Immediately after watching the presidential address about the end of our war in Iraq, I turned to my wife-companion and asked, "What did you think?" She has remained a fan of this president through thick and thin -- and lately it seems to me we've been getting a lot of thin. My wife admitted that she found it surprising. "Why surprising?" I asked. "Because his speech was so drab, verging on cliché," she replied. We agreed it was a speech we might have expected from George Bush, indeed, Obama had discussed the speech with Bush, no doubt to make sure that it did not offend his predecessor's sensibilities since it dealt with Bush's war in Iraq. This president needs more than a redecoration of his oval office; he needs a rediscovery of the man so many looked to with hope and respect. As an amateur liberal I say this not to discount the good he has done, but to redirect him towards the good he must do. Yes, I know about the roadblocks that Republicans have put up to stop any progressive legislation, but roadblocks can be torn down, jumped over, and smashed if one exercises power properly. This president has yet to learn that. And until he does many of us are feeling the Obama blues.
The praising of our soldiers, the vets, and their families, is now part of the national template, the determination not to repeat the harsh treatment that the Vietnam vets received. But nowhere in that speech did one sense that we were being set up for another Vietnam in Afghanistan -- another unwinnable war in which the enemy was able to fade into the population because the enemy was the population. And nowhere was there a new, vibrant plan for correcting the economy so that the most endangered species in America -- the middle class -- can survive, thrive, and those vets will have jobs to come home to rather than more rhetoric.
Now a word about Republican John Boehner, the android-in-waiting to Nancy Pelosi; he who may well be the next speaker of the House. Boehner, who speaks like a snapping turtle if a turtle could speak, and looks like an imitation leather wallet stuffed with counterfeit money, is so filled with rage against the incumbent president and the Democrats that he can barely speak a civil word about them and he shouts "tax and spend" as if it was his personal mantra. He has no doubt seen more tanning beds than the Jersey Shore girls. And his comb-over politics attempts to hide the shiny bald spots in his rhetoric: that it was the Bush years that brought on this great recession, the enormous deficit, and the bail-out of the banks which began under the Republicans. There should be Boehner warnings just like the hurricane warnings we have been getting this week on the East Coast. Put strong tape on your windows, flee your homes and head for high ground if this guy becomes the next speaker.
Finally, we survived the great Glenn Beck rally which wants to bring "Honor" back to America. Now honor is a funny word. It has some biblically virtuous associations (be good to Ma and Pa) but it is more often the cry of honor that justifies the stoning of unfortunate women in the primitive reaches of the Middle East, it is honor that drove some defeated Southerners into creating the KKK; honor is often a sad gray word, dust in the mouths of demagogues, used to justify cruelty, bigotry and hatred. Restoring honor to a defeated Germany was the cry of the Nazis in pre-WWII. Misdirected honor fights duels; it wages wars, kills the innocent, and more often than not wears a deaths head. It is fitting that Glenn Beck and the good grey Tea Party love the word because when they use it, ostensibly to restore lost moral values -- all those values except charity -- it seems the opposite of compassion which may be the true meaning of honor.