Our Childish President

by Derrick G. Jeter

“Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup. . . . Lucky the land whose king is mature” (Ecclesiastes 10:16, 17).

On the day that Standard and Poor’s reduced America’s “AAA” long-term rating from stable to negative, President Obama was upset that a local TV reporter from Dallas’ WFAA didn’t show enough deference in his questioning.1 Others have noted Obama’s detachment from the really important to focus on the merely important or completely unimportant, but this latest example is disturbing. America, through monetary and economic foolishness from both parties, finds herself on the road to economic ruin . . . and Obama is concerned about what he perceived as a slight, as a break in decorum between interviewer and interviewee? Really?

This is something I would expect from my 15-year-old daughter, but not from a grown man—and the president to boot! This sets in mind the notion that perhaps we have fallen down the rabbit’s hole and discovered the Mad Hatter is in charge.

Not only is Obama’s bruised ego a sign of thin skin and pettiness, it is a sign of deep unseriousness and misplaced priorities. The man has simply forgotten who is he—a president, not a king, a potentate, or a dictator. He works for us, including the reporter asking the questions. And the work that we want him to focus on is the economy and jobs, not himself. We wanted him to focus on the economy the day he was inaugurated in January 2008. Instead, he chose to focus on healthcare. And now, for the past few months, Obama has been the least serious of all the other glib players on the economic front. Three times Obama had an opportunity to get seriously engaged on the economy—to show that he took our debt and deficit seriously—and three times he seriously proved frivolous.

First, Obama’s own debt commission (The National Commission of Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) proposed, in December 2010, deep cuts along with raising taxes of close to 1 trillion dollars. He ignored the cuts, but took the trillion dollar taxes for his own budget he submitted in February 2011. Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2012 was a combination of proposed spending increases as well as the commission’s tax increases. No one took his 3.73 trillion dollar budget seriously, nor did he since he did little to defend it during the January 2011 State of the Union. Third, in April 2011, he came late to the party concerning the debate to fund the government through fiscal year 2011. And even then he was a minor player and unhelpful—stonewalling a paltry 38 billion dollar cut proposed by the Republican House.

Obama is whistling past the economic grave yard while finding offense in that a reporter didn’t ask for a buy or leave when it came to interrupting the president during an interview. Such pettiness is unbecoming in any person. But when that person occupies the most powerful office in the land, it’s not just unbecoming it down right foolish . . . even childish.

1. See http://www.standardandpoors.com/ratings/articles/en/us/?assetID=1245302886884 and http://www.wfaa.com/news/texas-news/President-Obama-talks-with-News-8–120141169.html (accessed April 19, 2011).