Dear Mr. President,
The problem isn’t you. It’s them, the American people. They just don’t understand how utterly magnificent you are. They don’t realize how undeservedly lucky they are to have you as their president. They should be lavishing you with endless praise, not questioning your impeccable judgement, criticizing your glorious policies, and soiling your good name with low approval numbers. I apologize for them, for they are fools. They just don’t deserve you.
Unconditionally yours, The American Media
It’s the type of letter conservatives suspect the liberal media would collectively compose to President Obama, if journalists were bold enough to put aside their professional reservations, and pen their true thoughts down on paper.
One could make a valid argument, really, that the media has already expressed such sentiment through their biased coverage, selective reporting, and even outright cheer-leading over the past seven years. Still, few would expect a journalist with any sliver of reputability to be so troubled by criticism of our president, that they would feel compelled to publicly call their own nation ungrateful.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened earlier this week with the Chief Washington Correspondent for DecodeDC, Dick Meyer.
Meyer is a seasoned journalist of 30 years, who’s held high-level editorial jobs with CBS News, NPR, and the BBC. He’s also an enormous fan of our president. A super-fan, some might say. He believes that his fellow countrymen should also be fans, and he’s downright embarrassed that not enough of them are. Because of that, he believes the president deserves some form of restitution.
Speaking on behalf of an ungrateful nation, Meyer wrote an op-ed on the topic on Thursday that is getting a fair amount of attention.
Meyer qualifies his piece by saying that he’s never written such a column before, and that he’s not a partisan. But what he has to say is clearly of such vital importance that he can no longer remain silent, not with the president’s final term in office coming to a close. Meyer’s message to the country is this: “Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as president and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can.”
Sounds pretty non-partisan so far, right? Yes, I’m joking. Anyway, this begs the question: Why are we so lucky, and why should we feel especially appreciative?
Well, according to Meyer, “President Obama will go down in history as an extraordinary president, probably a great one,” and that “it would be a morale booster and a sign of civic maturity if more Americans appreciated what an exceptional president they have right now.”
It’s not clear whose morale Meyer thinks would be boosted if those of us who aren’t impressed by the president suddenly changed our tunes, showed some “civic maturity,” and recognized the president’s apparent awesomeness. Is he referring the president’s morale? The country’s? Either way, it sure sounds like we’ve let Mr. Obama down, especially if he’s been as great for the country as Meyer says he has.
What exactly is it that makes President Obama so great, extraordinary, and exceptional? Well, it’s his “accomplishments, ambitious goals, dignity and honesty under tough circumstances” naturally. Those are the things that “demand admiration and appreciation,” according to Meyer.
For readers having trouble correlating terms like “accomplishments” and “honesty” with our president’s tenure in office, Meyer provides some helpful examples:
He touts the recent Iran deal, stating, “What cannot be in dispute is this was a momentous initiative, a gutsy political risk, a diplomatic success and, potentially, a giant step in defusing a long-ticking time bomb.”
Now, it’s possible that Meyer simply doesn’t understand what the term “cannot be in dispute” means, which would explain a few things. But let’s brush that aside for now. I think it’s more prudent for us to identify what it is about the Iran deal that makes President Obama so “exceptional.”
Would no other president be able to get a terror state to accept a deal that lifts sanctions from them, injects billions into their economy, and recognizes their right to enrich uranium? Would no other president be able to let a terror state deny nuclear inspections, and refuse to provide any accounting of their nuclear activity? Would no other president be able to begin negotiations with a list of red lines deemed essential to any acceptable deal, and then abandon all of them (out of desperation for a historical legacy) to get something—anything—signed? And would no other president be able to give a sworn enemy practically everything they wanted, with the best possible benefit to our country being a can kicked down the road for a future administration to have to deal with?
Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure any president could have accomplished such a feat, if they were foolish enough to try. Luckily, Meyer provides additional examples of this president’s exceptionalism.
He hails Obamacare as a significant political achievement. He’s certainly right about that. The president has gotten practically everything he’s wanted when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. The problem, of course, is that the majority of the country doesn’t like it—this law that affects us all. Thus, calling on those adversely affected by it to be more appreciative of the man who signed it into law would be like asking someone to high-five the person who just punched them in the stomach. Such self-deprecation is a pretty unrealistic expectation.
Then there are all of those lies told by the president and his administration when they were trying to sell Obamacare to American public: You’ll be able to keep your old doctor. You’ll be able to keep your old health plan. Your premiums will go down. Your deductible will go down. Obamacare is not a tax. Such statements don’t exactly reconcile with Meyer’s contention that our president is honest, especially when the president later claimed that he never even made some of those previous statements, despite the plethora of video evidence proving otherwise.
Could another president have gotten Obamacare passed? Probably not, actually. The media would never have run such a level of interference as they did for this president. Does that make President Obama exceptional? Perhaps—to the media anyway.
