As you probably have heard—unless you are living under a rock whose wifi connection was knocked out by Hurricane Irene—President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening. You might think this would be the one occasion on which partisanship would be put aside in favor of improving job prospects of ordinary Americans and literature concentrators. Were you to think that, however, I’ve got some Orioles World Series tickets that I think you’d love to buy.
Obama initially requested to address Congress on Wednesday, the first day that Congress returns from its summer recess, which the lawmakers desperately needed to recover from the arduous work of destroying the nation’s credit rating. Unfortunately, that day happens to coincide with one of 20 Republican presidential debates (Obama claims that he did not foresee this conflict, as he thought it was merely an infomercial for L’Oreal products). Boehner denied Obama’s request, citing “security” difficulties, becoming the first Speaker of the House to ever deny a president’s request to address Congress and the first human being to reach near-perfect resemblance to a disgruntled potato. Astonishingly, it was Obama who blinked first, and the speech was rescheduled for Thursday. That Obama had once again diminished the presidency was clear to everyone other than Michelle and Malia (Sasha made a brief appearance on the “O’Reilly Factor” to call her father a “spineless jellyfish”).
So what have we learned?
Lesson one is that the media really needs to find a hobby. Knitting, lawn bowling, shark wrangling—I’m not particular (although Ann Coulter should really take up shark wrangling). It needs to do anything other than use its “gotcha” powers to take down Obama. After all, he has more problems than an SAT prep course offered by Anthony Weiner: months pass without the unemployment rate dropping even a bit, he’s constantly accused of being a socialist, and he wasn’t invited to the Kardashian wedding. Whether pointing out that the President’s scheduling was petty or inept or both, lambasting Obama for not facing down Boehner, or blaming him for the cancelation of Arrested Development, every political persuasion has something nasty to say about the President.
In fact, the press has gotten so bad that I almost jumped on Sarah Palin’s bus and deep-fried an economics textbook before I remembered that as an Ivy League Commie Pinko Who Some Day Aspires To Marry Her Prius With Jane Lynch As The Maid Of Honor, I’m supposed to be on the side of the lamestream media. But I’m also supposed to be on Obama’s side! Mom and Dad are asking me to choose between them, and all I really want is to be adopted by some stranger with even a smidgeon of common sense (Al Roker is the only one who comes to mind right now).
And that’s when I learned lesson two, which is the far more important lesson. The media hasn’t gotten this all wrong. It’s just like the old saying—even a broken clock is right twice a day (though it’s still the case that Donald Trump is always wrong). They’ve sensationalized a silly incident and blown it out of proportion, but if you look past the trees and take in the forest, the press is accurately reflecting the fact that Barack Obama has lost our trust and maybe even our respect. At every turn he has been bullied by an opposition bent on his defeat rather than our nation’s best interests, and at every turn he has tried to meet them half way. As a result, we’re at least halfway to economic disaster and picking up speed by the minute.
As despicable as it can be, the media should not be ignored. Theirs is a subtle genius, what with their ability to look beyond the smoke and noise pouring out of Libya to focus on Chaz Bono’s appearance on Dancing with People Who are Related to the Stars. So while the specific coverage of the jobs speech may indeed be as meaningless as Lindsay Lohan’s position on Palestinian statehood (she was against it before she was for it before she drove into a parked car), the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Obama is not.
Where are the Obamas of yesteryear? We need that guy from the campaign. We need a little Rick Perry oratory from a man who hasn’t had a lobotomy. We need Barack Obama to step up and become a leader.
And he should start by bringing back Arrested Development.
Brett Rosenberg ’13, a Crimson editorial writer, is a history concentrator in Cabot house.
The NSA and America’s Accountability ProblemIn fact, the NDAA is only one instance of a festering government problem since Iraq—the dramatic, Congress-sanctioned, expansion of executive power.
Disentangling a Debt DebacleA short-term solution to the nation’s current crisis, though necessary, will ultimately amount to no more than a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. It may and must stem the flow of blood for now, but Congress must dive into full-scale surgery to ensure the United States’ good health.
Raise the MinimumIn a recent poll of economists by the University of Chicago, a plurality of economists agreed that the increased benefits to minimum wage earners would outweigh the “distortionary costs” of increasing the minimum wage to $9.
Restore Funding to the Catalysts of American ResearchLimiting the ability of these organizations to give grants and fund important research affects research institutions across the nation, and Harvard is no exception.
IOP Director Chairs Panel on Political Gridlock at JFK LibraryFormer officials from different branches of the federal government advocated for structural reforms within Congress and greater public participation in the political process.
Hey! Hey! LBJ! What Can You Teach the President Today?Many yearn in a dismally nostalgic way about how successful Washington used to be. How a strong, charismatic, slithering executive with ample experience could mobilize a significantly divided, but ultimately competent body.