Who Wants To Be A Politician?
People, people, people.....
See, I worried about this. I worried that we were collectively heaping unreasonable expectations upon his slender shoulders. And such lofty expectations are almost always unmet. They can't be anything else because they are simply not grounded in reality.
Democrats set Obama up for failure by deifying him and expecting miracles. Now we're all critical and disillusioned.
Can you fix all the country's problems in three weeks?
No. You can't. And I can't.
Hell, I can't even get all the rooms in my house clean at the same time.
Harkening back to that implosion I referenced in my last post...
At that point, things were pretty volatile due to Bush's response to 9/11 as well as his handling of the Hurricane relief effort. Emotions on both sides of the fence were high and tensions even higher between the two political parties.
I wrote the following piece to try and lend some perspective to the matter.
It totally backfired, unfortunately, because my point was lost in the apocaplytpic frenzy that gripped the community at that time. Somehow, that post earned me a great big "R" to pin to my breast a la Hester Prynne. I also had the joy of being branded an egregious egomaniac, since I compared administrating my humble little website to running a country.
Don't make that mistake, please.
Because I think the point is still a salient one. I think it applies even today, under a different President; one who is struggling in a different, but no less public way. The only difference is that monkey on his back is a financial clusterfuck instead of a war.
It just isn't as easy as we think, folks. And if you can do better, I urge you to run for office.
So, without further ado, let's play....Who Wants To Be A Politician!
I am not an aficionado of politics. In fact, for most of my adult life, I have done everything I can to avoid them whenever possible. Unfortunately, I've been forced, by virtue of political unrest in my internet circle, to become politically aware. I am more informed on the issues than ever before, and truth be known, much of my ideology is surprisingly left-leaning. However, there are an equal number of issues upon which I am seemingly right-wing. In short, despite my heightened awareness and cognizance of the polarization in regard to my own beliefs, I still do not identify strongly with either party. I am the epitome of a fence sitter.
So, with that said, there is one thing I *would* like to say about the office of the President, and leadership in general. It is not an endorsement of any kind, or an expression of support. It is simply something that occurs to me, as a leader of sorts, and it’s something that I've learned over the course of the past year and a half. It’s something that I think few people consider when assessing his competency. I don't expect to change anybody's mind, and that is not my intent, since I don't have any hard and fast allegiance to him myself. Its just something I feel the need to address, as I am growing weary of the invective and blustering on the part of those who really have no practical knowledge whatsoever regarding the responsibility, convention and dogma of leadership.
In addition, I believe that a person's response to tragedy reveals a lot about their character. For some, the overwhelming response is..."How do we help???" For others, the predominant concern is..."Who can we blame???" And with the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, finger pointers everywhere are rejoicing that reason and purpose has been restored to their sad and empty lives.
They are blogging their little hearts out, conveniently forgetting the fact that a mere three weeks ago, their most pressing concern was whether Sami and Lucas would make it to the alter. You see…these are not political analysts, lobbyists or journalists. There is nary a law, business or political science degree among them. They are simply insignificant people living insiginificant lives, and watching the world unfold in high definition glory over the rim of their coffee cups. Yet they presume to opine upon the performance of people who have spent many years, and in some cases their whole lives, studying the political climate and grooming themselves for a political career. They feel free to do so, because their ass, after all, is not on the line. In fact, their ass is quite comfortably ensconced in a cushy armchair in a quiet little suburban enclave, where they live in obscurity and anonymity, far from the epicenter of politcal history making.
But I digress. Back to my original point.
You see...as a leader, people look to you to DO something. DO something, they implore you. Help us! And of course, as a leader, you are compelled to do what you can to address their concerns. You are acutely aware that any action you take will carry very profound consequences. Its a weighty burden, and one you are hesitant to shoulder alone. So you consult your advisors. They warn you of all the possible repercussions of every possible decision you could make. It’s a bleak picture, and whatever path you choose, someone will be adversely affected. It seems almost impossible to decide on a clear course of action, but decide you must.
The clock ticks, and with ever second that you hesitate, the people's confidence in you slips. Why doesn't he DO something? Doesn't he care? Doesn't he see the injustice, the inhumanity, the DANGER to his people? Why won't he ACT??? You feel their disappointment in you. You are acutely aware that they are losing faith. You realize that you do not have the luxury of time. Your decision must be made or you risk losing the respect of all those who look to you for leadership and guidance.
On the other side, you have your support staff, urging caution, reminding you of the rules, the laws, and the etiquette that governs your every move. They remind you of the folly of flouting those conventions, regardless of the greater good. They argue amongst themselves....there is dissention among those you most need to be a cohesive force and a unified voice. You realize that when it comes right down to it, you are utterly alone.
Then of course, there are the detractors. Those who are simply waiting for you to stumble. They salivate and rub their hands and wait for the right moment to pounce. They formulate their criticisms with great anticipation. They edit and revise and refine their reproofs until they are perfect in their clarity, stunningly clever and seemingly unimpeachable in their probity. When the moment presents itself...and they know that it will, they cast their aspersions with the confidence that comes of having time to think and rethink. It’s a luxury you do not have, and well they know it. You live every single day knowing they are ever present and waiting.
The stress mounts, the seconds fly away, and finally, with resignation, and tenuous faith that you have done the best you could, you make your decision. You wait for the public outcry. You are not disappointed. Those whom you have helped are quietly grateful. Those who disagree with you cover you with wave after wave of denigration, vitriol and righteous fury. You are vilified, verbally, editorially, publicly. The waves of contempt drag you under and pound you against the rocky bottom until you are battered in body and spirit. What you want, is to retreat to lick your wounds. What you really want to do is quit. You want to walk away and forget that you ever had the temerity to think you could do this job and do it well.
But you can't. You have to smile, and appear unaffected by the scathing criticism. You have to defend yourself with just the right degree of assuredness. You have to appear confident, but not cocky. You have to be gracious and humble, but not cowed.
Finally, the furor dies down, and you can relax. For a moment. Until the next time. You don't know where or when it will occur, you can't prepare, you can't forearm yourself. All you can do is wait, with the certainty that the next time WILL come. Until then, you try to remember and take comfort in all the good things about doing what you do.
So, what exactly is my point?? It’s a simple one: It’s just not as easy as it seems to be the one in charge. Nothing is black or white. Nothing is clear cut. There is more to making a sound decision when many lives are at stake than most people can ever know. And nobody, but nobody will ever know or appreciate the true extent of the emotional and psychological agony that goes into those decisions, except the one behooved to make them.
So I would like to offer a little advice to all those who feel compelled to criticize those in power. If you can do it better, run for office. Otherwise, shut your trap and be grateful that somebody is willing to put everything on the line to run this country, protect your way of life, and preserve your civil rights.
Somebody is working hard to give you the privilege of running your mouth.
Folks...give Obama a break. He can't walk on water or part the seas or cast out demons. And neither can he fix things overnight. I'm not saying we can't be worried. I'm not saying we can't disagree.
What I'm saying is...let's be reasonable in our expectations.
The man is only a man, after all.