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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Zen and the Art of Patience

Love him or hate him, President Obama can teach you about patience. I cannot recall anything, even going back to the early days of his 2008 presidential campaign where he rushed to judgment or hurried through something in an effort to either appease the masses or to make it look like he was reacting. President Obama picks his battles and he picks them carefully.

Now, I'm not saying that in some cases this lack of reaction isn't a liability or that the careful choosing of battles is not politically motivated - on the contrary, I believe that plays a part. Take for instance two major topics in the news right now: the health care debate and the investigation into the Ft. Hood shootings.

The White House has taken very careful steps to let Congress handle most of the details of the health care debate and one wonders would things be different if, perhaps, it had taken a much larger and more active role. On one hand, the fate of his presidency would be more closely tied to the health care bill and perhaps he learned some lessons in 1992 from then President Clinton. On the other hand, however, it is not the "job" of the White House to craft legislature, the Bush administration notwithstanding. His hands-off approach has returned Congress to it's rightful place in the three branches of government - the capacity to create laws. Whether or not you happen to like that is open for discussion, but it is his choice and were you to ask him, I'm sure he'd mention the previous administration's way of doing things as an example of how NOT to do things.

I also mentioned the Ft. Hood shootings. Certain Senators are clamoring for their own, Congressional, investigation. The White House has asked them to wait until the military, et. al. completes their own investigations. Without proof, I suspect that this is because the White House is fearful of unwarranted retribution and xenophobia from, let's say, the lesser educated. Doubt me? Fine, but I'm betting you can't sit there and tell me with a straight face that ignorant people, just like the rest of us, aren't at some point  subject to overreaction. On the flip side, though I've not seen anything yet to indicate this, I suspect that the public is demanding answers. There's nothing inherently wrong with this except that the politicians to whom these people are complaining are compelled to give them answers. And, the problem stems from said politicians giving out either half answers or just plain wrong answers.

So, we then have politicians, under the guise of "doing the right thing," speaking to anyone who will listen about the travesty of not acting fast enough and "we need to protect the troops now." It seems that they have learned nothing about what happens when we rush to judgment from the previous 8 years. It also seems that they care more about seeing themselves on TV or in print, than they do about actually solving the problem at hand.


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