With the 24/7 cable TV news cycle now beamed all the world, President Barack Obama must be wondering whether he will ever have a moment of peace again. If it isn’t the Tea Party people calling him a socialist, it’s disenchanted Republicans saying his administration couldn’t care less about being bipartisan. As the nation becomes further polarized ideologically, the president is given no quarter in the criticism department.
And now the far left is after him. Recently the president’s speech was interrupted in Los Angeles by protestors yelling about the military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Signed by President Clinton, this directive orders military authorities not to inquire about homosexuality and tells gay military personnel not to talk about it.
President Obama is on record as saying he wants to revoke the policy and allow gays to serve openly. But that does not seem to be enough for some dissenters. They want revocation right this minute and are confronting Mr. Obama. Last week, police had to clear Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, because the protestors became so rowdy. That was extremely unusual, as the park is traditionally set aside for dissenters.
Also, peace activists Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan have now branded the president as a “war-monger” for not pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, which, of course, would immediately lead to thousands of deaths. It’s interesting; the peace-niks apparently don’t care if many people die violent deaths as long as “peace” is embraced. And they don’t seem to be bothered by the fact that Afghan women would be brutalized if the Taliban returns. Give peace a chance? Sure, if you don’t mind women not being able to leave the house.
Before television and radio, presidents largely had it made. Teddy Roosevelt often groused about unfair attacks in the print press, but old Teddy could shoot animals all day long and nobody said a word about it.
James Buchanan had no idea what he was doing, and his incompetence directly led to the Civil War. Yet Buchanan could sleep well at night knowing that few knew he was a nitwit.
Even John F. Kennedy understood that he had the media under control and could do pretty much what he wanted in his off hours. The presidency is a stressful job; apparently Kennedy dealt with that stress in ways that would have made him an Internet sensation today.
The truth is that the modern American president is a piñata. It’s Whack-A-Mole time on Pennsylvania Avenue. Every second of every day, somebody is hammering the Chief Executive.
This kind of stuff takes a toll. Many brilliant Americans simply will not enter politics because they don’t want their spirits crushed. I admire the resiliency of President Obama, just as I admired President Bush’s pluck. These are tough guys, like ’em or not.