Tonight, when the President speaks to the nation about Libya, let’s do something different.
Let’s listen. Let’s listen, and then turn the television off and think about what he’s said. Mull it over in your mind, but only after having watched the thing and having imagined that the President was really talking to you.
You see, a lot of helpful people in the media think the viewing public is stupid. Well, a lot of them damned well know it. And the ones who don’t, have actually convinced the viewing public that, because they happen to be celebrity talking head on television, they know far more and far better what the President wants to say to you, and so they give you their interpretation and tell you that’s what he really, really, really meant to say.
Then they start bitching about what he didn’t say and should have said, and how he should have said what he did say differently. They twist and turn and bend and break down and analyse and parse his every word, his every inflection and his general body language to the point that one half of what the pundits do say is in direct contradiction to the other half, and that only confuses everyone.
But maybe they want that too. You see, the pundits all say – Right and Left – that the President has a communication problem. Some say he’s too high-brow, too elitist. Others say he depends too much on a teleprompter. Still more wonder how he could communicate so effectively as a candidate, but not as President.
Well, he does. I see no different in candidate Obama and President Obama. From everything the candidate said, I was able to ascertain that he was a centre-Left pragmatist, who patterned himself after his Presidential idol, Lincoln. He was never an out-and-outright Progressive, not even the type. His one remark about single-payer healthcare insurance amounted to opining that if the US were starting from scratch, where no one had health insurance, single-payer would be the way to go. His mere mention of the fabled and infamous public option was to give a nod to the fact that if it were possible for the government to offer some sort of public health option as a means of healthcare insurance, that should be considered also.
He promised to ratchet down Iraq and ratchet up Afghanistan. He’s done both.
But then, I listened to what the man said, all the while noticing various members of whatever live audience, watching his speeches with looks of abject rapture, the way the born-again religious fundamentalists of the Right look when they think they see Jesus peeking at them in the sunlight through the leaves of a magnolia tree. I’d be willing to bet these people are the ones stamping their feet and shouting about the fact that the President’s done nothing (they wanted).
Remember John McCain’s catty election advertisement which presented the President as a shallow celebrity along the lines of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears? Well, in part, Old Man McCain was right. So many people were so caught up in their pre-conceived phenomena and self-constructed celebrity of candidate Obama, that they invested him with the sort of qualities with which a teenage girl invests a particular rock star on whom she has a crush. Suddenly, the rocker represents all her hopes, aspirations and beliefs – when he probably doesn’t at all, it’s all in her mind and heart.
So it was, I reckon, a lot of people thought they listened to candidate Obama with their ears, but they were really listening with their minds and hearts. In a way, he captured the nation’s imagination similar to the way John Kennedy did – except Kennedy didn’t have the impediment of a 24/7 news media hanging on his every word and analysing his every movement.
The Rightwing call the President a tyrant, a fascist and a dictator in much the same way the Leftwing described Bush; but listening to some parts of the Left, I’m left with the impression that what they’d really like is a Leftwing Bush, and wish the President were more like his predecessor, albeit with a Progressive bend. In short, we’re all wanting Big Daddy, when we really have got a dedicated professor trying to get us out of the shitstorm the last guy left. We’re wanting JR Ewing, and we’ve got Bobby.
We’ve got talking heads who tell us the President’s a racist, we’ve got talking heads (from the Left) who tell us not to vote, who threaten the President with one term only, we’ve got others who, granted a Presidential interview, don’t deign to let the man get a word in edgeways. And we’ve got politicians who say outright that the President’s confused, that he’s a foreigner, that he’s weak, that he dithers. (Since when did “dither” become a euphemism or even a synonym for “deliberate?”) We’ve even got politicians from his own party, with degrees in communication, who condescend to say that a constitutional law scholar either doesn’t know or is in contempt of the Constitution. And then there are those who politicos who don’t trust the President to tie his own shoe without getting Congressional approval first.
Gee, I wonder why?
So, tonight, let’s do something different. When the President speaks, let’s listen to what he’s got to say. And when he’s finished, let’s turn off the television and think about it.
You might find that you’ve learned something.
No doubt many wanted to hear what they wanted to hear at the time. The one reference to single payer is a great example of this. He mentioned it once and not even in a major campaign speech but dozens of times he talked about healthcare reform in much different terms because he knew single payer would never pass and frankly we had gone beyond a one step reform to single payer anyway. Still progressives did not listen when he was basically outlining the healthcare plan he more or less passes with the final ACA. Even the PO was a late add on and not central to his campaign. I still remember when Universal healthcare was the goal but like many things progressives moved the goal posts as well.
There are dozens of other examples but still people judge him on what they wanted rather than what he said in many cases.
