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The Crtic’s Corner

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

August 23, 2011

By Perry Redd


For Republicans, campaign season is in full swing.  And swinging, they are—for the fences.  Each candidate, as if on cue, takes a swing at their potential opponent, President Barack Obama.  Whether it’s Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or current front runner, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, they’ve carved out their niche to throw it against the wall and see what sticks.  So, what does stick?

Admittedly, I’m a critic of Obama’s methodology and not necessarily with his policies.  His intentions of standing up for the people over the interests of corporations are grand reasons for the people to support him, but as we all know, his approval ratings are the lowest of his
tenure.  The Healthcare reform debate, stimulus packages and the debt ceiling debate took a lot off of his approval, but in the end, he did the right things for the right reasons.  Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann all stood against raising the debt ceiling limit.  We know what transpired and what happened since we did.  That ought to help you make a qualified decision on their credibility.

One thing I’ve learned is that when you’re on top, people will find the pettiest reasons to argue that you shouldn’t be.  The Republicans have criticized Obama’s lack of passion, lack of emotion and lack of leadership.  Again, they throw anything against the wall just to see what sticks.  Even with his approval ratings down, it appears that the vast majority of Americans aren’t going for the hype.  They appear to realize that being president takes a special person with unimaginable patience—with critics.

Mitt Romney shot at the president for taking a vacation when the U.S. economy is in shambles.  “If I were president today, I wouldn’t be looking to go spend 10 days on Martha’s Vineyard,” Romney told a Chicago radio broadcast before Obama left for a 10-day vacation on the summer island just off Cape Cod, where he has spent his summer vacation the past two summers.  Romney quit his last job in 2007 and has been on vacation ever since.  He needs to quit it…

Martha’s Vineyard is in his home state of Massachusetts, so he said he didn’t want to say anything negative about people vacationing there. “But if you’re the president of the United States” he said, “…and the nation is in crisis — and we’re in a jobs crisis right now — then
you shouldn’t be out vacationing. Instead, you should be focusing on getting the economy going again.”  What a bogus statement to be making, being that the nation is always in crisis!  Something is always wrong in America and more over, presidents always take vacations—whenever!

The reality is that even on vacation, a president is in constant communication and get regular briefings from his/her national security team as well as his economic team. Something we all know as Americans anyway.  But being Republican means being petty.

And evenmore, let’s be real about this issue…Obama has taken 61 days of vacation in the  two-and-a-half years he’s been president, compared to George W. Bush who spent 180 days at his ranch in Texas at a similar point in his first term in office. Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch in California at the same point.  It’s just another opportunity for Republicans to lie to the American
public and another reason to not even consider voting for them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an ardent critic of the president as well.  I take a position like that of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, who questioned why President Barack Obama has not visited any black communities during his recent Midwestern bus tour, saying some black lawmakers are hesitant to criticize him. Waters, explained to a crowd in Detroit last week that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are hesitant to criticize Obama because they feel they may lose support from the black community. That’s sad, but true.  Some criticism has merit—and all need to be vetted for validity.

Rick Perry criticized the president on his inability to create jobs; then compared the president’s record to his own.  What a mistake? The fact is, the numbers are just smoke and mirrors because the new jobs are primarily low-wage ones. “What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote  on Sunday.

Texas is tied with Mississippi for having the highest proportion of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less, according to Bureau
of Labor Statistics data. Overall, Texans earned about $2,300 less than the national average, according to 2009 Census Bureau data. These low-paying jobs usually do not come with health insurance, which is part of the reason why Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country. One of every four Texans lives without health insurance.  So guess who pays for that void in healthcare?  You got it, the government.  It’s just like Wal-Mart does: shift the burden to the government.  I don’t think that’s the job creation you envision for America.

They criticize Obama for “failing to lead.” The president spoke 171 times on his jobs agenda, but these critics say that he’s been silent on the issue.  This is disingenuous at best, lies at least.  What they bank on is the more you say something, the more chance there is for it to stick.

I’ll remind you that the naysayers were in full force once Obama won the nomination in ’08, so nothing should surprise us now.  Even as a critic, be reasonable, and more importantly, don’t be swayed by lies.  They attacked his friendships, his birthright, his faith and even his race…and he’s still doing what he was elected to do: run this thing.  I advise that we be reasonable in our criticisms because, in a two-party system, the alternative will be a hell of a lot worse!


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