Meyer next makes the point that Obama inherited a financial meltdown (which he absolutely did) and then managed the best recovery possible (which he absolutely didn’t). Meyer says the recovery has been steady (albeit slow), with the worst-case predictions never coming true.
It’s true that the worst-case predictions (like a depression) did not come true. What’s also true is that the Obama administration’s own economic recovery predictions did not come true either. Not even close. For example, the actual unemployment rate, for years, was worse than the administration’s prediction of what it would be if their nearly $1 trillion stimulus plan had never been put in place. All of those shovel-ready jobs, that the president promised Americans over and over again, didn’t exist, or as the president perversely joked many months later, “weren’t so shovel-ready after all.”
The truth is that the country had very little to show for all of that stimulus money, and after another $8 trillion has been added to the national debt ($10 trillion by the time Obama leaves office), the nation has found itself with its slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, the lowest labor-force participation rate in almost four decades, a continually growing income gap, and chronic wage stagnation.
Much of the recovery and job growth over the past few years has been spearheaded by the oil-and-gas energy industry, which our president has stood in the way of, not assisted. If we’re looking for examples of economic exceptionalism, I would refer Meyer to that industry, not our president’s stimulus package or his financial regulations that have stifled growth.
Again, would someone like John McCain (had he been elected in 2008) not have been able to achieve at least the level of economic growth that has occurred during Obama’s tenure? What about the recovery should make Americans feel particularly lucky that President Obama has been at the helm, and not someone who would have assuredly presided over a much more business-friendly atmosphere without adding $10 trillion to the national debt.
What’s next on Meyer’s list? He says that being the first black president is an accomplishment in itself, and he complains that the president “doesn’t get much good will for that any more.” Yes, he actually wrote that.
Even considering the mindset of many white-guilt-stricken liberals like Meyer, the logic here is a bit tough to follow. Is he saying that we should have lower expectations for a man of color? Is that what he means by “good will”? That seems terribly condescending on Meyer’s part. Some would even call it racist. Feeling pride over the country electing its first black president is one thing. Expecting the country to be continually appreciative for the color of our president’s skin color is just weird.
Meyer wraps his case up by again attributing the traits of “dignity” and “honesty” to the president. He boasts that the administration is scandal-free…well, except for what he calls “pseudo-scandals” like Benghazi and Fast and Furious (he doesn’t bother to mention the IRS or wire-tapping of reporters). He never really qualifies how Obama has been an “honest” president either, which would be tough to do, I suppose, considering this administration’s history of fibbing to the American public. In fact, in the very next paragraph, Meyer gives the president credit for nourishing the culture that made same-sex marriage possible (whatever that means), while failing to acknowledge David Axlerod’s admission that Obama lied to the American public regarding his position on same-sex marriage when initially running for the presidency.
Of course there’s no mention at all in Meyer’s column of the president’s numerous foreign policy failures, most notably his painfully negligent actions in Iraq that everyone (and I mean everyone; including the president’s own military and intelligence advisers) pleaded with him not to take. The spread of ISIS throughout the Middle East, and the absence of any international relationship that is better now than before Obama was sworn in (as Jimmy Carter recently pointed out), is hardly the legacy of an exceptional leader.
Other than the Iran deal, Meyer makes no mention of foreign policy at all, which is stunning considering that foreign policy is always a major component when historians analyze the effectiveness of an American president. To Meyer, it doesn’t seem to matter so much—not in Obama’s case, anyway.
Meyer’s point of view seems very confused (almost symptomatic of tunnel-vision) for someone so engaged in DC policy and world events. More than that, it’s strikingly embarrassing, even in the context of today’s media standards. When a man with Meyer’s resume shelves his journalistic integrity to condescendingly apologize for an “ungrateful” country in an open love-letter to the president, one would think he’d actually have a presentable case for why. Otherwise, what he’s asking for is blind obedience.
He had to have known that such a sappy display would invite heat from media critics, as well as affirm a damaging lack of objectivity within the mainstream media. People in Meyer’s position, after all, are supposed hold powerful public servants accountable, not blow them lots of kisses. And journalists who have a responsibility to the American public shouldn’t be shaming Americans into feeling unconditional affection for their elected officials. To do so is just…well…creepy.
Sadly, Meyer’s views are likely representative of more journalists than any of us probably realize, though the vast majority of them (save Chris Matthews) would at least have enough dignity and self-awareness to keep such teenage mush to themselves. But Meyer has posted his burning heart out on the web for the world to see (where it’s been picked up by numerous other publications), and for that I suppose he at least deserves some credit for revealing his true bias. His readers now know where he’s genuinely coming from, and can better decide how seriously they should take his perspective. That’s a good thing.
All I would ask is that, in the future, he think twice before proclaiming to speak on behalf of the nation. He doesn’t. We’re not a country of tween Britney Spears fanatics defending the singer’s talent on social media against every critic who speaks up. We’re a country that elects representatives that work for us, and then we hold them accountable for their failings.
Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Meyer of that.