BENEATH THE SPIN * ERIC L. WATTREE
Healthcare: There was a 3 a.m. Call to the White House, and No One Answered
President Obama is in trouble. How do I know? Because as one of his biggest supporters, even I’m beginning to wonder if I got too caught up in the hype. While I’m still excited over the historic significance of his presidency, the gathering threat that he may be remembered as an ineffectual kiss-up to the Republican Party is beginning to tarnish its luster.
That should come as very bad news to the president, because if a supporter of my unfettered loyalty has begun to wonder about him, that means that tens of millions of others are thinking along the same lines. And based on his atrocious handling of both the Republican Party and the healthcare debate, he only has himself to blame.
In the real world, it’s not enough to have good ideas and the eloquence to express them, one must also have the backbone to wield power in order to bring those ideas to fruition – that’s the reason for seeking power in the first place. But the president doesn’t seem to have the capacity to do that – wield power, that is. He seems to yearn for a utopia in America where everybody is holding hands singing Kumbaya. We need a little realism here – make that, a lot of realism.
The president seems to harbor this burning desire to be loved by everyone. If that’s all he wanted he should have become an entertainer instead of a politician. In politics, the people are looking for a father figure who is fair, but also bad enough to protect them from harm, and President Obama is not demonstrating that capacity. In fact, from what he’s shown so far, he seems to be more adept at taking the coward’s way out. Everyone knows the type – the kind of guy that’s always running up to the bullies trying to become their best friend so they won’t get beat up.
No one wants a president like that, no matter how much they like him. The people want someone that makes them feel secure and protected. Sure, Obama is very intellectual and contemplative, but you can’t think your way out of an ass wiping when a bully’s determined to do it – I know that for a fact, because I’ve tried it with very little success.
The irony of Obama’s presidency is that if he fails in his first term – and if he continues the way he is, he will – it’s not going to be because he wasn’t cultured enough, or intellectual enough, but because he’s not ghetto enough. Just turn on your television and try to find a show without someone being busted in the head. You can’t do it, because Americans respect people who are willing to fight for what they believe in.
If he had just a little more ghetto in him he would have thrown Lieberman to the wolves thirty seconds after he took the oath of office. If he’d done that, the other Liebercrats who are currently blocking healthcare reform would have had second thoughts about the consequences of bucking his initiatives. Americans don’t want to be led by Jimmy Stewart; they want John Wayne, a benevolent bully.
The people want the kind of president who’s willing to tell congress what he wants, draw a line in the sand, then make it clear to every legislator that they buck the will of the American people at their own peril – then setup a special task force in the White House dedicated to nothing but educating the people with facts and figures about the self-serving motives of the legislators trying to circumvent their will.
Why shouldn’t the people know about the connection that Joe Lieberman and his wife have with the insurance industry? Provide the people with that information, then let him go before the cameras and try to look sincere. If the White House had that kind of operation, Liebercrats and Republicans alike would have to check their closets before they decided to buck the president.
But instead, Obama’s acting like that Black cop that we in the Black community know so well – the one who’s so sensitive about being accused of coddling Black people that he goes out of his way to be more insensitive than his colleagues. That’s exactly what Obama is doing to his base. He’s so fixated on appeasing the Republican base that he seems to be totally ignoring his own. As a result, he’s turning a blind eye to why he was voted into office in the first place.
But what’s so unfathomable is that as intelligent as Barack Obama is, he seems to be forgetting that, unlike that Black cop, he has to come back to the community to be reelected – and if he doesn’t spend the next three years undoing the damage that he’s done to his image, never mind the possibility of losing to a Republican, he may even lose the right to run again in the primaries.
The president seems to working under the assumption that being an aggressive advocate for the people is bad politics, so he’s adopted a strategy of trying to win by not losing. That explains why he’s pointedly avoided specifically identifying what he wants in a healthcare bill. He seems to feel that by drawing a line in the sand, every element of the bill that’s shot down thereafter constitutes a personal lost to him.
The fact is, that’s true, but that’s what’s called having the courage of your convictions. That’s why you fight, and fight hard. But he seems to have adopted a strategy of if I don’t fight, I won’t have to bear the embarrassment of losing, which by definition, fails the people who elected him.
This is not the time to indulge in political vanity – save that for the next election season. This is where the rubber meets the road. Now’s the time to put all the pretty rhetoric aside and fight for the people who believed in him, and gave him their vote in the belief that he would fight to protect their interest. But I’m very sorry to say, that he’s failing to do that, to the sincere disappoint of millions. He promised “a change that we can believe in,” but what we’re getting is the same old status quo that we thought we voted out of fashion – politicians first, then the people . . . maybe.
Mr. President, I have never dreaded writing any article more than I have this one. All of my instincts are screaming for me to hang in there with you, but the facts won’t allow it. Every time I go to write a sentence trying to justify you’re actions, I think about an email that I received from a young lady regarding my column. She simply said, “I really hope you’re researching the stuff you say in your column, because I don’t know much about politics, so I rely on you for my information.” So while I would love to give you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. President, my first loyalty must be to people like that young lady.
So, you need to man up, Mr. President, as we say in the ‘hood. You’re looking weak and indecisive: You’re allowing people from your own party to thumb their noses at you, you’re putting thirty thousand of our troops in harms way in order to chase one hundred Eastside Crips in Afghanistan, and you’re fighting to pass a healthcare bill that forces the public to by in, but without a public option. That, in essence, constitutes paying a windfall ransom to the insurance industry in order to protect your image.
But you still have time to change your course of action. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The Republicans are not going to like you regardless to what you do, but by deciding to go for broke in defense of the American people you might still have time to salvage your image in the eyes of your base.
But your window of opportunity is very narrow indeed. At the rate your image has declined in this first year since you took office, if you don’t do something fast – and I mean very fast – by this time next year you’re gonna be typecasted as a weak and ineffectual president, both at home and abroad. At that point you’ll be no more than a caretaker for the next two years until you can be voted out of office. Because believe me, none of your base, including myself, is going to support having a president kiss up to the Republicans for another four years.
Mr. President, I’m convinced that you’re a good, intelligent, and well-meaning man so I’m still pulling for you. But what I’ve related to you here is what many of us call, the actual factuals.
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.