Oprah interviews President Obama and his wife Michelle for a Christmas special on ABC.
Previously, you would have never caught me sitting down of an evening to care about Christmas at the White House. For eight years I tried to close my eyes and ears to anything remotely related to a certain President who shall remain nameless. Unfortunately, that was futile, he had a knack for infiltrating our news and lives despite our best intentions to filter him out.
60 Minutes also aired an interview with President Obama this weekend, though there were glaring differences in the style of our interviewers. In both situations Obama spoke succinctly, eloquently and was strong in his approach to different topics. Topics that he has to answer time and time again, which I would find annoying, hence why being a politician should not be on my potential career list. He is the most real person I have seen in office and I don’t envy his position right now. As a person who plainly reflects on the gravity of his decision making, there is no doubt that his intelligence and compassion is balanced with the resolve to do the right thing.
Sending more troops to Afghanistan is one of those “right things” though you could tell that weighs heavy on the minds of both the President and citizens. War is not something I agree with but it is difficult for some Governments to reconcile with the change necessary for a better country, respect their world neighbours or relinquish their strangle hold on their citizens. Our Canadian soldiers and other allies who have been in Afghanistan since 2002 would most likely welcome more troops. We (Canada) have paid mightily with the largest number of fatal casualties for a Canadian mission since the Korean War. Mourning the loss of 133 soldiers to date, Canada has the largest per capita death rate among the foreign armies in Afghanistan. Since 2006 alone over 360 soldiers have been wounded. We can well understand hesitancy to continue but support is what we do and further collaboration with the US is needed. (Please take a moment at the end of this post to see the faces and names of our Canadian Soldiers killed in action)
Health care, another topic the President navigates through. Very complicated to reform, and I am by no means an expert, but from a human standpoint I fail to understand why anyone would not want health care for all of their family, friends, neighbours and country men/women. Bad timing to broach the topic in the middle of a financial crisis perhaps, but when was a good time? Even in good times it appeared it was struck off the “must have” list. If people are healthy they don’t use the social safety nets as much, they can work, educate themselves and otherwise be productive in the building of the state or country. If people can lose their life savings, home or plunge into debt in order to treat an illness or recover from an accident, how is that helping the economy? Infant mortality should be a cause for better care as the US ranks near the bottom in infant survival. Access to health care is important, we don’t have a perfect system here in Canada but I have never had to think twice before going to my doctor, clinic or hospital, I just walk in.
When asked by Oprah what grade he would give himself for this year, President Obama said “a B+.” I’m sure he was aware that his critics would give him less and he acknowledges that people are entitled to feel the way they do as many are suffering with job loss, financial difficulties and are unable to send their children to college. I get that, people have a right to hurt and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, survival is a daily mission. I am far less empathetic with some of the critics; those that are doing just fine with their jobs, finances, healthcare and other perks still intact. I say, stop whining and trying to sabotage forward momentum! This President inherited a mess! He hasn’t been a full year in office and already people are expecting miracles. Get a grip!
You try and turn over a company in mere months that has fallen into the depths of near ruin. It takes a long time to assess the priorities, whatever you thought was the problem quickly mounts into a whole lot more. With a mission in mind you often must fire those that aren’t in line with the goals, others leave because they are unable to handle change and transitions and the focus is in hiring the right people who see the vision. You are consulting with others who bring unique perspectives and testing the market to see the validity of the ideas coming forth. There is spending in order to re-brand and resell to consumers an improved version of the old business. This takes longer than months or even years. Now,imagine having to walk in to the Presidents office with all the bright ideas flowing and multiple problems to sift through. It is a massive company, beyond all others and it needs an overhaul in key areas.
In watching President Obama and his wife Michelle, I was still hopeful. Hopeful that their citizens can stay strong, to believe and assist in the restructuring that is needed individually as well as collectively. Observing the First Lady is always a pleasure as she is poised, authentic, articulate, intelligent and witty.Watching the two of them, I was delighted that their marriage remains rooted in the great love and respect that carried them this far. How they support each other and their family is what will aid in his ability to carry on in the face of uncertainty.
I could have wrote about anyone or anything today. In fact upon sitting here I didn’t know what might rise from thought to type, but for some reason acknowledging a man and woman of influence seemed appropriate and saying “Yes, you can.” Here’s to 2010! May we see our way to a greater understanding of our world, accept our role in making it better, move quicker on the path to peace and respect all people and creatures that share this fragile but beautiful planet.