Published January 24, 2011
As relationships go, America’s "marriage" to her president seems to have calmed down a bit. The tension ebbed after the lame duck Congress went home. A kind of truce was called over the holidays, of course. And it continued while citizens around the country mourned the loss of life in Arizona and marveled at the heroic strength of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
But a "truce" is not the same as a good marriage. Let's be honest, to keep things interesting in any union, you need a little spark. Relationship advisors tell us one of the most important things we can do to keep from getting divorced is to keep the embers hot.
Things started cooling off when America began to feel she'd married the wrong guy. In addition to frustration over the policy proposals, America also felt unclear about what her president really believed. Some on the right think President Obama is the most left wing president we've ever known, while some on the left think he isn’t delivering on his campaign promises to them. And then there are the independents who voted decisively against him in the midterms -- they just don’t know what to think about him.
* * *
Before every commitment, there’s a moment when you look at your partner and think, “Do I really know you?” When the answer is settled in your heart, that’s when you decide that you’re all in. But if you’re still asking that question after the wedding, there are sure to be troubled waters ahead.
Just this past week, 2 years after his inauguration, USA Today’s cover story asked, “Who is President Obama?”
Shouldn’t we know that by now?
Just the mere fact that people are still asking the "do I really know you" question means that, despite some effort, the President has never fully connected with the American people. A man of mystery is good for the first few dates, but after that, women want to know what a man stands for.
Now we have a president who seems to change with the wind -- like a husband that will say anything he thinks his wife wants to hear. President Obama governed to the far-left with abandon -- until he got his "shellackin'" in November 2010. Almost immediately after the midterms, he tacked to the center -- though he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to sign an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Since then he’s hired a pro-business chief of staff and made vague promises to review regulations that might be stifling job growth. (Isn't it obvious?).
* * *
So what’s a president to do if he wants to get the spark back in his relationship with the American people?
He’s got a perfect opportunity when he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Imagine if he tore up the rulebook, walked into the chamber, thanked the audience and then said, “My fellow Americans, I’m going to do something different. The speech I was going to give about my policy priorities for this year can wait until later this week. I have not brought that speech with me tonight. I have asked that the TelePrompters be turned off. I ask that no one applaud –- or jeer, as I know some of my new friends here might be itchin’ to do (charming wink toward the Republican side of the House)...for tonight, I’m going to speak to you from my heart. I’m going to tell you what it means to me to be an American. How much I love this country, how much I care about you –- each and every one of you -- and why I wake up every day determined to do my best for you. I will describe my vision of where I see American in 20 years, and why we should have confidence in my vision, because just as in the last 234 years since our founding, the state of our union is strong. Now…”
Well imagine! Talk about spark. Everyone would put down the remote and lean forward, because they’d want to hear what he had to say. Some might even think, “Now, that's the man I married!”
By all accounts, he’ll not be giving THAT speech at the State of the Union. Reports are that we’re in for a discussion about more spending, more calls for civility, etc. But if he did give that speech, I guarantee you, you’d see a spark start some fireworks.