Salute! … It’s Nothing Personal

By David Lewis

Early indications of President Obama’s now famous Latte Salute can be found in the following vignette, from an essay I wrote in February 2009:

I recall President George H.W. Bush telling of how, prior to his inauguration, he asked outgoing President Ronald Reagan if he had any advice to pass along. One of the things Mr. Reagan told Mr. Bush was, “Learn to salute.”

This past week I’ve seen images of President Obama coming into contact with U.S. military personnel. Each time the image has been of a soldier standing at attention, saluting the commander-in-chief. Each time Obama’s response has been to refrain from returning the salute, choosing instead to extend his right hand to shake the soldier’s hand, and his left hand to pat the soldier’s arm.

It all strikes me as overtly casual, as opposed to being genuine. And though it may seem a small thing, I believe it matters greatly. Each time I’ve seen Mr. Obama make the gesture, I’ve also seen the soldier’s face look noticeably awkward, a fleeting moment of confusion, of uncertainty.

Answering the salute of a subordinate acknowledges that in the military there is an absolute necessity for a strong chain of command, and that everyone who is a link in that chain must convey his or her respect for it. It’s professional, not personal, and that’s where Obama stumbles.

It was sage advice that Ronald Reagan rendered to George Bush. Mr. Obama should take it to heart.



Between Good Narrative And Good Governance

By David Lewis

There is a chasm between good narrative and good governance.

Barack Obama had a story to tell, about himself, when he ran for president in 2008. That personal narrative, along with a war-weary electorate, devotional support from media elites and the winds of economic collapse at his back, served to get him elected. But good narrative will take you only so far.

Now that he’s been President of the United States for nearly six years, Mr. Obama cannot simply rely on storytelling, much as he’d like to. As president, one must govern. This involves negotiating with one’s political opposition, much as Reagan, Clinton and other presidents have done, simply in order to get something accomplished. For that Mr. Obama is most poorly equipped. He has not, for example, sought congressional authorization to drop bombs in Libya, Syria or Iraq — something George W. Bush did before initiating hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama treats congressional Republicans as ‘the enemy,’ instead of like potential partners in addressing America’s domestic and international challenges. He has refused to step into true governance, for fear of getting his shoes dirty. Instead, his approach has been to hop via Air Force One from stump to stump, giving ‘event speeches’ full of campaign-style castigation and bromides, designed to tear down his perceived enemies and build up himself. Hoping that somehow, with still loyal media elites protecting him, he can overcome the harsh laws of economics and the body politic – otherwise known as ‘reality.’

That’s not governance. It’s propaganda. And it’s no way to run a country.

The Necessity of Crisis

By David Lewis

It wasn’t until recent beheadings of American journalists appeared on the Internet that a majority of Americans took notice of advancing ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria, and began to realize that radical Islamists, in the vein of Al Qaeda, weren’t nearly so “on the run” as President Obama had assured us.

And many Americans had to lose their doctors, lose their health insurance plans, start paying significantly higher premiums, and/or witness an utterly dysfunctional federal health care bureaucracy before realizing that President Obama had been misleading us all along about ObamaCare.

There may well be other outrages that occur at the hands of radical Islamist terrorists, just as there will certainly be further outrages to emerge from ObamaCare’s many ill-considered provisions. Which begs a question. Why must immediate crises so often occur before we Americans pay attention? After all, even a dog can feel pain, and then react. As human beings we’re capable of so much more.

The common element in the above illustrations is the President, his party and the rest of the liberal establishment selling a false narrative to the nation in order to advance their political ambitions. They succeeded in getting Mr. Obama re-elected — too late to prevent that crisis. It’s not too late, however, to hold Mr. Obama and Democrats accountable, come November.

ISIS, ObamaCare and “Being There”

By David Lewis

When video recently surfaced on the Internet showing the brutal beheading of an American journalist, and shortly thereafter another, by ISIS terrorists, the American public became justly outraged. Now even President Obama, who had previously downplayed the ISIS threat as a JV effort, is on the verge of taking more determined military action against them.

