Four years ago when President Obama was still Presidential Candidate Obama, a friend of mine said something that I now think was incredibly insightful. We were talking about how excited we all were about Mr. Obama and how hopeful he made us feel about the future of our country. My friend Rick made the comment that he was actually feeling nervous about all the excitement. While he himself had a great deal of enthusiasm, he also recognized that our country was facing some seriously overwhelming problems, some of which had not even surfaced yet, and change was not going to happen over night. It was going to take a lot of hard work and rolling up of the sleeves in order to make the change happen. Rick was afraid that people, being fickle as they are, would quickly grow impatient and frustrated with the lack of change they were seeing.
Well, it didn't take long.
I feel like I owe my friend Rick 100 bucks. Cash.
I don't think President Obama was in office 2 months before I first started hearing comments about people being unhappy with the type or speed of change they were seeing. I don't know why it's so hard for us to realize that 2 wars fought for over 8 years with virtually unlimited blank checks drawing on taxpayer accounts leads to incredibly complex economic problems that cannot be solved over night. I don't know a lot about economics but I know that not once in recent years has there been a simple, easy solution to any of the major problems we've faced. So any solution is going to be controversial. And some people will not agree. But thank god we have some leaders like President Obama who can see the big picture and are willing to take a political backlash in order to accomplish something that they truly believe is good for the county. Like Healthcare reform. Or equal pay for women. Or saving the auto industry. Or ending combat in Iraq. Or ending don't ask don't tell. Or finally finding Osama Bin Laden. Or leading the economy toward an incredible surge of private sector job growth.
None of these were popular decisions because they were incredibly complex. Not a single one had an easy, black and white answer. They were (and are) the type of problems that require rational, reasoned intellect, and the willingness to take a political beating for the good of the country.
As Rahm Emmanuel said the other night (I really wanna have a beer with that guy sometime), any one of those issues could have defined an entire presidency.
President Obama took on all of them.
I only wish he would have bragged about it a little more.
Watching the Democratic National Convention this week has been quite refreshing for me. Actually, parts of the Republican National Convention last week were also refreshing for me, particularly Clint Eastwood's speech (I'll write more about this soon). As I watch various speakers get up to rally people on behalf of the President and see the videos that have been created, I'm finding myself feeling excited and hopeful like I did 4 years ago. Because as I'm listening to the speeches and watching the videos, I'm reminded of all the amazing things that my President has accomplished since he's been in office. For the last 4 years (and particularly recently) I've listened to constant streams of negative messaging from the far right who decided the President was a failure before he even started because they sensed the coming change and feared what it meant for them.
But all the while, a revolution was happening. We just didn't see it until now because it was quiet. Rather than wasting valuable air time with big empty talk, President Obama went straight to work, rolling up his sleeves and being willing to make unpopular decisions for the good of the country.
Change has been happening all along, we just haven't been paying close enough attention. Or we were too shortsighted. It's time we fix that. This is a story that needs to be told.