Monday, October 12, 2009

More Promises From Obama

Barack Obama can’t win.

In the past few months of his new administration, the president’s health care reform bill has stalled, the closing of Gitmo has been as mired as his plans for what to do in Afghanistan, and he went to Denmark thinking he was the lynch-pin in securing Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. America (and thusly, the Obama Administration) was slapped across the face by the IOC with a first round dismissal.

And I won’t even get into the whole Nobel Peace Prize award, contending it was not his doing and he was going to be criticized for taking or declining the award.

But when the president accepted the Nobel Peace prize, he said it was a “call to action.”

That quote got me thinking. Barack has called all of us to higher action, more involvement in our communities, etc., but we’ve really not seen any action since his historic election last year.

Saturday was another example. Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign annual dinner in DC, the president received a standing ovation when he reasserted his campaign promise to revoke the gutless and shameful military policy that Bill Clinton initiated in 1993 of homosexuals’ service in our military.

Obama, eloquent as usual, stated that he will, “end ‘don’t ask-don’t tell. I appreciate that many of you don’t believe progress has come fast enough. Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach.”

Once again, the president made no clear, decisive remarks on a timetable and never stated a goal of when the ban would be lifted on gays who proudly serve in the military. This is just another example of what the president’s term has been about: great ideas, no real sense of urgency or direction, and no end date. One gay activist said that although the speech was brilliant, “it lacked the answer to our most pressing question, which is when.”

Stand in line, sir. That has been a major complaint of not only partisan hacks who want this administration to fail, but also of key Dems who are tired of sitting on their hands and waiting for a timeline…for anything.

Obama’s Achilles heel in his administration has been his unwillingness or vague realization that anyone can have ideas; it’s the decisive execution that counts. If Thomas Edison, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson or even Jesse James had all these ideas and never took action and made them realities, they would not be famous (or in James’ case, infamous).

The time for pretty prose and inspirational oratory is over. Barack Obama has got to roll his shirt sleeves up, get his hands dirty, and take decisive action.

Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, says that his group has, “never had a stronger ally in the White House.” Careful what you wish for. Sometimes allies can make you stronger, helping you to reach your goal, (e.g., the Brits in WWII) or they bring inaction and ultimately become your enemy (e.g., the Soviet Union during and post WWII).

Barack Obama was ushered into the White House on a message of Hope and Change.

Hope is theoretical construct with no onus, no accountability. It’s all based on “if.” Change is a hard, steady grind that doesn’t come easy. Let’s hope Obama learns how to grind out some victories for this country instead of wishing for “ifs.”

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