My husband woke me up this morning announcing that Bin Laden was dead. Elation set in even before I had fully opened my eyes. 9/11 had changed my life. It marked the day of my transition from a flighty know-it-all liberal to a sadder, more serious and hopefully, more informed conservative. 9/11, to me, happened only yesterday, and yet, when I look at my 11 year old daughter, now taller than me, I remember that she was a tiny baby when Osama Bin Laden’s name first made its way into my living room. I had cried into her blond little head. But time has passed. I have changed. And America has changed.
I first saw Barak Obama on the Opra Winfried show. Like Opra, I fell in love with him. I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy would be a great president.” He was smart, funny, and I loved his mixed race background- it resonated with my own. I liked that he, as a child, traveled a bit. I understood how he felt to be different with a ‘funny name and big ears’ in school. While I had never experienced true racism, I was distinctly aware that I was different from other kids at school in Virginia. Listening to Obama on Opra’s show was enlightening for me. I talked excitedly about him to friends who had never heard of him. I said, “I hope he runs for president!” But I had meant after he had gained some experience!
Then came his run for the presidency. Oh, Obama, how you fell from grace- my grace, at least. I learned to wince at his comment about his ‘funny name and big ears’ – it was repeated so often. Not cute after the first 100 times. I began to see the comment as a criticism of perceived racism in his youth. Also, as an appeal to racist black people. His attitude, rhetoric and slickness took its toll on me. His arrogance and easy promises turned me off well before the Democratic primaries. As a rational person, I barked at the T.V, “How can you know you can do those massive things??? How can you so breezily promise it??” Just ask my kids, lying is something that will bring the stiffest punishment in our home. And promising impossible things to get elected counts as a lie in my book. But it was, finally, his broken promise to run for president with federal campaign money that ultimately dashed his credibility to the dirt. All his charisma that I had loved that day on Opra’s show now was overcast with sinister clouds. I saw an ambitious liar who would stop at nothing to achieve personal power and gain. I knew that John McCain, who I view as an honest man (which means the world to me) could never compete with those lies. His audacity reminded me of how Chavez and Hitler rose to power- massive lies, massive promises, massive irresponsibility and an incredible ability to sway people through oration.
Listening to Michelle Obama say that she had never been proud of America until the day it voted her husband, a black man, into the office of President just enraged me. It was calling me and every other American who didn’t vote for him a ‘racist’. Truly a slur in my vocabulary. Also, I don’t believe racism is part of the American experience anymore. Are there hateful people? Of course. But American law, American culture and American society is not racist. Period. I have had ugly people call me, “Chink”, before, but it wasn’t racist. It was just an easy curse word, so to speak, to hurt me (especially this one girl who thought I had stolen her date!). It only made her look crazy- everyone was on my side of the issue! Only in America do black people prosper so well. They are the wealthiest and most powerful black people in the world.
It took half of American whites, Hispanics and Asians to vote for him. That signified a widespread denial of racism that she and her husband time and again stick their nose up at, literally. All presidential races are made or broken by around 5% points. It is not racism that around half the country voted against him. That’s just normal politics. The only people who proved themselves to be racist were the American black population. If whites voted for McCain by a 98% majority, there would have been blood on the streets of America. But when blacks show blatant racism, it doesn’t even make news.
