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Joan E. Dowlin Headshot

Stop Undermining the President!

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For a short time after September 11, 2001 anyone who dared to criticize then President Bush was called an unpatriotic traitor. Remember the Dixie Chicks?

But today when international crises occur those same folks pushing that patriotic fervor are quick to find fault with our current Commander in Chief. Whatever happened to putting our country first? It seems to me any global unrest becomes an excuse to bash our President for political purposes.

Take this recent shooting down of Malaysian domestic Flight 17 over the Ukraine. President Obama addressed the disaster the day it happened at an event in Delaware but he was criticized by pundits at Fox News and right wing radio for continuing his speech about building infrastructure. A case could be made that the President wanted to promote calm and business as usual on the home front. On the same day he spoke on the phone with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, who later put the blame on Ukraine.

The next day our President labeled it an "outrage of unspeakable proportions" and a "global tragedy" and asked for a ceasefire between Russia and the Ukraine and called for an international investigation into the incident. He also spoke on the phone to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razale, and Prime Minister Marke Rutte of the Netherlands over the course of the past two days.

In other words, he took the appropriate steps and actions to lead and stay on top of this international crisis. Yet, Senator John McCain pointed fingers at President Obama for not supplying weapons to Ukraine to help fight off the Russian rebels accused of this dastardly deed (whether it was an accident or not.) In fact, President Obama just two days ago announced even tougher sanctions on Russia for its involvement in Ukraine. So he has been taking actions, just not the military ones that war hawks McCain and others in the GOP have been pushing.

Then the Fox pundits, Sean Hannity in particular, compared this situation to President Reagan's reaction to a downed Korean passenger airliner by the Soviet Union in 1983. Yes, President Reagan, great actor that he was, condemned it in strong words, but it took him four days to do it and then he never took any action after that. Plus, it was a totally different world then. We were in a Cold War with the Soviets and things are much more complicated today with all of the unrest in the Middle East.

The conservative pundits will never talk about the Iranian passenger plane Air 655 that we shot down by accident in 1988 under President Reagan's watch. The United States never apologized for it, paid $61 million for the 290 victims' families, and no one was fired or held accountable for it. Talk about ironic hypocrisy by those who are so outraged by this.

I, for one, am getting tired of hearing about how "weak" our President is regarding foreign policy. Isn't it possible that calling him that undermines our country and our reputation in the world? He is not weak. He is not John Wayne (emulated by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush) but rather Cool Hand Luke. He thinks before he acts. He doesn't shoot from the hip. He takes his time and consults his advisors and looks at the big picture of any long term effects his decisions may create. This may infuriate the action hero testosterone crowd but I think it is the better approach.

Sure, there are statements and mistakes the President made that he would like to take back like the "red line" in Syria, providing more security in Benghazi, and domestically the "you didn't build that" (although that was taken outside of context), and "if you like your plan you can keep it" (which I think he really believed.)

But the vitriol and hatred lashed out against our leader is very disturbing and maddening. Many of it is based on lies told against him by his opponents (remember the so-called "apology tour" and "death panels" and the debacle over his birth certificate?)

A Facebook friend accused President Obama of raising his middle finger to Republicans from the beginning. I had to straighten him out by pointing out that right after Obama was inaugurated he invited the GOP over to the White House for a Super Bowl party, he played golf with Speaker of the House John Boehner after the 2010 election, he said in his address to the American people "even if you didn't vote for me, I am your President too." He wanted to unite the country. Remember his 2004 Democratic Convention speech about the red and blue states and how we are the United States?

It was the Republicans who turned against him from the beginning. The first day of his Presidency they had a meeting to devise a plan to defeat him. The Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president (we all know how that turned out.) Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said in the midst of our Great Recession "I hope he fails."

You can only extend the hand of friendship and have it rebuffed so many times until you get the message that it is pointless. And I'm not saying it's racial although there may be elements of that. The GOP did the same thing to President Bill Clinton, leading numerous dead-end investigations until they latched onto the Monica Lewinsky scandal and actually impeached him in the House of Representatives.

The irony is that the oppositions' constant barrages have actually strengthened the President. I have never heard him speak with more fire than after Boehner announced the GOP were going to sue him. He has become immune to the chatter on the right and has taken up this latest attack as a battle cry for him to "do his job" for the country as Congress has become the least productive branch of government in history.

President Obama has finally gotten the message that FDR, LBJ, Bill Clinton and even Ronald Reagan learned. You can't please the opposing party so you have to stick to your principles and do what you feel is right for the country.

I don't know if other Americans are sick of all of this infighting but I have reached my boiling point. I am seriously considering banning Fox News from my channel surfing as it just irritates the heck out of me.

I just wish we as a nation would get behind our President at times of international crises. Maybe that will happen after the mid-term elections, but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I am glad we have Barack Obama as our president at this time in our history. We need his calm, cool, clear headed approach to leadership at this time of unprecedented international turmoil. And if enough of us just get behind him, maybe we can once again become the "United States of America."