In the late summer of 2008 White America, the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Jewish and Hispanic America were mesmerized. All indications were that the voters of the United States just might elect a black President, some fellow named Barack Hussein Obama. All the racial guilt white America had carried for hundreds of years was about to be exorcised, forgiven. It was a delicious idea, a delirious idea, one that made well-meaning Americans giddy; the thought that the nation could possibly elect a black President had them purring like kittens.
Yet, no one in their right mind would elect a raw, young, inexperienced, untested man or woman to be CEO of Ford Motor Company, Wells Fargo, the Cleveland Clinic, Microsoft, or to replace Warren Buffet no matter what their race. The voters were so giddy they ignored or brushed aside all caution and warning signs and insisted on crowning an untried, inexperienced youth as the nation’s President.
It reminds me of a song Nat King Cole made popular when I was a boy. The verse began, “It was fascination I know and it might have ended right there at the start.” Would that the nation’s fascination with a black man being elected president had ended right there at the start. “Just a passing glance, just a brief romance And I might have gone on my way Empty hearted.” And, oh, that the voters had had but a brief romance with their new presidential candidate and had gotten over their fascination and had elected someone else.
Few asked whether it was possible for a man with no business management and no political leadership experience to be a successful President or to effectively lead a nation as great as the United States. A few hinted that the challenge might be a bit too much, but they were quickly branded chronic trouble makers and promptly schussed. Besides, everyone knew the new President would have the Congress and the Democrat Party elites to help him, plus he would be surrounded with very capable advisers, experts who would lead him around and through all the political hurdles and IEDs. All he need do was follow their advice, a very simple proposition.
A leader may have access to the sharpest, best educated, and most intelligent minds in the world, but if he doesn’t listen to their advice, he may as well surround himself with dunces. Unfortunately for us all, our current president has not surrounded himself with the best talent available; some of his advisers are sadly lacking in experience, talent and accomplishment.
As for following good advice, there is also a requirement to have a faculty for knowing which advice is good and which is not; which to follow and which to ignore. That faculty seems to be sadly lacking in the Obama Administration. Someone needs to tell the President that Leadership 101 teaches that he can’t keep on ignoring, insulting and blaming his political opponents for his own mistakes and then expect them to come to his rescue when he finds himself in trouble.
The song goes on to tell the rest of the tale. “Then I touch your hand and next moment I kiss you. Fascination turned – to – love.” And so it was with America’s voters. They were so fascinated with this fellow Obama that they couldn’t get enough of the presidential pretender. The more they touched or saw of him the more they were fascinated by him and the more they wanted to be near them, and the more they wanted him to be their leader; some women in his audiences became so excited at the sight of him that they swooned. As far as the American voters in general were concerned — white and black — he could do no wrong; and their fascination with him did turn to love.
Love washed over the tumultuous crowds that followed him to his inauguration; not many of those who attended that heady spectacle realized that, though some of the things his lovely voice said that day in the facile, bland address were pertinent to the immediate problems facing the United States of America, his administration’s remedies, like ObamaCare, would be badly thought through or built on an outright lie. And yes, if you liked your doctor, your plan, and your deductible you could not keep them. Whether a citizen’s skin color was black or white was irrelevant.
But for the new president, skin color was everything and he did his best to drive a wedge between America’s races. Still, Americans were fascinated with the idea of electing a black president and would settle for nothing less – America’s destiny could not be spoiled. No white candidate, no matter how well qualified he or she might be, stood a chance of derailing the candidacy of this “clean, articulate, intelligent” young man whose time had come.
And so it happened, white America’s racial guilt was exorcised, or at least the new President promised to expunge it and lead black Americans onward to Valhalla. As with so many things, such as his State of the Union messages, the new President talked a good game but results were sparing, at best disappointing.
Ah, but while it lasted, it was a fascinating romance.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/acaben/3215197819/