|I did not have sex with that woman.|
President Obama feels like one of my children to me. As best I can tell, he thinks the way I would have raised him to think (even better, no doubt) and feels the pain of others the way I would have encouraged around the dinner table. He is the kind of man I would be proud to call a son. Or father. He is the kind of man I would be proud to be myself.
So—I just have to say this—I’m tired of hearing people in our national political family carping about him. He didn’t do enough to sell his message, they say. He wasn’t tough enough in dealing with Republican intransigence. He was naïve.
Well of course he was naïve. Who could know what being president in a time of national and global crisis would be like? And you don’t have to be Pollyanna to have nurtured the hope, the expectation, that in those dark days it would be possible to sit down with the opposition and make a plan together to get the country back on its feet. Only the most deeply cynical could have predicted Mitch McConnell’s single-minded commitment to making Mr. Obama’s a one-term presidency, even at great cost to the country---or, as some suspect, even hoping for great cost to the country that could be blamed on the president.
When Bill Clinton was caught cavorting with a long list of women both in and out of the Oval Office, I thought: Too bad about his uncontrollable libido, but it's not that relevant to how well he governed. I looked at it the same way I (and perhaps most others) did Kennedy’s womanizing and Franklin Roosevelt’s affair. These are men, not more. They have flaws. The question is not whether they are paradigms, but whether their policies are good for the country.
It doesn’t seem likely that we are going to find anyone other than Michele in Barack Obama’s bed. But he shares a vanity with Clinton, Kennedy and Roosevelt: an abiding belief that he can bend the world to his thinking. He can’t always. They couldn’t either. Remember Clinton’s 1994 Congressional mid-term slaughter? Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs? Roosevelt’s failed attempt to pack the Supreme Court?
We elect a man (and, one day, a woman) to the presidency. Not a saint. Not a sorcerer. We elect a person no more perfect or effective than our parents or our children. Sure, we have high hopes for him. Yes, we are disappointed when he stumbles. But that is exactly the moment when he needs our support, not our scolding. If we believe that President Obama is smart and empathetic, that he will continue to do his best to achieve the things we believe in, that he has likely learned a little something about being president after four years, this is most certainly not the time to abandon him.