Tuesday, August 31, 2010


"He just said what most of us already think."

Recently Jim Cramer, writer and CNBC analyst on the show Mad Money made a statement which caused a lot of people to sit up and stare in astonishment (courtesy Moe Lane):
...if you are an owner of stock, any stock, if you are using the stock market for retirement or for savings to put your kid through school or to augment your paycheck, I think you are now beginning to see the silver lining of the miserable economic news: change in Washington. In fact, every time we see a downtick in the popular polls for the administration or Congress the large stockholders I know secretly cheer. They can’t cheer out loud without looking like Scrooge. Or they fear the wrath of Obama, which, on Wall Street, by the way, feels like the wrath of Nixon. It is, however, how many of them privately feel.

You know it. I know it. It is just that nobody wants to say it. Nobody wants to even believe it, as it so downright cynical. And, of course, nobody wants to criticize this president other than the people who are paid to criticize — the Republicans in Congress and various news entities that cater to the right. You take your public life in your hands the moment you do.
I'm sure Immelt (CEO of NBC) was on the phone soon after trying to find a way to fire this guy.

Now, while that may be very true, it also betrays a certain attitude about the president and America. Rush Limbaugh was infamous for saying that every time something bad happens for America during the Bush administration, leftists would secretly (and not so secretly in some cases) cheered, that anything bad for America was good for the Democratic Party. To a certain extent this is probably inevitable: when your party is out of power, bad things happening to the other party only helps you.

Yet there is a basic problem with this attitude which is all too common on the right these days, if not on the left in the past. The president may be a person you don't like, he may have positions and policies you can't stand, and he may be doing things you can see are mistaken, troubling, or even destructive. The president might be someone you fear or dislike, but the fact is he's still the president. And we're all in this together as Americans (and indeed the rest of the world, which is deeply impacted by the US economy).

I see various cute names applied to President Obama regularly on right-leaning blogs, such as "Obamao," "Chairman Zero," "Jug Eared Jesus," and so on. These aren't racial slurs, they're attacks on the person and ideology of President Obama. The left did this constantly against President Bush calling him a retard, a chimpanzee, a bloodthirsty warmonger, and worse. After eight years of the unhinged, frothing hatred and insanity of the left when it came to anything President Bush even was remotely associated with, it isn't surprising to see the right trying to strike back.

It may even be understandable at one level; understandable, but wrong.

President Obama holds the highest office of the United States of America, he is the most powerful man on this earth, and is a duly elected representative of the people. Whether you agree with his policies and ideas or not - and I definitely do not - he still is the president. And that office, if not necessarily the man, must be respected.

During the Clinton administration I fell into this trap all too often; I refused to respect the office because I saw the man himself as so loathsome a human being. President Clinton was hated by many on the right, and few of us ever even met him. That same attitude was extended to President Bush and now the cycle turns again, against a new President. Whatever we may feel about the person of President Obama and his policies, we have to treat the office of president with respect.

That means, in my opinion, no funny names, not even leaving his office off. He's president, so refer to him as that. Don't run down the presidency, don't badmouth him, badmouth his policies and ideas. Don't damage the office of president, don't run down the country's structures and leadership, run down what they do and why. I know that's a thin line but it is an important distinction.

It is always easy to slide into mockery and derision, sarcasm and satire - those are the traits of the immature and juvenile. Adults should not slouch into that without a good reason and only to address what someone does, not what someone is.

I've never met President Obama. I suspect neither has anyone else who is reading this. There are things about the man I respect such as his love of his family and his lack of personal scandal. There are things about him I cannot stand, such as his worldview and ideology. Yet there's a line we ought never cross when we deal with strangers, let alone someone in such a position of authority.

So when President Obama breaks a promise, lies, says something ridiculous, or pushes some atrocious policy, condemn that action and those words. Because if you're an American, the entire country is united and we should stand together as much as we can. Sure, we'll always have divides, we'll always have arguments, but we should do so as fellow Americans, rather than hoping for misery and failure on the part of others.

Do I want, like Rush Limbaugh, for President Obama's radical leftist agenda to fail? Absolutely, but I don't want him personally to fail, I want him to be happy, comfortable, prosperous, and safe, like everyone else. I want him to be retired, most of all. But I want to remember to respect his office.


Mal said...

I wish him success in the same spirit he has wished other successful Americans. That's fair, surely?

eric said...

Great post, C_T. I agree.

I have been a little disapointed in just how willing the right has been to act as childishly towards Obama as the left did towards Bush. It is always good to hear a voice of reason and restraint. The battle is about ideas, not personalities. Or at least it should be. When we lose sight of this truth we lose ground on the battlefield.