Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Trivialization of The Presidency: Obama Becomes Oprah

Oprah consciousness has invaded the White House. Is there a limit to the touchy -feely public reconciliation syndrome? Apparently not. Oprah rules! I have nothing against Oprah. Her providing a forum for public confessions and reconciliations makes for great TV. And she helped turn one of my books (Keeping Faith-A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps) into a New York Times best seller. But daytime TV is daytime TV, and the White House is (or should be) the White House.

Here's what I care about: that we get a public option on health care -- so that we can stick it to the insurance companies, who have been sticking it to us.

Here's what I don't care about: President Obama having a beer with a member of the Harvard elite who happens to be in the news because he happens to be black and famous and a cop from Cambridge, Massachusetts who happens to be famous for being white, thin-skinned and so stupidly arrogant he'd arrest a man who has committed no crime just for being rude to a cop.

Is an Joe the plumber consult next? How small time and silly does the President want to look? We have real problems in this country, and real police abuse of ordinary black and Latino men and women is one of them. But this wasn't the case or the time for presidential intervention.

President Obama should be occupied with health care reform, our economy, two wars and a failing education system, not to mention our failing global ecology. And Obama faces a Republican Party that's gone way past hostile and that is actually trying to bring his presidency down.

What was the context of the trivial beer party? This:

The Republicans are now the party for the insurance companies and against the rest of America. We are watching them pimping for the insurance companies, lying for them, literally selling their country. And they'll do anything (from lying about where our President was born to being bribed by the insurance companies) to bring President Obama down. They'll also do anything to support their corporate masters, as will the number of so-called moderate Democrats who also seem to be in the pocket of insurers and their so-called think tank's that are telling us that health-care reform is "dangerous."

And what is the President we elected doing about this? He's playing Oprah-style games, and still talking about "bipartisanship" with what amounts to meeting the national village idiot -- the Republicans -- half way on health care.

In this context the beer party was an embarrassment. It also happened in the same month that more Americans died in Afghanistan than at any other single period since the war began.

The Republicans are disgusting but the mainstream (and not so mainstream blog media) seem to have gone insane. They went for Oprah-style BS instead of sticking to the real story: reform!

Meanwhile... Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview. (Jones made a name propagating conspiracies ranging from the claim that Bill Clinton planned the Oklahoma City bombings to the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were orchestrated by a cabal of American and Israeli government officials.) During the 30-minute interview about "nation ending stuff," Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to tell anti-Obama lies: Rep. Gohmert: "We've been battling this socialist health care, the nationalization of health care, that is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They'll put them on lists and force them to die early." Gohmert teaches Sunday school at the ultra fundamentalist Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, where he's has served as a deacon.

It's time this administration take stock of their (and our) enemies -- the religious nuts, Republican leadership and the insurance companies -- and answer them. It ' time to end the bipartisan games. It's time to call out the Republicans and the anti-reform far right liars.

Here's the real question: rather than a silly season summer beer moment in the garden, not to mention the nonsense about bipartisanship, is our President going to force his party's majority in Congress to do the right thing and deliver reform while defending himself (and America) against the insane Republican lie machine?

Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism)


Stick said...

Frank, I agree with you that the media coverage of the Gates Happy Hour was a waste of good media time, but for Obama, I believe that this is a gentelman who publicly ridiculed a cop, or at least his actions, and felt like he needed to make up for it. If Obama was just another nice guy in the neighborhood who did something offensive and wanted to apologize or make up for it, he might invite the cop over for a beer to say sorry.

I'd like to think that just because he lives in the White House and has a slew of people who could have made the apology for him, it doesn't mean he should blow the guy off. A jerk like Bush would have just had someone write a note. (well, he probably wouldn't have apologized at all, so bad example, but you get the idea.)

I think Obama did a nice thing. I think the media are fools.


Annette said...

As someone who comes from a family of police officers I disagree politely with Stick. The President was spot on with his assessment of the situation of the arrest of Professor Gates, it was a stupid move by Sgt. Crowley, and it was blown out of proportion by the media. Maybe his choice of words was bad, but that is the only thing. For Crowley to arrest him within 5 minutes of arriving, according to the police report he filed, for disorderly conduct, and state he was yelling and out of control, and had already established the identity of Gates, Crowley should have left the scene, instead he lost control of the situation and arrested the man in his own home.

That was STUPID.

But the media overlooked all of that, just decided Professor Gates was wrong and Crowley was right and ran with it, without looking at the details of the case. Then, when the President made his statement they jumped on one word and ran with it..

If we discovered life on Mars and their leader came here to meet with the President in the Rose Garden, do you think we would have this kind of coverage? I am really not sure.