Early Obama’s Efforts to Get People Involved — Is He Practicing What He Preached?
I heard on NPR yesterday some Brit pundit proclaiming that President Obama’s recent TV appearances are mostly for naught. Apparently, pundits think the short-term “gains” — as they weigh them — are not worth the long-term hassles he will surely reap when he is not popular, a time which will certainly arrive, they predict. Obama’s appeals to the American public and his proclamations of where he stands on AIG’s recent payoffs, among other opinions, are just ploys, according to these pundits’ limited estimations, to gain popularity — a feat they don’t get since he’s currently popular.
Well, excuse me, dear pundits, but you might shift your perspectives a bit. Perhaps Obama is not following the same old business-as-usual stance assumed when one dons the presidential role: Bush faded into the shadows at key moments when he should have been publicly attempting to instill faith in a population that, in the long run, lost all faith in the leadership position. With Obama, it seems, gone are the days of “now that I’m in I can begin my vacation days and minimal sound bites in the face of a national and international crisis.” O pundits, now — exactly now — is the time for action. And here you have a man attempting to drum up action based in empathy, an empathy that motivates people to “build a nation” again. Why knock his efforts because they “may hurt him later” or because he’s currently popular? As noted, you might want to adjust those rose-tinted goggles that see only through politics-as-usual.
Obama, at risk to his current “popularity” even, is doing just that: he is handling an inherited mess from an unheard of position of transparency, a position that acknowledges we are in this together and not from the former one that would have “everyone get theirs” while the entire boat slowly sinks to the murky depths where whole parts of a population go homeless and hungry. Who’s shoulders are you going to clamber onto when the bulk of the country can’t stay afloat? As I see it, and this may be from an uninformed and idealistic, even sentimental perspective, Obama wants to obliterate that authoritarian distance of seeming withdrawn strength and independence in favor of acknowledging that we are, indeed, interdependent — that we are connected, like it or not — and we should begin the very difficult work of trying to understand that no one can survive if we don’t all survive. Let the socialist accusations begin …
So kudos to President Obama for not taking the safe, Bush-like route of retreating into the iron-clad shadows while pretending an infallible, God-like position of knowledge and authority-over-all. Look where that kind of leadership has landed us. I don’t know if this president’s plan will work, but I want so badly to believe a man who seeks to improve this country for the sake of the two daughters he so clearly loves and admires that I am willing to give up a little piece of the pie to help many instead of just the top-tier few. And don’t even get me started on how refreshing it is to see a father dote so openly and nurture his children’s well-being publicly and consistently; it’s incredibly heartening to have this role model for other men to follow instead of leaving all of the work of rearing his daughters to the little quiet lady in the big white house.
Update: I’m still recovering, nicely, from my year-long infection, with happy progress. However, there’s still a bit of work to be done, so upon Annie Finch’s enthusiastic advice (via her friend Susan Weed), I’m going to try my first Stinging Nettle infusion. Thanks, Annie! Will let you know how it goes…
Fun Food –and Stock– for Thought
Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition. ~Timothy Leary
Women belong in the house… and the Senate. ~Author Unknown
I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government. ~Cissy Farenthold
Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men. ~Joseph Conrad
There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. ~Madeleine K. Albright
Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry. ~Joan Baez, “Sexism Seen but not Heard,” Los Angeles Times, 1974
I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tunafish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock. ~Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry. ~Gloria Steinem
I think, therefore I’m single. ~Lizz Winstead
No man is as anti-feminist as a really feminine woman. ~Frank O’Connor
Why is it that men can be bastards and women must wear pearls and smile? ~Lynn Hecht Schafren
You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older. ~Lillian Gish
Young wives are the leading asset of corporate power. They want the suburbs, a house, a settled life, and respectability. They want society to see that they have exchanged themselves for something of value. ~Ralph Nader
We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem
Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~G.K. Chesterton
A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. ~Salman Rushdie
Language is fossil poetry. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. ~Don Marquis
Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. ~Carl Sandburg
There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either. ~Robert Graves
Science sees signs; Poetry the thing signified. ~Augustus and Julius Hare
You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick . . .. You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps . . . so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in. ~Dylan Thomas
I’ve written some poetry I don’t understand myself. ~Carl Sandburg
There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing. ~John Cage
Sexy Augustus and Julius Hare Barbara Grizzuti Harrison Batman Cissy Farenthold CONTEST Don Marquis Dorothy Pitman Hughes Dylan Thomas Feminism Frank O'Connor G.K. Chesterton Gloria Steinem I've Loved You So Long Joan Baez John Cage Joseph Conrad Lesbian Lillian Gish Lizz Winstead Lynn Hecht Schafren Madeleine K. Albright Michelle Obama NPR PAD Challenge Poet Poetics Poetry Politics President Obama pundits quotes Ralph Nader Ralph Waldo Emerson Robert Graves Robert Lee Brewer Salman Rushdie Timothy Leary Women
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.