Obsequiousness, and the “empty chairs” in the White House press room

I watched the press conference of President Obama last night, “Number 2” in a series, apparently, and I was really captivated by his remarks and responses to the reporters’ questions for the first 30 minutes.  Perhaps it was just the by-now odd scene of a President holding forth competently, even masterfully, on a wide range of subject matter in the context of an unrehearsed, televised press conference.  This spectacle is something we’ve grown accustomed to not seeing for the past 8+ years.  But then as if someone hit a switch, I suddenly became almost painfully aware of a kind of verbal tick of this young President that seemed at odds with the image he is or should be working to project.

Specifically, as if suddenly, almost uniformly President Obama’s responses to questions contained references to people not in the room, and not behind the podium.  More than once I heard the President state, “You don’t have to take my word for it, [British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for example] said the same thing.”  He also said, ugh, “and my colleague John McCain also questioned that.”  In purely logical terms, it should be apparent to most that just because someone says the same thing that you recently declared, or if they profess to believe what you believe, doesn’t mean (they or) you are right.  But on a more fundamental level, the brand of thinking that such comments reveal suggests that President Obama may still be grappling with the burden of winning the Presidential race, rather than making a smooth transition to effective national leader, actor, and commander-in-chief.  His remarks and responses, by repeatedly offering that, “I have this idea, and well, hey, look at all these other smart guys that agree with me!”, seem way, way too deferential to the viewpoints of those lacking the stature of, ahem, the President of the United States.  Mr. President, we care what you think, and know, and understand and decide.  We don’t particularly care whether others agree with you — indeed, we elected you with the understanding that you were here to shake up Washington, and to bring a much-needed, and different brand of responsiveness to the needs of the citizens to our 21st century political process.  We want results, we want you to lead us, and to lead the debate in Washington.  We want you to persuade us that you are right, that you are leading us in the right direction, and that you will get this country back on track.  Besides, you never know when one of the people you cite as a learned authority could become your opponent in 2012, or who could try to throw a big wrench in your plans for this country – you need to be more thoughtful in where you look for support for your decisions and ideas.  Essentially, if you mean it, if you do your due diligence, if you use sound judgment, and if you make the tough decisions that need to be made in order to get the Winnebago of our economy out of the drainage ditch and back on the road to recovery and prosperity, you will shine on your own, and all those other guys will fall into void of the historical obscurity that is the road behind us.

President Obama, have confidence in yourself, and in the righteousness of your ideas, and your well-reasoned conclusions, and insightful observations.  You know this stuff, you handled the press conference, otherwise, like a President.  So stand on your own merits, and quit quoting other, lesser figures as support for your positions.  It will only diminish your stature before the American people.

Kisses – KM


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