MR. PRESIDENT—HAIL CESAR, BE A “WHISPERER”—LEAD THE PACK
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 10 April 2009
Serious business with a lighter moment or two for today…
President Obama traveled to Europe last week for the G-20 circus—an eight day, five country shake and grin that for some odd reason turned into the “Obama beats-up America” campaign. It depends on who you talk to, listen to, or read as to whether or not anything worthwhile was accomplished to our east. But one thing is for sure—love was in the air.
Cheering crowds welcomed the Obamas and the President did all he could think of to try and win back the affections of those who have not been making goo-goo eyes at the United States lately. Uncalled for and inappropriate apologies for “wrongs” (e.g. treatment of Indians—pardon me, “Native Americans” and slavery) in American history were beyond questionable comments by the President. Why? Since when does the President need to apologize for our history—outside the “family”—and especially about less than flattering circumstances forefathers took (and living leadership continue to take) measures to remedy? Good grief, a black man is President of the United States. That in itself says more than anything about our nation’s remarkable progress and commitment to righting civil wrongs—far more than anything that could possibly come out of the President’s mouth. What in the world was he thinking? Apologize for what? Isn’t it sweet Obama wants the world to love us? At least like us. Who cares?
Obama did not stop his senseless apologetic remarks with ancient American history. Oh, no. He went on apologizing for recent perceived American arrogance; for our “unilateral” aggressiveness fighting the Global War on Terror (it is not “Overseas Contingency Operations”—will the pinhead that thought that one up, and his brother who approved it, please step forward for your dunce cap fitting); for locking up goons and thugs in Guantanamo Bay; for aggressively interrogating scumbags determined to attack us; and for giving the Arab and Muslim world the impression we are at war with them. No one ever said or even implied we are at war with Arabs and Muslims. But, if you are Arab, Muslim, or a misguided American nutcase trying to find yourself disguised as one and a fanatic committed to terror then, yes, you are in the gun sights. In short, Obama was criticizing Bush. Presidents need not criticize Presidents. It’s bad form. It’s unbecoming. It’s not presidential.
Deprecating our country with a smattering of unnecessary apologies was not enough. Nope, our head honcho had to embarrass the Office of the Presidency and our country by, upon introduction, bowing (deeply at the waist) to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The White House claims to the contrary but watch the footage—regardless of angle it’s pretty damn clear Obama offered himself and our country as subservient. I guess that too was some sort of an apology. Though for what is anyone’s guess. It was courtesy gone too far. Some are offering “an innocent gaff” defense. Hardly. Certainly Protocol addressed in detail how to greet the King. A man does not have to bend over that far for a hemorrhoid or digital prostate check. Why not a firm handshake, high-five, or fists bump, and a simple, “Good to see you, King, baby—thanks for the oil—how about stepping up production—and how’d you like the painting of Elvis on velvet I sent?” for receiving line niceties? Only a half-wit would buy the White House’s current propaganda completely discounting a bow. So, standby for the Press Secretary to offer more credible excuses like a leg cramp, back spasm, itch, stumble, moment of light-headedness, stooping to pick up a shiny halala, or practicing for his physical next week as explanation.
Do you think the President has recited and thought about the words to our Pledge of Allegiance lately? Or contemplated the Oath of Office he swore to 81 days ago? There’s no wiggle room in either prose—they’re both about commitment to the United States of America. Do you think John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” is on his iPod? It should be. Is it not the President’s job to be the country’s Cheerleader in Chief—particularly when abroad? My goodness, man, stand up in front of the podium emblazoned with The Seal of the President of the United States of America, hold your head up, raise your hands about chest high—palms out, and proclaim to your audience, “America, is she a great country or what? A remarkable land of the free where dreams, through sacrifice and commitment to ideals, do come true. I am proof. I rest my case.” Then, if he has any sense of humor, he parodies the UPS Whiteboard commercials and while grinning says, “Now, folks, what can brown do for you?”
Frankly any apologies aired last week should have been offered by others to Obama and America. Apologizing for being gutless cowards first comes to mind. Obama’s request for support in Afghanistan failed other than the token offer of some 5,000 personnel for policing and training duties. No combat forces—for God’s sake someone may get injured or killed. No, no we can’t have that. We’d rather just cower and quiver and tolerate the occasional terror attack on our civilian populace than further antagonize terrorists. They might really try to harm us. We’ll let the Americans take care of us—thank you very much. About a decade ago the European Union moved to a common currency. No question the day has come for the group to case their Union and respective country colors and unfurl a new banner—a plain bright yellow flag to symbolize cowardice. Here’s to “The Funky Chicken” as the Union’s official dance.
