Vail Valley Voices: Turning point on Obama?
Turning points come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Sports fans will reasonably argue the New Orleans Saints second half onside kick was the turning point in Super Bowl XLIV.
Military historians agree the Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the American Civil War.
And who knew on the evening of June 17, 1972, that the events of the day (the Watergate burglary) would be the turning point in the Nixon presidency and bring it down 26 months later?
A turning point marks the end of one thing and beginning of something new. However, one unique aspect of turning points is that when they occur, those living in the moment are seldom aware them, especially when it comes to turning points in politics.
Todays’ around-the-clock news cycle cuts two ways because it does more than inform, it anesthetizes, causing us to miss of the subtle changes in the political landscape. As a result, we frequently become aware of political turning points only long after the actual event.
Many hoped a turning point occurred in America on Nov. 4, 2008, the day Barack Obama was elected.
They hoped too that Obama’s election was the beginning of a half-century of “progressive” politics in America. But the polls keep telling us that Americans aren’t particularly enamored with many of the president’s policies, with the result that the scrutiny of Barack Obama has morphed from contradistinction into disagreement and opposition.
One can debate the reasons for the administration’s falling poll numbers — the economy, unemployment, the dodgy manner Pelosi and Reid tried to ram healthcare through the Congress, the broken promises about transparency, Mirandizing terrorists.
But let’s be frank. While Obama inherited a number of very challenging issues, the fact remains that Americans are a very understanding and forgiving people. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the reasons for the voters’ mounting dissatisfaction with the president are the result of two specific manifestations that are within his control.
First, President Obama’s personal philosophy simply does not resonate with the majority of Americans. Those from the upper West Side, political activists like George Soros and the folks who get their news from Media Matters may still be on the band wagon. But Middle America wants transparency and accountability — not unbending ideology.
Second, there appears to be no overarching principle or coherent set of values to guide this administration. This lack of a guiding principle could not have been more clearly illustrated than when the president called for bi-partisanship and a “spirit of working together” (as he’s been preaching about almost daily since the State of the Union address) and then allowing his press secretary to publicly ridicule Sarah Palin for writing notes on her hand.
Challenge the woman’s ideas or her policies as a former governor. But for Bod’s sake, Mr. Gibbs, your own president has spoken millions of words using teleprompters. So why did you find it necessary to deride former Gov. Palin for using notes while giving a speech?
But perhaps the reason for Press Secretary Gibbs’ untoward sarcasm is that his words are emblematic of something more consequential than mere political gamesmanship. The lack of consistency between the president’s calls for civility and the actions of his press secretary is far more than hypocrisy. It’s a clear sign of desperation.
The administration has not met its Waterloo by virtue of Obamacare not becoming law, as many on the right had hoped. The president remains a masterful politician, and a funeral dirge for his administration is far from the order the day.
Nevertheless, I’m reminded of a story about Gen. George S. Patton during World War II. Shortly after assuming command of the American 3rd Army in Europe, Patton wrote his wife, telling her how he knew the turning point in the war had been reached.
George Patton saw the horse and ox-drawn carts the German army had resorted to using and wrote that it was then that he realized this was no longer the Wehrmacht of blitzkrieg and conquest. Being relegated to use oxcarts to move rations, ammunition and even the wounded revealed a beaten and desperate German army.
Similarly, the ever-confident Press Secretary Gibbs of a year ago would never have resorted to petty, crass and sophomoric attacks on Sarah Palin. He would have been above it. So the question becomes did Mr. Gibbs unwittingly signal a turning point in the life of this administration with his unseemly remarks? Only time will tell.
Quote of the Day: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson.
Butch Mazzuca is an Edwards resident.
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