Monday, May 09, 2011

The Right Man At The Right Time

A lot is said from both sides of the political aisle about President Obama's policy-making, some of which is pretty unfair. As the bin Laden incident proves, Obama tends to move cautiously until he no longer has to, and then he can be very decisive.
I don't want to make it seem that I agree with all of his decisions, or that his timing is impeccable. Nor do I think he's done all that he can to alleviate many of the problems that face America right now. Too many people are still un- and underemployed, too many people are in dire risk of losing their homes and too many people face catastrophic illness that could and should have been covered already. The nation itself is teetering at the precipice.
Meanwhile, corporations are still making record profits and banksters walked away from the bailout trough with hefty personal bank balances. Even making the generous allowance that most of these crises were created under the former administration, Obama's been President for two years now. Progress has been glacial at best. But I do want to raise an observation.
An overview of American history reveals a pretty stunning insight: somehow, Americans in times of crises, even minor ones, hire the President they need with fair regularity. I think Obama's election was no fluke, but reflects a dynamic that has played out through history: An administration (usually Republican *ahem*) fouls the waters, and the next guy has to come in and clear the mess (usually, a Democrat).
As a liberal, I have to say I'm getting a little tired of cleaning conservative messes, but I digress...
We elect men (sadly, only men so far) who manage to juggle the tricky balls of competence, charisma, and consensus. FDR walked us through World War II and a Great Depression mangled horribly by the Hoover administration. Lincoln took on the challenge of a Civil War and not only won it, but set the tone for the Reconstruction. As far back as George Washington himself, the nation has a pretty good track record of finding someone who is up to a monumental task.
It's when we aren't faced with a major crisis that we screw up, badly (*koffkoffWkoffkoff*).
For me, the irony is that those challenges are precisely when you'd least expect a leader to want the job. Who would want to take on the economy as it unfolded during the 2008 campaign? Would anyone have blamed either Obama or McCain for throwing the election? After all, the underlying nasty truth of our nation is, at heart, a large number of us are a bunch of greedy chickens.
Yea, I'm looking at you, "tax cut and spenders." The corollary of that truth is, those same people are the first to criticize the guy who does roll up his sleeve and get to work on a problem.
I think, at the end of the day, the collective wisdom of Americans comes through. We can ignore the siren call of "mo' money" and embrace a man who simply wants to work hard to make the nation better. But really, we'll do that kicking and screaming.