Does Obama have the "juice" as ABC's Jonathan Karl put it, in a question to the president at Tuesday's press conference, marking the first 100 days of the second term of the U.S. President?
In the President's words, "The way you put it, Jonathan, makes it sound as if I should just pack my bags and go home, gollllly!...Like Mark Twain, reports of my demise are slightly exaggerated."
And the theme of the president's juice was picked up today by Tom Ashbrook in his radio talk program, On Point, aired daily on NPR.
Running through both the press conference and the radio talk fest are two parallel themes:
1) Can the president get passed the legislation he has proposed, and bully-pulpitted almost to death?
2) Is the president too aloof and too cerebral and thereby has failed to develop personal relationships with members of both houses of Congress?
However, it was a 76-year-old caller to the On Point program who cut through the abstractions, the intellectualisms, the political prevaracating and the obfuscation...."From what I can see, having lived through the Equal Rights Act, if you were to scratch most of the members who opposed the president, you would find, barely beneath the surface, a BIGOT!"
The Southern Poverty Law Centre has documented the dramatic rise in militia groups in the United States since 2009, the first year of Obama's second term. They attribute the spike to a deep and profound contempt for the president. Others have researched the background reasons why some members of the Senate refused to vote for expanded background checks for gun purchases and found that, while some of the Senators favoured the proposed as it was drafted on a bipartisan basis, by Senators Manchion and Toomey, they refused to "give the president anything that he wanted" in the form of legislation.
And while some in both parties, Democrats and Republicans, feared being primaried if they cast a vote in favour of the bill, there can be little doubt that, following the Mitch McConnell dictum in the first term of the Obama adminstration that his primary goal was to assure the Obama would be a one-term president, the level of contempt for this president is both deep and visceral.
And, when he joked, at the Correspondent's Dinner at the White House, about some critics suggesting that he "have a drink with Mitch McConnell"..."Really?" Why don't YOU have a drink with Mitch McConnell?" he was not merely cracking a well-scripted joke; he was uttering his words for "finger-in-the-eye" to McConnell.
And so he should! McConnell has been nothing but a political bowel obstruction, to both the country and the president, since Obama won the first victory in 2008.
Another caller to the On Point program, this time a woman not only agreed with the septaginarian, but went even further, almost breaking down in tears, so upset is she that the Congress is behaving in such a shameful way, like school children, and the country is being held hostage to their infantilism.
Listening to the president throughout his press conference, and later to the media's judgement that he has become a lame-duck president barely 100 days into the second term, I am both shocked and dismayed by their profoundly critical characterization of the president's resignation to the political realities that he has faced since becoming president.
Here is a man whose command of each of the many files is both exhaustive and nuanced.
Here is a man whose breadth of perspective embraces the widest possible range of American people and who proposes action when and where he is confident the people are in support.
Here is a man whose equanimity and scholarship, not to mention his command of both the language and the legal complexities within which he is expected to operate, are exemplary, and equip him for every public performance, regardless of the emotion, the tragedy, the grief, the firmness, and even the resolve which each different situation requires and demands.
In nearly five years on the job, (and I have watched every public appearance for which I could find a video transmission) I have never experience the slightest twinge of inappropriateness, maladroitness, or failure to articulate both the goals he has set and the arguments on which those goals are based.
This is a world statesman, whose job is clearly the most demanding on the planet, and whose own Congress is one of his strongest opponents, when the world is going through one of the most challenging periods in recent history...from an economical, medical, environmental, military, national security and even a jurisditional perspective. And while he commits each and every file to his intellect, and imposes on each file and subordinate a discipline and a rigour not only to find and corroborate the facts but also to seek the most visionary and pragmatic recommendations, his legislative branch, his legal branch and even some of his bureaucratic arms of government seem predisposed to derail anything he proposes.
Senator Chuck Shumer from New York, upon learning that the President was going to deliver a speech just recently in Nevada on his proposals for a comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, phoned the president and asked him not to deliver that speech. "Whatever you are in favour of will be opposed, so it is better that you find what you can in a bill developed by Congress and support it where you can," ran the Shumer argument....and Shumer is a Democrat, and a supporter of the President!
It is not only the people of the United States, but also the people of the world who need all the contributions we can be given from this president, whose steady hand, and balanced and cautious approach, and incisive mind and spirit comprise a unique and gifted leader and a deep and honourable human being...
And it is time for the political "class" in the United States to come to terms with the historic needs and aspirations of their people, and open the gates of their armoured and closed, even gated, minds to the potential of their government, led by this man who is merely attempting to give voice and wings to the American spirit....while the Congress has not only clipped his wings, but also those of the country's potential and the world is the less for their effort, as, of course, are they!