Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Divider, not uniter

By Sherman Frederick


When, exactly, did the bloom come off the rose?

For a good many, I'll bet it was 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, just after President Barack Obama delivered another "sounds good, less filling" speech before a joint session of Congress.

After nine months, Americans have begun to make up their minds about this president, and the growing conclusion is this: On the menu of competency, this leader of the free world is one taco short of a full combination plate. He's undisciplined, snooty and less gifted than initially thought, making him ill-prepared to grasp greatness, even when history offers it.

Time and again, in a pinch, this president has shown himself a pedestrian thinker unable to move himself, much less anyone else, beyond partisan politics. Because of that (and I'm sorry to say it) his presidency is likely to fall short at a time when America could use a healthy dose of excellence.

His speech on health care "reform" last week before Congress illustrated the point perfectly.

That topic has devolved into a public brawl. Blame that on mean-ol' Republicans or wild-eyed governors from Alaska or "evil-mongers" from the rest home, if you like. But we can all agree that hardly any constructive conversations on health care have taken place in this country in the past 30 days. And that goes on the heads of leaders from both parties.

Now, enter the president. He steps up to deliver a "major" speech on the topic. People anxiously hope the president will recoup his legendary oratory skills to pull the debate out of the woods, onto a path of civil discourse and maybe, just maybe, to common ground. Citizens stand on tip-toe to hear their young leader cut through the rancor and lead the way.

And he makes things worse.

Instead of inspiration and consensus, he bared his ideological fangs and called his way the "moral imperative" highway to "real" (translation: "radical") change. He couldn't have been more holier-than-thou as he slipped into his trademark snotty tone to dismiss critics and further ignite partisanship. Instead of elevating the debate, he widened the divide, which I suspect now dooms a health care "reform" bill from passing Congress with any kind of bipartisan support.

Call it "Obama Fatigue" if you're searching to sugarcoat it and blame others. But this problem goes more to the leader than to the followers. You can bet that after this empty performance, many people now wonder whether our new president is up to the task of ever constructively leading our nation.

Look, if I may be so bold, Mr. President: A nation cannot live on eloquence alone. Speeches without substance wear thin quickly. And as was most painfully clear from your performance last week, the mere repetition of rhetoric, no matter how elegantly delivered, doesn't make the message any less partisan and divisive.

President Obama should have begun his address by highlighting the virtues of the American health care system -- the best in the world -- and then proceeded to outline incremental and understandable ways to make it better. Instead, all we got was a condescending, bravado-laden lecture.

As a result, health care "reform" is in deeper trouble than before and I'm afraid Democrats have come to the conclusion that their only option now is to slam home "Obamacare" over the heads of Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans, not to mention the objections of the American people.

If that happens, the president will have failed. And we'll all lose.

5 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Now I see his old pal, Oprah is also distancing herself from him:

"Oprah Winfrey may have been instrumental in getting Barack Obama elected president, but now claims she's on the sidelines"

http://www.tonight.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=354&fArticleId=5164439

Viking said...

Oprah back Obama against Hilary, showing her true "colors" lol. She chose colour over gender, and now she is backpedalling??

Doberman said...

What's the bet now Sarah Palin will be asked to appear on Oprah?

Anonymous said...

I think her popularity has plummeted since she threw her support behing him and now she's realised that the money is hitting her pocket - not sure why she cares as she's so rich as it is. I'm pretty sure she'll be retiring from her show once her contract is up. Getting hot in the kitchen.

Doberman said...

Oprah's audience was mainly white females and by supporting OSama she alienated a lot of her audience. It is no coincidence that she is now contemplating retiring now that her ratings are falling. This is a lesson to celebrities. Fame does not equate to intelligence. Nobody gives a stuff what actors and presenters have to say on issues. Just because you have a platform to speak shit does not mean you should.