I don’t like President Obama. Can I still admit that even though in doing so I might offend a “sizable group of people?”
Here in the purple state of Colorado, expressing this opinion–my opinion–gives me pause. It can be difficult to tell if I am speaking to someone who agrees or vehemently disagrees. Discovering the answer is always an adventure.
Here’s why I don’t like the president: The president pretends to not know his own influence.
From the moment he took office, it was made known that he would be a very accessible president. “Ask him anything and he’ll tell you,” they said. The unthinking American loved his openness. His openness surely attracted positive popular sentiment. But make no mistake, it is a very calculated move on the president’s part. Think about it. What would happen if your boss started voicing that he or she really liked a particular camera…right around Christmas time? What would happen if your boss started describing how much he or she disliked the color blue? In my experience, in the first situation the boss would likely be given that camera as a gift at the company party; in the second, the color blue would be avoided in the office where possible.
The credible boss, the boss with high character understands the economics of his or her language. He or she understands that there are only so many hours in a day and many things have to be attended to. The boss knows, therefore, that he or she cannot afford to communicate for forever. They have to offer their guiding leadership eloquently, and rely on an able-bodied workforce to carry out the plan. This happens every day. Even the most micro-managing boss has limited time–thankfully–to communicate all that he or she wants to.
Likewise, when a president offers his opinion on something, it starts a chain reaction. Decisions are made based on the opinion. Take this together with the way our country’s political sphere has unfolded–the president being viewed as newsworthy celebrity rather than public servant–and there is a problem.
Bob Costas attempted to use his power to persuade the Washington Redskins owner to act. So far, it has been ineffective. Bob Costas is a virtual nobody. He is a talking head. Generally a pleasant to listen to talking head, but he is as effectually powerless over another man’s actions as the next man. The same is not true for the president. No matter what he’d like us to believe, it is not just “his opinion.” And he knows it. But he pretends not to. He pretends like he really is one of us. He isn’t. It’s categorically impossible. The us he is attempting to fit in with know their place.
For example, I know that this blog will have no appreciable effect beyond providing momentary pleasure for no more than 10 people. It’ll receive 1-2 ‘likes’, if that. More likely, it will irritate some people and be a stumbling block to my professional possibilities as I’m publishing it on LinkedIn.
Don’t buy this argument? Just wait. History will prove my point. Like the boss receiving a camera for Christmas, the Redskins will change their name. When they do, to deny the president’s influence will strain even American credulity.
In the end, I really don’t wonder what President Obama thinks about me. I just want him to stop pretending that his opinions are inconsequential. I want him to stop using his limited time to weigh-in on ridiculously un-presidential matters. I want “more work, less talk.” Is that too much to ask for?