Sorry for the lack of attention to this site this week. I blew my wad last week with numerous, serious and soul-searching posts. Now I am sufficiently re-charged, fired up and ready to go.
I offer to you today the chance to view American theater. A certain degree of elan and showmanship is required for any public endeavor, politics definitely included. However, when that need for entertainment, for that 15 minutes of fame, overtakes the need for real substance or requires an attention span longer than an article in People magazine (which is perfectly correlated to the amount of time it takes to move one’s bowels), we are doomed. Life, liberty and them pursuit of happiness demands a much larger investment.
Remember in high school English class, we were taught to hone our writing skills by learning how to effectively compare and contrast? In today’s electronic netherworld of instant gratification, I will not require you to think or write. Rather, I present to you a few videos to satisfy and glorify the sound bite, the craving for that 30 second visual blitz and then, finally, the opportunity to move on past anything “serious” as we hunt for more microsecond highs.
I have included a video of Christine O’Donnell, appearing on a local conservative radio show, staying true to her canned information with an inability to go beyond that. When asked to use her head and really answer the questions, she declines, but not before she snaps her finger at an a nearby aide to extricate herself from a bad situation:
Avoidance is her method because stupidity is her dominant trait. If she were to be elected Delaware’s next Senator, can you imagine her, in that venerable chamber of government, calling in the goon squad to extricate herself from those situations that require answers, knowledge and preparation? This attempt to garner and keep the public limelight without any underlying substance would make the current filibuster rule look like it is essential and effective in enacting legislation.
Also true to American theater, the next three videos are of Jon Stewart’s interview with President Obama. However, to inquiring minds, this visit is filled with real answers to the questions. The information is substantive and specifically addresses each question. That is what can happen when you are dealing with an educated person who gives a damn for those he represents. President Obama makes no bones about it: he is more interested in helping the next generation rather than reaping the rewards of an immediate media benefit. What more do his opponents and especially, his supporters want? The GOP cannot stomach his dark complexion, and pair that fact with his smarts, willingness to work harder than anyone else and his cool demeanor, and you have an entire party that would rather obstruct everything about their President rather than better themselves to help the people they were elected to represent. This “help” takes time, especially when the exiting structural procedures for governing are obstructionist in and of themselves.
Two specific mentions of President Obama in these video’s hit home with me. First, his intentional, albeit gentle mention of Tom Perriello being a caring man of substance, who is running to hold his House seat in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, was a truth-or-dare moment in which the President challenged us to quit bitching and get out and vote to make a difference. Likewise his comment on the 10% of health care reform that did not get past as taking on more importance with whining Americans than the 90% that did get past was gutsy. True audacity is not subject to an arbitrary 18-month time schedule. There is nothing “timid” about vision, legacy and progress, which take time and patience.
President Obama IS all that he campaigned on. The electorate is the culprit here, having no vision or appreciation for the process of change. For those who criticize President Obama’s long haul in passing health care reform at the expense of a looming, high unemployment rate (an unfair and untrue trade-off), allow me my comments. First of all, economic cycles are a reality. Earnings, GNP, and unemployment figures vacillate on a regular schedule. This is not to take away our recent abuse of the system over the last 20 years which intensified the effects of this recession. Additionally and not proposed as any form of an excuse for today’s mess, previous administrations have bungled any long term outlook, starting with Ronald Reagan. His trickle-down economics set the stage for an even greater enrichment of the wealthy at the expense of the struggling middle class. Make no mistake about it: there was NO trickle-down effect. The new wealth went straight to the already wealthy. His encouragement of crippling debt, first in the government arena to supposedly bring down the USSR and then, in the private sector to take the onus of spending off of the government’s back, was catastrophic for our country. Nonetheless, this policy set the tone for the next 30 years. Also, the social safety net fell by the wayside as well. The strong survived and the needy fell to even lower depths. Remember when Reagan cut out funding for mental hospitals? That was the beginning of our downtrodden and homeless sleeping on the streets in droves. Reagan’s definition of democracy drew on the mantra of personal responsibility and independence and for those with no such options, they were on their own. Such a view of democracy makes me vomit.
Nevertheless, imagine if the President directed all of his energy to only the issue of unemployment. Pretend that we would have 100% of American people employed. What then, if health care had never been passed, and some of these employed people got a devastating illness, had no medical insurance, and were brought down to poverty and bankruptcy anyway, despite their existing jobs? Quality of life and government must include vision for the future, not just a knee-jerk response to today’s problems. Governing is not a 30 second sound bite, but a long-term process that includes not only reactions to current situations but also an attention to future problems. Unfortunately, the election cycle (which is pretty much 24/7 now) of our country coupled with the overwhelming desire for personal gain of our officials and immediate gratification of the electorate has taken over any semblance of sanity in running this country.
In his interview with Stewart, President Obama stands strong and true to all that he promised. In those famous Hollywood words (again, a nod to our culture of instantaneous wisdom) of Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise in “A few Good Men”, the twisting and bastardization of the word “honor” becomes clear:
What you see is what you get. No amount of jealousy or personal inadequacy can block the truth from surfacing. Barack Obama is a dedicated, honest leader. We will never have a smarter man holding that office. Plus, he is in it for the sakes of our children, their future, not for an uptick in the media. His leadership encompasses vision, which cannot be sacrificed for the sole purpose of the present. His agenda, while responsive to our immediate needs, is also invested in delayed gratification, for without a concern for the future, our past and present become irrelevant. Life is so much more than entertainment and governing must be much more than theatrics. Can the American people handle the truth? So far, not so well.