Obama has an opportunity to become great...to go down in the annuls of history as Lincoln, the president he professes to so admire. But he's missing it. In one stroke of his pen, he is signing away his place as a great leader of our nation.
Obama enjoys right now the good will and trust of most Americans. This trust and faith in him as a leader gives him the unique opportunity to channel that trust into a display of power and action unparalleled in most of our lifetimes. Obama could call upon Americans to unite in sacrificing and working for this country and for each other. He could tell Americans the truth...that we have been living as a nation in a way that is not sustainable...that we are in for some hard times...that we, as individuals, may have to pay for some things that we may have had no part in purchasing...indeed that we may have to sleep in a bed we did not make. He could tell Americans that they need to stand up, work, volunteer, give, sacrifice. But he must not trust Americans with that message. He must think we cannot handle the truth, or that his popularity would suffer if he told it to us, eventhough every thinking American knows it already. He must think we are not capable of sacrifice, charity, and hard work.
Instead of telling us we must change how we live now in order to live better in the future, he is trying to preserve our way of life as best he can in the short run. The plan that our leaders in government are putting in place, even as I type this, may indeed be a bandaid. But a bandaid doesn't help if a cut isn't the problem. What we in our nation need to face is exactly what we tell our children they must face if they make bad choices...consequences. If we have been living beyond our means, then we better live below them for a while. We don't need an entire overhauling of the capitalist system. The system did not fail us. We failed it, and we are seeing the results. Now we should accept the consequences, instead of running away from them and trying out another system that we have already seen, from looking beyond our shores, does not work. After suffering the consequences, we would understand our boundaries better, respect the system more, and accept more heartily what it requires of each of us.
Obama could help lead us through this period of correction. But he isn't. He is trying a detour around it. And the detour will never take us back to the path we have always been on but muddied for awhile. It will not take us back to the path forged by the work and sweat of those who have gone before us.
But of course not. He can't trust us with a spade and shovel.