Know what I'm sick and tired of? I'm tired of birthers--folks who swear that Obama wasn't born in the United States, or that Hawaii is not a state, or whatever. But I'm getting just as tired of people who roll their eyes and sputter and tell me in soporific detail just why the birthers are wrong. They are almost always right on almost every point. And entirely miss the point, and that is what makes me tired.
Let's stipulate for starters that the birthers are mostly deeply confused people who believe a whole range of silly and self-contradictory nonsense and who, not least, are splendid at spotting the little speck of granola in the other guy's teeth while missing the large intrusive crowbar through their brain.
Still, it's time that somebody said this: the birthers are telling us something real. They're telling us that they feel fatally disconnected from our President: they don't recognize him; they don't understand him; as far as they're concerned he's from another planet--meanwhile, "born in Kenya" seems real enough.
Of course they've got a perfect right to feel as they--but you knew that. What I'm trying to do is to get past patronizing dismissal and argue that they are also onto something important and right. Specifically: they don't understand him because he hasn't made himself understandable. They are bewildered because he is bewildering. I really can't remember a president in my lifetime, maybe ever, who has done a poorer job of conveying what it is what he is about and why he is doing it.
Don't misunderstand me here: of course Obama is"native born," and while we are at it, Hawaii is a state. And in many ways, he has been a pretty good president: the health care bill might actually save us a bit of money, and some of the things in Dodd-Frank probably do more good than harm. And politics is the slow boring of hard boards.
But I've said it before and I'll say it again: the job of a leader is to lead--to define issues, to mobilize coalitions, to scare the living crap out of opponents, above all to convey to friend and foe alike that you are in the cab pulling the throttle and dinging the bell. It is what people, sometimes in a confused way, expect of a president, and they don't know what to do with one who is so strangely unwilling or unable to do that job.