Bravo, Mr. President!
BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
As I sat back last night and watched president Obama speak before the joint session of congress, I was delighted to be able to say to myself, now that's the man I voted for. He spoke with eloquence, he addressed every relevant issue, and he was inspirational - but most importantly, he spoke with the kind of strength that the American people expect of their leaders.
Personally, I wanted to hear an unwavering commitment to a public option in universal healthcare, because in my opinion, that's the only thing that's going to prevent the private insurance companies from playing fast and loose with whatever policy is adopted. But just the sight of a strong and resolute president standing before me gave me the confidence that I could trust this man to do what is best for America.
I wasn't the only one experiencing that feeling, and I'm sure that the president could see it in the eyes of congress as he looked across the room. I hope he never forgets that sight, because when all else fails, strength and personal resolve will prevail above all else with the America people.
Just a cursory review of our history will substantiate that fact. Out of all of the presidents that we honor most throughout our history, each had various shortcomings, but they all had one thing in common - they didn't take no crap.
While these presidents understood the value of being a likeable guy, they understood that it was of more value to be an authority figure. So while they strove to be likeable, they strove to be likeable parents, not friends. They understood that while we like both parents and friends, a parent has the quality of being not just liked, but loved, honored, respected, and most importantly, trusted.
That's what I saw for the very first time last night - President Obama as parent. In the past we saw Obama the inspiration, Obama the superstar, and President Obama the mystery wrapped in a riddle. But last night we saw President Obama the authority figure, and it is essential that he nurture and maintain that persona.
The value of that persona has already reaped rewards. When Rep. Joe Wilson called out that the president was lying, his emotions didn't get away from him as he claimed when had to come crawling back to apologize, his outburst was calculated. Considering all of the rancor that had taken place at the town halls during the recess, he thought he was going to be received with wild applause and become a hero of the GOP. But to his surprise, when President Obama pause to glare in his direction, you could hear a pin drop, because by that time the president had established his authority.
The reason his GOP colleagues didn't rush to his support is due to a very simple psychological difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives made the perfect children. They always respected the ideals of their parents and authority figures without question. On the other hand, most children who grew up to become liberals were often considered "problem children," because they were independent thinkers and always questioned authority.
Most Americans, those who grew up to become moderates, fall somewhere in between. They became independent thinkers as adults, but unlike liberals, they still have a healthy sense of trust and respect for authority figures.
But the problem with conservatives is that even after they become adults, they never learned to think independently. Thus, for a conservative, if a person's thinking varies even the slightest bit from the status quo, that person is considered a bad boy or girl. They look upon the person in the very same way that they did in the third grade - as a child who refuses to listen to the teacher, or who doesn't mind their parents. It is completely lost on them that as adults, it's time to start thinking for ourselves. So they're the one's who are most apt to gulp down Republican cool-aid.
That brings us to why the Republican party has been so efficient at demagoguing the American people. While the GOP is atrocious at governance, there are none more astute when it comes to public manipulation - they have to be, in order to push an agenda that is invariably at odds with what's in the best interest of the people. But they know that they have a ready-made following that's been nurtured from birth to follow any one who seems to represent authority.
So since they understood from the very beginning America's fixation on authority, their plan of attack against President Obama was quite simple - to undermine his image in that regard.
Thus, even before Obama became president, the GOP began to attack his authority by claiming that he was nothing but a rock star, he hung out with terrorists, and began to question his American birth. Then immediately after he became president, a cartoon was published where two police officers (honored authority figures) saw fit to shoot him down in the street. Thereafter, Rush Limbaugh began to openly advocate that they work to sabotage his attempt to restore the economy and provide Americans with affordable health care. Then the GOP literally encouraged, while non-violent (at this point), armed insurrection at town hall meetings, all designed to undermine the president's legitimacy.
So while last night's speech went a long way towards re-establishing who's running things, it is incumbent upon the president to maintain his authority and always deal with the GOP from a position of strength. I can't emphasize this point too strongly.
We're dealing with people who in the past eight years have lodged a direct attack on the United States Constitution, literally wasted the lives of young Americans for personal and political gain, and have committed the most unconscionable war crimes. Now, they casually suggest secession from the union simply because they lost an election.
There is no speculation here. These people have proven that they're totally irresponsible, have absolutely no respect for American ideals, the welfare of the American people, or understanding of limits. In short, they're the greatest threat to America since the Civil War.
And yes, it can happen here - again.
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.