Today is the 64th day of Obama’s presidency: the honeymoon is almost over. The US is trillions of dollars in debt, the jobless rate is rising, and not even Bill Gates can get a loan from the frozen-solid banks. Do any of those things make you chuckle? Probably not, but by now all of you have probably seen Obama’s interview where he openly laughed about the problems facing the United States. Obama stated he needed a little “gallows humor” to make it through the day. I’m still not laughing.
To try to put Obama’s second public blunder in four days into perspective (See Obama and the Special Olympics for number 1), I thought I’d draw a comparison to FDR’s fireside chats of the early 1930s. Although I’m not the first person to compare Obama to Roosevelt, I may be the first person to use it to condemn Obama’s actions rather than praise them.
Whether you like or dislike FDR’s politics, it is difficult to deny that he was a statesman and connected well with the American public. Much like Obama’s purpose for accepting interviews with Jay Leno and 60 Minutes, Roosevelt used public communication to reach out to Americans. FDR spoke slowly and used conventional language at the fireside to inform the general public about the programs being implemented through the New Deal. He made clear attempts to engage and include all Americans in his talks. Roosevelt did not speak in a condescending manner, but rather spoke as a wise leader, stressing that Americans should not fear in the trying times facing the country. He even took the time to express his appreciation of the American public. He stated, “I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me…”
To say the least Obama is not FDR. Not only is Obama’s tone often condescending, it likely reaches the level of narcissistic. His public appearances in the past week can be likened to those of actors publicizing their most recent movies. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama doesn’t appear to care whether he takes the opportunities in the public spotlight to calm nerves. Instead, by laughing and joking about the failing economy, Obama ostracizes himself from the millions of Americans currently struggling to make ends meet. Any wisdom he may have is trumped by his overbearing effort to be cool and popular.
Luckily, more and more Americans are realizing that we don’t need a cool President who makes good NCAA Tourney picks. Right now we need a wise leader who can engage and include Americans in a plan that is positive for the entire country, not just for the publicity of one man: the President.