Despite the world’s chaos, the United States remains a global power and the one critical to keeping terrorism in check. It may take a while but one of these days the terrorists are going to realize theirs is a hopeless cause. That is provided the United States remains resolute. Bush had it right—you are either with us or against us. It’s pretty simple. Yet President Obama seems to be under the impression his outreach efforts will return old friends to our side and bring in new ones. His naïve good will may be helping his popularity across the oceans but it’s not doing anything for his credibility. And it’s not sitting all that well in America—particularly amongst the conservative crowd. Popularity is important to self-absorbed junior high and high school kids who have little else going for them. Credibility is critical for United States presidents. Along with credibility comes respect. Liking and loving America has nothing to do with respecting America. The conditions are not necessarily interdependent and arguably best when mutually exclusive.
Not surprisingly, there’s waning respect for America these days. Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea, among others, have probed to see what the new American president will do. Now add Somalia and their run amok pirates (aka: terrorists) preying on commercial shipping to the growing list as this week they hijacked, though only temporarily, a U. S. flagged merchant cargo ship with a crew of 20 Americans. Their big mistake was taking the Captain hostage. At least it better prove to be a big mistake. They too are testing the President. Obama must be clear there will be a severe price to pay for treading on U. S. colors. No negotiations. No quid pro quo of any sort. “Draw sword,” Obama—Send in the Marines; the Leathernecks. The Corps’ resume and battle colors tout experience killing pirates. One message of swift, violent, and punishing action—unannounced and without warning—will stop the nonsense. Pain and death are common denominators of all—translation not required. The world is watching.
Theodore Roosevelt had it right when he spoke—“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Our 26th President described his style of foreign policy as “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis.” To “speak softly” is to speak with clarity without threat. “A big stick” is the “two” of the “one-two” punch—force, as promised, to back up policy. The United States has “a big stick”; a great big one—there is not a better trained, equipped, more capable military force on the planet. And we need to keep it that way. Because, like it or not, there are bad people who do not care for us and never will—and it makes no difference who sits in the Oval Office. Every once in a while they need a beating.
By all appearances one has to wonder if Obama fully appreciates his place—our place—in the world order. Though an ever-shrinking and topsy-turvy world, America remains the world leader and the President still holds tools of incredible influence and power. But the tools of influence and power are worthless in the absence of strong leadership.
Pardon while I reach a bit and draw from the canine psychology of Cesar Millan—“The Dog Whisperer.” Millan, an expert when it comes to rehabilitating dogs and training people, says in the dog world pack leaders (they do not have to be dogs) are dominant—they lead. The pack follows. Challengers must be put back in place and quickly. Lack of leadership is perceived as weakness. In the human to dog relationship, Millan purports three fundamental principles for the human to be recognized as pack leader—exercise, discipline, and affection—and in that order. Offer affection first and you, human, are seen as weak. You will be in the pack—not the leader.
Now, drawing parallels between dog and human worlds may seem a bit crazy but there is arguable relevance. Cutting through human’s ability to think, to rationalize, to create civil order through rule of law, cultural diversity, etc., does not negate the fact that, at our core, humans too are genetically predisposed pack-like creatures that succumb to force—to leadership. Think about it—Obama is being tested on many fronts, by friend and foe—the pack, to see if indeed he is a leader. Granted he may be the President of the United States but is President Obama perceived as a “pack leader?” It’s debatable. He certainly violated Millan’s model for establishing pack leader status by offering “affection”—apologies—first during his time abroad. Though off to a less than stellar start, it’s not too late for the President to send loud and clear signals and be unhesitant, when necessary, to enforce them—if he is to succeed protecting our country, furthering our interests, and simultaneously expect the world to take him seriously and respect us. Like and love are irrelevant objectives endeared by the clueless and delusional.
As an aside, the First Family will soon welcome a pooch to their lives. Will it not be interesting to see if the dog is put in its proper place or if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue becomes a great big dog house with a complement of four humans in residence? Remember, the dog does not know it’s the President—and does not care. If there’s weakness, the dog, irrespective of breed, will instinctively take over to fill the leadership void.
As for the presidency, be a “Whisperer”—a pack leader, Mr. Obama. First, “exercise” then “discipline.” Offer “affection” only after you have firmly established your leadership, and only when merited. And, oh by the way, pack leaders do not apologize—or roll over. Leadership is tough. Someone is always nipping at your heels.