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Mr. President, It’s Time to Slow Down

John on September 18, 2009 at 1:17 am

full-speed-aheadPresident Obama arrived on the scene with a lot of energy and a laundry list of promises to fulfill. He was fond of saying that he was a man capable of doing more than one thing of a time.

The President’s Chief of Staff wanted to push the pace too. He told a group of CEO’s last year that one should never waste a crisis. The economy was a crisis. Health reform was a crisis. Cap and Trade was a crisis, though most Americans and most Congresspeople didn’t seem to agree.

There were deadlines too. Obama promised over and over that there would be a vote on health reform before August. Then it was a bill passed before year’s end.

All the rushing seemed to be working for a while. There certainly was a lot of activity and a sense of momentum on certain issues.

The ship of state is an ocean liner not a speedboat.But it’s a funny thing about frentic activity. The faster you go, the more heat you generate. Eventually, the heat can overwhelm the useful work being done. Friction is a bitch.

I think we’ve been seeing that haven’t we? Out in the country and in the news.

Now I know this is where the finger pointing starts, which is sort of the point. A lot of people on both sides are pissed right now.

Conservatives are pissed about what seems to many of us like a not-so-gentle shift toward European socialism. I don’t mean that as name-calling, I mean literally. Cap-and-trade is European socialism. The public option isn’t quite European socialism but it’s certainly the path designed to take us there.

But it’s not just policies, it’s politics. That report on right-wing extremists seemed really broad. And, more recently, we really, really don’t like being called racists for opposing the President’s policies.

On the other hand, progressives are pretty we-weed up too. They’re angry about “death panels” and the fact that the public option seems to be going down to defeat, much less the single-payer a lot of them really want. They can’t even get a vote on that. They don’t think Obama should be blamed for the deficit, most of which was not his doing. None of it seems fair.

And getting back to that political rhetoric stuff, they don’t like people insinuating they aren’t “real Americans.” It sounds a lot like, “Back of the bus.” We’re all real Americans.

Back and forth it goes with no time to cool down.

The Crowley vs. Gates mess was next. Everybody, including me, is pissed about this for one reason or another. Conservatives are pissed that a liberal like Gates sees a cop and starts shouting about racism. Liberals are pissed that a cop arrests a man who was only trying to get into his own house. Tasty beers aside, it was a lose-lose for the country.

And then someone shoots Dr. Tiller and suddenly things seem to have taken a really dark turn. And then the museum shooting. And now we’re back to that report on right-wing extremists and people are talking about the “culture of hate” that bred these killers.

For intermission, we’ve got the town halls where both sides are shouting, but mostly those against Obama’s reform plan. The media has already decided those people are a rabid mob. The press psychoanalyzes them, but doesn’t really listen. One reporter is told her story will only get on air if there’s a row. It’s good TV and it fits the narrative.

But then a guy selling little flags gets beaten. And a guy gets his finger bitten off! And some of us on the right notice that all the violence seems to be coming from the other side, the side that wasn’t labeled a mob. And that pisses us off even more.

Then last week a guy went on a rampage and killed two people. One was an elderly guy on oxygen whose crime was they he held up graphic pro-life signs. He was shot through the sign he was carrying and died immediately. And suddenly political murder has victims and perpetrators on both sides of the aisle.

He was a lone nut. That’s the story this week.

Now the police seem to be intimating that the Annie Le murder might have a political angle. This is not a good trend we’ve got going.

You know we’ve reached a point of serious concern when Nancy Pelosi, Joe Klein and Ace at AOS are all calling for people to watch their rhetoric within a 24 hour period. This must be a once in a lifetime conjunction of the planets. Hopefully it’s not a sign of the end of days.

Ace wrote:

But her hypocrisy cannot push us away from what we know to be right: Some kind of rhetoric really is fairly dangerous, and, while it won’t put any evil thoughts (or more likely — reinforce evil thoughts already long-present) in the minds of most, it does have the possibility in doing that in a few.

And it’s that few we worry about.

He’s right. I’m worried some nut is going to take a shot at the President. From the left or right I don’t know. Maybe both or neither.

I’m worried I’ll wake up to learn that a government building or a Congressman’s office or a recruiting station or who knows what all is in flames. I’m worried the heat is soaking in to the fringe elements on both sides. There’s only one way to stop it.

We’ve got to slow down.

The ship of state is an ocean liner not a speedboat. Democracy and speed don’t mix all that well. It takes time to get everyone informed and involved. Surfing from crisis to crisis is a way to bypass a process that wasn’t meant to be bypassed. The more we rush, the more scraping metal and grinding bearings we’ll hear. And if we’re not careful, something is going to come shooting out of a cylinder head and scare the hell out of all of us.

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