Can Obama wield a big stick?

In a letter written in 1900, a year before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’” He repeated what he called this "homely old adage" in a speech as president in Chicago in 1903, and twice again in his writings. Every time, it was "Speak softly." – Source: askville.amazon.com


Perhaps the so-called stars of the Republican Party are doing President Obama a favor – masking with their ridiculous rhetoric the very real problems which could damage his leadership and derail his presidency.

Just when it seems Sarah Palin and Rand Paul are trying to out-stupid each other, when John McCain vows the opposition in the U.S. Senate will never support him, when RNC chair Michael Steele calls for an independent investigation into the (gasp!) corruption in his administration and Newt Gingrich pens a book about him so absurd in its thesis as to be laughable, someone with sense comes along and delivers a genuine criticism of the president.

President Obama gets a wake-up call from the powerful op-ed page of the New York Times: Frank Rich’s “Don’t Get Mad, Mr. President, Get Even.”

The irascible Mr. Rich begins by speaking softly:

“It turns out there is something harder to find than a fix for BP’s leak: Barack Obama’s boiling point.

“The frantic and fruitless nationwide search for the president’s temper is now our sole dependable comic relief from the tragedy in the gulf. Only The Onion could have imagined the White House briefing last week where a CBS News correspondent asked the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, if he had ’really seen rage from the president’ and to ‘describe it.’ Gibbs came up with Obama’s ‘clenched jaw’ and his order to ‘plug the damn hole.’ (Thank God he hadn’t settled for ‘darn.’) This evidence did not persuade anyone, least of all Spike Lee, who could be found on CNN the next night begging the president, ‘One time, go off!’”

Lest you think this is leading to a cry for Obama to fight back in the face of critical fools, it is not.

Rich turns to some very valid weaknesses in Obama’s, shall we say, style, then offers the president some very good advice. And, he does so with some rather startling facts.

“This all adds up,” Rich concludes, “to a Teddy Roosevelt pivot-point for Obama, who shares many of that president’s moral and intellectual convictions. But, Obama can’t embrace his inner T.R. as long as he’s too in thrall to the supposed wisdom of the nation’s meritocracy, too willing to settle for incremental pragmatism as a goal, and too inhibited by the fine points of Washington policy debates to embrace bold words and bold action. If he is to wield the big stick of reform against BP and the other powerful interests that have ripped us off, he will have to tell the big story with no holds barred.”

This is a DemWit must-read: LINK


Sue said...

President Obama is who he is. He does not rant and rave and fling his fists, spit and spatter like an uneducated cowboy. If he did act like that the righties would have a field day going after him and ripping him a new one. I like calm cool and collected, but I must also add he could show some emotion, not necessarily the anger emotion. I am much happier with an intelligent president over the last one we had any 'ole day!

tnlib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Sumrall said...

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who warned: Speak in anger and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
Instead of talk, try gasoline price roll-backs. Might not stick but might not hurt and makes the point in the pocketbook of Big Oil.

Nance said...

I love the President for keeping a cool head. The man is up to his ass in alligators and he knows it; a person who can calm himself at such times is to be enormously admired and emulated.

If he must act angry in order for his countrymen to feel respect for his leadership, then perhaps he should ACT that way...as long as his cool snaps back in right away. We just don't have time on any of the multiple fronts that plague us in America right now, for a leader who loses it and can't get it back.

He's a man, not a robot. Do you know ANYONE who could go through what he has since taking office and still be standing? This is not reality TV, folks.

B.J. said...

I have read Rich’s column again, and I am still getting the same interpretation. Before I even had an idea of what to write about this morning, I read that Hispanics are very upset with Obama for being too slow with immigration reform. That’s a huge chunk of his base.

I quite blogging for a while, because I simply could not handle all the criticism of the president coming from the left-wing.

I know most DemWit readers – including yours truly – had great hopes that this intelligent and moral leader would help our country overcome the horrors of the Bush years. Obama had his work cut out for him from Day One.

I also am appalled at where the right-wing is going with its criticism of his White House and of Democrats in general. I cannot imagine that any decent Republicans would condone what is being said.

