My Mind Has a Mind of Its Own

obama thinkingWe hear President Obama recently went on a two-week meditation retreat that wasn’t made public. A source close to the President’s mind confided some of Barack Obama’s thoughts…

That retreat blew my mind. I had no idea what kind of ideas I would have once I stopped trying to have ideas. America, you are going to see a new man. (Literally. The stiff who played me for the last two weeks sounded exactly like me and was a dead ringer, but man, was he tone deaf.)

For the first time in my Type-A+ life I was truly alone — just me and my mind, that is. No human contact save for occasional visits from my teachers, Jack Kornfield and Pema Chodron, and whoever slipped those awesome vegetarian meals under the door of my spartan dorm room. No phones, no TV, no movies, no reading, no writing. Lots of gentle deer, lazy cows (Is it politically incorrect to call cows lazy? I don’t care anymore!), magnificent horses, preening wild turkeys (I named one quartet Glenn, Rush, Billy and Sean) and sun-bathing lizards. I’d like to say I saw a mountain lion, but I could well have been hallucinating.

Anyway, it turns out my mind has a mind of its own. For days, painful regrets about the past and anxious projections about the future vied for supremacy, punctuated by wild stories that seemed to come out of nowhere. I was this close to hitching a ride back to D.C. but I stuck it out and eventually things inside my head calmed down. And there I was with nothing but the present moment. Then the insights flowed.

What so many have told me — that “compromising” with people whose only mission is to destroy me is counterproductive — became crystal clear. I’ve let the Repubs set the parameters so far to the Right that meeting them half way doesn’t come close to what I promised my supporters I’d fight for.

God knows I’m no radical — never claimed to be — but something radical needs to happen to shake things up and give Americans hope. FDR and Lincoln did it under far more difficult circumstances than these, and triumphed over vicious opposition.

I can’t control the media, the blogosphere, the Right Wing loonies or even my own party. But there’s plenty I can do, starting with…

  • The Economy. Get rid of the corporate group-thinkers — Geithner, Summers, Rahm, etc. They’re all good guys (well, maybe not Rahm) but way too intertwined with Wall Street/mega-business to shape policies that can jump-start job growth and effect real change on Main Street. Restore Glass-Steagall. Hire more people like my new interim consumer rights agency chief Elizabeth Warren. How about Robert Reich for chief financial advisor and — here’s one that would create some shock and awe — Michael Pollan as Agriculture Secretary.
  • Afghanistan. I cringe when I look at tape of myself rationalizing the “good war” in Afghanistan. Let’s get the hell out of there as soon as possible, helping the current government as much as we can and with minimal risk to American troops. That means within six months, a year at most. And I mean out!
  • Social Issues. Stop giving convoluted answers about a host of social issues and tell people what I really believe. Start with gay rights. What could be more absurd than compelling gays and lesbians to lie in order to serve in the military? And what could be more of a no-brainer than legalizing gay marriage?
  • Media Relations. Stop treating the media as the enemy. Have a press conference once a week and allow follow-up questions. Every time there’s a gotcha question, say “Gotcha” to the reporter and move on. Bag the weekly radio addresses and do more Facebook, Twitter and other social networking to reach people directly. (Gotta admit Sarah has me beat on that front.)
  • Getting things done. Play hardball with the Republicans across the board. Use my recess appointment powers to get the scandalous backlog of judges confirmed. Threaten and, when necessary, deploy the nuclear option in the Senate.
  • Politics. Let Presidential politics take care of itself. Smile as Newt, Palin and the rest fall over themselves with ever more demented insults about the President of the United States. As far as 2012 goes, hey, meditation or no meditation, I still have a huge ego. I ran a brilliant underdog campaign in 2008 without the powers of incumbency. And who have the Repubs got that can beat me? President Mitt? Commander-in-Chief Sarah? T-Paw? Newt? Please. Bring ‘em on!

Of course, all this stuff will create a huge backlash and all kinds of difficult consequences, intended and unintended. What if unemployment keeps rising? What to do if Afghanistan falls after we get out? And what if a blogger finds out I stole a candy bar from my friend Dave when we were 10? I can’t know for sure, but I’ve got to try every day to have the courage of my convictions and surround myself with others who will do the same.

Oh, one more thing. Meditate at least a half hour a day. Doing nothing for two weeks taught me something: If I want to get something done, there’s nothing quite like the tonic of doing nothing. And there’s an awesome side benefit: By the second week my senses were so heightened a simple birdsong might as well have been Beethoven’s 9th. Who knew there’s a legal way to get high?

Okay, maybe the President fantasized this whole thing. Or maybe I fantasized his fantasy. But unless we see some bold action, and soon, progressives will have more and more nightmares and fewer and fewer blissful fantasies.

Michael Sigman

Michael Sigman is a writer/ editor, media consultant and the president of Major Songs, a music publishing company.

Crossposted from Huffington Post with the author’s permission.

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Comments

  1. Hwood007 says

    Dear Mr. Sigman
    Economy, we need to seek out economists and not politicians to advise the administration on economics. Congress will still do whatever it wants, good advise or no and the proof of that is the new financial law (Dodd-Frank). Guess who tried to control the two GSEs and was told there was no need to do that, the GSEs were fine? That would be Bush. Dodd, and Frank were the two that prevented any control then and also in the current law, you would think those two were getting campaign money from the GSEs.

