Friday, March 13, 2009

"Object in Chief"

I suppose that my greatest admiration with President Barack Obama comes from his unflagging persistence in talking to the American public as if they were adults, even when confronted with no end of evidence to the contrary. This was nicely demonstrated with a bit of rhetorical flair when, as reported by Jim Kuhnhenn for Associated Press, Obama spoke to the rich and mighty members of the Business Roundtable. We would expect our "captains of industry" (as we used to call them before that epithet was displaced by "Masters of the Universe") to approach their leadership responsibilities with more than a modicum of balance. However, Obama must be thanked for being the responsible adult to remind them that this is the case:

A smidgen of good news and suddenly everything is doing great. A little bit of bad news and ooohh , we're down on the dumps. And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I am the object in chief of this varying assessment.

That "object in chief" epithet was a good measure against the prevailing epithets of power, particularly since it reminds us of Harry Truman's precept about where the buck ultimately stops. Nevertheless, since I seem to be occupied this morning with the power of the single sentence, I took great pleasure in reading that Obama also had one of those in his rhetorical quiver:

I don't think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say.

I would like to believe that the Business Roundtable got the message that it was time to follow Paul's advice to the Corinthians and "put away childish things," in order to get back to doing the hard work that needs to be done; but I fear that George W. Bush got so much mileage out of talking to people as if they were scared children that even the Business Roundtable has been sapped of the will to do that kind of hard work.

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