When last year’s rollout of ObamaCare emerged an unmitigated disaster, Americans were also outraged. The President responded by unilaterally (some would say unconstitutionally) delaying and otherwise altering the implementation of key provisions of his signature healthcare law, so as to delay its further, widespread infliction of harm.

Mr. Obama appears consistently late to the game, as though clueless. Indeed, a recent editorial, in Investor’s Business Daily, described him as akin to the lead character, Chance Gardener, in Jerzy Kosinski’s novel Being There. Their editorial describes the novel as being about, “an empty suit who came out of nowhere to be a presidential candidate riding on a wave of good-sounding platitudes but in reality had not a clue.”

This assessment may give Mr. Obama too much credit, for in fact he did have a clue, multiple clues. He was aware, for example, of the rise of ISIS, of their accumulation of power and their establishment of a quasi-state within parts of Syria and Iraq; yet he did nothing to mitigate their murderous rampage in its formative stages. He also knew, in advance, of the impending ObamaCare train-wreck; and rather than acting to prevent it, he chose to delay and obfuscate its negative impact.

It is important to note that the dupes in Kosinski’s novel, and in director Hal Ashby’s film adaptation of it, are those who see Chance Gardener as something other than a clueless and therefore innocent idiot. Thus he becomes a vessel in which other people’s hopes and yearnings are allowed to reside. They who follow him are wishful, fawning saps, desperately clinging to the illusion of a brilliance and wisdom that do not exist.

On That Election Day

I remember the first time I saw a photo of Carly Fiorina, a former Republican candidate for the US Senate seat currently held by Democrat Barbara Boxer of California. I noticed something about Ms. Fiorina’s eyes, the positioning, the direction of her gaze … something. I did not give it much thought, as there were far more important things to consider, such as issues, in the run up to the election of 2010.

I went to a Honda dealership that election day for some maintenance on my Civic. While waiting for a ride in the dealer’s limo (really just a mini-van), I sat in a small room with free copies of USA Today, donuts and a TV. Two women sat in the room watching, as if in mild subservience, whatever happened to be on TV. I grabbed a newspaper and some donut-holes.

When an ad for senate candidate Carly Fiorina came on, the two women in the room stared at the screen. “Oh, look at those eyes,” said one of them, shaking her head. “She’s lying. I can tell for sure. I don’t trust her. It’s all in the eyes. Don’t vote for her.” To which her friend replied, “Oh yeah, for sure. No way would I vote for her.”

Then an ad for Dancing with the Stars came on. And the two women stared even more intently at the screen; there were several brief shots of couples dancing determinedly, as though it counted for something. “She was really good last week!” said one of the women regarding one of the dancers. “Oh yeah, I like her a lot!” replied her smiling friend.

As for me personally, I had no idea who any of those dancers were, not a single one; though I was to assume, from the program’s title, that some were celebrities. It was November 2010, our nation was in dire straights, Barack Obama already showing himself unequal to the task of being president, California was on the verge of financial ruin, it was election day, and there I sat with two women who knew a good deal about a televised dance contest, yet little about who might represent them for the next six years in the US Senate.

I would imagine they voted that day for the comforting nuance of Barbara Boxer’s eyes – and I don’t even know what color they are.


Two Months … And Counting

Election day is two months from today. Do most Americans know that? Or care?

They certainly cared when, in 2006, George W. Bush’s presidency was on the rocks and Democrats were poised to seize control of the US Congress. The liberal media (a.k.a. mainstream media) hyped the elections and counted down the days, in heated anticipation of a pending electoral bloodbath for Republicans.

Now that President Obama’s policies are in trouble (“freefall” has actually been suggested), and a Democrat majority in the US Senate is threatened, the liberal media seem far less interested in ginning up the electorate. Will this spare Mr. Obama and the Democrats from a well-earned drubbing come November 4th? Probably not. But it does cause one to wonder just what it takes for Americans to pay attention, and how well that attention span can be maintained.

                                                                                                         There is more …