barack Obama to stand up? Not by a long shot, according to the long faces I talk to.

My mother used to say, “I’m not a mind-reader.” While I mulled that over, she would add, “If something hurts… or something’s bothering you, honey… tell me.” Her “tell” had a warm extra beat in it that made it easier for me to speak.

Mom isn’t here and I don’t know whom to open up to, but something’s bothering me—a lot these days. All the more so now that we have the results of the Massachusetts’ senatorial election and I have to live with a Republican’s rightful claim to the seat that Ted Kennedy occupied for 46 years.

I brought up my daughters in a similar, but blunter, fashion than my mom raised me. When either would hem and haw and say, “I don’t know whether I should tell you…,” I’d say, “When in doubt, spit it out.” They always did. Full of doubt today, I’m following my own dictum, starting with:

I don’t understand where the presidential hopeful formerly known as Change We Can Believe In disappeared to. The campaign trail’s great communicator has become the oval office’s stage whisperer. We charged his predecessor et al, the Bush-Cheney-Rove cabal we couldn’t believe in, or even believe, with paranoid, unwarranted, unethically excessive secrecy. What do we make of this Obama-Emanuel-Axelrod coterie? If they’re conspiring behind closed doors, what’s the plot? If they’re biding their time, what are they waiting for? I cling to my charitable notion that my chosen president is playing possum. But how long does a possum wait before he springs into action? A threatened possum is supposed to growl and raise his voice. This one, if (understandably) feeling threatened, is threatening to become Rip Van Winkle.

When I elect a president, I expect him to take office. Not the space, but the province, capacity, authority and performance. If he’s not prepared to govern, or is inclined to continue doing what he already excels at, gathering forces as he gathers force, let him keep running. If he wants to be a philosopher-king, he’ll be more at home on a mountain top than on Capitol Hill. I’d read and listen to him as I would heed the Dalai Lama. But I think this country requires a thinker who knows how to twist arms. Good intentions alone don't sway Joe Lieberman. FDR thought he could handle Stalin. Who has Obama handled?

How do we protect our presidents from their ivory towers? Will the real Barack Obama finally stand up? And if so, to what or to whom? He quickly became someone he wouldn’t recognize. In just one day short of one year from his inauguration day, the president has out-Cartered Jimmy Carter. Could anyone be that na├»ve? Could I?—I’m still waiting to see the White House strategy unveiled. Trigger-ready to say, “Ah, that’s what he was doing all along! There’s the genius of the community organizer, taking and building everything step by cautious step! How clever he is! And at his own expense, without regard for his image or the polls!”

But while I wait… and wait… my sanguine expectation buckles under the weight of the words of philosopher/theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Man is a messenger who forgot the message.” Has my chosen leader forgotten the message, the task, the objective? Has he become the establishment he campaigned against, specifically the embodiment of the anti-establishment voter’s bete noir?

The voters of Massachusetts aren’t any dumber than the voters of any other state in this country. In choosing against the incumbent Democrats and their agenda, not only have they voted primarily against national health care reform, but also, they have voted, astonishingly, for the status quo of ungodly bonuses, unconscionable greed, and unbridled further self-serving of establishment bankers and Wall Street brokers. Maybe 52% of the state’s voters are dumber.

Our most steadfastly Democratic state to all intents and purposes gave the country back to the people who left it in ruins. They opened the door to let the lunatics take over the asylum.

I still believe in Obama. I have no choice.

11 comments:

  1. Great, gutsy commentary, Ray.

    Reminds me of what Mark Twain said: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

    Yours,

    Tom Bisky
    [a.k.a. Anonymous]

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  2. Unfortunately, the chosen one doesn't have the experience or knowledge to make the difference all were hoping. Not to say, anyone else would have done better. However, the people voting out the presiding party are raising their voice in protest of a direction in which the country is heading...and they don't like it. Happy to see that the process is working. And that's why we live in America!

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  3. That's OK Ray,

    Everyboby believes in Fairy Tale figures at some point in their lives!

    Rik Misiura

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  4. and i 2nd that motion - the one you end on.

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  5. The good news (if there is any these days) is that the voters are seemingly bent on voting out incumbents of both parties. Since there are currently more Dems, they will suffer greater losses. The President's biggest mistake was handing the reigns of power over to Pelosi and Reid. It was an admission that he was mostly fluff and little substance. It seems he has become a man of mostly words and speeches and very little action other than blaming others for his failings. I believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, because my jaundiced experience is that fairy tales like Obama never end happily.

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  6. The real Obama did stand up for what he believed in: bipartisanship. I believe he cannot be faulted for the failings of those he tried to work with because America has safeguards in it to protect from one-party rule. Unfortunately, the Democrats to not have one-party rule. On the contrary, the Republicans abused every safeguard in place to stall the seating of Sen. Franken, to sabotage the legislative process, and to terrorize the democratic process in the form of machine- guns and hate-speech.

    In sum it is starting to look more and more like President Obama was never given a chance for bipartisanship by his entrenched opponents. Should this surprise us given the historic nature of his presidency? He is the first Democrat in a decade, the first non-southern Democrat since JFK, and the first African-American president in history. Was America ready for him? Enough to elect him were, but I don't think all of America was: http://www.gallup.com/poll/125345/Obama-Approval-Polarized-First-Year-President.aspx

    This goes beyond the pale of partisan politics. America is dying of disinformation: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/11/poll-gop-base-thinks-obama-didnt-actually-win-2008-election----acorn-stole-it.php

    Nevertheless, I stand by my claim about Obama's first year. I believe he accomplished more than any first-year president than FDR (http://www.slate.com/id/2236708/). However, it is worth noting that FDR did not have two mismanaged wars to rescue, nor eight years of George W. Bush to undo in just one. Furthermore, even FDR's New Deal, just like President Obama's health care reform, was held hostage by opponents who wanted nothing more than to see their incumbent fail. These nameless foes had found a new home among the leaderless rebels who authored most of 2009's miseries.

