Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pundit Free Zone

President Obama has an impossible job. The presidency of the U.S. has always been debilitating, no matter what's happening at the moment or who sits in the Oval Office. Even George W. Bush, who went to bed at 9:00 p.m. every night, aged dramatically during his eight years.

When I think about how many presidents have "failed," or the way in which, after leaving office, they shine (think Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, for instance), I imagine that the job itself must be like one of those awful nightmares where you're trying to run but can hardly move, as if slogging through jello, or trying to talk, but the words get caught in your throat. You know that kind of dream? I think the U.S. presidency is just that bad.

I noticed last night that President Obama is going gray at an accelerated pace and that his face is drawn and tired looking. Even a tough guy like him is going to be sucked dry by the job. But his speech was great - clear, strong, and logical. Damn he's good.

After his speech I switched off the TV. My experiment was to listen to the speech but skip the analysis afterwards. As curious as I was to hear what my favorite news people had to say, I've been thinking lately that they just get me all worked up and angry, create in me a stronger feeling of "us" vs. "them" which is not an energy field that needs any more juice. I also skipped the Republican response. I wanted to hear the speech, take it in, sleep on it.

I think it worked! I was able to listen - just listen. Nice.

The enclosed courtyard at the American Musuem of Art. Such a bizarre space.


NanU said...

A well-timed switch-off is a beautiful thing.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah!

The Bug said...

My hubby & I just can't listen to political speeches - I don't really know why he can't, but I've had a life-long phobia about watching people do things live, especially if I really care about how they do. The first time my hubby (the historian with an MDiv)preached homecoming at his home church I thought I'd hyperventilate - & I'm the same way with public figures. I know! Weird!

So, I didn't watch, but probably, now that I know it went well, I'll watch tonight...

Anonymous said...

President Obama's speech last night was the ONE I had been waiting to hear since this whole "Healthcare Reform" was put into motion.

I voted for him and, of course, I support the push for universal healthcare, but after all the reading I've done (while trying to avoid pundit opinions), I just couldn't break it down into laymens terms, so that an ordinary Joe like me could fully understand all aspects of the plan.

I'll admit I've grown tired of speech after presidential speech, and have tuned out for the most part over the past few months, but this speech I had to listen to.

I wanted to find out for myself if Obama could lay it out simple, straightforward, with no bullshit.

And. He. Did.

There was a bit of reverse psychology in the speech directed toward the opposition (flattery will get you everywhere - people can't help themselves), a lot of passion and certainly a 'Kennedy reference', but that speech was brilliant at a time when it was needed.

normana53 said...

I always turn off the tv before the Republican response, because those idiots make me crazy! Your photo of the enclosed courtyard reminds me of the British Museum Atrium

ellen abbott said...

I missed it. Forgot it was going to be on. But wouldn't it be nice if TV and radio didn't allow pundits or opposition to speak after a speech, to allow the American people to listen and then actually think for themselves instead of being harangued and stirred up and told what it means by people who aren't actually involved in the process?

Barry said...

What's this nonsense? Listen to a Presidential address and then make up your own mind?

Is that constitutional? There must be a law against that sort of thing somewhere?

Soon people will be voting for the candidate they think will do the best job, buying products they need that work the best, watching movies and TV shows and reading books based on their own personal taste!

Reya, what have you started here?

Liza said...

Amazing pic Reya.
"Slogging through jello"
I love that!

Lori ann said...

My thoughts exactly. I hope he's eating well.

Expat From Hell said...

It's almost like being President is a death wish. I think if you compare photos on Oath Of Office Day with the next one, some of the comparisons are horrific. In spite of that - as you say - some of their best work and contributions comes post presidency. I think Obama is inspiring and courageous, and I can only hope and pray that he can keep up this ridiculous pace that he's embarked upon.

Deborah said...

here here
or perhaps
hear, hear

love you so,

Reya Mellicker said...

Barry you make me smile and you, too Deborah - Hear hear indeed!

And YES Ellen, except ... I think that would violate our freedom of speech. I just wish people would TRY to think for themselves.

I'm so idealistic!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

on my to do list for the day is to find a rebroadcast, my bookgroup met last night (it is always the 2nd wed of the month) but came home late, and f said it was a great speech. and had an email waiting for me simply stating 'barack is back!' - as if he was ever gone, but you are right it is an impossible job. but thank goodness we have a person in the office who is capable of tackling impossible jobs!

these enclosed courtyards do seem to be all the rage in first I though oh the british museum, but then looked again. the cleveland museum of art is planning something similar with the current massive makeover.

Butternut Squash said...

Very cool Reya.

Although I find it is important to get away from the crazy comments now and again, it is also important for me to hear and understand the fear. The crazy stuff is the obstacle that we are collectively trying to overcome.
'know the nature of the beast'

I think what is so sickening to me is that a handful of educated power elites are misrepresenting the truth in small sound bites so that their followers can parrot the party B.S. 'Go team go!' The power elite know exactly what they are doing and I find that immoral.

