Thursday, June 3, 2010

Leave Obama alone!

Slate Magazine (6.2.10) - "The backward party."

In this era of partisan politics, the most prominent media figure is undoubtedly President Barack Obama.  His first term has been interesting to say the least; he went from being revered as a pop-culture icon to drawing complaints from all over the political spectrum.  Personally, I've been on the fence about Obama since the beginning, although I definitely would have voted for him over McCain in 2008 had I been of age.  After reading this article, however, I have gained a new respect for our President and the way in which he handles his business.  This piece also prompted me to think more philosophically about what the American presidency really stands for.

Obama's opponents are constantly ripping on his eloquent speaking style.  They seem to think that he is trying to deceive us all with big words and fancy rhetoric.  It seems to me that the people making these claims are making reference to their own ignorance; in listening to the President's speeches and reading articles like this one, I can only admire the composure and logic with which he expresses himself.  He knows that his opponents trash-talk him in the media on a daily basis, he knows that people call him a Socialist, and he knows that people drive around with "NOBAMA!" bumper stickers on their cars, after only a year in office.  All this disrespect and still he handles himself with tact, firmly yet calmly reminding opponents that their party legislators have been stubborn since before his inauguration and still refuse to compromise on many of his plans.  People also seem to expect Obama to possess superhuman qualities, criticizing his response to the Gulf oil spill when he is obviously looking at the problem from every angle and trying to make the best decision for the US.

In addition, haters of Obama's healthcare plan should take a step back and collect themselves when it comes to their protest claims.  Those who argue that Obamacare is a step toward Socialism in the US should think about the fact that our President compromised his original plan a great deal in order to accommodate current values, while still taking power away from cash-hungry insurance firms and reaching a helping hand out to lower- and middle- class families.  For those who say the country never wanted this healthcare plan in the first place, it helps to think back to his campaign days, when that was his main focus.  If people really opposed the plan that much, they would have been much less likely to vote for him in the first place.

It pains me to see how much negative energy is pumping through the mass media these days.  Just when you think you've established yourself as an intellectually and morally sound politician, newspapers and TV start grabbing at every negative thing about you.  The sad thing is, in this information age, nothing is off-limits--childhood stories, gossip, internet history, testimonies of college friends, sex life--even Obama's citizenship was questioned in the early days.

The bottom line is this: we can only have one President.  The position has always come with a certain level of international respect, as well as local reverence in the name of patriotism.  Now, our Constitution permits us to be as dissatisfied as we like with our government officials, even to express our ill feelings about them through a variety of media, but does that necessarily mean that we should?  Many people go off on these politicians without stopping to really analyze their arguments.  Often times people can only see the bad that a President has done, rather than recognizing positive developments of the current administration.  For example, Obama just released a memorandum ordering federal agencies to extend fringe benefits to gay and lesbian employees.  This measure, while small compared to the bigger civil rights issue at hand, is still groundbreaking and shows that Obama cares about extending American liberty to all groups regardless of social discrimination placed on them by everyone else--an extremely admirable action by our President in my opinion.  Obama also announced in the beginning of his term that he would not continue to order federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and patients that were found to be in compliance with state law.  For proponents of legalization, this has meant more opportunities for growth and acceptance within their communities.  

My only hope is that someday Americans will learn to love the American presidency again, and that the media will learn to treat our current leader with as much tact as he has treated his opponents.  I, for one, have come to respect Obama in spite of the bashing.  He went into his first term bravely, facing a failing economy, an angry populus, and a controversial war effort.  Through the hardships he has persevered and continues to work on issues that are important in our society.  How much more can people really expect?  He's only human, after all.

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