Published December 10, 2010
President Obama’s troubles with his “bride", the United States, are deepening. Tried and true relationship advice has been offered to both sides, but it's not working.
This fall, it became clear there was serious trouble in paradise. At the time, I asked – “Can this relationship be saved?” After all, if both parties are willing to try, relationships can often be turned around.
I suggested that America should give the president more space and support and that he cut back on the nagging. He needed some room to breathe and time to get his to-do list done.
I recommended that he should try not to seem so angry all the time, that he consider spending less time on the golf course and make an effort to really listen to what America was trying to tell him.
In the heat of the 2010 midterm elections, things took a turn for the worse. At one campaign rally the president managed to get under everyone’s skin, calling Republicans his enemies and chastising Democrats for being fickle fans. Feelings were beginning to harden on all sides, so I suggested that maybe everyone just needed to take a break. We moved into a trial separation.
On November 2 (the day of the 2010 midterms), America wrote in big letters, with red lipstick on the mirror, that it wanted the country to take a different direction.
Republicans won up and down the ballot and all over the country -- at all levels. The “enemy” even took over the House of Representatives. Since that fateful day, our differences seem irreconcilable. Instead of bringing people together and uniting them, President Obama has managed to alienate both Republicans and Democrats.
Take, for example, the recently announced tax deal he made with Republicans. Democrats say they found out about the agreement from the press. That’s like finding out on Facebook that your boyfriend is breaking up with you and dating your best friend. The anger, the hurt, the humiliation! I mean, who can TAKE that much rejection?
The day after the tax deal, the president took the opportunity to speak to the press to try to explain the deal. And while many people have complained that he doesn't show enough emotion, anger wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. They wanted passion, compassion, strength of character, inspiration and not white hot-anger. Bitterness isn’t a turn-on. It seems like President Obama just doesn’t “get” America and the country continually resists his half-hearted advances.
Of course, he’s got to be thinking, “What in the world do you WANT?” America's heart seems to be a moving target.
In that same press conference, he ended by saying that he “looked forward to seeing Republicans on the field of competition.” Spoiling for a fight isn’t a good starting point for reconciliation, and marriages based on competition don’t succeed. Why not try a little tenderness, for crying out loud?
Relationships are built on trust and respect. Harsh words and name-calling, not to mention disdainful tones, are counterproductive – they hurt and then harden the heart, and usually result in reciprocal behavior.
And as with any marriage that gets to this point, the people involved have to ask, “Is this relationship even worth saving?”
If there’s a chance, the onus is on the president to take the first step to smooth things over.
For starters, he might try to overcome his deepest instincts and ask for directions; after all, he’s now driving the car that he claimed he was trying to get out of the ditch.
In the meantime, America should breathe deep but not hold its breath. When we elect a president, we commit to at least four years -- we've not even passed the two-year mark yet. And with things going the way they are, this loveless marriage could turn into a one-term stand.