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As Long as We Remember...

March 16, 2009

Where’s the “Ownership,” Mr. President?

Steven R. Berryman

During the election cycle of 2008 it became the standard rhetoric for candidate Barack Obama and his wife to distance themselves from the elements of what it meant to “be American.”


Pride in country, and patriotism were given the status of jingoism to the point that one wondered why he actually wanted to be our president.


Now that the Democrats are fully in power in 2009, and are still celebrating the new spoils, why is the new and Obamacised America not being embraced by its new self-declared architect?


Over the past week, we have witnessed attempts to “blame (President George W.) Bush” at every opportunity; and if I’ve heard: “We inherited this problem” once…


Mr. President, allow me to take the liberty of explaining to you, just how this all works, courtesy of facts-of-life that I learned along the way during a past 24-year retail career.


My recollection, upon being assigned a new store to manage, for instance, was the clarion wake-up call, usually from a district manager. You own this place, period. End of conversation.


It’s simple: You own all of the problems that you discovered the day you walked into the store – or Oval Office – just as surely as if you had personally created each and every one of them yourself!


You may not, Mr. President, say what many Germans said following their defeat in World War II: “I vass in Switzerland during ze war.”


Complicit, duplicit, or ignorant beforehand, it makes no difference now. For we go forward. We play the hand we have been dealt!


And you pleaded and begged, and bartered, and made deals with the devil to get this job; so make the best effort of it, stop your blame-game, as so many are counting on you to do so.


And what of political dissention?


Why all of a sudden is it your cause for alarm to run into resistance, Mr. President? Do patriots pushback in their loyal opposition, or pull in their tails in defeat? What did you expect? Was President Bush given a free ride?


Our adversarial system is “necessarily frictional,” and was purposefully designed to be so. The debate and argument is the process.


A new press secretary could be a fresh start for you, as the senior excuse maker is none too creative, and is certainly no Tony Snow.


Why are you not taking advantage of this glorious honeymoon period, completely immune to a press corps due diligence? It has never been easier to act presidentially, and be rewarded for it in the popular press.


Attacking Rush Limbaugh just makes me laugh! The giant “lovable fuzz ball” was your Tar-Baby in-wait. You grabbed on. It stuck. You just gave your most loyal opposition millions more listeners.


Unfortunately for Republicans, so did Michael Steele. His clawing-back into everyone’s good graces has been a true learning experience, but one in the cavalier “nothing ventured, nothing gained” spirit.


And that was in-character for the most creative Mr. Steele.


The difference is that the on-the-job-training suffered by the national Republican Party head was a predictable consequence of circumstances: The GOP is searching out the new center for the party for the needed expansion of the base, and pushing buttons is a tactic born of necessity.


Now, presidential on-the-job-training is an animal of a different color.


Assuming that more and more cabinet members, appointees, and advisors actually stay and keep their jobs, there is no excuse for the president to act on bad advice. In fact, with many paths presented on any given position or policy, even the worst choice among many should have a limited downside, considering the quality of said apparatchiks.


So, Mr. President, as you sit at your poker table, and consider how to play your hand, surrounded by friends: Look to your right. Look to your left. Look all around the table, and if you don’t see the pigeon, then the pigeon is you.


And just because you don’t like your hand, doesn’t mean that you don’t own it.


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