No Assumptions, Please

President Obama hasn’t been in office for even a week, and we Americans are already assuming that all politicians, agency chiefs and public personalities are as competent, good and forward- thinking like Obama.  Wrong.

I absolutely disagree with Maureen Dowd in The New York Times today:

Governor Paterson, while not a Blagojevich, is certainly no Obama.  Even if you agree that Paterson chose Kirsten Gillibrand as the state’s new junior senator out of purely selfish reasons to eventually bolster his re-elections hopes, Paterson is an intermediate level bureaucrat.  He is much more typical of our office holders than is Obama.  He is our average American.  Dowd is thus in error when she talks of Paterson making a stupid decision;  he is what he is and it is not, by any means, spectacular.

For us to believe that all government, all people working for the government, are now elevated to that same level of ability, work ethic, insight and personal commitment that Obama embodies, is just plain incorrect.  This is not pessimism; it is just reality.  A man like our President comes along maybe once in a lifetime.  However, that should not be an excuse for people to cease aspiring to emulate him.  It should act as a stimulus to make people try and duplicate his leadership.  Most of the time, simply because a person like Obama is so rare, this process will elevate people somewhat, but not to Obama’s levels.  If our general outlook, policies and moral standing are increased even somewhat, this “imitation process” will have been worth it.

Let me give you a few examples.  Former Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska held his office for decades, during which time he headed up important Senate committees.  To me, he was stupidity personified.  Instead of keeping his head down, immersed in facts and policies, he spent his time pushing for earmarks for his home state and finally, accepting measley gifts for his own personal enhancement, he was unceremoniously thrown out.  He thought, wrongly, that his years in the Senate would actually protect him.  He thought the trappings of power would disguise his mediocrity and self-importance.

George W. Bush was the epitome of of an American rising to his own level of incompetence.  The only job he held, pre-President, was the owner of a major league baseball team.  This job was purchased for him by his Daddy.  Oh, I forgot:  Bush also worked for the Carlyle Group, a conservative entrepreneur organization.  Their politics aside, they  made investments and turned those monies into even more lucrative returns.  The only company on which Carlyle ever lost money, before Bush ascended the Presidency in 2000, was a company that Bush was assigned to.

Bush’s Presidency consisted of using that office mainly for increasing the power of the executive branch at the expense of our citizens’ rights.  Just observing the whirlwind of activity during Obama’s first week, I can not help but wonder what Bush did every day as President.  To boot, his reign included the 9/11 catastrophe, Katrina and the meltdown of our national economy.  What was he thinking?  What was he doing?  The answer is: nothing much.  He was just being an average American.  Coasting. Resting on his mediocre laurels. This business of leadership is difficult, demanding some innovative thinking and then endless hours of implementing.

Being a bleeding heart and often inserting myself into the shoes of others, I could not help but wonder how Bush is feeling these days.  He is not an insightful, ponderous man.  Maybe that is a good thing now that he is out of office.  If he would ever have that “aha” experience about his Presidential tenure, he would surely resort to suicide.  But let us not trifle ourselves about this:  Bush will NEVER have that insightful moment about himself.

Republican philosophy or not, this is why a laissez-faire attitude to correcting our current situation will not work at this point.  Representative John Boehner, in response to Obama’s economic stimulus package, is calling for much larger tax cuts.  He is not supportive of the major programs, like infrastructure rebuilding, that Obama believes is necessary to put this country back on its feet.  Boehner feels the stimulus package is too big, too wide-reaching, too inclusive of all Americans.  Sure:  let’s just give the wealthy more tax breaks, ignore the hurting middle class, and call it a day.  Boehner just wants to reward the rich, his voting base.  Despite the fact that the Democrats can pass Obama’s plan without the Republican votes, Obama so wants this process to be bi-partisan, and is expending a huge effort to include the opposition.  This package will pass, with or without the nod of your average, run-of-the-mill, self-serving politician.

If nothing else, you all know me to be truthful.  Obama has two appointees that I take issue with.  Even though they may be very talented, their past behaviors are not suitable for a new administration who prides itself on integrity.  I can not stop believing that past performance DOES effect future actions, and I am leery of the appointment of Tim Geithner as Treasury head and William Lynn as Deputy Defense Secretary.

Geithner’s personal tax filings smell.  As much as he claims total responsibility for his mistakes, he should not be rewarded for them.  I do not care if he is the genius everyone says he is.  If he did this before, he will do it again, and this does not bode well for the Obama Administration.  Here is a solution:  let Geithner and Larry Summers trade jobs.  I am not crazy about Summers either, but he is a competent, experienced economist.  Geithner can take over Summers’ adviser position, and Summers can be Treasury head.  Basic premise: a person who has violated our federal tax code has no business leading that tax agency.

William Lynn, proposed appointee as Deputy Defense Secretary, has been a lobbyist for the Raytheon corporation.  This appointment, if approved, violates Obama’s new, strict rules on lobbyists:

Monkey see, monkey do.  It is imperative that Obama heed the rules established by his new administration.  No exceptions.

There is nothing wrong with being mediocre.  Heaven knows that the average American has a very full plate, working two or three jobs, parenting, trying to pay for a semblance of health care.  The crime here is that when the brass ring is offered, one must be ready to grab it, not ignore it.  One’s mind must always be open to that opportunity, despite the hardships of one’s current path.  This chance for betterment will include much more hard work and sacrifice.  The time for an easy way out, entitlements and the status quo is over.  Time to grab that brass ring:


This has been my 200th posting.  Thank you for reading and listening.


One Response to “No Assumptions, Please”

  1. amy lilley Says:

    Mazal tov on the 200th is a BIG DEAL, from one fellow blogger to another…you continue to amaze me w/ your gift of words and political insights, along w/ that special thing you have, a very, very big heart…..

    love love love…

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