You know you are in trouble if one year ago, you were the darling of the mainstream media and now, one year later a Washington Post writer uses the phrase "began to wander off" to describe a crowd at one of your speeches.
It happened on Friday during a speech President Obama gave in Charlotte, North Carolina. During a question and answer period, a woman name Doris asked the president whether it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package. She then punctuated her question with the blunt statement, "We are over-taxed as it is." You could almost feel the crowd lean forward in anticipation of the spirited and pithy defense the president was about to offer for his agenda.
But somehow, the synapses and neurons in President Obama's brain that spring into action when his policies are challenged got short-circuited. According to those who have time to analyze such things, the President rambled on for 17 minutes and 12 seconds, burning up more than 2,500 words before ending with, "Boy, that was a long answer, I'm sorry." In between the woman's question and the tortured end of the President's answer lay seven mostly repeated points, at least three lists, an incomprehensible discussion of CBO estimates of Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (or F-map), and the channeled thoughts of Warren Buffet.
How did Washington Post writer Anne Kornblut describe the crowd's reaction? "The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off."
The moment I read that line I experienced an epiphany. That line was a description in microcosm of the entire Obama presidency. The more people listen to the president, the more they tend to wander off. No matter how hard the mainstream media (insert "state-run media, drive-by media, liberal media, whichever communicates to you) tries to keep the people's attention focused on what they believe is Obama's brilliant but misunderstood agenda the people keep wandering off. The more the President talks the more people's minds, followed closely by their loyalty, wander.
Ever wonder why the wandering is beginning in earnest? How about starting with a $787 billion stimulus package that is still being unwrapped coupled with an unemployment rate stuck at 9.7%? How about rising gas prices at precisely the moment the President decides to make a dramatic announcement scaling back the amount of offshore drilling the previous administration called for? How about bank and corporate bailouts by the ton, at least a 1.2 trillion dollar budget deficit for the year, a health-care bill that raises taxes and insurance premiums, the humiliation and alienation of our best ally in the Middle East, a complete farce of a response to the threat of a nuclear Iranian state, and a complete federal takeover of the college loan business.
And let's not forget the forecasted coming attractions…a cap and trade bill that will cost families an estimated $1,700 per year and raise gas prices to around $7 per gallon. Add in immigration reform that will likely include some kind of national ID card and the overall push to transform America's form of government from a Constitutional Republic to a socialist Banana Republic and it's a wonder that people aren't running screaming for the nearest exit instead of just wandering off.
It isn't hard to understand the anger and frustration felt by average, everyday Americans. We keep raising our voices and our elected officials keep closing their ears. Americans are afraid, not of more taxes or more programs or even more debt. We are afraid that we are losing our freedom…our country.
Every time I go to Washington, I make a point to visit the monuments. I don't know how many times I have stood at Lincoln's feet and looked into his face while my eyes fill with tears. The tears come partly because I am still amazed by the strength of character required to keep a nation together and partly because there is so little strength of character left in today's leaders.
We all must live our lives in the time we are given. We may wish for the good old days but we can't live looking back. We have to make the days we have been given the good old days for the next generation. We must not rob them of the sound foundation the generations before left for us to build on. Our time requires hard choices, straight talk, and leaders with spines of steel. But we live in a time of easy fixes, double talk, and leaders more interested in back room deals than backbone.
This present moment is pregnant with the possibility of change based on principle rather than partisan political gain. If more average Americans like Doris will keep raising their voice, asking the hard questions, maybe the vast majority of us will "wander off" from Obama and find our way back to the real America.