By Raynard Jackson
Last night President Obama gave his first State of the Union address to the nation. As I was listening to the president I thought if he could do it, why can’t I? So, below, I will give my first State of the Union address.
The state of the union is thriving! Not only do we have the first Black president of the country; this is the first time in our nation’s history that the State of the Union was given by a Black. This is an example of the best of America.
But, unfortunately, there are those who want to throw our country into a state of disunion. During one part of the president’s speech, he mentioned a specific ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that he disagreed with. The cameras happened to be panning the audience and zoomed in on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. He could be seen shaking his head in disagreement and mouthing the words, “that’s not true.” What ever happened to people in positions of leadership exhibiting proper decorum and respect not only for the president, but also the office of the presidency? This footage has been shown all over the world. I never thought that a sitting member of the Supreme Court would bring shame to their institution. But, Alito has managed to do so. The state of Supreme Court etiquette is not courtly.
Listening to a lot of Republicans and right wing talk radio, one could get the impression that they are cheering for America’s demise solely for the purposes of winning an election. Radio host, Laura Ingraham has been harping all week that the state of the union is in “peril.” She and many of her guests went on to say that they did not know if president Obama wanted America to remain a strong country or not. Regardless of your politics, no American president will ever do anything that would diminish the stature of our country. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc, have all voiced and promoted the opposite notion. All Americans should be insulted and embarrassed at such rhetoric. The state of right wing talk radio is out of control.
After one year in office, Obama has been weighed in the balances and has been found wanting. He ran a near perfect campaign, but seems to have problems with governing. He promised to televise the health care debates on C-SPAN, then reneged. He promised to have a more open government, then claimed executive privilege when it came to the party crasher investigation. He promised to change the culture in Washington, DC, but then became part of it. The state of the Obama administration is perplexing.
There are plenty of areas to fight and disagree with the Obama administration and the Democrats. But, the issues should be fought in the marketplace of ideas and debated on the merits. A poll release by John Zogby showed that 70% of Republicans stated they were “ashamed” that Barak Obama was president (http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.cfm?ID=18040. That’s right 70%! I can’t help but to think some of this has a racial subtext to it. The state of race relations needs vast improvement.
One need look no further than the recent earthquake in Haiti. The racist, incendiary, heartless comments that came out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth are unforgivable. Pat Robertson’s ignorant, asinine comments about Haiti being punished by God because they made a pact with the devil were pathetic. All the major TV networks except FOX agreed to simulcast a telethon to raise money for Haiti. I can’t help but think that if this tragedy had happened to a European country that FOX would have made a different decision. The state of TV is bleak.
The most disheartening thing about the past year is the silence of those of good will. There is no doubt that there is a large segment of the population that is having a difficult time accepting Obama as president. Few Republican leaders have publically spoken out and chastised Limbaugh, the birthers, and others who have demeaned the president. Where are the Black Republican voices? Are people really that afraid of the likes of Limbaugh?
I learned politics from the Bush Leagues (from a previous column). The Bush Leagues is how I affectionately refer to from President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State, James A. Baker, and former Secretary of Commerce, Robert A. Mosbacher, Sr.
Mosbacher (pictured above) died Sunday. He was a very, very dear friend and one of the reasons I am where I am today. To this day, I have struggled to accept his friendship. How can a kid from the hood of St. Louis, Missouri grow up to be able to have friends like Mosbacher? A wealthy man for sure, extremely successful, no doubt; but most importantly, a very good man. I would frequently fly to Houston, Texas to have lunch with him. We would go to his favorite club. Of course everyone knew him and we would make our way around the room before being seated. The thing that touched me most (even to this day) is he would always introduce me to all these other influential, wealthy people as his “good friend!!” Imagine Michael Jordan taking a young kid into his inner circle and introducing them as his good friend (or Denzel Washington, or the Pope).
These are the people that taught me politics. They had friends in both parties. Mosbacher told me many stories of how they would win a fight over legislation with a Democrat, then go out to dinner with them and laugh about it. That would never happen today. Losing people from the Bush Leagues generation makes me rethink whether I will continue much longer in the political arena. I look forward to seeing and talking with President Bush and Secretary Baker today to get their views. They believed politics was a noble calling. They didn’t need crises to put the country first. The state of my mind? Nostalgic!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).