If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals.
Weariness in a president is understandable. It’s the worst job in the world. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I should never vote for anyone who campaigns for the office because they are either power-mad or insane. But weariness in a president can be dangerous. Vietnam — and the national upheaval it occasioned — nearly killed LBJ. Nixon was eaten alive by Watergate. Reagan was a symptomatic Alzheimer’s patient for most of his second term. Lincoln once said that he felt like “the tiredest man on earth.” But, even at the end of their respective ropes, LBJ got a gun-control law passed, and Nixon increased the minimum wage, and Reagan managed to work with Gorbachev, and Lincoln managed to win the Civil War. The president can say anything he wants now. He will never run for re-election again. His opponents are going to screech like ravens on meth no matter what he says. Weary or not, he should take a tip from Ron Johnson and walk his beat again tonight.
I’m out of patience. The fucking earth is caving in, and you can’t bestir yourself because, what, the angry race warrior thing again? The midterms? How this is going to LOOK? How about how it is? How about the dead kid lying in the street for hours, Mr. President? A politically charged topic? Are you kidding me with this bullshit?
This isn’t a politically charged topic. It’s a dead kid in the street. It’s a police force that really thought “bring it you fucking animals” was their FIRST BEST OPTION. It’s arresting reporters and tear-gassing protesters and fencing off a place where people were assembling and petitioning their government for a redress of grievances. It’s a culture that says black men are better off met with bullets first and questions later.
It’s not a politically charged topic. It’s fucking American lives.
This isn’t about inspiring liberals or inflaming conservatives. Those are just these abstract Beltway media whore … Fucking hell. At some point we all decided that nothing that is happening is real, that nothing we can do is going to affect anything, that Both Sides Do It, that it’s all just too hard, and that anyway what did you expect? At some point we stopped expecting our leaders to lead because fear of some asshole on TV saying something mean was taken as an actual excuse to suck, no matter what was really going on in the world.
There’s an American city burning down and there’s a country rotting from the inside out and somebody’s counseling the president that there’s no upside to showing up for work today? There’s no upside to, just for example, hopping in the giant plane he controls, getting his ass down to St. Louis, and convening a “fuck you summit” on the rights of protesters and reporters and the apparent need of local cops to pretend they’re Chuck Goddamn Norris? No upside?
How about he can look himself in the mirror for the rest of his life? How’s that for a goddamn upside? I swear to you all, there are things you do or you risk your immortal soul. There are things you do or you spend the rest of your life, you spend every waking hour, making up for not doing them, and it’s not about politically charged topics. It’s about you being able to live with your actions and stare down the barrel of them at three in the morning. You’re going to tell me the president is fucking tired now?
How tired will he be contemplating what he could have done, and didn’t?
And most importantly, how tired is Michael Brown’s mother right now?
Weariness in a president is only understandable, only permissible, on the understanding that if the president is weary that means many, many other people are wearier. And those are the people that have it rough. Those are the people who need championing. Those are the people whose voices need to be amplified and recognized. Those are the people whose upside need to be considered.