Call me old fashioned, but in times of national crisis I, like many Americans, take comfort from hearing words of wisdom from my president. When the world seems to be on fire or collapsing around our ears, when tragic events unfold, we have always had the calming influence of our appointed leader to guide us through the dark times.
On Friday, S&P downgraded our national credit rating from AAA to AA+. This is the first time the United States has been downgraded since credit reporting began in the early twentieth century. Stock markets globally have been sent into a tailspin. All weekend, Americans were asking themselves "what now?", anxious about how this would affect them personally.
Also this weekend, the news rippled through the country that thirty of our best and bravest were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission in Afghanistan. Twenty-two of those killed were from SEAL Team Six, the group that famously took out Bin Laden. Thankfully, none of the men involved in the Bin Laden raid were on the helicopter, but aside from keeping the enemy from having that coup to count, that really is very little comfort. The loss of those men was a blow to the country and the single most deadly day in the history of naval special forces. Since the OBL raid, we have collectively poured our national pride into that team (I myself had gotten my 'Navy SEALs 1, Bin Laden 0' keychain - a big seller - just this week), and this blow to them is a blow to all of us.
And here we are, on Monday morning, with nary a peep from our President on either front, no calming words for his people, no reassurances. No statements about the lost men, no comments on the downgrade, nothing. All we've gotten are hacks like Sen. John Kerry and David Axlerod attempting to pin the blame of the downgrade on the Tea Party (a laughable attempt, considering the TP was the only group who was demanding a stop to the spending). The last We the People saw of our President, he was partying with celebrities, dancing barefoot in the Rose Garden in celebration of his 50th birthday.
It all seemed so carefree and festive. How nice for him.
It's really not good optics that all the American people have heard out of the White House is stories about a glitzy star-studded fundraiser while we wait and wonder what this downgrade means to us and our own personal debts, such as house and car loans and credit card interest rates. It's not that we resent his parties, it's that he's supposed to be there for us, and instead he's too busy sipping champagne and hobnobbing with Matt Damon and Tom Hanks. All we ask is that he come out and talk to us. Reassure us. Let us know he cares.
Because right now, it seems like all he cares about is raising money and getting reelected.
From the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the Libyan non-war to the deadly storms that swept through the South this spring to the continuing budget and debt ceiling crises, our Commander-in-Chief has been MIA. I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty damn tired of playing "Where's ObamO?" with our president every time there's a crisis.
UPDATE: Well, well, well, only three days (and an hour) late, Obama finally poked his head out of the bunker and made a ten minute statement addressing the downgrade and the SEALs. He didn't really say much unfortunately and, of course, he scuttled away right after his speech with no questions taken afterwards. Coward. I don't know about you, but I for one feel neither reassured nor comforted.