Yet, the polls are showing registered voters are now leaning toward voting Republican in November, and I cannot make that work in my head.

I just came online at 6 p.m. ET Monday and had this from Gallup polls:

“More Americans disapprove (46%) than approve (40%) of President Barack Obama's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama earns a 47% job approval rating overall in Gallup Daily tracking encompassing the same time period.”

I know that some of you say you don’t pay att4ention to polls, but Gallup is an established surveryor of opinion, and it’s one way to check the pulse of the nation. And, other polls are indicating similar results.

You and I, dear reader, are not the ones who need convincing of the leadership ability of Barack Obama.


Sue said...

where are the decent republicans? Are there any left? When I see polls stating the country is leaning towards bringing back republicans I am floored at the fickleness of Americans AND how short their memories are. President Obama deserves our patience and our respect. He has been handed a massive job and expected to turn around the mess this country was in in ONE YEAR. This is what the right and some on the left have expected from him! AND if he doesn't part the Red Sea, or have the Gulf pristine by 2012, God only knows what the country will do to him! It makes me ILL!

B.J. said...

A word of clarification: Blogger must have been having problems this morning. Readers were having problems commenting. Only Sue’s and Bill Sumrall’s comments were emailed to me. I have just discovered the other comments and want to thank each of you for your opinions!

In answer to an email asking WHY I deleted the one comment. I did not. That comment was removed by the reader. I would never delete a comment unless it was obscene or a personal attack against my readers.

Thanks for visiting and commenting! BJ

Ranch Chimp said...

I am actually not dem or rep, but can tell you that I believe that voting rep this november will be a mistake if they gain a majority. Why? Because the nation is in a delicate situation and currently has a plan in place, that simply take's time to work, and cannot work or feel the long sight effect's if you abandon it after only two year's. Then for the next two year's if the rep's did get the majority, all progress would slow down, and any new problem's would suddemly be the fault of the Obama administration. I commented on Mr.Infidel's site not long ago that I feel the rep's may create a problem this november, because so many on his site were commenting that, the rep's havent a snowball's chance in Hell this november, and dont seem concerned about it, thinking dem's will win by a landslide. I pointed out that dem's won landslide in last because of Obama and the not usual voter's and young that stood and waited hour's to vote for him, other than the electorial it was very tight. If these same folk's dont come out in drove's like the last election, the dem's coul;d lose bigtime, then it's downhill for the working classes. Dont believe me ... as usual ... I'll say again ...."watch".

Later Ms.BJ ........

Frodo, at the back of the Man, said...

Be yourself.

Has anyone ever received, or given, better advice?

When the President told the story of his youngest daughter asking if he'd plugged the hole yet, he hit a home run. He was speaking from the confines of his family, his heart. Can you imagine George W. Bush talking about Jenna, from the heart?

Be yourself, Mr. President, and don't get too close to a Tar-Ball.

Tiny said...

On Larry King the other night, when asked, Obama made it clear that he is "furious" about this oil disaster. But, as he said, the people didn't elect me to vent, they elected me to find solutions to the problems. Do any of us have the real picture of just how many problems he is trying to solve at this time?

Rethuglicans are still making light of the oil disaster. Haley Barber (R-MS) was on TV telling everyoone the beaches in MS are safe and to come on down. Yet, I had just read an article that the oil is visible as far as Tampa. Plastic bags of 'tar balls' left sitting on the Pensacola Beach are getting pounded by the incoming waves. So Barber should have added, "We furnish the oil for your sun tans."

Another thing I heard Obama say was that he better not hear that people were brought in to do the clean up in LA, that they are to hire and train the locals to do the job, as well as provide them with adequate safety equipment to do the job and protect their health.

So let the Rethuglicans rant all they want to while our President does all that he can to find the solutions to the mountain of problems inherited from the last appointed ones in the White House.

And in case you haven't heard, another rig blew up in Texas killing three and injuring a large number of others. So the "Drill, Baby, Drill" folks need to be ordered to these sites to "Dredge, Baby, Dredge." The oil from the rig in LA had already reached Texas also.

'Nuff said.