Obama White House Potential Tinder Box

We all wish Barack Obama well.  We hope and pray for the future of America.  As my Dad used to say, “Whatever happens in America, whoever we elect, the Republic will survive.”

My Dad lived through great crises and achievements in America: sleeping in the U.S. Capitol building on December 7, 1941 following the devestating attack on Pearl Harbor that day.

Barack Obama’s White House, which in some ways started on election day and some say started even before that, will legally begin upon the swearing in of Vice President Joe Biden and Barack Obama himself as President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

Barack Obama’s White House has every potential to become a tinderbox of controversey, missteps and overreaching.  Here’s why:

-Hubris:  There have been many jokes, cartoons and other side remarks about “Barack the Messiah.”  The loftly language of Candidate Obama, Senator Obama, Professor Obama and now President Elect Obama lends itself to what I’ll call “uplift;” or a sense of loftiness.  It also lends itself to self-importance and ridicule.  President Obama, while being careful and measured and lofty might just end up sounding not presidential but sanctimonious.  This will be devestating on the world stage already filled with bufoons like Hugo Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran.  And just as Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi referred to Barack Obama’s great “tan” and the world media seemed to say “there he goes again,” Mr. Obama’s now highly admired lofty tone can become the fodder for comedians overnight, if he isn’t careful.

President-elect Senator Barack Obama gives his victory speech ...
Above: President-elect Barack Obama

Gaffes:  Joe Biden has a well earned reputation as a gaffe machine.  But Team Obam has had him on a tight leash and nailed to a teleprompter.  But that can’t last.  Before long, the media will be saying, in all liklihood, “Say it isn’t so, Joe.”  And Vice President Biden won’t be the only one to make a gaffe, if history is any guide.  Remember Ronald reagan caught off-mike before a news confernce saying someing about bombing the Soviet Union?  Oops. 

Vice President-elect Joe Biden listens as President-elect Obama ...
Vice President-elect Joe Biden listens as President-elect Obama answers questions during a news conference in Chicago, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


Everone has their slip ups.  Witness Barack Obama trying to make some fun during his first press conference by referring to Nancy Reagan and her “seances.”  Say it isn’t so, Barack.  You just got your facts wrong in what conservatives see as an attack on a dead “sainted” conservative president’s wife who is elderly and ill.  Not funny, Barack (Obama phoned Mrs. Reagan to say he was sorry).

Partisanship:  Our advice: Put America first and be bi-partisan in all things.  That’s patriotic.  If you just want to be a realist: keep your enemies close so you can watch them, Barack.  That’s what Abraham Lincoln said and did.  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”  Lincoln filled his cabinet and his kitchen cabinet with the opposition: he had a civil war to win.  The result was emancipation and union.  I fear, after the selection of Rahm Emanuel, who Paul Begala said was partisan “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache,” we could wind up with not “snakes on a plane” but “vipers in the White House.”  We hope the new White House denizens can reach out in good will and not to throttle others by the neck.  Won’t work.

White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel listens during ... 
White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel listens during a news conference by President-elect Obama in Chicago, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

So, not to rain on anyone’s parade, as a veteran of Washington some many years, I thought I’d raise the flag of caution and good will — which usually serve those in power much better than “Sherman though Atlanta.”

Sherman would have loved Rahm Emanuel.  And Obama picked him.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

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