Back To The Classroom?
Copyright © by Len Holman, 11/14/10
Can you hear the rumbling of distant thunder? Can you feel the rising wind? Does the very earth beneath your liberal, optimistic feet seem to shudder and ripple? It’s not your imagination, it’s the stampede of wannabe politicians and commentators and wrench-throwers positioning themselves for the impending 2012 presidential election.
There are certain people—men and women—who come along when the time is right, when the conditions of the country and the world demand a leader, when people all over the globe, and especially in this country, seek guidance, hope, change, and comfort, and leadership. Barack Obama seemed to be that man; the rainbow ended at his feet as he glowed brighter than Oprah’s face on election night. That was then.
The 2010 elections just happened—which is like saying, for the Democrats and the President, that a bomb of a certain size went off over Hiroshima in 1945, causing some damage. The rainbow faded, Oprah is in her last season, and Sarah Palin is doing her best Nancy Sinatra version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” In short, the President of the United States is treading the edge of a crumbling cliff and doesn’t seem, or want, to know it—or if he does know it, doesn’t believe anything bad will happen to him. This is the same mindset that allows villagers in Indonesia to build their communities on the slopes of an active volcano. The president, in this regard, would seem to be right at home in California, where most of the population either lives too close to the ocean or too close to the San Andreas Fault. To say he is either in denial or is oblivious is to state that he and his party are in very deep trouble. So he WAS the man of the hour, but now is the man of this particular moment, and if he doesn’t sharply steepen his learning curve, he will be challenged in the Democratic primary in 2012, and if he doesn’t show the American people he HAS learned, he will be a one-term president.
Barack Obama’s problems are not all his fault, of course. If a person wanders foolishly off the beaten path and is mauled by a bear, which is to blame? The hiker has to be blamed for ignoring the “Caution: Wild Bears!” sign, and the bear has plenty of picnic baskets to plunder and doesn’t need to munch on our hapless and oblivious hiker, but she does. But the bear DID bite and the hiker is left to bleed on the trail (if he is lucky) and the park rangers can sit around the old campfire at night and argue the finer points of blame to be assigned. Obama has been mauled. He ignored the sign and was bitten severely and is bleeding. Will he keep on keeping on or will he make a turn? The thing about rogue bears is, if they get a taste for a particular hiker, they just can’t seem to get enough. If the hiker persists in thinking he was on the right path and goes back to it after leaving the hospital, bad things are bound to happen for him.
He now appears to be pissing off everyone. I’ll bet the conversations in the White House living quarters are pretty intense, with Michelle telling him to kick ass, and Bo barking angrily, and Sasha and Malia wondering aloud what happened to their Daddy’s chances of getting on a postage stamp, and the President pondering…well, just pondering. He couldn’t get the trade deal he wanted in Korea. He dithers on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy the military still uses to keep our moral tone alive and well. He can’t convince Republicans there is such a thing as global warning (polar bears are, by definition, not Republicans). He can’t get credit for saving a million jobs from the GM bailout, and he is castigated for being…for being Obama. The liberals are angry at him for not keeping his promise to turn America into an instant Progressive Heaven, and the Conservatives are angry because that’s what they see him trying to do. The so-called Bipartisan Committee on financial reform is going to make suggestions which—at the very least—need to begin an honest, open debate, but which already have generated fierce, nasty, passionate denunciation from all sides. Liberals want free donuts for all homeless people and government to cure every ill and fix every problem—and they want it today, while Conservatives want to zero-out the debt without raising any taxes. In short, Republican—especially the Tea-Party—hates Obama for trying to do what he promised, and the Liberals hate him for not doing what he promised. The man can’t possibly win and while the bear holds responsibility, it IS a bear, doing what bears are wont to do. The hiker, however, being a supposedly rational creature, needs to re-evaluate his behavior and get with the program. And that program is—given that the hiker wants to survive and flourish—paying greater attention to the bears and masking sure he gets no more claw marks on his L.L. Bean wardrobe.
Our President is very articulate, so it is quite surprising that he can’t communicate. He has done an absolutely awful job of telling me why he is doing a good job, and an awful job of telling the congress what he wants, and absent a Lyndon Johnson transfusion of arm-twisting plasma, will continue being above the fray, as they say. This is a problem, since no president can get re-elected being above the fray, or being SEEN to be above it. It is said the voters are angry, anxious, and unsatisfied with both parties, and all they want is for their government to work. Well, I wanted a pony for Christmas when I was nine and didn’t get that, either. It is also said that voter dissatisfaction and the resultant election house-cleaning is taking less and less time than ever before, which means politicians will have less and less time to get anything done, and will have greater incentive to play to the house rather than legislate, just to get re-elected so they can go through it all over again. It’s not about Obama, they say, it’s just the zeitgeist produced by MANY years of D.C. shenanigans. But it IS about Obama, who is so professorial that I’d wager he smells of chalk dust. Third-party challenges being what they’ve historically been, they can STILL hurt the person n the oval office—unless he rises up and calls down the thunder, or at least if he rises up and calls down some drizzle. Obama so far has called down nothing but increasing despair and contempt.
Did we elect the wrong person? Should we have gone with the one wearing lipstick? Is this all OUR fault? Did we expect too much and massively underestimate our problems? Whatever the case, Obama looks, right now, to be more suited working a classroom than working a crowd of voters. He can talk the talk, but the voters don’t think he walks the walk. It may be untrue. It may be unfair. It may be that Obama’s accomplishments will play better in the history books than on the next ballot. “Worn-out phrases and longing gazes won’t get you where you want to go,” the Mamas and Papas sang. Maybe our president should go back to school and let the rest of us try to figure it all out. If we can’t, then comes the revolution.
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