Thursday, January 28, 2010

President Obama's willingness to get out front and lead will determine how this all ends

Let me say up front, I wouldn’t want to be president. I couldn’t be president. As I watched the coverage leading up to and following the president’s State of the Union Address, it again occurred to me the incredible amount of scrutiny that encapsulates him. Every move he makes, every word he utters is instantly weighed and dissected according to the purposes of whomever is speaking; objectivism in journalism has long ceased to exist if it even ever has.

Nonetheless, the president made a strong showing last night. However, it was not the triumphant speech that I and others like me had hoped to hear. Among other things, he could not inform the American public of the numbers of people finding jobs and returning to work. He could inform the American public that the economy appeared to be righting itself and even of the many successes of the policies he has implemented since in office, but he could not promise or pinpoint an end to the morass.

And most of all, perhaps most importantly of all, he could not inform the public of the implementation of a newly reformed and revamped health care system, insuring everyone had access to adequate medical care, that we had all so hopefully and urgently anticipated.

That being said, I think what President Obama accomplished in the main on last night was to get us almost back to the point where we were at last January when he first took office. It seemed then that coming off the campaign trail, he had an august tailwind behind him, propelling him forward. And with a solid filibuster proof senate, we just knew that perhaps finally things would get better for the country.

But then something curious happened. It seemed he took a step back and delegated his authority to others. We looked for him to be out front, but we could only see those faces who, especially for those who don’t follow politics closely (which is perhaps the majority of Americans), we didn’t know from Adam; most people didn’t even know who Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid was before the push for health care reform began.

Most people only knew that they had invested a tremendous amount of energy and faith in Barack Obama, and he seemed to be letting them down. It was at this point that progressives and others on the left began to get discouraged; it is at this point that his base felt that he was wasting too much energy and political capital in pandering to the right, chasing some elusive ideal of bipartisanship; it is at this point that the country began to appear as if it were spiraling out of control and people became frightened. And we all know that frightened people do not always make the most rational decisions.

Personally I believe that perhaps the bar was set too high for Barack Obama or any other politician for that matter. Personally I believe things got so bad under the last administration that people searched vigorously and expectantly for a miracle, a savior who would come along at just the right time and fix it all with one fell swoop, a wave of the hand and a reassuring wink. After all, in our most popular and enduring theatrical genre, the western, doesn’t some tall, swarthy stranger ride into town at the very last minute and save the day?

But we, along with President Obama, have gotten a hard dose of reality over the past year. We realized the he was not our savior and that change would not come overnight. And he realized that perhaps the complete overhaul of a completely corrupt system and bipartisanship were only chimeras; playing fair and by the rules only works when both sides are in agreement just as to what those rules entail.

So, the speech has been made, and it was a good one, a real hum-dinger, a barn burner. But we already knew the brother could deliver a good speech. We already knew the brother was a master of rhetoric. The proof is in the follow through. Has he gained the ability to distinguish ideal and reality, and has he gained the intestinal fortitude requisite to get out front and lead? That we will find out in the days ahead.


Citizen Ojo said...

Well done Sir. Well done..

Kim said...

I support my President and as far as I'm concerned he still has 3 years to prove himself. No one finishes a marathon at mile 10. Political dissent is very popular all of a sudde, as it should be. I just wish dissent for the actions of some black men a little lower on the totem pole was as popular. LOL

RiPPa said...

"I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president - which means, in our time, a dangerous president - unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction." - Howard Zinn

And here's one more from the renowned activist who was kicked out of teaching at Spelman for standing up for his students:

"What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but "who is sitting in" -- and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change." - Howard Zinn

May he rest in eternal peace.

Anna Renee said...

I think that people put too much on Obama, they know that he's no saviour but still expect him to correct everything, simultaneously at that. I agree with Kim. We know what a mess it was left in and can't reasonably expect one skinny man to fix it all in one year with so much opposition to boot! The Magic Negro he is not. Some people have even gone on to call him a failure! Can we really, in the first year of four? It could be me but I think black folks should calm down about Obama and let him lead in his way. He already told us he was skinny, but strong! We may find in the end that he did ok.

md20737 said...

Folks dont understand the part they have to play to ensure obama keeps his end of the deal. As Americans we have to read, write, and communicate with our represenatives. If we dont let them know we are watching them and know whats supposed to go on versus whats going on, things will never change.

I hope people quickly realize Obama is not Jesus and is not here to save us all. Thanks great post!!

Marbles said...

Zinn was right. Nothing truly constructive will happen unless people make it clear that they will stand for nothing less. Unfortunately, I don't have much faith in that. Americans, on the whole, are woefully ignorant. Much of the time, when they do get riled up and passionate, it's over incoherent nonsense like most of the Tea Party junk. (And, to be fair, a lot of unfocused, pile-it-on lefty protests).

I didn't like Obama's SOTU speech because to me it was just the same old, same old. Too much pretty poetry and too little adult talk. He made up for that today with his walking into the lions' den, though. Now THAT was some good stuff.

Charles J said...

I agree with all the posts above. We are the people of this country and we are the one's that dictate to lawmakers what we want. We were all so happy to hear that change was coming, but many of us forgot that change can only come if we do something and not just talk about it, but actively write and call the lawmakers to make sure they stay on task.

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