Sure there are things he didn’t deliver and I and others have criticized him for that on such things as Gitmo he was obviously naive. But I again expected like every president from FDR he would be more right leaning on national security. But he actually never pretended to be against all wars no matter what hence his decision on Libya.
I re-read the President’s inaugural address. Did we listen or read it?
Little did I know that the Party of NO, would work so diligently to obstruct the process that we could have made over the last 2 years. It’s really a wonder that so much has been accomplished.
There, you see – he said “ I thank President Bush ”!! BUSH III!!!
Sorry . . . I’m just a little annoyed with that segment of opinion at the moment . . . I just took The Nation off my favorites bar – there’s a blogpost by some assclown with the title “ What Obama Should Say Tonight About Libya ”, did he used to post
“ What Bush Should Say ”? No, he didn’t ( I just searched it ). All the comments are illiterate, moronic, . . . and liberal! Well, not quite as illiterate and moronic as teabagger comments. Did I say I was annoyed?
I did read it. My main impression ( I’m not sure if I have before, not all of it, anyway ) is of how clear, steady, and consistent his message has been since then until now – I think there are probably even some of the same ideas and images in the Libya speech.
Noöne listens to the President. Or a lot of people don’t. A lot — a lot – of people do not accept the idea of him as President, and they are not all teabaggers. And the ones who aren’t teabaggers don’t express it the same way as teabaggers ; many of them, doubtlessly, are not even conscious of it. They express it by not listening ; by not taking what he says seriously ; by pretending to listen and then prattle on about how he said something else. That is the treatment which is accorded to someone who is considered or presumed to be unworthy of any attention at all, or of any serious attention, or to be an object of mockery.
After the 2011 State of the Union, there were, not one, but two posts in the HP by liberal Ivy League academics which went through the address point by point, complaining about how on every point he said the exact opposite of what he actually said. Really. I could not make that up.
The current absolute horseshit on both sides about Libya is not merely disgraceful ; it is profoundly disturbing. It raises questions about how the country would function if there were a real crisis ; or if there might be a potential danger to our newly-rewon prestige and leadership. While the Libya address was superb, I sensed a distinct element in the whole ocassion of the speech itself which is unsettling – of the President having to explain himself again, when Reagan or Clinton could bomb anything they pleased and not even have to hold a press conference.
And, disturbance aside, the mere fact of it is just offensive.
Let’s not beat around the bush. And this comes from the Left as well as the Right … IT’S ABOUT RACE. The current crop of so-called liberals/progressives reminds me of their parents or their younger selves in the Seventies, pushing the Affirmative Action envelope as validation of their own liberal credentials, then systematically setting the standard higher for those people and nitpickingly criticizing everything they did until the person left the position. These people are no different.
At the end of the day, the Right don’t want a black man in the White House and the Left don’t want a black man in the White House who’s smarter than they are and who won’t do what THEY demand.
“ The current crop of so-called liberals/progressives reminds me of their parents or their younger selves in the Seventies, pushing the Affirmative Action envelope as validation of their own liberal credentials, then systematically setting the standard higher for those people and nitpickingly criticizing everything they did until the person left the position. These people are no different.
At the end of the day, the Right don’t want a black man in the White House and the Left don’t want a black man in the White House who’s smarter than they are and who won’t do what THEY demand. ”
Sorry, I just wanted to repeat that. That is it.
I have NEVER, NEVER for any previous President seen endless articles about what the President SHOULD do.
And when did it become proper to routinely refer to the President as “ Mr. So-and-so ” ( instead of “ the President ” or “ President So-and-so ”)?
January 2009? Seriously. That is something else I have NEVER seen before. It is trivial, but it is annoying. I could go on and on.
Have you written at greater length on this specific topic? The Left needs to be called out loud and clear on this.
Many black folks live with “annoyance” on the back-burner everyday. It’s nothing new for many of us. We LIVE the double standard. But I am totally disgusted with the treatment of President Obama. I know President Clinton or Bush was not treated in this fashion. I also expected that President Obama would be treated like a “Jackie Robinson”, but not be subjected to overt racism.
Hey, I’m in the middle of writing a comment about this! No fair!
But seriously, it is almost obvious that part of the reason for this speech is because noöne listened to the President’s previous statements. It is beginning to get disturbing, and it clearly has the potential to cause severe problems for the integrity, prestige, and leadership of the nation – this is the perhaps the most immediate and decisive action he has faced in his Administration, and the extent to which he is being simply disregarded is, not quite overtly, but in a sense latently visible. This is, in this aspect, subtle and as yet merely implicit, and it may fade ; but I am finding it troubling.