As much as it hurt my heart, and roiled my stomach and ached my head, I read with interest Maureen Dowd's recent commentary, "One And Done?" in the New York Times. Her words and characterizations about Barack Obama's presidential pedigree and style made me uncomfortable because so often the doggone truth hurts worse than gas after pizza and cuts like a dull, rusty serrated knife.
In the case of the president that is being called spineless and middling by the blood-thirsty and his supporters alike, the real or perceived truth hurts particularly when I leaned toward believing that advancing, maturing race relations manifested itself in the election of an unflappable guy who, loosely speaking, looked like me; a man who called my old neighborhood his home, too; and who shared my astrological lineage (for what that's worth), given that we were born a day apart.
In Dowd's commentary, she asked a number of on-point questions and questioned the testicular virility -- as I would put it, not as she wrote -- of the first (half) black president.
She called the president "languid;" noted that he has "an acquired elitism" and "lacks the common touch," two deficits that Dowd contended will never allow Obama to be confused with Harry Truman or Franklin Roosevelt.
She observed: "Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed."
Oh. Damn it, Maureen!
How ironic that a growing number of liberals, racial and ethnic minorities, gays, lesbians and progressives are questioning whether President Obama has the gonads to stare down the emboldened, disrespectful GOP and always-on-the-offensive Tea Party while he pursues the forward-looking, middle-class-focused agenda he touted, when just a few years ago he so passionately and eloquently asked for money and votes from those supportive groups on the way to making history and shaking up the world more forcefully than Muhammad Ali could've ever dreamed.
It's incredibly ironic when you consider that testicular virility and African American men historically have been synonymous in America's eyes... at least in a sexual sense, and in a more sinister notion, when the topic is the insidious link between black men and crime.
But I digress. Soft of. You still get the point.
It pains me to read the caustically funny editorial cartoons and scathing newspaper editorials from folks up and down the socio-economic, public policy, political, educational, environmental and immigration ladders. Who isn't disappointed and angry about something President Obama has said or done -- or not said or done -- in the past year or so.
Persistently and disproportionately high unemployment, for starters, will undermine any leader of the free world. And don't be a black leader of the free world on top of that. You know, black folks could screw up a one-car funeral, goes the public secret in more than a few American households.
Here's why this Obama supporter is so vexed, so frustrated, so angry, so jaded and so angry he's feeling this way about The Black Man Who Wanted To Be King: In his ongoing politically calculated moves to the ideological center to attract reasonable voters and portray the GOP as intransigent ideologues who put their politics and party over country, Obama has come across to the critical mass of the masses as too intellectual, too cerebral, too thoughtful and too willing to compromise with people who just flat out don't like him and anything he stands for.
No matter how high the road he's trying to travel, in politics and in the eyes of the average voter, the frequent compromise and backtracking typically are seen as being weak, undecided and ineffectual. Think capitulation. Think indecisive. Think nebbish.
Think "one-term, history-making president."
Mr. President, you can't sleep with the enemy when the enemy isn't remotely attracted to you -- and wants to castrate you before the mutually satisfying sex that you'll never get.
So, Mr. President, here are two unsolicited, bare-knuckle pieces of advice from the streets and from a man who has your back but wants and needs to see a titanium rod in that spine:
First, internalize the fact that you simply can't embarrass the GOP into cooperation and compromise. Just like you only have so much control and influence over a person who volunteers their service. Just like you can't intimidate a suicide bomber who not only isn't afraid to die but embraces death. Can't do it.
Second, remember that if you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't, do what you think is best. Consider this slogan: "I might run it wrong. But I run it." George Bush earned a certain (perverse) level of admiration and political fealty because his value system drove his attitude and actions. He made mistakes at 100 miles per hour, thereby earning begrudging respect from across the political aisle.
Just like violence is universally understood, so is standing your ground. While I don't advocate physically assaulting any of your Beltway nemeses, regain the trust and respect of your supporters by figuratively hitting back; stand your ground relative to your vision for this country.
That ground, Mr. President, has transformed from once terra firma to Tea-filled quicksand. You will never get out of the pit as long as the rope you're tossing to the GOP is limp and contaminated, in their view, upon arrival. Never.
Truth be told, if they sustain the iron-clad grip they appear to have on the rope, know that they're going to fashion a noose to hang you in 2012.
Regardless of that prediction and an approval rating at an all-time low, stick your neck out now. Mean what you say and say what you mean. A second term hangs in the balance.
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