And that was just the beginning of my antipathy towards the man. While I can’t stand his policies and regard them as downright dangerous for America, it is his very person that I dislike the most. Most conservatives would never say that because they are terrified of being called a racist. Me, I don’t care. My life stands for itself. I just can’t stand liars and hypocrites. Never could. Never will. I also hate deceit- not quite the same as lying. I view deceit as more about actions than speaking. The way he handled the Health Care legislative process still makes me seethe. To actually close out half of the representatives of Congress! To secretly meet with union bosses and not the People’s elected representatives! That is exactly equivalent to excluding half of American citizens- me included! Look how he treated poor, ‘Joe the Plumber!’ Also, the way that he used the budget reconciliation process to actually pass such a defining overhaul of our government and economy! Oh, they try to say that Bush, Clinton and every president before Obama has used this process to pass legislation- but please, people, wake up! No one and I mean, no one, has ever had the audacity to thumb their nose at the constitution to this extent and for such monumental changes to American life before. To this day, I am disgusted with the Republican Party for not challenging the bill based on those grounds alone. What will happen to America now that we can pass legislation without the 2/3 majority in the House and Senate required by our Constitution? Tyranny of the majority, that’s what. And the Republicans, bastards that they are, want to reserve that tyrannical right to themselves when they gain power in the future. I hate that Obama thinks he can tell me what kind of car to buy. Hey, we are staunch recyclers, nature lovers, and supporters of the environment- but like any American, I can’t stand to have another person or worse, my government, force me to do anything. I will do it because I think it is best- period. If good cars can be produced that are affordable and can help the environment, then hell, we will buy one. But. You. Will. Not. Tell. Me. What. To. Do. Get it?
I think I dislike Obama so much because he has made me feel so personally helpless as I watch our constitution being shredded, secret union deals being made, legislative powers being improperly used to manipulate me, and government spending (including the creation of another costly war) and soaring debt create an intolerable future for my babies. We have allowed him, and the office of President, to become too powerful. Beware, you blind supporters of Obama, beware, for your time is coming when Republicans pull the same shenanigans as Obama.
His broken promises, like so much litter, lie on the streets of Chicago. How I remember, with relish, his smirks at McCain as he spoke about the injustice of Guantanamo, about ending the war in Iraq, about ‘free’ health care for all, about a new, civilized and gloriously unified congress and America that his election would bring. He styled himself as a knight in shining white armor- he would champion peace, prosperity and even, happiness for all.
I couldn’t stand him, but I saw his appeal and it frightened me. He still frightens me. He has such an uncanny ability to speak and to sway so many people. People who, like so many satisfied cats, are unwilling to believe that their comfortable lives could ever be harmed by any single person. People so deeply convinced of American superiority that they can’t take any threat seriously. Until buildings crash to the ground, that is. People who disregard the astounding legal precedence of passing Health Care on simple majority vs. the required 2/3 vote set up so wisely in our constitution- until their own rights are legislatively denied. People so comfortable that it annoys them when anyone should warn them or ask them to simply watch the news and keep abreast of the issues- until war comes to their doorstep.
Doesn’t anyone care about this major change to our Constitution? Hasn’t anyone noticed that we have tons of oil and that we are being manipulated to ‘go green’, no matter what the cost to our economy and security? Hasn’t anyone noticed that racial divides are 10 times deeper since Obama was elected? Hasn’t anyone noticed that America has become so weakened and disrespected that other countries dare to degrade our credit score? How embarrassing is that? Is this how great nations fall? From the complacency within? From deep arrogance that believes nothing can defeat them?
No, I don’t want Obama to win in 2012. No-sir-ee-Bob!. But I will say this: I liked his speech last night. I can’t say that I have given him any credit for catching Bin Laden- that was to the credit of our incredible military. But Obama’s speech and demeanor moved me. Earlier, I had warmed to his speech after poor Gabby Gifford’s assassination attempt, but this speech gave me a glimmer of hope for Obama as a person. I liked that he wore his American flag pin. I liked how he said, “God bless you all and God bless America”. I was pleasantly surprised by a prayer he allowed to be said during the Metal of Honor ceremony today and the way he held hands with that sweet old woman who excepted the medal on her brother’s account. I like how he mentioned that beautiful time after 9/11 when all of America was united and called on us to be united once more. The cynical side of me thought, “yeah, he’s just greasing the wheels for the upcoming battle on the tax ceiling and budget”, but overall, I remained rather fascinated by what I thought seemed like sincere patriotism.
It made me wonder, “Have the harsh realities of being the leader of such a great and powerful nation finally taught this man humility? Have they made him a better person? Have they, finally, made him a thoughtful man?”. Oh, I so wish it could be so. But this man has burned me. He has burned me bad. Like a rejected lover, I have grave doubts about ever being reunited with him. But last night, and this morning, he made me proud of him, and of America. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mister President, for that.