When kids are growing up and asked what they want to be when they’re older, some poor, misguided souls claim they want to be “President of the United States.” Personally, I can imagine few positions I’d rather hold less than the presidency, but maybe that’s just me. I’m also of the mind that no one who WANTS to be in such a powerful position should ever be ALLOWED to be in that position to begin with, but that’s another problem entirely.
This interesting NPR write-up examines an issue that cuts to the core of political division in the United States: scapegoatism. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be the President, especially if you attain the office with the intention of trying to do good for the country. I’m sure most go into it thinking they can help the people they love, shepherd those people into a new age of prosperity, elevate them above where they are collectively on inauguration day. How disappointing that moment must be when you, the purported “most powerful person in the world” realize just how ineffectual you are; how self-destructive and resistant to the most basic, beneficial change those people are. They don’t know what’s good for them and they know not what they do, but you can’t dictate what should or shouldn’t change, because you’re supposed to be one of them.
It’s a hell of a catch-22. I believe Obama actively wants to do good, and although he (as with all presidents) has gotten caught in the complicated dance of mission, expectation, and opposition, he has done some good. That’s not to say he’s without flaws. I disagree with his expansion of what I’ll summarize as “Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ policies,” for one. His lack of commitment to the LGBT community has been sad and he’s done pretty much nothing for my generation and anyone younger. But the point is, he seems to be genuinely trying. I get the impression he cares.
All of this is to say that it would be nice if the U.S. citizens dispensed with absolutism in their judgments of his performance and adopted a more nuanced, informed understanding. Despite his best efforts, President Obama and everyone who helps him to achieve the goal of betterment are only human and the world is a more complicated place by the day. Although advances in technology have expanded our view, it seems the public’s thought processes have yet to keep pace. I guess that’s just human nature. Anyway, the article says all of this better than I can manage, so I defer to Mr. Weeks’ analysis.
Dean Keith Simonton: “For good or ill, Obama will also be judged according to criteria that must be considered unjust by any rational standard — most notably the economy. Even though the U.S. president has very little control over economic growth — particularly now that the economy has become global — he still is saddled with the blame for a bad economy.”