Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Different Sort of Tragedy

There were two tragic politically related events this week. The saddest of the two was the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. I’ll get back to the other in a bit. Elizabeth Edwards was among many other things (writer political wife, educator, activist), an inspiration. There are people who loved her unwavering support for her husband and the issues about which they cared so deeply. There was absolutely no one who didn’t identify with her pain when she talked about the death of her son. There was absolutely no one who could escape the pain of her announcement about her incurable breast cancer. And there was no one who could escape the pain of her humiliation when she responded to her husband’s betrayal. And although pain can be inspirational, it was not what I found inspirational. It was, what appeared to be an indefatigable strength to keep moving forward. Some pals have said that overcoming difficult times makes one a better person. It might be true – although I don’t need any more hard times because, as you all know, I am wonderful enough. But enough about me …. (never). Elizabeth was, (as a public persona), gutsy, brave, optimistic, and as her daughter said today, comforting. While we might have been able to identify with all her losses, and humiliations she suffered, there are very few of us who could have been as graceful and courageous about it. Can you even imagine what it must have been like for her to have to deal not only with impending health disasters, but with children who knew that there father had done something unforgivable to their mother. So unforgivable that he would not be permitted to live with them anymore. So many losses, and so much determination to go on with whatever life she had left to live. It was not necessary to be Elizabeth’s friend to know that she was a person with a generous and loving spirit. And it was not necessary to be at the funeral to know that the loss of Elizabeth will be felt by people well beyond her immediate family.

The second tragedy was of a totally different nature and falls into the category of, “what could he possibly be thinking”? Who in their political right mind would say, “I have to go to a Christmas party but President Clinton will stay in the press room and take questions.” The tragedy here was that the President allowed himself to be compared with Bill Clinton – in the White House. President Obama is very smart and quite articulate, but he is not Bill Clinton – No one ever could be. No one can compare with Bill Clinton in dealing with impromptu questions from the press or the public. There is no question that Clinton did exactly what Obama and his advisors asked him to do. Of course he did. He supported the President’s tax compromise and explained, as no one else could, how important it was for the Democrats to support it as well. But what more do you need to know than that President Obama went to a Christmas party and President Clinton stayed with the media, to clean up the mess. The thing that always amazed me about Bill Clinton was that he liked people. There were never too many hands or enough time to shake them. It’s why he was always late. He hated to leave an event without talking to every person in the room. The thing that amazes me about President Obama, is that he doesn’t seem to like people. Well, maybe he likes them in the greater sense, but in one on one situations, he seems uncomfortable and always seems to have one foot out the door. ( I wonder how long he stayed at the Christmas Party). I have heard that the first couple no longer takes individual pictures with their guests. One tragedy is that never would have happened in any previous White House. Are there other tragedies as well? Yes, there are. But I won’t go on and on. Suffice to say that at a time when the President should be demonstrating what it means to lead, he led a different President to the podium and he went to a party. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

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