Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Barack Obama: When Being Transcendental Becomes Presidential

Mirroring the historic campaign that swept him into office in 2008, much of Barack Obama's presidency has been built upon a fundamental desire to solve problems by transcending traditional political relationships and understandings.

Evidence of this spirit has been clear from the earliest moments of the Obama Administration.

For example, it was a highly-transcendental spirit that served as the underpinning of Obama's inaugural address on January 20, 2009:

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics…. There are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans…. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply."

The same theme was echoed by the President on June 4, 2009 in a major foreign policy speech delivered to the Muslim world at Cairo University:

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world…. We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written."

Likewise in the President's address to Congress about health care reform on September 4, 2009:

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do."

Yet, for all of his desire to be transcendental, President Obama's first term has seen little tangible progress on the issues that served to catapult Obama into office back in 2008 -- most notably, the economy.

The reason, we believe, is that Obama entered the presidency ill-prepared to deal with the size and scope of the substantial problems confronting the nation when he took office.

Despite sporting a wealth of Harvard-educated intellect, Obama's role as a freshman senator gave him little time to form the relationships and gain the practical experience necessary to achieve success on the national political level by 2008.

What it did give him, however, was a platform from which the former community organizer could deliver lofty speeches based on his gift for inspiring, passionate oratory.

Hence, Obama the candidate expounded on the "audacity of hope" and encouraged all Americans to overcome the differences that divide us to realize a common sense of purpose. In other words, he encouraged transcendence as a way to achieve prosperity.

A noble goal, no doubt.

However, the desire of one to transcend a certain condition is absolutely meaningless unless it is firmly rooted in a mastery and dominance of the condition itself.

As they say, windmills aren't usually built within the sky; they are mere mirages if they lack a solid foundation. So, too, is much of Obama's first-term agenda. It is a highly-liberal mirage in search of a solid foundation.

In consistently trying to transcend the thorny issues that underlie national and international problems, President Obama has either ignored or purposely avoided addressing these issues head-on. He talks about problems, but he doesn't solve them. And, in the process, he has made the meaningful change he campaigned on in 2008 practically impossible. He has also shown that he, himself, is not above leveling partisan blame when things don't go his way.

The White House believes its central role is to pacify the turbulent political waters in Washington to create a condition where change can occur. Once such a condition is created, the process of solving national problems is essentially crowd-sourced to the supportive masses who will have set aside their differences in search of a common purpose.

Calling for the nation to come together is unquestionably good. But, it's simply not good enough. Presidential leadership demands more, particularly in troubled times.

Being president means solving real problems by offering real solutions and finding ways to accomplish them. And, it's at exactly this point that the Obama Administration falls woefully short. President Obama has no solutions to offer at a time when America needs real solutions the most.

Thus, by choosing to call merely for transcendence instead of solving problems on his own, President Obama has shown that America's challenge isn’t just that we need a new mindset. It's not just that we need to be transcendent.

What we need is to elect a new president.