Right anger, wrong reasons

Obama was a intellectually brilliant lawyer, an inspiring writer and orator, and from my point of view, a thinly disguised policy wonk with a problem-solving approach to dealing with national and international issues.

I trusted that if we elected this man president we wouldn’t be getting into any wars of choice based on emotion and groupthink. I trusted he would tackle domestic social issues with creativity and vigor.

It is hard not to feel some of the widely shared disappointment, especially when the leader I worked so hard to campaign for seems irrelevant in the halls of Congress and perhaps worse than irrelevant in the rest of America.

The president or his messaging and image staff is trying to fix that by taking his message to the country’s backyards in a series of drop-by meetings with middle-class, “everyday Americans.”

More than his failure to extricate our army from the swamp of Afghanistan, more than his yet-unfulfilled campaign promises to undocumented workers and gay and lesbian citizens, this is what angers me about the first years of Obama’s presidency.

My deep frustration started after the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, when American public opinion turned against President Obama for not displaying enough public anger. This country has enough political theater, so having a commander-in-chief who is a bad actor should be refreshing. Instead of rational solutions, legislative action and a quick and focused response, Americans wanted a show.

So President Obama gave them a show. And he’ll give them a show again as he traipses into white-picket fence backyards and tries his best to don the mask of an ordinary plain old Joe Schmo American.

The president is an extraordinary American, not an ordinary one. What has changed in this country that we would rather be led by those who best represent the mediocrity of the masses than by those who represent our gifted and talented — our overachievers? Hell, why fix our schools when having the best possible education makes you barely electable in today’s political atmosphere?

These backyard meetings are a waste of time for the world’s most influential leader. We have serious problems at home and serious problems abroad and the only time our president’s job depends on how folksy he can be and how many local hamburgers he can eat is during his election.

In 2008, he was able to make it to the White House with integrity. Apparently, unlike most voters, I get frustrated when Obama panders and pretends to cherish an identity he has never held and express emotions he has never felt.

I didn’t vote for a president so I could watch him get publicly, visibly angry at big oil or convincingly express sympathy for those who lost their jobs.

I voted for a president who understands his role in shepherding Congress toward regulating reckless industries and creating sensible economic policy.

I voted for a president to solve the problems, not put on a show about them.

Give us the real thing.

E-mail: swilensk@indiana.edu

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