We need to hear it and call them on it. Up with Rachel Maddow.

Ronda Laveen said...

Thinking for ourselves is not really encouraged here. People say that it is but, they media tells us what we should think, designers show us how we should dress, grocery stores only give us certain nutrition choices. My brother works for a paint company and tells me about group of people who meet and decide what colors of paints and fabrics will be marketed for a year.

Perhaps one of Obama's greatest challenge is getting people to stop long enough to really think about how life can be lived. How paradigms can be challenged and changed. I try to send him healing energy because he is taking on the world one thought at a time.

Ronda Laveen said...

Oops, that should read "the media" and "greatest challenge(s).

Reya Mellicker said...

Butternut - I think I get over interested in the fear, etc. and then I get so wrapped up being angry, I just add fuel to the fire.

Even beloved Rachel is a sensationalist. Though I agree with her, when I watch her show I get all stirred up.

I'm really trying to take a break from all that, find a place of peace in the midst of the madness (on both sides).

The third road! Where the heck is the third road??

Ronda THANK YOU for sending healing energy to poor Pres. Obama. He's too close for me to do it; I feel I would be sucked dry. Thank you!

Nancy said...

This is exactly how I feel. Who would ever want that job? Especially right now. But he did a great speech, an inspiring speech, and I pray he is successful.

We have also turned off our favorite pundits. For exactly the same reason. How do we deal with all the negativity? By being positive and not adding to the pile. It's the only thing we know to do. Oh, and sign petitions and send e-mails to our local politicians, and give to those groups who are trying to make a difference.

Meri said...

I saw pieces on CNN International from Los Cabos. I love Obama - so smart, so incisive, so inspirational. He's my Pres for sure.

lakeviewer said...

Me too: I like getting my news directly whenever possible, and draw my own conclusions.

He was resplendent.

Reya Mellicker said...

Resplendent is the perfect word, Rosaria.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

I love all the comments... and I love your title "Pundit Free Zone". You really are so very clever with words... and speaking of words Lakeviewer's "resplendent" is perfect!

steven said...

reya i watched obama's speech with my son. it was so cool - i don't see the tiredness as much as you do - which doesn't mean it doesn't exist - but i hear a more focussed, purposeful man with warmth - just there but there enough for a man in his position and pushing some elemental pieces through for your people. he's smart to bring in the names and faces of the people who've been a part of the struggle to bring this tree to bear fruit. i loved those pieces of his speech especially. i turned the tv off as soon as he was done. i also don't like red pant suits a whole lot! did ya notice how many of those political women were wearing the same red pantsuits?! peace out. steven

Merle Sneed said...

I didn't watch the speech, but I always avoid the pundits. Even if I was capable, being President is not something I would yearn for.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think Barack Obama was created specifically to be president of the United States at this moment in our history. We tend to receive greatness during our big crises which makes me wonder if God really does bless America. Wow.

Steven ... ahem ... with no offense to fellow citizens of DC, this city is really not about fashion. In fact, people seek the opposite: to blend in so they can be judged on the basis of their intelligence and ambition, rather than looks.

They say that if the U.S. was a high school, DC would be the Chess Club. Or possibly the Debate Club.

Hence the red pantsuits.

Gary said...

I hate it when I listen to a speech and then be made to feel as though I need someone to explain it to me afterwards because I am too naive or stupid to understand it without their help (or slant). So bravo to you for avoiding that.

A Cuban In London said...

Quite right. You can provide your own post-speech analysis to yourself.

His stuff was good, definitely.

Greetings from London.

Coffee Messiah said...

Yep, so many interpretations of what others "think" said person was "trying" to convey ; (

Alas, as decent as he's trying to be, I think what's aging him more, are the asinine things being said daily in retaliation for being the 1st African-American Pres.

Those ignorant people just won't quit ; (

Pauline said...

That top photo is amazing! I did the same, shutting off the TV the moment the speech ended so I could digest it in my own time without the biased input of others (how we love our own biases ;)

That third road may just be hiding in our own clear thoughts...

Amy said...

Oh, Reya. How I wish I could be you. I've found myself becoming angry and my mind has become numb listening to all of the nonsense. I want to shut it all out and make my mind free so that I can hear what needs to be heard.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that our President was rapidly turning gray. It makes me sad, but also encourages me because I think it means that he is truly in that White House worrying right along with us and trying his best.

And, why does a presidential speech need a rebuttal?! I have plenty of materials at my disposal, including my own mind, to determine what I think about what was said. I'm WAY off center right now, and very distraught about the state of things. I really MUST get myself back in line.

Great post and as always, your pictures of our Capitol are wonderful.

Reya Mellicker said...

I agree that it's a terrible sign when a president's speech requires rebuttal.

After two days thinking about it, I've decided that what he proposed sounds totally reasonable to me. I heard him say, STOP BICKERING, so I'm going to give that my best shot.

And then we'll see what happens next.