Why Obama Must Get Mad

obama basketballThe recent trip President Obama took to Asia to bring business and trade to the United States has exposed a critique that many have observed for some time. Allowing false and petty criticisms to go unchecked has backfired. Obama’s opponents are not just criticizing him. They’re attempting to trivialize his Presidency and that’s upsetting. They don’t care where or how they do it, they give him as little respect (and credit) as they can.

In attending the G-20 Summit in South Korea and the Economic Forum in Japan, Obama was forced to defend the instability of the American economy as the Treasury Department seeks to infuse $700 billion dollars to jumpstart the economy (again). Other nation’s leaders tried to jab at him, suggesting that not enough was being done to resuscitate the American economy, indicating that a ripple in the American economy causes a tsunami in the global economy.

The President deflected the jabs but there was a larger factor at play here. The trip’s purpose was to address the long-standing trade imbalance the United States has had with its trade partners for over four decades. This was a trip where the President had to “deliver jobs” for the American economy — a serious trip to “right the ship” with those who benefit from the American people more than the American people benefit from them.

However, it started off on the wrong foot when it was falsely reported that the President’s 10-day trip to Asia (India, Singapore, Indonesia, China, South Korea and Japan) was some kind of pleasure trip to avoid the pressures of the U.S. economy. Then it was falsely reported that the President’s first two days in India would cost $200 million A DAY, and that the Obama administration was sending a fleet of 34 warships (10% of the U.S. Navy) to protect him.

Of course, neither of those allegations were true. These false stories were the media buzz for three days. The actual cost of the trip was closer to $50 million a day, is in the President’s office budget and was increased only because of the heightened security threat, not only to our President but to the other 19 world leaders attending the G-20 summit.

Nobody ever questioned Bush on what it took to secure himself and the nation. President Clinton’s trip to Africa cost $42 million and nobody seemed to mind, as long as he didn’t apologize for slavery (that was the major concern on that trip). Yet, this President has to do the job and explain himself every step of the way. Even on silly, ridiculous stuff that he tries to ignore most of time. But ignoring it doesn’t help him. He needs to blast somebody about this foolishness.

Nevermind that it didn’t make sense from the outset that the daily cost of a presidential trip would be more than the daily cost of the war in Afghanistan ($190 million a day) or that the assertions were unsubstantiated. Conservative website WorldNetDaily continued to buzz the story even after CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported that it was a “made up” story. After the story was discredited, you still heard residual reverberations of that original false story.

The President’s “thunder” is constantly being stolen by pundits and by those who introduce false stories that ignore facts, distort motives and intents, and outright disrespect what the President is trying to do. With amazement, we watch known and unknown writers, bloggers and partisan commentators belittle the President and attack every single thing he does.

It’s obvious they don’t take him seriously, and when world leaders got him in a room, they “ganged up on the U.S.” showing they have been following the media buzz and didn’t take him seriously either–not as seriously as they should have–only because they know that the Republicans aren’t either and they can play America’s two-party system against each other like that. Now, I don’t know about you…but it’s pissin’ me off, and it should piss the President off too.

Now one of the things we like about our President is his unflappable composure. It’s one of the things that got him elected President. The “Angry Black Male” thing doesn’t play well with the American public.

Our President is cool. Very cool. Too cool. President Obama is, sometimes, too cool for school and the Republicans are schoolin’ him in this “spin game.” We understand he tries to play “above the fray” — that certain things are “beneath him” or don’t “dignify a response.” His political sophistication is a significant force in reforming the American political process and, in trying to put America on a course of recovery, has restored some dignity to the office of the President.

However, the Republicans are street fighters who care nothing about dignifying the office of the President or anything else. They just care about holding power and they don’t care how they grab it. They also understand the patience of the American people, and now it appears the international community, has its limits.

The real irony here is that the country tolerated their bullsh*t for eight years and Bush never caught the indignant flack that Obama is catching. When Bush was mocked, it was because he did something stupid and deserved it. When Obama is mocked, it’s because they feel they can’t allow him to become too credible of a force in American (and global) politics. So much so that an anti-intellectualism that once marked the George W. Bush administration has been allowed to resurrect itself through the Tea Party and the Glenn Beck commentary extremism that counter populism is now embracing.

It’s not so much the case in the global community, who simply want to maintain the import status quo. President Obama cannot let these things to continue to go unaddressed. Even the dumb stuff needs to be checked. It’s not “playin their game.” It’s changing their game to his benefit.

At this juncture, Obama has to know they’re f#%kin’ with him. He’s too smart not to know. They don’t take him seriously yet he takes them seriously. What’s wrong with that picture? Obama is a basketball player. He knows if they hit his elbow after every shot, it’s gonna to cause him to miss the shot. And a serious player is only gonna let it happen a few times before he realizes the defense is playin’ with his head and messin up his game.

President Obama is missin’ his shots right now because he’s letting them spin his intentions and his message. They call the Presidency “the bully pulpit” for a reason. Lincoln (Obama’s favorite President) used it to declare martial law during the Civil War. So did Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson to take unpopular stands to facilitate the desegregation of nation. Both Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin) were masters of the bully pulpit to get their economic priorities across during hard economic times. Franklin Roosevelt started the “fireside chat” to use radio to reassure the people on a weekly basis during insecure times. It has become the President’s weekly address to the nation that succeeding Presidents have used.

Reagan used television in the same way, maximizing the bully pulpit with his communication skills. And so did Clinton. The point is, sometimes you have to control the situation, and these Presidents did that. Sometimes you have to hold up the ball for a minute. Check em when necessary.

President Obama has the attributes of all these Presidents. He has to use the power of the presidency to maximize what people like best about him, his honesty and his frankness. And he needs to show some passion more often. Instead of telling everybody else to “Get fired up, and ready to go,” he needs to get some fire in his belly, like he did during the campaign when Hillary (and Bill) was tappin his jaw in the primaries and it was upsetting people that he wouldn’t swing back.

Then he started losing points in the polls, and he started hitting back. Why is that any different than what’s going on now? The Republicans are bent on frustrating Obama and his Presidency, and the President can’t continue to ignore them like it’s not happening. The President believes that the American people are smart enough to see what’s going on.

Well, if he never refutes anything, the American people don’t really know what’s going on and tend to believe the faux media noisebox. Therein lies his problem. Every time he takes the ball out, they yell, “Check.” He needs to throw it back at em, “No, you Check. And when they throw it back and say, “Check, again,” he needs to say, “No, you check again.” Instead of getting on with the game, sometimes you have to engage the psychological warfare for a minute, until your opponent understands you understand that they’re only trying to throw you off your game–and you ain’t havin’ it (ballplayers know what I’m talking about, smile)!

Anthony SamadThe conservatives don’t want to work with the President, nor do they want him to play without them. They just want to “check” the ball all day and misrepresent the score of the game. A confused and dumbed down American electorate doesn’t know what the score is, because the President won’t call out the score.

President Obama needs to get mad a little more often, when he’s trying to do something serious, and the conservatives (and their pundits) are playing games with him. Yeah, the President can play the bigger man and get on with the game…but every now and then he needs to use his bully pulpit, hold up the ball and tell em, “Y’all need to check that sh*t!”

Anthony Asadullah Samad

Published by the LA Progressive on November 24, 2010
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About Anthony Asadullah Samad

Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is an author, scholar and the co-founder, Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum. Dr. Samad's most recent book is entitled "Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom". His national column can be read in newspapers and cyber-sites nationwide. His weekly writings can be read at www.blackcommentator.com. For more information about Dr. Samad, go to www.AnthonySamad.com.