I have met J. Danforth Quayle twice. Both times, my fellow liberals acted in a way toward him that made me feel digusted.
This is not to say that I have a towering modicum of respect for Quayle himself. I do not—in fact, I find Quayle to have been one of the more repulsive American political actors in recent memory. However, I did not think that county Democrats should have attempted to shout the man down as he tried to speak, and I did not think that reporter in our little press pool should have asked him to spell “potato.” It’s called “respect for the office.” And most presidents—except, perhaps, the one who did not actually acquire the office via voting—deserve a bit of it.
People seem to have forgotten that the President of the United States is actually several jobs in one. It is true that he or she is the primary leader on public policy for his or her party. However, he or she is the country’s ceremonial leader as well. He or she is prime minister and queen all rolled up into one. This aspect of the job affords the luxury of the “bully pulpit,” named such by President Theodoore Roosevelt—back when the word “bully” was not archaic as an adjective meaning “sublime.” The President is supposed to lead not only on politics and policy, but to provide leadership on social and cultural mores as well. A good President will not only produce results, but he or she will inspire as well.
I say that people seem to have forgotten about this role because many “conservatives” made a lot of hay regarding President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech today to America’s school children. It is disgusting that this non-issue issue reared its ugly head. But it is not surprising. It is the continued perpetuation of the meme of Obama as “the other,” the meme of the “terrorist fist bump,” of the dashiki-donning Obama, of the “birthers.” What it is, specifically, whether conciously or unconciously, is, “You’re going to allow that Negro to speak directly to your kids? Really?”
It is pathetic, because part of what Obama’s presidency is about is the reclamation of the bully pulpit following its sheer neglect during the years of the office’s previous occupant. Go out and shop, W. Boosh told us after September Eleventh. That, friends, should have been the BP’s finest hour, but it was squandered on an idiot. And now, we’ve at last got a President who might be the most effecitive bully-pulpitter evar, and all’s you morons can do is whisper and buzz that he’s trying to turn your kids into some kind of weird socialist-fascist hybrid that doesn’t exist?
The discussion that’s taken place over the last week regarding this issue may be—no, IS—is the most stupid, most vapid, most disrespectful, and most vile thing I’ve seen Americans do since the macarena. The President of the United States, who won in November with the most electoral votes since 1996, wants to tell America’s kids to do their friggin’ homework, and people fuss and fret about it like he’s Genghis Khan?
Stay classy, America!