In defense of the President

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand why anyone would run for high office – especially someone with two young daughters who also stand to be thrust into the limelight. Candidates aren’t just vetted anymore: every tiny detail of their past is dug into as if they were a psychological experiment, and if their opponents can’t come up with some mud to sling their way, they’ll make something up.

Okay, so he imbibed in some mind numbing substances, years before getting into politics; if he’s not doing it now, what do we care? Sure, he ran with some questionable characters, but who didn’t at one time or another?

Let’s get something straight right now: no idiot ever gets elected to the office of President of the United States. Maybe Vice-President. A President may from time to time be naïve, stubborn, hidebound, reactionary, or out of touch, but nobody ever gets to that spot by being stupid.

In my opinion the most failed Presidency in modern history was Jimmy Carter’s, and he was a Naval Academy graduate who trained to be a nuclear power plant operator, for crying out loud. Wrong he is, in many ways (see inflammatory comments about racism), but stupid he’s not.

Let’s be a little more careful about the terms we’re seeing thrown around. I’ve heard the President called stupid, of course; I’ve also heard him called a Nazi, and although I’ve never heard any specific racist remarks from the opposition, I have heard him called a “monkey” – take that as you will, since plenty of people have made fun of the size of his ears.

Also, let’s think over this blame game a bit. I’ve heard the President blamed for an economic downturn that began with factors long before his election, and for a war that was started by others many years before he took office.

I’ll grant you that he did take some missteps along the way: supporting bailouts that tend to weaken free enterprise, chalking up a bigger deficit than any President before him, and putting some suspect people into positions of authority. He appointed “czars” who aren’t accountable to normal vetting or government chain of command, and whose positions thus might be unconstitutional. His foreign policy gaffs have upset the leaders of nations that are normally our allies. His administration is developing a reputation for great secrecy, and the closing of the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay still hasn’t happened.

Then there’s the war, and charges that the President is dragging his feet both on calls to retreat completely and other calls to get more troops in there.

At the same time there are rumors and baseless charges being spread about him that are, frankly, ridiculous. If you want to criticize someone, do it on the facts, not on whatever you happened to pick up from an Internet forward.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the base of his own party claims he’s moving too far to the center, and not representing the people who supported him mostly strongly.

Yes, things were rough for George W. Bush.

Why, who did you think I was talking about?

No, I’m not going to go detail by detail and list my evidence as to why all those statements could be applied to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. You’ve got eyes and ears and fingers (well, probably) — look it up. If you disagree with me and one of us doesn’t get dragged away to a reeducation camp, we must be in America.

My point is this: As far apart as Bush and Obama might be on many policy points, much of their Presidential experience is more similar than you might imagine.

Issues are one thing, and there are some wide voids between what Bush wanted to do and what Obama wants to do. In many other areas the differences are more ethereal, and more in the mind of their supporters and detractors than in reality. An example is spending: Financial conservatives had to hold their noses while they voted for Bush. Financial conservatives who think about about Obama end up with big bald spots from pulling their hair out.

Obama’s huge socialized medical bill? Bush pushed through the largest expansion of Medicare since the program’s creation in 1965.

I voted for Bush reluctantly the first time; I voted against Obama the first time, not quite as reluctantly but with a look at his politics, not his person. I suspect I’m not the only one who was clear on what was at stake, but not so clear on the men themselves.

Because, after all, these are people, and no matter how much we disagree with them they remain people. They eat, sleep, get tongue- tied, love their children, and almost certainly go to the bathroom regularly. You don’t have to agree with their platform to consider the idea that maybe they really are trying to do the best they can for their country. If not that, then maybe sometime in the past, before all the ego stroking and trappings of power, they were once young and idealistic like their supporters.

So sure, disagree with them – it’s the American way. Complain about the positions and policies, argue against their plans and priorities, then come up with your own ideas and back them up with that old friend of ours, facts. Meanwhile, could we stop with the mud slinging? It’s starting to get awfully deep around here.

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