Letter from the Editor

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If half of America is rooting for the man to fail, could it become a self-fulfilling prophesy?

I Wouldn't Want to Be Obama

Barack Obama wasn't my original pick for president. In fact, my first choice didn't run, which makes him a very smart human being indeed. My second choice dropped out, and proved not so smart at all. The campaign is over, although it sometimes doesn't seem that way, to hear people talk. Now we all have the same guy, and like it or otherwise, our hopes ride with him, and his with us.

All of the glitter and confetti of the coming inauguration bash aside, it has to be a humbling experience to realize that 47.9 percent of the voters didn't want you anywhere near the White House, and close to 40 percent of those who could vote looked at the candidates and decided that their time was better spent at home with Hee-Haw reruns.

A very large majority of us, in fact, no matter how you look at it, didn't begin the 2008 campaign behind Obama. Some of us, it seems, still aren't.

And then there is the conspiracy camp that hasn't given up trying to prove that he's not by birth even eligible to be president, which seems somewhat sour grapes and more than a little desperate. John McCain did the classy thing and urged the country to unite behind its next president; why can't the rest of us manage that sentiment?

There is plenty in Obama's rhetoric to fairly question, and it can and should be debated. But aren't you sick of the "barack HUSSEIN obama" thing? It doesn't take a lot of political smarts to pick on a man's name - ask any third grader, they are experts at it.

Just out of curiosity, I Googled up "I Hate Barack Obama" tonight. How'd it go? Got 2,620,000 website hits, and they are apparently growing at the rate of about one every three seconds. Having other things to do before the end of the millennium, I didn't attempt to read them all to see how many of them truly hate Obama, or why.

But man, wouldn't it give you a belly ache to Google yourself on the web and find out two million people hate your guts that much before you even start, huh? To think that anywhere on earth you go, chances are good that one of those two million people are going to be there, balefully staring a hole through you and just wishing you would be hit by a stray asteroid or eaten by rabid chihuahuas.

No wonder the guy bums a smoke here and there. Behind all of the celebration and knuckle-noshing, if can't be easy being Barack Obama.

George W. Bush seemed blessed (and cursed) with the ability to never doubt himself or his actions. Gaining office by actually losing the popular vote never seemed to phase him. He's shown no signs of lack of sleep from war dead, flubbed disaster response or approval ratings that crashed worse than the economy under his watch, and the public really doesn't expect anything different. I don't think Mr. Obama will be cut that slack, or would permit it of himself.

I would hate to be Obama, because I'm not sure how he can win in this situation.

Because the people who supported him did so with all of their heart. That's good - but faith in politics should never be of the blind variety. They treat his every word as gospel.

In fact, many of his ardent supporters believe that everything will be cured on the day the man takes office.

There will be no poverty, no bigotry, no war, no hatred in the middle east, no dropouts, no pollution. Oprah will be slim again, parents will be able to tear up those college debt bills, gas will pump for 98 cents again, Hollywood starlets will discover underwear. Satisfying even a fraction of those people would be a good day's work for an army of minor saints, let alone a one-term junior senator out of Illinois.

High expectations are good. Outrageous expectations, not so much. At this point Obama could arrive at the White House wearing blue Spandex with a red cape and walking across the Potomac on top of the water, curing cancer and reuniting the Beatles as he goes, and people would still feel let down.

Part of what many expect is that there will be no more partisan politics standing in the way of progress. He promised no less.

On the contrary, though, I get this very uncomfortable feeling that many are taking great pleasure in rooting for him to fail. And I'm not just talking militant ultra-conservatives here - but mainstream folks looking ahead to defeating him in 2012, some big-name media commentators, quasi-racists, special interest people - perhaps even a few ambitious types in his own party.

They are positive that the world is going to end with Obama in office, and they delight in telling everyone they can about it. He's a Marxist, they say, a foreigner, a communist, an inexperienced goof, a left-winger lugnut. They would be willing to see America completely destroyed under President Obama just to say, "I told you so."

Personally, I'd prefer to just hold the man to his campaign promises. I was there when he came to Storm Lake. I wrote the promises down:

* $4,000 a year in tax credits to help every student be able to afford college. Music to this dad's ears, that is.

* Turning undocumented immigrants into literate citizens and punishing companies that hire illegals.

* Promoting more wind energy in places like BV County.

* Local control on big livestock confinements.

* Paying teachers more, and bringing music and art emphasis back into the schools.

* Annual minimum wage cost of living increases.

* Health insurance for every American within his first term (savings of $2,500/year for those already insured.)

* American cars averaging 40 mpg, which he says will offset all the oil imported from the Persian Gulf.

President-elect Obama has set himself a big plate, and though he wasn't my first choice, not even my third, I have to wish him - well, wish us - a great success.

The song he played for his campaign entrance here was "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." And the only thing stopping us could be our own pessimism. Give him a chance.

Because it ain't easy being Barack Obama right now.