"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Asses to Kick and Other Great Quotes in Presidential History

We can now add President Obama's words to the list of immortal quotes that will forever be remembered by historians. No, I'm not talking about "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" although I think that would make one heck of a catchphrase on a Friday night sitcom. Actually, given the direction of unemployment and the national debt, it could become the catchphrase of this entire presidency.

In his latest interview with Matt Lauer, our president one-upped all of his previous non-teleprompter moments, including "The police acted stupidly" and "Doctors might say hey, I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out." Those were his greatest hits, but now you can add the BP oil spill to the list. Here's what the president said:

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talkin’ heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standin’ in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

So far most of the talkin' heads, to use the president's lingo, have focused on the vulgar language at the end... "I want to know whose ass to kick." Admittedly, it fails to ring as true and eloquent as "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" or "Ask not what your country can do for you..." as far as great quotes in presidential history. But it's worse than that. Say the line out loud. I WANT TO KNOW WHOSE ASS TO KICK! What does that remind you of? Because I'm pretty sure it's the kind of dialogue one hears when watching two MTV Real World cast members yell at each other after a night of binge drinking. Or expressed on the three ring circus that is the Jerry Springer Show. Forget Bush's cowboy mentality. This is caveman mentality. And yet that crude sentence came out of the mouth of our president during a tame sit-down press interview with a liberal pussy cat like Matt Lauer? I can only imagine what he would have said to Bret Bayer (and you can bet there would have been more bleepin bleeps.)

Still, let's not get lost in potty mouth land. There's a bigger lesson here and it would be advantageous for all of us if the president learned it before the next crisis. Americans don't want a boss or leader who points fingers when the crap hits the fan (ironically, I just used more restraint than the president). They don't want name-calling and divisiveness. They want an executive who pools resources together, communicates positively, and instills confidence in his people. Can you say that about Barack Obama's handling of this crisis? Absolutely not. Can you imagine this president during the Apollo 13 mission? We would have lost three astronauts in space while NASA sat paralyzed and Obama talked to experts to figure out "whose uranus to kick."

In times of crisis, a person who looks for the politically expedient thing to do is a coward, not a leader. A leader gets on the phone and gives a pep talk. A leader sets aside blame and looks for a way to bring everyone together. A leader wants to take responsibility. A leader surges in Iraq and succeeds while the squeemish call for retreat and cowards call it a "quagmire."

Obama hasn't even talked to the CEO of BP since this disaster took place. They should be communicating weekly, not so the president can scold BP as he suggested people wanted him to do, but so he can simply provide encouragement and boost morale. The sad fact is this administration is too ideologically driven; too anti-corporate, anti-profit, and anti-oil to see the benefits of a short term partnership.

Dennis Miller got it right during the campaign when he said about Barack Obama, "I don't notice the color of his skin. However, I do note the thinness of it." President Obama can't stand criticism. He frets and pouts about it. It consumes him so much he's got his FTC looking for ways to tax unfavorable media. He's always bringing up "the talkin' heads" and demonizing conservative news outlets. He complains like a school child about how he had to "stand in the rain." What a pity party from our Narcissist-in-Chief.  The fact that this type of thinking pervades the oval office should terrify even his most ardent supporters.

For Obama, who gets thrown under the bus is way more important than the problem the speeding bus presents. For Obama, this is a PR crisis that has to be managed with interviews and photo-ops. For the rest of us, it is an ecological disaster with huge economic implications. Ultimately, a nation in crisis just wants to be reassured. The president has failed to do that, instead trying to take advantage of the situation politically. Sadly, this White House is incapable of thinking any other way.


  1. Thank You for posting this! I love your blog!!

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