Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

It’s always hard to write something that you’re pretty sure is going to upset or frustrate groups of people — because you never know which group to go after first.white-house-picture

So, let me start with two basic thoughts and then I’ll explain them.

Thought #1: The Democrats need to stop saying what a great president Barack Obama is, because he hasn’t really done anything.

Thought #2: The Republicans need to stop saying what an awful president Barack Obama is, because he hasn’t really done anything.

It was frustrating and tiring to hear all my left-leaning friends and colleagues and the liberal media speak of President Obama on Inauguration Day as if he is almost something more than human. Guess what? He’s a human being who puts his pants on one leg at a time and who might do great things but also might make mistakes.

But it’s been equally frustrating and tiring to hear my right-leaning friends and colleagues and the conservative media speak of President Obama as if he is something less than human. Guess what? He’s a human being who puts his pants on one leg at a time and who might do great things but also might make mistakes.

I read in USA Today about how an elementary school in Hempstead, N.Y. has already been re-named to honor the president.  Seriously? Doesn’t this border on fanaticism and hero worship? Are we that desperate as a country and a people? Have things gotten so bad that we must manifest hope in a single individual and then cling to him like some kind of life raft that will carry us away from the wreckage and return us again to a life we can enjoy? How sad.

Things are simply not that bad. But they will be if you put all of your stock in one man — if you fail to see his faults and put your full faith in his ideals instead of yours. Things will get worse if you believe that only President Obama and the government he wishes to recreate in his vision is the only thing that can save you. President Gerald Ford once said, “A government large enough to give you everything you want is a government large enough to take away everything you have.” And he was right.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have Republicans who can only find fault. A group of conservatives was on FOX News tonight discussing the inauguration and the flubbed oath of office. They wanted to make an issue out of the fact that President Obama didn’t say the oath correctly and had to repeat it later behind closed doors. What’s worse is they tried to make an issue out of the fact that during the private swearing in, the president didn’t have his hand on a Bible.

Seriously? Both President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts flubbed their lines. And later, just to be extra cautious, President Obama decided to redo the oath. The thing is, it wasn’t necessary. Many constitutional and legal scholars have said the president became president at noon on Jan. 20, long before the goofed up oath or the perfect oath were taken. That’s because the oath of office is something the president takes because it’s important, not because it’s required. And presidents put their hands on a Bible for emphasis and, honestly, for showmanship. Doing so is not required if you want to be president.

Have we become so negative and hateful that we cannot disagree with someone without vilifying them? How sad.

So to all of you on both sides of the aisle — those of us stuck in the middle don’t appreciate the clowns to the left and the jokers to the right. Just let President Obama do his work. Let him do his best. I didn’t vote for him because I don’t support his policies. I probably never will, but there’s not much I can do about that. Enough people in this country disagreed with me and those who felt like me on Election Day that we were outvoted.

That’s the American way. That’s what makes me proud to be an American. And, come Election Day 2012, I’ll cast my ballot for president. I’m not sure yet how I’m voting, I’d rather wait and see what happens. If I’m right, there will be four years of policies I can’t stand and that I believe will make this country worse off and I’ll vote for someone other than the incumbent. If I’m wrong, hallelujah, things will be better and I’ll give President Obama four more years to continue his work.

Agree with me or not. I don’t care. It’s America. I’m entitled to my opinion, and I’ll gladly fight to defend your freedom to have an opinion, too — even when it differs from mine.

As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”

And what a sweet sound it is.

* Picture courtesy of

9 comments on “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

  1. Obama has done a lot

    openess and transparancy initiatives?

    he is not open to his own Dept of Labor

    After I criticised Obama’s job plan as being too small, Obama’s jobs plan was updated on Jan 8th to create or replace 2,500,000 jobs

    On Jan 10 the Labor Dept announced 2,600,000 jobs were lost in 2007

    Wouldn’t you think a leader formulating a jobs plan would talk to, even consult with, his jobs dept, aka labor dept, etc, before shooting off his mouth?

    So Obama’s fight against Global Warming starts with 100,000 fewer jobs

    I like your blog

    Care to reciprocally exchange blogroll links?

    Also, read about Obama’s Love Affair of the Century which treats his “opennessand transparancy” at


  2. I’m glad to see hope and optimism, but I feel like the current state of the country is sugar coated. While the message of the campaign was “change,” the economy isn’t going to get any better for at least another year. So, will there really be change? I’m waiting for the honeymoon between the new president and the media to be over. Once reality sets in, we’ll all realize how much poop we are currently in.

    I guess you can describe me as “cautiously optimistic.” I like to keep who I vote for in a lockbox (kind of like Al Gore) but all I have to say is this country has work to do.


  3. I completely agree. Let’s give the guy some breathing room and see what he does. There is plenty of news out there without manufacturing it just so that it has something to do with Obama.


  4. Ari, well said, as always. I do hope that conservatives continue to point out what they see as flaws in Obama’s strategies. I just hope they do so in a constructive way. When I see Obama, I see a man I really admire…a good husband and father, extremely well spoken, driven, and dedicated. These are all wonderful traits, so I hope conservative media takes the high road and attacks the policies, not the man. The personal attacks on George W. Bush in the past month have been maddening. I understand why people were ready for him to go, but, there should be more respect for the office of the president.

    One area where I disagree with you just a touch…I think it’s just fine that schools are renaming themselves after President Obama, even this early on. Becoming the first African American president in our history is worth honoring and celebrating, even if he goes on to be an abysmal failure.

    I hope he succeeds, though. I didn’t vote for him the first time around, but I’d like nothing more than to vote for him in four years based on a healthy economy and a peaceful, secure world. If he can pull that off, I’ll vote for him in a second.


  5. I appreciate the non-partisan tone you are approaching this with. Even though we have different beliefs, I always liked you.

    There is too much deification and vilification prevalent in society today. I did vote for him because more than policies (you’ll never agree with everything someone does) I believe that he wants to change the tone, the way that things work and the direction of the country.

    “Have things gotten so bad that we must manifest hope in a single individual and then cling to him like some kind of life raft that will carry us away from the wreckage and return us again to a life we can enjoy? How sad.”

    I do think that for a large portion of the country there is a belief that things have gotten that bad. Furthermore, I think people see him as a figure head that they can respect and believe in as opposed to a figure head that you should respect just bcs they hold an office.

    As much as I may want to, I don’t think it is the blame of one individual but is a lack of personal responsibility and the divisive atmosphere of our country (us v. them, no matter what the issue) that is predominant. If we can put aside ideological differences and really work to compromise and make a difference, we would be better off.

    Mike-more than conservatives pointing out flaws in strategy, the country needs to keep watch on him and everyone else. There are plenty of liberals who have found things to dislike in Obama so far (can anyone say Rick Warren?) But the Warren example is something that I think is telling about Obama, the mix of Gene Robinson, Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery is a nod to many different groups in America.


  6. Oh your words! I couldn’t have said them better. I will say, I think your comment about FOXnews was a little off. I think the reason for the “picking” is because of the liberal tone of media for the last 8 years…oh, wait they are still “picking” apart Bush!


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