Barack, Where Art Thou?
Before I begin let me make this very clear: There is a difference between being culturally proud and politically aware.
Tonight we will hear the President unveil his strategy for Afghanistan. He will attempt to explain to his constituents why sending more troops to Afghanistan is the right thing to do. I will be listening attentively. However, unless you are deaf or don’t have subtitles on your television you have seen/heard the squawking. As the squawking becomes louder, President Obama continues to perform with a sense of ease. Even while juggling healthcare reform, two wars, and a funky economy one cannot help but notice the Commander- in-Chief’s calmness. Is he apathetic or just plain crazy? He’s neither. He’s “ambitious”. However, it seems that it has become an Obama ritual to soothe disgruntled Americans by holding frequent primetime press conferences, in which he presents a grandiose plan on how he can single handedly pull America out if it’s dire straits. His “superman-esque” rhetoric resonates with some, while others view his ambition as going overboard. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that he wants to keep me informed, but I do believe overexposure lends itself to letting people down.
In his first 100 days he quickly abandoned his bipartisan agenda for a more “pragmatic” platform. However, in doing so he upset the right as well as those in his own party. Mr. Obama has always believed that he was a transcender: he said he transcended race, class, and ideology. He has now embraced the label of “New Democratic” trying to separate himself from the Neoliberals lions that have dominated the party’s past and the very conservative Clinton regime. No matter what title he gives himself, his actions will continue to speak louder. In building his cabinet, Obama acted as a surgeon, and basically transplanted his economic team with the old Clintonites. But who can blame him? The Clinton years, for the most part were filled with economic prosperity and a profound growth in GDP. However, the problem arises when the President double speaks. He proclaimed that he would end the days of the smoke-filled back room deal making. Wrong. He allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to strong arm the Republicans out of participating in the drafting the Economic Stimulus Package; only presenting, the legislation to them in the wee hours of the morning. He promised to allow citizens a chance to see legislation for five days online before Congress voted. Wrong. Only two days passed between the passage and the signing of the Lily Ledfetter Fair Pay Act and there was no chance for public vetting. During the campaign season, Barack Obama said that he would not allow special interests to run Washington anymore. He put pressure on John McCain to divulge information about lobbyist working in his camp (including his campaign manager Rick Davis who was a former lobbyist). As soon he began to assemble his team, he gave free passes to not one, not two, but three former lobbyists. Is this because Obama is trying to appease too many people at once? Does he feel like he has a chip on his shoulder? It is probably both of these reasons and more.
As much as President Obama tries to restructure the way Americans think about politics and politicians, he must realize that he cannot change their thinking. It is not his job to change the mindset of folks; but rather it is duty to oversee the state-of-affairs to the best of his ability. Multitasking is fine, as long as he is doing the people’s business. Mr. Obama I’m not asking you to jump through fire-burning hoops or wrestle alligators. I’m asking you to deliver on your promises. Your legacy will not be judged by how many people you made cry when you spoke. Your legacy will be judged by how you helped restore peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and how you helped mend the broken economy. Stop trying to appease everyone. Don’t let your political agenda supersede the people’s agenda.