Ally Beats Enemy

Our fight is ultimately our own, not Obama's

It’s been a year – just a year, mind you – that Barack Obama has served as 44th president of the U.S. He’s the first in that long line to not be a white male. Obviously, this is a position that holds tight to the status quo because of us, the electorate.

At this one-year mark, everyone is taking a shot at rating America’s first president who is not a white guy. We’ll likely be doing the same thing once we get our first female president, first Jewish president, first paraplegic president, what have you. As our collective attention span evolves to be ever shorter, it’s unlikely we’ll even wait the year. You can imagine the headline: ”President Nancy Nguyen: Week One.”

Not to be above the fray — and despite a deadline that demands I write prior to hearing Obama’s State of the Union address — I’ll join in.

If you are progressive, the primary criticism is Obama’s lack of action, whether it’s the environment, health care or the economy. For the conservatives, it’s too much action, whether it’s the environment, health care or the economy. As he was during the election, Obama is all things to all people: messiah or antichrist, a blank slate on which to broadcast our leftist hopes and right-wing fears.

There are two reasons he likely won in the first place. First, the Bush administration was just such a colossal failure. Who wouldn’t want to respond to that with anything but change? Second, Obama was able to personify change while threatening the fewest number of people.

Granted, the ones he did threaten weren’t just critical of his politics, but act as though he’s all four horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one. Believe me — I was at the Capitol to witness the tea-baggers’ rally.

Still, with this charming style of leadership, Obama can’t even bring the health care reform that people have demanded without being accused of wanting to euthanize Grandma and mandate abortions. All it took to throw the whole mission off course was Sarah Palin cackling about ”death panels.” This is how tenuous the love.

From our community, the critique is that Obama has abandoned us. So many promises, so little delivery. Mr. President, you’re administration is defending DOMA and silent on ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (though possibly not by the time this prints). What gives?

Really, there’s not much more he can do. He got elected, which was monumental to begin with. Why he wanted the job is beyond me. Two wars, an economy in shambles, an environment in collapse, terrorism, fuel shortages…. If I were the first lady, I’d turn over that garden to a bumper crop of weed just to make it through each day.

What we got with Obama was not a fighter, but a peacemaker. A compromiser. If he was a fighter, he would’ve scared off too many voters. Remember the fist-bump scandal? We also got an ally. He’s not going to fight our fights, but if our legislation makes it to his desk, he will gladly sign it. Would Bush have invited Judy Shepard to the White House for the signing of a hate-crimes bill? No. He would veto it.

An ally is better than we’ve had in a long time. But while he’ll offer aid and comfort, we won’t see him in our particular trenches. He’ll invite our heroes to the White House to remind us we are welcome, but at the end of the day the fight remains our own. If that’s not enough, so be it. But your disappointment in Obama is not constructive. Turn your attention elsewhere and get something done.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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