Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where’s YOUR Apology, Mr. President?

Your Press Secretary has apologized to Shirley Sharrod; your Agricultural Secretary has apologized to Shirley Sharrod; dozens of journalists of the lame-stream media have apologized to Shirley Sharrod. Where, Mr. President, is your apology? And not just to Shirley Sharrod, but to the rest of the nation, who, once again, got a first-hand look at a cowering, indecisive, middle-of-the-road administration that can’t or simply won’t come to terms with the fact that its opponents are beyond being reasoned with.

Mr. President, you are at war, whether you know it or not or even whether you like it or not. But I suspect the biggest war being waged is the one going on inside your soul. You have fought the good fight. You have attempted to build a consensus between Democrats and Republicans, only to be spurned; compromised key components of your agenda, and in the process angered and distanced yourself from the very base that drove your campaign across the finish line in November of 2008; shrugged off personal attacks on your person that were racist and deliberately side-stepped issues that dealt with the underlining causes of that racism, perhaps not wanting to come off as some angry black man who hates white people, without of course realizing that your opponents were already characterizing you that way.

Mr. President, millions of progressives and millions more who could care less about progressivism are shaking their heads wondering who you are and, for that matter, what you stand for. It is quite obvious that you are a thoughtful and intelligent man. Given the intellectual limits of your predecessor that has been a refreshing change of pace. It is equally obvious that when the book on your life is written you will no doubt have a plethora of legislative accomplishments to look back upon. But the sad truth, Mr. President, is that those legislative victories might be the only solace you will take from your tenure in office. Because when push has come to shove, Mr. President, you have been wanting for a spine. The fact is that, for all his faults, it was your predecessor, and not you, who clearly knew how to take the bull by the horn and command the nation.

You have been the perfect gentleman, opting for reason, and believing that “the better angels of our nature” that your idol Abraham Lincoln spoke of would eventually prevail. Your naiveté has permitted the winds of discontent to thoroughly stir the waters of the nation. For a man so seemingly astute in the political arena during your campaign, your ineptitude as chief executive has now become your modus operandi. Even those who still like you – and there are a surprising number of them out there – openly speak of you as a one-term president. Congratulations, sir, you have lost a war without firing a single salvo. Somewhere Lincoln is spinning in his grave.

And now the ultimate ignominy. Your administration has thrown one of your own under the bus on the dubious word of your scandalous and shameless opponents and, upon learning once more you had been set up, you didn’t so much as have the decency to make a personal appearance and acknowledge the utter foolishness of the injustice. You let your agents do your bidding and wipe the egg off your face. At best they were poor substitutes. The buck stops at your desk, Mr. President, and this shameful incident demanded your undivided attention and a personal apology. But, once more, the silence has been deafening.

This isn’t Andrew Breitbart’s fault, nor Sean Hannity’s, nor Rush Limbaugh’s, nor any of the fake news “journalists” over at Fox News. Blaming the Right for spreading lies as fact is like blaming a dog for urinating on your rug. At some point you either get it that the dog can’t be house broken or you don’t, but you stop blaming the dog. The fault, sir, is yours and yours alone. You have proceeded upon a faulty supposition: that you could somehow get through to those whose intolerance is well documented and in the process show the nation what a real leader looks like.

It isn’t working, Mr. President. The dog is still urinating on the rug, and he isn’t going to stop. And the homeowner is getting restless dealing with the mess. The homeowner is the American people. They have had to sit and watch as a sitting president has been reduced to the character in Animal House who is getting his bottom paddled in the fraternity while repeating over and over, “Thank you, sir, may I have another.” You are not above this and the embarrassment is threatening to consume what little is left of your dignity.

The birther movement, the Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck, and what is left of the Republican Party openly mock and ridicule you at will, with nary a peep out of you. You are called every name in the book from socialist and death panel proponent in public to other far more hideous names in private. And it just bounces off you like you were made of teflon.  You cannot let this continue.

I realize that there are times when we must not give in to the temptation to lash out and, certainly as the President, you haven’t the luxury of speaking your mind and reacting to every farcical slight that comes your way. Politics isn’t for the meek of heart and taking criticism is part of the job description. But lying down in the middle of the road and allowing your opponents to drive over your carcass is unacceptable. By not speaking out against such attacks and repudiating them, you have, without quite realizing it, given them legitimacy. Shame on you, sir, for permitting that to happen.

You may have been handed the worst economic crisis to befall a president since Roosevelt, and you have certainly done your best to mitigate its effects, but as the leader of the free world, you have failed to lead. Your opponents do not fear you nor respect you and it is taking its toll on your presidency.

You can stop the hemorrhaging right now, Mr. President. You can hold a news conference today and publicly apologize for the conduct of your administration during this shaded affair. You can then look the American people in the eye and publicly apologize to them for being too aloof and too high-minded to see the forest for the trees. You can look your opponents right in the eye and say “The party’s over. I’m the President and I simply won’t stand for this anymore.” Afterward you can sit your chief of staff down in the Oval Office and tell him that from now on you intend to hold onto your principles and be the leader this nation deserves, no matter the cost politically. You can do this today, sir. You don’t need a cabinet meeting or a consensus among your staff. You are the President of the United States and, believe it or not, you get to chart which course this ship of yours goes.

Do it now, sir. Do it before this malignancy not only consumes your administration, but the country as well. Those who do not like you are never going to change their tune. Like that wayward dog that will never be house broken, the bigoted and the xenophobes will only see what their narrow-minded eyes will let them. You will always be a threat to them because deep down they cannot accept the fact that a black man is the president. Leave them to their torment, but do not permit them to stain your Office. For the sake of our nation you must develop a back bone and a fearless heart that knows no quarter.

If there was one thing George Bush understood it was this: you don’t run from your political opponents; you call them out and defeat them before they defeat you. It is the lesson of politics and it is a lesson you still haven't learned. The mid-terms are fast approaching, your party is in trouble, and your fingerprints are all over this mess. You can begin the process of cleaning it up, or you can continue to ignore it and pretend you are somehow above it.

The decision is up to you.

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