Most of us who watch television and read newspapers develop strong opinions on politics and religion. From the expression of these opinions we apologetically admit to or proudly affirm our being either a liberal or a conservative. Moderates and Independents define extremism on either side by distance from what they believe.
In November of 2008 we watched the returns come in from the presidential election and Barack Obama had polled 52.93 percent of the votes to John McCain's 45.65 percent. Before and after the election we were inundated with cartoon images of a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist who worshiped at the temple of Jeremiah Wright. The liberal community rallied to his defense and watched in disbelief as Senator Mitch McConnell and a group of Republican leaders met to plan a strategy to make Barack Obama a one-term president. The mid-term election of 2010 brought an insurmountable majority in the House with help from the Tea Party with a commitment to no new taxes and no passage of any part of the Obama agenda.
All events that happen during his tenure become the responsibility of the President-Department of State, Homeland Security, the Military, the IRS, and the CIA. We make arbitrary comparisons of the attacks on the World Trade Towers, the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, budget deficits, suppression of rights, and the religious values of the Bush presidency with the recent events of the Obama administration. Comparison of misdeeds and blame contribute nothing to saving lives or preventing recurrence of mistakes.
The events of Benghazi deserve serious openness and investigation to prevent recurrence and enhance the security of our diplomats in unfriendly territory. The same is true of the scope of the IRS scrutiny of tax-exempt applications and invasion of freedom of the press with the Associated Press telephones. We must be advocates of honesty, openness, and integrity in government.
The question arises-how long will liberals and Democrats defend President Obama in these scandals? The malcontent on the left comes from issues other than those on television-inability to close Guantanamo, use of drone strikes, continuing war in Afghanistan, inability to pass background checks and immigration reform, and lack of environmental regulation. Our denial of scandal and failures are reactions to the hyperbolic accusations of epic scandal from the Republican Congress. We have become overprotective in our defense against the attacks of Darrell Issa, John McCain, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, John Boehner, Peter King, Paul Ryan, and Louie Gohmert and others whose overt or tacit objective is to discredit and obstruct the President.
President Obama's record for his first term is mixed. The Dow Jones is at an all time high; the economy is improving but slowly; one war has ended but one continues; Islamic countries are in turmoil with revolution and genocide. Jobs, unemployment, lower middle class income, and the upward redistribution of wealth to the rich impede economic recovery. Human rights, social programs, reproductive rights, marriage equality, separation of church and state, social security, and health care distract us from economic solutions.
In my home state of Tennessee and most of the South we tend to be about 60 to 70 percent Republican and conservative. We are a culture of evangelical fundamentalism, gun ownership, and a nostalgic tradition of states' rights and distrust of the Federal Government. Our challenge is to align ourselves with honesty, openness, and integrity, regardless of party label or occupant of the White House. I wish it were not divided so rigidly along party lines and so vindictive, but such is the nature of the battlefield encampment.