-------- Original Message -------- Subject: What say you? Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 09:39:12 -0700 From: Edwin Cooney <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Hi All,Do you have in your mind an image of the ideal President of the United States? Did you once have one but have found that time has blurred or obscured it? If so, why? Have you changed? Has America sufficiently changed thus bringing this mental distortion about? I confess that my image of an American president is that of a leader and teacher, much like the one described in early 1961 by the late Senator William J. Fullbright of Arkansas. He described our president (supposedly young Jack Kennedy) as being our teacher and moral leader. (I'm sure you can find the full quotation somewhere on google.) It just seems to me that leadership invariably involves teaching. It requires the teacher him or herself to be learning through observation and analysis and passing on that information to you and to me. Thus what's below. Your assignment, whether or not you ever turn in your homework, is to decide for yourself whether there is or should be an ideal presidential image. Has there always been and should their always be? Can it be avoided? If it's real because American citizens and people of other lands have one, how in your view does it effect our ability to get along in the world? Here's hoping that you'll enjoy what's below and consider doing your homeowrk assignment. Teacher will be waiting! Thanks for reading and considering what's below. I'm grateful for the time you take to do it.
Warm Regards, E.C. MONDAY APRIL 13^TH , 2009 THE PRESIDENTS IMAGE BY EDWIN COONEYJust a few days ago, one of my readers sent me an interesting little article about President Obamas television watching habits. The president appears to be such a big SportsCenter fan -- favoring both college and professional basketball -- that he avoids the 24/7 news cycles. He never listens or watches reruns of his own news conferences, town hall meetings or speeches. Thus, one gets the idea that President Barack Hussein Obama is just a regular guy.
Its often observed that modern Republicans prefer the presidential image of a Commander-In-Chief on foreign policy issues and a business-oriented Chief Executive Officer on domestic matters. Their memory of President Ronald Reagans dignified eloquence and idealism makes him the GOPs modern presidential role model with additional kudos to Ike, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Democrats, on the other hand, are said to favor a Philosopher King, someone with just enough majesty to guide the people without appearing above them. FDR and Truman are the modern Democratic role models different as they were.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harvard-educated, possessed a Brahmin accent. Nevertheless, he spoke plainly and directly to the American people beginning that Sunday night of March 12^th 1933. He sat behind radio microphones and addressed the people from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. His topic was the purpose and scope of the bank holiday. FDRs mostly Sunday night talks came to be known as Fireside chats. On the other hand, Harry Truman--short, trim and gray with wire-rimmed spectaclesspoke with a combined Southern and Midwestern accent. He addressed his countrys foreign and domestic crises with his words often coming forth in a staccato rhythm.
In 2000 and again in 2004, George W. Bush was the peoples choice over the wooden Al Gore and the rigid and aloof John Kerry because he was the kind of guy with whom anyone would enjoy sharing a beer. So, because we more readily identified with the image created by the plainspoken Texan, we chose him as our leader. He was one of us.
Thus, as we approach the third month of a new presidency, the question is what is President Obamas overall image? He has just returned from his first trip abroad where he apparently impressed his G-20 heads of state brethren, wowed the intellectuals and media of Europe, and assured the Turks that Americans would never go to war against Islam. He reassured our troops in Iraq that he appreciated them for all of their accomplishments--insisting that a grateful nation owed them much in the way of education and health care--and told them that their Iraqi service time would soon be over.
Conservatives insist that President Obama is everything from a Marxist to an Islamic-Fascist. Liberals and Progressives, for the most part (but with some exceptions on the part of populists who fear assistance to corporations), still consider the president as having the makings of a political messiah.
As for this observer, I like him for his steadiness, his capacity for flexibility and for his overall outlook. I like his assertion that even with all of the vexing problems a president faces (such as AIG executive over-compensation, North Korean aggravation), he cant afford to govern from anger.
Even more, President Obama seems to operate from understanding rather than judgment. Unlike his predecessor he doesnt confuse approval of an individual head of state or system of government with legitimacy. He seems to comprehend that behavior rather than propaganda or even outlook is what all governments, ours included, should be judged on.
His critics will continue to paint him as an elitist, a spendthrift and a socialist -- and that will be the kind things they say! His supporters, for the most part, will cut him slack offering the benefit of the doubt, softer criticism for his inevitable mistakes and praise for his successes. Both of these perspectives, as Jimmy Carter used to point out, go with the territory of the presidency.
Some of us, who invariably enjoy linking baseball to American political life (as well as with life in general), might get some perspective out of the following: A number of years ago, there was an infielder for the San Francisco Giants who boasted that he had seven given names. They were: Alan Michael Edward George Patrick Henry Gallagher. (He was also called Dirty Al Gallagherbut we can generously put that aside.)
Hence, my ideal presidential image is: Abraham Teddy Delano Kennedy Carter Reagan Obama. Hows that for inter-political presidential image breeding?!
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, EDWIN COONEY blind_html To unsubscribe, please send a blank email to blind_html-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with unsubscribe in the subject line. To access the archives, please visit: http://www.freelists.org/archive/blind_html Thanks