Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back from Ghana -- Obama on Tap

I have just returned from a week in Ghana, West Africa, where the warmth and humidity cleared up my eczema and provided me with much to reflect upon. Upcoming blogs will speak to this more. Everywhere I went, Ghanaians let me know how excited they are about Obama. They still have billboards up welcoming him for his visit months ago. But now, I am back in the cold and quite sad about the man, President Obama, who is scheduled to give his State of the Union address this evening. Like many, I was stunned at the outcome of the Massachusetts election (the British version of CNN delivered the info to us in Ghana), and am sure Edward Kennedy has been fitful in his grave ever since. The sadness I feel, hearing about Obama's pivot to curtail spending, is essentially that he seems to go with the wind, or to use an analogy from my field of therapy, he goes around trying to put out little fires everywhere, but doesn't stake himself with a fundamental position that underlies the ignitions. As Bob Herbert speaks to his op ed column,, it's hard to know who Obama is when he turns this way and that. I remember that Max Robinson, a former nightly news reporter for ABC many years ago, and the brother of Randall Robinson, once said as his health was waning, and I'm paraphrasing here, that at the end of the day, he would have his integrity.

I believe that Barack Obama is an extraordinary man. And yet, more and more, he looks like the same old political panderer, though clearly an intellectually well endowed one. During his campaign when I had not an inch of thought that he could win, my daughter kept bringing on her faith that he could. My mother kept saying, "they're going to get (kill) him," and my son has all along offered skepticism, saying that Obama is in bed with the same old corporations and financial folks as his predecessors. If Obama means what he said in his interview with Diane Sawyer, about not being focused on re-election but on being a good one-term President, then I say to him stake a position, stay with it, elaborate it, fight for it -- go down with it, if need be. At least then, I and perhaps others will feel that you truly stand for something, that you are authentically trying to take us somewhere new, that you care enough to commit. No matter what happens, if Obama can do this, then I will feel lifted by his integrity and courage. I do not walk in his moccasins and so I can't know what it's like, but I want my voice to be one of encouragement and inspiration. Admittedly, there is some judgment too, though I have no right to it. I'm with Max Robinson, integrity is peace of mind and nothing is more valuable than that. Come on Obama, take it to the hoop!

Picture courtesy of fan-pop

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