Rob Douglas: It’s time to temper Obama expectations
November 7, 2008
In the spring of 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were slain by assassins’ bullets, igniting a summer of discontent marked by riots and the burning of American cities.
That August, frustration with the Vietnam War – combined with racial tension concerning the lack of progress in civil rights for blacks – exploded during the Democratic National Convention, resulting in violent clashes between protesters and police in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Forty years later, with a resounding victory, Sen. Barack Obama completed his ascendency as the first black American elected president of the United States in a raucously joyous, yet peaceful, Grant Park.
Although this historic event should be celebrated by all Americans, it now is time for those who voted for Obama with uncontrolled adoration in their eyes – especially the media that blindly rode the Barack bandwagon – to return to their senses. If not, the inevitable wake-up call of reality will leave a political hangover for those clearly drunk with Obamamania.
The deification of Barack Obama needs to end.
Too harsh, you say? Then perhaps you’ll listen to “The One” and his closest disciples.
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In a front page New York Times article Thursday, Obama sought to awaken the country from the spell he inspired.
“President-elect Barack Obama has begun an effort to tamp down what his aides fear are unusually high expectations among his supporters. : Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were startled, if gratified, by the jubilation that greeted the news of Mr. Obama’s victory in much of the United States and abroad. But while the energy of his supporters could be a tremendous political asset as Mr. Obama works to enact his agenda after taking office in January, his aides said they were looking to temper hopes that he would be able to solve the nation’s problems or fully reverse Bush administration policies quickly and easily, especially given the prospect of a deep and long-lasting recession.”
Let me translate:
“Uh-oh. My devout followers bought the promises I was peddling, and now these delirious believers expect me to actually walk on water. You disciples go tell the unwashed masses to tamp down their expectations. Oh, don’t forget to blame Bush. They always fall for that line.”
Truth be told, this doesn’t make our prez-elect a bad man. In fact, it means he’s just like the 43 politicians who preceded him.
And that’s the point.
He’s a politician.
Barack Obama is a streetwise Chicago politician who will default on many of the promissory notes he littered the nation with during the campaign. And Obama’s first official appointment of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff demonstrates that “change” must be in the jaundiced eye of the beholder.
Emanuel is a former Clinton loyalist known in Washington as a “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache.” And that’s what his friends call him. Emanuel is just the man to select when you have a partisan view of bipartisanship.
Had the press done its job, more Americans would have realized Obama was over-selling what could be done by him or any other earthbound human. Now, in a Shakespearean twist, Obama finds himself forced to do the job the press should have done by warning he can’t deliver on his deliverables. And yet, even with Obama asking them to stop, the press keeps marching on with studied ignorance.
For example, Obama’s directive to tone down the rhetoric evidently didn’t reach the New York Times’ Tom Friedman in time for his column this week, given his view that Barack’s election was the final shot in the Civil War.
“And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, the American Civil War ended as a black man won enough electoral votes to become President of the United States : the Civil War never truly could be said to be over until America’s white majority actually elected an African-American as president.”
That sets the American record for hyperbole.
Then there’s MSNBC political commentator Chris Matthews revealing how he perceives his role when it comes to reporting about Obama.
“I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work,” Matthews said.
When asked if he believes his job as a newsman is to aide Obama, Matthews said: “Yeah, that’s my job. My job is to help this country. To make this work successfully, because this country needs a successful presidency.”
Edward R. Murrow is spinning.
Perhaps now that Obama himself is asking his followers to get real, they will do so. But with the likes of Friedman, Matthews and the rest of the media echo chamber continuing to ignore Obama’s pleas for the nation to remove its collective blinders, there will be some heartbroken Obamaites when their sight returns.
I hope that is not the case, as we all need our new president to succeed. But we also need to be honest about Barack Obama and his efforts from this day forward if we are to succeed as a nation.
Let me close with a comment to my friends on the left. If you think I’m being too hard on our president-elect, wait till you see what I have to say to my friends on the right.