“With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office―the Presidency of your country.
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President Thank you for listening. Good night and God bless all of you.” (President Lyndon Baines Johnson)
CHICAGO, September 18, 2012 — Lyndon Baines Johnson was a shrewd politician. He knew the power of impression. Johnson made sure he was constantly photographed in the White House, in his office, at his desk working, talking on the phone, looking at papers, or talking with other politicians or advisors. Sometimes he was pictured in his shirtsleeves, tie askew, brow furrowed, to give the impression he was working on the knotty thorny problems of state.
President Obama gives the impression he is having a good time. It is rare to see him look like he is working hard, looking concerned, tackling the severe problems the nation faces. That is not to say he isn’t. He just never looks or is portrayed as if he is. He would rather give the impression he is cool instead of concerned.
LBJ governed during turbulent times. The nation was going through social and political upheaval. There were protests, riots, racial unrest, the war in Viet Nam, and smaller conflicts in other parts of the world where U.S. troops were deployed. Poverty was a growing problem. Terrorism was rearing its ugly head. The world was starting to change.
This president gives the impression that it is all so easy. All he has to do is hop on a plane and campaign someplace, give a feel-good speech, and everything will be beautiful.
Then there are the golf games, vacations, and dalliances with celebrities. The impression Obama gives is that governing is one big ongoing good time.
It would be nice if we could see our president sitting at his desk, ruffled, with a concerned look on his face, working the phones, talking to his advisors, cajoling and wheedling legislators, or, well, just even look like he is working.
The problem with Obama is his lack of leadership abilities and his perceived sloppy work ethic. Leaders take responsibility for problems. They do not blame others. This president takes no responsibility for anything. He plays the blame game, which he is more proficient at than golf or basketball.
Blame Bush, blame Republicans, blame bitter clingers to guns and Bibles, blame Boehner, blame Congress, blame millionaires and billionaires, blame a lame movie, blame this, blame that, blah blah blah.
Lyndon Baines Johnson knew one important thing. Probably the most important thing. When he saw he could no longer campaign or play politics, he decided the time had come. Johnson decided to govern.
Obama is president during a time of global economic turbulence, war and conflicts in many places, increasing terrorism directed at America, and societal upheaval. He gives the impression he does not care. These are all easily solvable problems. As long as he has someone or something to blame, everything will be all right. He has decided to campaign instead of govern.
Another major difference between Obama and LBJ is the media. The media used to be honest, ethical, and skeptical. The media had integrity. Journalism was trusted to provide information that was double fact checked and the best version of the truth. The current state of the media is to boost this president and call his failures successes. They just repeat, copy, and paste whatever he and his minions want them to.
Critical thinking is dead in the media. Skepticism and integrity no longer exist in journalism. They do not know the definitions of trust or skepticism.
If there is criticism of the administration, the media lashes back or helps with messaging. It is appalling that so many so-called highly educated people are gullible.
The current crisis in the Muslim world is a perfect example of the dishonesty, laziness and ineptitude of this administration and naivety of the media. A stupid movie did not cause the all the violence, murder, and mayhem across the Muslim world. If that were the case, this violence would have erupted long ago, after Bill Maher’s “Religulous” harshly ridiculed Islam.
There was a major error made. Someone dropped the ball. To be fair, it is not all Obama’s fault. His national security advisors were not paying attention, did poor analysis, or just told the president whatever he wanted to hear: Everything is going great.
While the Muslim world is in murderous chaos, the President is campaigning. When he should be holed up in the White House, chastising his staff, firing people, and demanding answers and action, he and the complicit media blame a silly movie. It was the movie, the movie, the movie. That is all we’ve heard and all we will hear.
In crisis after crisis after crisis, Obama and the media find others to blame. When is he finally going to stand up and say he is responsible and accountable? When are the media finally going to hold him accountable and responsible?
When is Obama going to start acting like a president, a leader, and the person in charge? When are the media going to finally start doing their job honestly, ethically, and with integrity? When are journalists going to finally start asking the tough questions and demanding believable answers? When are they going to be skeptics? When are they going to start being adversaries instead of allies?
When is the American public going to say “enough”? We should be demanding more, from the president and the media.
An ambassador and other Americans in the service of our country were murdered. They and the public deserve better than lame excuses, blaming a movie, and a president in perpetual campaign mode. They deserve a president, not a candidate. They deserve a leader, not a blamer.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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