Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Introducing the 44th President, Mr. Stretch Armstrong

Point: Liberal Sister

I don't think I'm going to shock anyone by saying that I am a big fan of Barack Obama. Like so many of his supporters, I was excited and hopeful about what was on the horizon when he was elected - a new direction for America and a way out of the mess we'd found ourselves in for a long time. I still feel that sense of excitement and hope, only now with a touch of nervousness and frustration, and I don't think that I'm alone in that. Why the change? Simply put, I think Obama has gone from the guy who wanted to make things right (the right way) to the guy who wants to put a band aid on the dam (right now). He has an enormous amount of plans on the agenda, and rather than prioritizing and giving focused attention to each, I feel lately he has an unorganized and hurried approach to the bulk of the problems we face. Is he stretching himself to thin? If you ask me, the answer is a definite YES.

I'm certainly not the only person who has voiced a near-disappointment in the current state we find ourselves in; while his overall approval rating is about 59%, depending on what poll you look at, his approval ratings based on policies have slipped notably in the last several weeks, and opposition to his proposals is steadily on the rise. While many people want drastic turnarounds to the problems we face (economy, health care system, environment, wars in 2 countries, etc. etc.), it seems that it's getting harder and harder to get on board with Obama's proposed solutions, and as painful as it is to admit, count this Liberal among the doubtful.

Obama came into this job knowing there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed in America, but the pace at which he wants to solve every problem, while admirable, is manic. We all want America to be a perfect, shining beacon on the hill, but the hill is high and the rock we have to push up it is enormous. Obama knows this, which I assume is why he won't stop giving press conferences and prime time addresses. I get it, Mr. President - the last administration was a little lacking in the disclosure and reassurance department, but there is such a thing as talking too much. We know you want to change things! So stop talking about it and start doing it. And while you're at it, enough with the Today Show interviews. Yes, you looked silly in your mom jeans at the All Star Game, but does the public need to know how you feel about it? Or would they rather know if the stimulus plan is going to create real, positive developments in their hometowns?

There are no easy solutions to any of America's problems, but the work is doable, provided Obama and Congress get on the same page, with plans that have been carefully and thoughtfully considered - plans that keep the Lobbyists out and put the spotlight where it belongs, on Americans. I still have faith in President Obama, and I am still glad I voted for him. I hope he doesn't let me (or anyone else) down. That's Congress's job.

Counterpoint: Conservative Brother

Two things came to mind after reading what you had to say here - "Who is this person?" and "I tried to tell you!"

There's a scene in the movie "Beverly Hills Cop 2" when Eddie Murphy's character Axel Foley visits the office of a slightly off, scheming insurance agent played by Gilbert Gottfried. In an effort to get Foley to forget the unpaid parking tickets he had accumulated, Gottfried bribes him and says something to the effect of, "Let's say I've got something in this hand [cash] that makes you forget what's in the other hand [tickets]. You focus on this hand and think, 'Wait, what's that, I forgot what I was looking at over there.'"

Ladies and gentleman, November 2008 proved folks were looking at the cash in this hand, and the past few months are now revealing what we had ignored in the other hand.

By no means is President Obama the first one to try and jam a truck-load of legislation through in the first few months of his Administration, particularly with majorities in both houses of Congress to back him up. Back then, though, there were no 24-hour news channels, bloggers, and rash of pundits and commentators that we have now. It was easy for LBJ (as an example) to shove legislation down our throat and strong-arm Congress - even members of his own party - to get the job done without doing so in the glare of the public spotlight. But as Bob Dylan said, "The times they are a changin'."

Do I think that folks should have access to health care coverage? Sure. Do I think that we need to take care of the environment? Certainly. Do I think that we need to pile even more unfunded mandates on the American people and drive up the deficit more than it already has in the past few years? No. We can't pay for the things we have now; programs like Medicare and Social Security are on borrowed time; discretionary spending is out of control. Why in the world does anyone think that adding even more debt more heartache at a time when unemployment and personal debt are rising and GDP and a host of other indicators are falling? And if the true focus of the Administration was summed up in Joe Biden's recent acknowledgement that the country should spend even more money to get out of debt, then we're off to a good start.

My family has debt - but do I in good conscience think that I could go to my wife and say that the way to eliminate our debt was to spend more? Of course not, and whether they're saying it directly (like Biden) or indirectly (like the President) to all of us, how in good conscience can they do that to the American people?

An ambitious agenda is great, and I'll even go out on a limb here and say that I hope some good things come out of the next four years that benefit all Americans without killing them economically. I'm not one who hopes for failure so that we can get someone else in the White House or in control of Congress; if government fails, we all fail. The problem is, government has failed over the past few decades, and it's getting worse with every passing day.

And as far as your concern, liberal sister, about Obama talking so much and that you are at the point where you want to say "I get it!" I would ask this: who is he trying to convince that things are going to get better - the American people or Barack Obama?

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