    Afghanistan. I agree with you about that place. It is the biggest mess we have ever entered. Were it not for the poppies, I would leave yesterday. My gun and butter solution is to pay the farmers not to grow poppies and if they do, drop herbicide on the poppy fields from the sky. We drop the money from the sky and if they plant poppies, we then drop herbicide from the sky, no foot troops at all. The drugs are supporting the farmers and the terrorists, both of which are killing Americans so we defend ourselves from the air.

    I think gay rights is fine, I think my gay child should have a gay union (not marriage). I think you know little about the military, we live close together, sharing everything from community showers to community foxholes. There is no listed right that allows anyone to join the services. They need people of certain size, weight, and strength. The seven foot guys do not fit in a tanks or airplanes. The five foot person may not fit into the military either. The military has a description of what they want and if you do not fit that then you can not enter. They want educated people and not those with only a six grade education. They do not want gays but will not ask about it unless you give them reason. If you think we should enjoy the rights that FDR spoke of in his 1945 address to congress, then I feel you are mistaken. I was alive when he was our leader and historians made him to be more than he was and left out the bad parts. Seek out the writings of his own cabinet chiefs, find the one who tells you how FDR was spending us into our graves. The current guy reminds me of FDR in that regard.

    The media is tasked with looking out for the country, they can not do that if they are the cheer leaders for any politician. Questions should start with an interrogative, who, what, when, why, where, how, and describe, followed by the subject matter. The ten minute questions need to go away as do the 20 minute answers. Other than this, I agree with you.

    As for getting things done, he had majority in both houses that could withstand all objections. Now he has that only in the house. Play hardball with his own party! He has messed up big time. He did not suspend the Jones Act in time to receive help for overseas and the guy he blames for everything did it in days for Katrina. I am beginning to think he wants to avoid doing anything like his predecessor and history has shown us that it is hard for any president to be always right or always wrong, but Obama acts like Bush was 100% wrong (he has increased drone attacks). Obama has not shown any ability to act quickly, maybe he just waits too long. He ran a stealth in 2008 so he can not repeat that in 2012, he has already revealed his true cards.

    Do keep in mind that he was elected by progressives, independents, and conservatives in 2008 and he will not have the same voters in 2012.

  2. hwood007 says

    Dear Mr. Sigman
    Economy, we need to seek out economists and not politicians to advise the administration on economics. Congress will still do whatever it wants, good advise or no and the proof of that is the new financial law (Dodd-Frank). Guess who tried to control the two GSEs and was told there was no need to do that, the GSEs were fine? That would be Bush. Dodd, and Frank were the two that prevented any control then and also in the current law, you would think those two were getting campaign money from the GSEs.

    Afghanistan. I agree with you about that place. It is the biggest mess we have ever entered. Were it not for the poppies, I would leave yesterday. My gun and butter solution is to pay the farmers not to grow poppies and if they do, drop herbicide on the poppy fields from the sky. We drop the money from the sky and if they plant poppies, we then drop herbicide from the sky, no foot troops at all. The drugs are supporting the farmers and the terrorists, both of which are killing Americans so we defend ourselves from the air.

    I think gay rights is fine, I think my gay child should have a gay union (not marriage). I think you know little about the military, we live close together, sharing everything from community showers to community foxholes. There is no listed right that allows anyone to join the services. They need people of certain size, weight, and strength. The seven foot guys do not fit in a tanks or airplanes. The five foot person may not fit into the military either. The military has a description of what they want and if you do not fit that then you can not enter. They want educated people and not those with only a six grade education. They do not want gays but will not ask about it unless you give them reason. If you think we should enjoy the rights that FDR spoke of in his 1945 address to congress, then I feel you are mistaken. I was alive when he was our leader and historians made him to be more than he was and left out the bad parts. Seek out the writings of his own cabinet chiefs, find the one who tells you how FDR was spending us into our graves. The current guy reminds me of FDR in that regard.

    The media is tasked with looking out for the country, they can not do that if they are the cheer leaders for any politician. Questions should start with an interrogative, who, what, when, why, where, how, and describe, followed by the subject matter. The ten minute questions need to go away as do the 20 minute answers. Other than this, I agree with you.

    As for getting things done, he had majority in both houses that could withstand all objections. Now he has that only in the house. Play hardball with his own party! He has messed up big time. He did not suspend the Jones Act in time to receive help for overseas and the guy he blames for everything did it in days for Katrina. I am beginning to think he wants to avoid doing anything like his predecessor and history has shown us that it is hard for any president to be always right or always wrong, but Obama acts like Bush was 100% wrong (he has increased drone attacks). Obama has not shown any ability to act quickly, maybe he just waits too long. He ran a stealth in 2008 so he can not repeat that in 2012, he has already revealed his true cards.

    Do keep in mind that he was elected by progressives, independents, and conservatives in 2008 and he will not have the same voters in 2012.

    I had a high once, I was on a two lane highway going north to An Loc. It was almost dark and I was worried about completing the trip.
    I have never had a drug induced high but have have induced lows to put extrime pain at a level I could manage and stay awake. Why would anyone want to live like that all the time I can not know.

    • marie says

      point 3. First resistance about females in the military… Then about Gays….
      Sharing showers and foxholes…
      What is the difference? Joining the military is about together fighting the enemy, not about making love.

      • hwood007 says

        we had females in the Army before you were born, perhaps gays also. The females are not in combat forces for several reasons, one they can not carry me off the field if I am shot, I am more than they can carry. The rules are that if you are gay,serve but do not let us know. Learn how to keep it under wraps. Funny, why did you not question all of the other features they do and do not want? Would you want your sister to share a shower with a man?

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