Looking for the Godfather in the Oval Office?

Posted on 18. Oct, 2009 by in Uncategorized

images-1It amuses me when Beltway-types accuse each other of not being “tough enough.”  Having spent some time around men (and women) who disagreed with fists, forks, whatever, I have real trouble understanding what the National Journal means when it says, “neither foreign leaders nor U.S. lawmakers fear the vengeance of the president.” It sounds like a really bad B-movie. Unless I slept through the reorganization of the republic into an autocracy, since when is POTUS expected to act like Putin?

The National Journal’s cover story, “Is Obama Tough Enough?” is just plain bad. The story doesn’t define the ‘toughness’ standard, particularly when power is decentralized through a federal constitutional republic. It doesn’t identify the much cited “critics”-plural-and-growing who are questioning Obama’s toughness. And I haven’t even gotten to the specious arguments (Chicago lost the Olympics in the first round!) wheezing through a humid weight of qualifiers and hedges.

But that didn’t stop George Stephanopolous from legitimizing the question for millions of viewers by scrambling back for a dropped baton on his Sunday show.  In this way, baseless conversation mills around.

It’s not that I think federal government types can’t be tough. Rather, I don’t know what ‘being tough’ means in a checks-and-balances democracy. It seems to mean being the ‘decider’; but isn’t that method by and large antithetical to how democracy functions through negotiation, compromise and cooperation?

imagesIn addition to ‘vengeance’ the National Journal article uses words like ‘fear.’ When in modern history has anyone feared a president? What has a president’s vengeance looked like? And most important, do we want a president who is feared?  I mean, that’s the Godfather, not POTUS. Right?

The unilateralism practiced in foreign policy by the Bush administration distorted the domestic expectations of how our system fundamentally works.  It says that it is tougher to talk than it is to bully; to cooperate than it is to be the decider.  And in fact, it is.  So why does this question of toughness suggest that talking is namby pamby sissyness? Why does the question presume that POTUS has or should have more autocratic power or leanings than the Constitution grants?

Looking over the amount of ?s in this post, I am thoroughly confused sometimes, by whom we want our leaders to be.


One Response to “Looking for the Godfather in the Oval Office?”

  1. nicholas.martinez

    19. Oct, 2009

    Godfather references alone give you an A in my book. But, hey what do I know: I’m an Arts and Culture major.