Monday, March 15, 2010

THE GREAT WHITE WALL



 Calling President Obama. Anyone in?

It seems that no matter who becomes the nation’s chief executive, even if it’s a popular stumper like Obama, the cadre of advisers, the moneyed interests that will fund the next campaign, the congressional people in the know and any others with access keep us from ever again seeing the candidate we choose.

What this does in modern America, where even visiting the White House as an ordinary citizen requires prior security vetting, is to keep the people from the powerful head of state of a democracy, and, so, from moderate views, from common sense approaches to what are major problems in the economy, health care, defense, quality of life, immigration and education.

Look at the health-care issue. Many suggestions, carefully drawn, some already in practice, have been made by regular citizens who can’t get an ear at the White House. At least that is what appears to be happening.

Candidate Obama was soundly elected on populist views, appealing to moderates in both parties, after the failing government of decades brought us no solutions and put us into debt for our troubles. Democrats and Republicans have been to blame.

John McCain, the GOP maverick, also spoke to populist, moderate views since they are the heart and soul of America,  and he would have been elected had not voters really counted on the “change” that the winner forcefully and articulately promised.

McCain, back in his longtime Senate seat, returns to Peck’s bad boy image, though that is now tempered by his years and, of course, the lobbyists who these days really seem to run government. Yet count on him to offer the same views he did on the election trail. Not so Obama. He’s in the White House now.

It seems the only time the man can take off his suit jacket, roll up his sleeves and be populist again is when he runs away from Washington and stumps somewhere. Then he is candidate Obama anew. People ask him questions, and he responds. His views, modified by the reality of the office and the nation, still seem moderate.

But put him on Air Force One and then Marine One and secure the president in the White House, and no ordinary citizen gets to ask anything, except through scripted means. We really don't know what he is thinking.

George Bush would cite a letter from a citizen. So did the Clinton and Reagan administrations, as if the solitary missive pulled from many thousands was proof that, golly, gee whiz, the folks in the White House are just like we people out there in America.

Well, they are not. The office requires dignity, yes, but it does not necessitate distance. Until modern presidents open their ears to ordinary Sue and Joe, all the chief executives will hear is what he or she is told by vested interest. The pulse of the people will not be felt.

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