San Diego – OK, it is no secret that I share about zero political philosophy with the President and even think he is leading the country into incredibly deep and dangerous waters from which we may not be able to recover. But having said that, I think he hit a home run with the speech he delivered tonight at the Tucson Memorial Service following the shootings this past weekend. In the “moment” of the event, and seeing it was not quite the expected somber memorial service touted but a dynamic crowd clamoring for something positive and inspirational to be made from all of this, he, in my opinion and as a dedicated political opponent, rose to the occasion and delivered precisely the right inspirational speech at exactly the right time and place. And I am willing and happy to applaud him for it.
We are one of the few countries in the world where the Head of Government and the Head of State are the same person. It is a very tall order to follow and often a President good at one role is not all that good at the other. I have been open that I have not thought highly of him as the Head of Government but tonight we really needed to see the Head of State and, admittedly to my surprise, he showed himself equal to the task. He not only eloquently praised and memorialized the fallen and wounded along with the heroes of the event, but he addressed the rancor and moronic venom spewing from those who sought to turn this tragedy into political points. He flat out stated that approach was not accurate and not appropriate and then said what really needed to be said by our Head of State, which is that we need to turn this tragedy into a stepping stone to raise the discourse to a new and positive level. We can still disagree and need to; it is from that adversarial environment that truth is often found. But we have reached a point where the truth is being ignored because the partisanship is so entrenched as to be blind to it. He asked that we instead live up to the expectations of the child who was killed and perhaps the expectations of all of America’s children and use our debates not as arenas to pound each other into submission but rather as foundations from which to lift each other up and in doing so grow the country.
Bravo! I applaud it all. I have no doubt some will be able to find fault or spin or something negative about it but I chose, this time, to take him at his word and use his admonitions to us to view, positively, what he had to say.
Of course time will tell whether the current crop of politicians are able to rise to that lofty goal, including him. I hope so. Perhaps all he really meant was that the other side needs to give in more to his side. But I hope that is not all he meant because if not then we are facing incredibly dangerous times ahead that will overwhelm us while we fight each other. We and the world are staring down the barrel of a perfect storm of deadly crises headed directly at us. If not we will be like my ancestors the Highland Scots who were too busy fighting each other to mount much of a serious challenge to the British; or like our American Indians who were too busy counting coup on each other to recognize the larger threat to their ways of life encroaching on their territory until it was too late. For us today, issues of water, oil, aging/changing demographics, economics, plus rogue states and organizations with nuclear capabilities are of far more real and present dangers to us all than any worry about the effects of climate change and Mayan Calendars. Asteroids and super volcanos and mega-earthquakes are all in earth’s future and could hit tomorrow and be actual or near extinction events; but there is nothing we can do about it to prepare for or mitigate them so other than fun conversational topics are politically pointless.
But those issues noted above are all issues that, left unaddressed will, in a fairly short span of time measured in years and decades not centuries, cause great calamity and devastation, cultural catastrophes, and the breakdown of our ways of life. And, every one of them is subject to our human political intervention. But only by a government of leadership and legislators able to get beyond their partisan bickering and have quit worrying more about re-election, power-brokering, ideology and their own self service than service to the country. It is possible that after this speech, we will collectively take a deep breath, and look in the mirror at the angry faces staring back and follow his suggestions to focus less on what divides us than on what can bring us together. I’ve been harping on that very theme since my dear friend Hadley and I proved it possible years ago.
As in the discussions Hadley and I have, I expect the President and those who agree with him to passionately explain their positions and I expect those who agree with me to do the same. Voters sent a new set of legislators to the table in the last election and I expect them to follow the obvious mandates they were given by their constituents. But wouldn’t it be something if they all could do it civilly and focussed not on personal gain but on the country’s gain; not on the fun of the fight but the wonder of a workable result that took the nation forward? What if proponents of laws were honest about the pros and cons and so open to improvement on them? What if they actually read them and discussed each part of them openly to the people for final approval? What if whatever they passed for us had to be applied to them as well? Perhaps we, as the named REAL heads of government, THE PEOPLE, have arrived at a time when we need to demand it.
Two posts before I suggested such re-examination would be a good outcome of the tragedy but was not going to hold my breath for it. Maybe this would be a good time to, at least for a little bit, hold one’s breath…??? The President proved tonight he can rise to a profoundly serious occasion and be a very effective Head of State. Now let’s see if he can buy into his own eloquent rhetoric and become as effective at being the Head of Government as he was tonight at being the Head of State.