The Obama (In)Difference
by Lisa Fritsch (bio)
One word comes to mind for describing Barack Obama's tenure since last year's election: indifference.
It's a vast contrast from the "hope" and "change" Obama peddled to voters on the campaign trail. It's not that he doesn't aspire to hope or change. It's just that his definitions seems to have little to do with the desires most of the rest of the American people.
He knows his ideas are unpopular, yet President Obama remains stubbornly indifferent to the voices of his consituency. He is petulant toward dissenting voices.
Whether it is health care reform, the chase for the Olympics, the war in Afghanistan or the "stimulus" package, Obama clearly believes his agenda is more important than the will of the American people.
Health care reform is the most obvious example. Satisfaction in personal health care quality and coverage ranges between 88 percent and 67 percent in recent polls. Yet Obama wants to fundamentally change it under the guise of making it better. And, despite health care falling behind the economy and the war in Afghanistan in public importance, Obama puts it at the top of his to-do list. He also appears nonchalant about the huge deficits and peril such a plan will inflict on our economy.
Obama ignored the rallies and town halls where so many Americans loudly spoke out against a costly and untimely government takeover of a sixth of the economy. It is not the change he craves.
Then there is Obama's "dithering" on Afghanistan. After campaigning on a platform of making Afghanistan a priority, it was recently revealed he met only twice with his commander in the field there during the first six month of General Stanley McChrystal's tenure. He gave a thumbs-up to the fraud-plagued presidential election there. Commanders now wait for Obama to decide on a request to send in reinforcements.
It makes Obama's recent late-night trip to Dover to meet returning caskets seem callous. He must work with General McCrystal as often as necessary, support the mission wholeheartedly, and protect the soldiers already there.
Finally, Obama's quest to bring the Olympics to his adoptive hometown of Chicago seemed more personal than altruistic. With the public already skeptical of "stimulus" spending, why did he believe Americans wanted to subsidize an international sporting event as well?
As the International Olympic Committee was coming to its decision, 16-year-old Derrion Albert was savagely murdered as he walked home from school on Chicago's South Side. He was beaten to death by fellow students for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Classmates stood and watched, failing to help or even be mortified. Some even cheered.
Michelle Obama is from the South Side. President Obama has implied he cares deeply for the area where he began his community oranizing career. So why did he show such grave indifference by flying off to Denmark to sell Chicago when Chicago needed him?
Shouldn't a President who preaches hope and change have recognized the fierce need of his very own community for his presence and involvement? Instead, too late, the White House dispensed Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to meet with local leaders at the ritzy Four Seasons hotel downtown.
Americans admire the symbol of hope and change our President portrayed on the campaign trail. Americans respect his path to the presidency. More and more, however, this respect seems one-sided.
A love affair should always have two sides, not just one. How much longer do the American people have to wait for this President to actually fall in love with us?
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Lisa Fritsch is a member of the national advisory council for the Project 21 black leadership network and a writer and radio talk show host in Austin, Texas. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
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