Monday, October 5, 2009

Why Roland Martin Is Wrong…Sort of

Now, as you can probably imagine, Roland Martin and I are not going to agree on a lot of things when it comes to politics, especially when the subject is President Barack Obama. Love him as a child of God, but it is what it is.

I have heard Roland mention on several occasions that he doesn’t have a “side” in politics since he has voted for both Republicans and Democrats. I disagree – everyone nowadays seems to have a side, even as they have voted for both sides of the aisle in the past. And considering Martin’s reverent defense of all things Obama since 2008, it’s pretty clear that he has a side – and it’s with President Obama. To be fair, in these partisan-charged times, everyone seems to have a dog in the fight.

With all apologies to Mike Vick for using that analogy.

With that said, it seems partisan that Roland Martin would write a column stating that conservatives and Republicans were gleeful that the United States lost in our Olympic bid for the 2016 Summer Games. After all, it sounds like a Democratic rant, hearing that it was just another example of Republicans rooting against Obama at all costs.

Kinda like Democrats rooting against all things Bush –even the war efforts overseas after September 11– during the second Bush presidential term.

I digress.

Roland says that people were rooting against the United States getting the 2016 Olympics because President and Mrs. Obama went to Copenhagen to campaign for it.

And that is where he is wrong…sort of.

I will give Roland this: the anti-Obama bashing is getting old. Or, some would say, IS old. Some of the sense of triumph over the loss that the Second City incurred last Friday is disturbing. When it’s personal, it’s just tacky at the very least, just as it was with President Bush some months ago.

Yes, Roland - some have gone too far with their criticism, but then again, what’s new? For the most part, it’s the same round of criticism from the same crowd, using the same words to get the same result.

And even if their reactions are overboard…sort of…they still have some valid points.

You have to admit: President Obama is making it easier every day for his critics to find fodder to use against him. Going to Copenhagen overconfident of a win there for Chicago and the 2016 Games, only to come back home with America’s collective tail between its legs, is just the latest in a growing trend of overreach for goals, overestimation of the influence of the “Obama Factor”, and overexposure of a president that has had more prime time interviews that legislative or national victories since in office.

The President of the United States is unique office. One should not risk embarrassment of the presidency on the global stage unless the White House thought that the bid was in the bag – or unless the thinking was that the “Obama Factor” – his charm and his influence – would make the difference upon landing in Denmark.

George Will said it best on Sunday: this president has garnered the reputation of thinking that his personal charm alone is enough to broker deals, foster victories, and gain consensus on a myriad of issues. As the Copenhagen loss has shown, this can be a dangerous and arrogant way to waste time and resources at a critical crossroads in American history, particularly as the promises of the 2008 presidential campaign - and our status in the world community - are being lost to the realities of 2009.

What Roland missed in criticizing “Republican glee” in losing the Games for the Windy City is that the origins of criticism are expanding.

Black residents of Chicago are wondering why President Obama is not using that “extraordinary charm” to help heal the violence in the streets of Chicago. The first Black president has, for the most part, ridden the wave of being historic when convenient while being safe as a Black man when most needed. Beer summit aside, more within America are wondering if the president is getting intoxicated off of his own press clipping of greatness versus being overtaken by the obligation to be great for Black America. In 2008, he was a great symbol of hope and change for Americans, particularly African-Americans. In 2009, things have changed little and, as a result, hope is lessening.

Unemployed Americans are wondering why President Obama has not been able to use that charm to persuade benefactors of the stimulus package in February to expand the good fortune into the national economy. As unemployment jumped over the White House’s self-imposed “high-water mark” of 8%, Americans are finding themselves in need of effective leadership as they drown in broad unemployment rates that are frightfully approaching 20%. The charm and rhetoric of the 44th president have not translated into jobs and recovery for everyday Americans, even as Wall Street numbers have somewhat restored. This stagnation of results have come even as a supermajority in Washington should have paved the way for legislative victories for Democrats that, in theory, should have led to resulting victories for the nation.

American allies – and many Americans as well - are wondering why President Obama has continued to be soft on countries such as Iran and Venezuela, attempting to give them every benefit of the doubt despite their records of lies and deception to the international community. For example, the charm and extension of good will that the president has afforded Iran has only led to defiance, threats against the existence of Israel, and the flexing of military muscle both in development (exploring nuclear capabilities) and in practice (firing off of missiles.) Despite leaders saying that the “stench of sulfur” no longer lingers around the American Presidency, the willingness to work with the American president has not changed at all with these same leaders, all in spite of Obama’s personal charm.

It’s not about rooting against the United States or rooting against President Obama concerning the Olympic bid. It’s about wondering when the presidential reality show is going to end so that the star of the show can produce the ratings we really need: lower unemployment rates, higher consumer confidence rates, more cooperation around the globe, and less bickering with varying segments of the government – including the tension with the CIA – even as they work to secure America’s safety.

It’s not about rooting against more Mary Lou Retton moments or Michael Johnson magic on American soil. It’s about the continued blowing of Obama political capital like an over-the-hill real estate mogul in today’s market, burning through resources on targets with decreasing value even as his former genius and flare for success increasingly comes into question.

What have we gained in January? As the victories stay few and far between, people continue to wonder when the “Obama Factor” will yield long-promised bi-partisanship, increase in jobs, more cooperation with rogue nations, and unity amongst the fractionalized and tense of a politically- and racially-charged America. Without any gains soon at a time when we approach more critical issues (such as Afghanistan), more Americans – and more conservatives – will continue to rue seeing the president on a made-for-television reality tour that spreads from Leno to Letterman to landing in Denmark, even as they may find a little “I told you so” satisfaction in his shortcomings.

And then Roland Martin will write another article, slamming conservatives for rooting against the American president, saying that it’s more personal than anything else.

And he’ll be right, again…sort of.

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