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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK



Since I had doubts about the President both before and after his election, I think it’s only fair that I say a few words on his behalf:

This ongoing balkanization of America, in which it’s become impossible for one side of the political spectrum to say anything at all good about the other half, has become increasingly ridiculous. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand why anyone would run for high office – especially someone with two young daughters who also stand to be thrust into the limelight. Candidates aren’t just vetted anymore: every tiny detail of their past is dug into as if they were a psychological experiment, and if their opponents can’t come up with some mud to sling their way, they’ll make something up.

Okay, so he imbibed in some mind numbing substances, years before getting into politics; if he’s not doing it now, what do we care? Sure, he ran with some questionable characters, but who didn’t at one time or another?

Let’s get something straight right now: no idiot ever gets elected to the office of President of the United States. Maybe Vice-President. A President may from time to time be naïve, stubborn, hidebound, reactionary, or out of touch, but nobody ever gets to that spot by being stupid.

In my opinion the most failed Presidency in modern history was Jimmy Carter’s, and he was a Naval Academy graduate who trained to be a nuclear power plant operator, for crying out loud. Wrong he is, in many ways (see inflammatory comments about racism), but stupid he’s not.

Let’s be a little more careful about the terms we’re seeing thrown around. I’ve heard the President called stupid, of course; I’ve also heard him called a Nazi, and although I’ve never heard any specific racist remarks from the opposition, I have heard him called a “monkey” – take that as you will, since plenty of people have made fun of the size of his ears.

Also, let’s think over this blame game a bit. I’ve heard the President blamed for an economic downturn that began with factors long before his election, and for a war that was started by others many years before he took office.

I’ll grant you that he did take some missteps along the way: supporting bailouts that tend to weaken free enterprise, chalking up a bigger deficit than any President before him, and putting some suspect people into positions of authority. He appointed “czars” who aren’t accountable to normal vetting or government chain of command, and whose positions thus might be unconstitutional. His foreign policy gaffs have upset the leaders of nations that are normally our allies. His administration is developing a reputation for great secrecy, and the closing of the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay still hasn’t happened.

Then there’s the war, and charges that the President is dragging his feet both on calls to retreat completely and other calls to get more troops in there.

At the same time there are rumors and baseless charges being spread about him that are, frankly, ridiculous. If you want to criticize someone, do it on the facts, not on whatever you happened to pick up from an internet forward.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the base of his own party claims he’s moving too far to the center, and not representing the people who supported him mostly strongly.

Yes, things were rough for George W. Bush.

Why, who did you think I was talking about?

No, I’m not going to go detail by detail and list my evidence as to why all those statements could be applied to both George W. Bush and Barrack Obama. You’ve got eyes and ears and fingers (well, probably) -- look it up. If you disagree with me and once of us doesn’t get dragged away to a reeducation camp, we must be in America.

My point is this: As far apart as Bush and Obama might be on many policy points, much of their Presidential experience is more similar than you might imagine.

Issues are one thing, and there are some wide voids between what Bush wanted to do and what Obama wants to do. In many other areas the differences are more ethereal, and more in the mind of their supporters and detractors than in reality. An example is spending: Financial conservatives had to hold their noses while they voted for Bush. Financial conservatives who think about about Obama end up with big bald spots from pulling their hair out.

Obama’s huge socialized medical bill? Bush pushed through the largest expansion of Medicare since the program’s creation in 1965.

I voted for Bush reluctantly the first time; I voted against Obama the first time, not quite as reluctantly but with a look at his politics, not his person. I suspect I’m not the only one who was clear on what was at stake, but not so clear on the men themselves.

Because, after all, these are people, and no matter how much we disagree with them they remain people. They eat, sleep, get tongue tied, love their children, and almost certainly go to the bathroom regularly. You don’t have to agree with their platform to consider the idea that maybe they really are trying to do the best they can for their country. If not that, then maybe sometime in the past, before all the ego stroking and trappings of power, they were once young and idealistic like their supporters.

So sure, disagree with them – it’s the American way. Complain about the positions and policies, argue against their plans and priorities, then come up with your own ideas and back them up with that old friend of ours, facts. Meanwhile, could we stop with the mud slinging? It’s starting to get awfully deep around here.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
irish_injun
Oct. 9th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)
President Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize. This article is well timed.
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:00 am (UTC)
Actually, when I first heard about the prize only an hour after I posted the article I thought the timing was horrible. A Nobel Peace Prize, with a nomination period that ended only 12 days into his Presidency? For what? I almost called my newspaper to have them cancel the column for next week.

However, when I checked I discovered the Nobel Committee's charter is to "encourage" efforts toward peace in addition to rewarding results, which is the reasoning of the left-leaning Nobel committee. I still don't approve -- I believe Obama's efforts will lead to more conflict in the long run, not less -- but they were technically within their rights.
enigmaticblues
Oct. 9th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this sane look at things.
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Winter's approaching, so this may be the last time you hear anything sane out of me before March. ;-)
makd
Oct. 9th, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Hear! Hear! Well-said.
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Thanks! you're a constant surprise!
deborahw37
Oct. 9th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
I like your style
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
my style?
I just wish you could read it in a novel!
sroni
Oct. 9th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Very well said. Thank you for a voice of sanity. And, please, feel free to call me on it if you ever see me making comments that you think are out of line.

I voted with Bush both times (in my mind- I wasn't actually able to vote due to the constant travel). I voted against Obama this recent election (again, in my mind- I didn't register in time to vote). But I didn't vote for or against the people- I voted for or against their policies, what they were running on.
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
Quite right, exactly how I feel. It should be about their policies and declared platforms, their past record, and who they associate with *if* it's on a professional basis or otherwise impacts how they would act in office. Leave their families and personal oddities out of it, please.

Now, you be ready to call *me* on it! When the other side is in power, it's easy to have moments of weakness.
kassto
Oct. 9th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
Mark, well done! The voice of sanity.


though you Americans can't spell ``defence'' ;)
kassto
Oct. 10th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Mark, do you mind if I link to this column in my LJ?
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
Absolutely, be my guest!
ozma914
Oct. 10th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
We don't seem to be able to spell well at all, over here!
sanggol_jade
Oct. 15th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
I thought it was strange too that he won the prize when's barely had time to actually DO anything...
ozma914
Oct. 16th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
Personally, I'm not too thrilled with what he *is* doing!

Stay tuned, my next column addresses the Nobel Prize specifically.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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