Forgive me for being underwhelmed by the president's jobs speech this week, but I've got other things on my mind. It's the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and I'm watching every TV special I can. Besides, if the prez has waited this long to focus on job creation, how important can it be?
For those Americans who lost a loved one ten years ago, 9/11 will forever be a day of unspeakable grief. For those Americans, like me, whose loved one survived the attacks, 9/11 is a date for profound gratitude.
But I worry that 9/11 has already become a triviality, consigned to one square on the calendar and the dustbin of history. What happened to our can-do spirit after the attacks, and the "Never Forget" bumper stickers? We seem to have become a nation of whiners, incapable of solving our national problems.
How else can you explain the mud wrestling between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner over the date of a speech to a Joint Session of Congress to put job creation on the national agenda? You think the White House didn't know when they scheduled the speech that Wednesday was the date of the Republican presidential debate? And you think Boehner was just going to roll over on that one? The White House seems so determined to make Boehner look petty that it's wallowing in the Jello-O, too.
I mean, c'mon, can you see the firefighters at the ground floor of the World Trade Center arguing like this after both planes struck on 9-11?
"Hey John, why don't you go first up the stairway to rescue those people in that burning building."
"Naw, Barry, I'll go after you go."
"Well now John, if we don't do something soon, that building will fall down."
"Haven't you figured it out yet, Barry? That's the idea."
Perhaps we should lock the President and the Speaker in a room and make them watch the new TLC documentary, "9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor."
It's the story of two employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bistate agency that owned the Twin Towers, and how they rescued 77 people trapped by flames and debris in the floors above their office on the 88th floor of the North tower. As construction workers, they knew the layout of every escape route. Their names were Frank De Martini and Pablo Ortiz.
As one colleague said, "They knew that their job was to go up, not to go down."
Now that's what I call public service. Pay attention, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker.
But ultimately, President Obama, you're the leader and this is your watch. You can't just complain about what the Republicans won't do and expect to be reelected. The nation is in too much trouble for that.
Your job is to lead. Start climbing those stairs.