Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold

My friend Mark Olmsted, who introduced me to the Huffington Post (HP), is now a blogger for HP and a darned good one. If you haven't done so already, go to HP and check out Mark's posts.

Generally when I read anything that Mark writes, I find myself nodding my head and going, "Yes, yes, yes!" However, on occasion, I do find myself in disagreement with his point of view, but our friendship manages to survive.

His most recent post, What's It Going to Take, Barack? A Screed, is everything that I've come to expect from Mark's writing--cohesive, focused, and provocative, but I'm not feeling him on his point of view. It's difficult to accurately summarize Mark's argument in a sentence or two. He is never simplistic and I don't want to misrepresent his views; please read his post for yourself.

I read his post as suggesting that it's time for Obama to take the gloves off and cease his efforts at a bipartisan approach. I don't agree and lay out my thoughts below.

I think that Obama is fighting in the best way that he can; he's the president of the United States, not Mike Tyson. If he loses his cool, comes out swinging, he'll play into the hands of his attackers by becoming the poster child for the angry black man. I think that the president understands that the only thing that frightens white America more than an angry black man is an intelligent black man and he is playing to his strengths.

His detractors continually emphasize that he is dangerous, a secret Muslim sympathizer run amok, a black man who hates the Constitution. What he wisely has chosen not to do is feed those fires by behaving in a manner that allows his attackers to say, "See, we told you he was a loose cannon." It's not the wingnut elected officials that are publicly leading the "Obama is the progeny of Hitler and Mussolini" contingency; it's Don and Ethel from small minded America. Those of us who support Obama, who support his policies, we are the ones who can get into the fray and take on the fight.

Obama has to stay above this. He can't take on Beck or Limbaugh. By even addressing their attacks, he gives them more credibility than they deserve. Rahm can't do it either. The labeling of Obama as a Nazi, the accusations of reverse racism, can't be given any credibility by his administration. To address them directly, to argue that they have no merit, gives them a semblance of merit.

I don't think it's accurate to characterize Obama as wanting to be liked. If the man was shallow enough to be in this because he wants adulation, he certainly wouldn't have chosen to seek the presidency. There has not been a president who wasn't despised by some of the people at all times. It's not about placating people, it's about Obama remembering what the nut cases do not--he's the president of all the people, even the rabid crazies.

There is a serious rift in this country that has the potential to destroy us. Obama's focus is on bridging the rift and moving forward with a policy agenda in the face of opposition. Please don't misread Obama maintaining his cool with being fearful or indecisive. He ran his campaign with the same sense of calm control. Some of his followers wanted him to take a more aggressive stand with his detractors. He won doing it his way. Obama doesn't need to call us to Washington. The tea party folks organized themselves; we can do the same thing.

Confession: I stole the title of this post from the Klingons.


Ms. Moon said...

Did you see Obama on Letterman? I just saw clips but he was SO cool, so calm, so collected. He is the right man at the right time in history and he is doing the job the way it needs to be done. That's what I think.

Gerry said...

I have read this post and the one previous which I could not think how to respond to, but this one is more moderate in emotion like Obama, and to me that confirms the truth of what you are saying, he did not choose to come across as an angry black man and so far has impressed many with his intelligence and ability to take the less emotional road to achieving what he wants. To me this has been brilliant strategy and he has done it far better than any president in my memory including Kennedy. I think he seems truly intelligent, no fluke, because his logic has been so outstanding even in talking to who some would see as his arch enemies and so has disarmed them and the country in the process. I am very curious too see how long he is going to be able to maintain a reputation as the most intelligent president most of us has ever seen elected. Gerry

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I so agree with you on this one. I have really enjoyed Marc's previous HP entries, I found the one you linked to be too confrontational as well.

Alan said...

I think Gerry got it. I TRUELY enjoy your writing and our conversations, but you are, in your heart, an angry black woman. I'm not saying this is without justification, or that the world doesn't need to hear what you have to say. I think both of those things are true. (You have certinly enlightened me on many issues.) But as I watch the "News" I see the Idiots and the President. He is always logical, rational, calm, intelegent. It won't win with the tea bag people(too much thinking involved) but it makes sense and if we could pursue his ideas we might make a change. Unfortunately, there is no mechanisim for this kind of pursuite in the system...

Sucks to be us. Alan

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

I agree with you completely. The President is handling things in a truly masterful way - LBJ would be proud. The tide is turning on health care; the shrill opposition is revealing itself as such. Their 'Palin' moment is already beginning to look tawdry, just as she did.

We just need to keep up the pressure; on our friends, on our representatives, on out communities. We need genuine health care reform - now.

But the Klingons stole the line; from the 19th century French.

Beth said...

I read a piece (it might have been in Time) that argued your exact same point. I did read Mark's piece, and although I see his point (and would love to see Obama hulk out at least once before I die), I agree that that isn't his modus operandi. That's not how he won the election, and to change his personality now would be to play right into the hands of his harshest critics. Honestly, I don't think he CAN change his personality that drastically.

The angrier that people let themselves get, the less rational they appear; the less able they are to think logically. The best thing anyone can do in a desperate situation is to keep their cool; my ability to do that has served me well over the years. I believe it is one of President Obama's best traits, and he is very smart to not abandon that.

Hugs, Beth

Nina said...

Accusing Obama of reverse racism would be hilarious if it were not so tragic.

From my (outsider's) point of view I think Obama is playing a good, clever game. Change of the kind of importance that he is proposing is best handled slowly to try and minimise people's anxiety and reactivity in the face of it.

warrior scout said...

change- inevitable, but not easy, and certainly not comfortable... ergo our countries current situation. there is so much hope nestled within individuals in our nation and as long as we don't lose sight of that, we can weather the "i have mine-so fuck everybody else" citizen's fears long enough to push through real change. i can't see any other way progess can be made. it's a peaceful, non-violent war we are waging within our own borders.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Well said, Sheria.