I cannot imagine a worse job than being President of these Untied States in these most trying of times. President Barack Obama has been under siege from every side for the entirety of his time in office. The poor guy just cannot do anything right. Passing health care legislation, wrestling 25 billion out of BP, turning around the auto industry and his many other accomplishments are simply ignored. The good is simply not good enough. In spite of his many courageous acts the common wisdom prevails that he is not tough, not all up in the Kool-Aid of the opposition. A notion complicated by the fact that those who oppose him are often on his home team.
Not tough enough? The guy is made of steel. Governing this wild kingdom of a nation is like a never ending episode of Survivor. Every week we send our leader into a shark tank with a bucket of bloody mackerel around his neck. Then when by some miracle he manages to come back alive with enough fish to feed the team we scream: "What? No tuna? No orange roughy?" "Is that the best you can do"? We moan, we wail, we shake our fists!! "Should a gave those sharks a what for!!" We cry. Then we bait him up again and send him back into the tank.
The recent hand wringing over the temporary tax cut deal is a true case in point. The president does not preside over only like minded citizens. He must govern for us all. I agree with Bernie Sanders on principle, but I applaud the president's deft avoidance of a show down in crazy town. A whole lot of folks most pointedly do not agree with Mr. Sanders or with me for that matter as the last election made exceedingly clear. Obama saved the bacon of the unemployed, assured tax credits for children and college students and prevented the middle class from receiving a bill for 3,000.00 on January 1. We seem to think that he has some kind of magic wand that he is refusing to wave. There just simply is no such thing. He is the president not the King and God help him. Really I mean that, God ... please help him.
The seeming horror of holding the highest office in the land makes me wonder what all this jealousy is about among the members of the Senate. Those little green men (and a few women) who are the true hobgoblins of our eternal gridlock. Poor John McCain has been so eaten up with jealousy that he has shrunk to near invisibility. If a Senator shouts in the woods ... and no one hears him ... is he still a Senator? Much of the argument about the issue should be taken up with Cantwell or Murray or Baucus those who clamor for permanent estate tax cuts. There were 12 Democrat Senators prepared to vote against you and me and our dear determined Bernie if the president had not made this deal. The ground shifts under that chamber so relentlessly that it is a wonder some of the older members have not taken a tumble down the aisle. Mr. Schumer is a smart smart guy, but he holds only one perspective while Obama must behold them all.
One of my biggest complaints (and there were so very many) about the Bush administration was that he seemed to care not a whit about those on the left side of the electorate. He did not seem to be my president. He did not hear my voice or care about my values and it hurt my damned feelings. It also demonstrably hurt the country.
I hear a constant refrain about Republicans. It is argued that they are pure and always get their way due to an admirable lock step in their party gait. The Republicans are finger pointers not problem solvers and I do not envy their approach to politics. The fact is they did not do much governing last time around. They did plenty of war starting and marriage defending, but, very little actual governing. There is a reason for that. Governing this nation is hard and truly thankless, but it needs doing. I most certainly do not want Democrats to start acting like Republicans. I absolutely never want to see Mr. Obama acting like Mr. Bush and if you do then I respectfully suggest that you go back on your meds.
I have great hopes for this president and for the future of this country. I am grateful to Bill Clinton, a man I have had my issues with, for stepping up and having Obama's back this week. It is something we are all going to need to do if we want progressive values to prevail in the end. We need to surrender this idea that political purity is the highest value. Good governance should be the goal. The problem with political purity is that it leads to purging on both sides of the equation. Can we really survive wave election after wave election without achieving the tiniest ripple of consensus? The notion that we lost in 2010 because the White House did not tack far enough to the left is simply unfounded. A struggling economy was not helpful, but every election is ours to lose and we lost because we did not support our team. Turnout among Democrats was terrible especially by the young and newly registered, the very folks whose future depends on the success of this president.
If we turn into the latte version of the Tea party threatening censure of all but the most purely progressive, this country will continue to be torn apart. Let's leave the wringing and the rancor to the Republicans. We are not a party known for its unity, but we are united in our desire to work for the common good and to bend the will of history toward justice. President Obama is not perfect nor is he a purist, but he is on our side. I for one intend to stand by his efforts on this mission near impossible. It is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it and so I pray may God bless him. Really, God please bless him, because God knows he is going to need it. And he is going to need us.
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