    Nevertheless, I am confident that nothing I say or write here right now will matter in 17 hours. Today is the President's State of the Union, and I think he will have more good news to share than most people will expect. I just hope Speaker Pelosi remembers to use her gavel the next time someone tries to interrupt him.

    Nevertheless, I think one thing is clear from 2009: bipartisanship is dead, but not because Obama failed at it. He didn't. Obama was criticized for announcing the closure of Guantanamo Bay. He was criticized for lifting Bush's ban on stem-cell research. He was criticized for attacking Somali pirates holding Americans hostage. He was criticized for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And he was criticized for telling American schoolchildren to do well in class.

    There is nothing Obama can do that one-third of the nation won't hate, and that is why I still stand beside him. He needs us just as badly as we need him.

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  7. I agree that Mr. Obama has done more in his first year than most presidents in the past. What President ever promised to END earmarks and immeidately upon takling office sign 9000 of them into law? What President ever trebled the deficit claiming that the more we spend the quicker we would get out of debt? What President ever spent his entire first year in office blaming his predecessor for the problems his own poor policies worsened? What President had such a poor grasp of facts that he was called a liar on the floor of Congress during a speech? What President (or any other world leader) was given a Noble prize after only 15 minutes in office? What President ever bowed before the King of any nation? What popular President has plummeted in popularity with 50% of the American people as fast? This rudderless president is now leading a rudderless progressive movement that represents the 1/3 of Americans claimed to hate him.

    Progressives throw numbers around like outfielders warming up for a ball game. Isn't it surprising to progressives that even though Obama's approval ratings are still in the 50th percentile that he can't get anything done? That is, no doubt, more because of the 23% approval rating that Congress and its progressive policies are weighed down with. Hence the victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Yet everything is still Bush's fault.

    Obama was an ineffective State Senator, then US Senator and now President. He has all the popularity of a JFK but none of the substance. Bribing Mary Landreau and Ben Nelson to get votes is not going to work with the American people. Unlike the prostitute Senators and Congressmen, most Americans have the content of character to just say no.

    The wonderful thing about America is that it is an ongoing experiment that quickly learns from its mistakes. Every few years the progressives come out of the woodwork like cockroaches, run around looking for some new government handout, and disappear when the RAID spray of the American voter scares them back into their dark pit of despair. We can all br Graetful to thomas jefferson for this phenomena and hope, for the good of the Republic, that it never ceases.

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  8. In response to Anonymous:

    What President ever promised to END earmarks and immeidately upon takling office sign 9000 of them into law? - Bush's plan to invade Iraq was one huge earmark on the books long before he was done stealing the presidency. Also, your spelling is all the evidence the world needs that No Child Left Behind clearly failed at its job.

    What President ever trebled the deficit claiming that the more we spend the quicker we would get out of debt? - Every Republican since Ronald Reagan.

    What President ever spent his entire first year in office blaming his predecessor for the problems his own poor policies worsened? - Were you asleep for the last decade? If so, you probably shared the same dream Bush had about a pre-9/11 America where nothing was his fault (including 9/11).

    What President had such a poor grasp of facts that he was called a liar on the floor of Congress during a speech? - Not even Bush was subjected to such a disregard for decorum. President Obama was interrupted by a Republican Congressman who couldn't get his own facts straight.

    What President (or any other world leader) was given a Noble prize after only 15 minutes in office? - Can't say I know what the "Noble prize" is. You got me there.

    What President ever bowed before the King of any nation? - Richard Nixon in 1971. I wish I could mention that awkward back-rub W gave Chancellor Merkel, but that was unfortunate for all concerned.

    What popular President has plummeted in popularity with 50% of the American people as fast? - Gerald Ford after pardoning Nixon.

    Yet everything is still Bush's fault. - Partial credit. Everything from January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009 was Bush's fault. Obama accepted responsibility for his personal failings this evening, but it's hard to govern a constitutional republic with zero support from the minority party. Cheney was not a big enough dick to turn American into a dictatorship.

    After that, you kind of lost me. All I remembered was something about "Bush's fault", and then what sounded like an old Ronald Reagan movie. All I know is I think you have subjected yourself to a little too much teabagging this past year.

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  9. It never ceases to amaze me how progressives, when confronted by facts that they are confused by ( which is generally anything factual), resort to either blaming someone else or silly name calling. I am not disappointed. Then again, Jacopo ( Jacob) basically means a person who transgresses moral or civil law ( to supplant). Please, don't get your panties in a not. I'll be happy to send you a used pair of my own.

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  10. He wasn't confused by your facts; He clearly refuted them. Then, in the same sentence in which you say that Progressives (all of 'em!)are confused by *anything* factual (a gross mischaracterization of the facts themselves), you talk about resorting to silly name-calling. Hypocrisy at its finest!

    You then continue with this ridiculous, spurious name-calling, misspell "knot", and end with a crude, unfunny joke. If you're going to spend so much time away from the Glenn Beck forums, you could at least entertain with some better jokes.

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  11. The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.
    Friedrich Nietzsche

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