Obama seems to be a virtual prisoner in the White House. Every time he tries to leave to go abroad to visit and speak with world leaders someone suggests that Obama is busting the budget or that he is neglecting domestic issues, or is running away because he refuses to engage with Congress, or there is a crisis. Every American President has travelled to meetings with foreign leaders, to conferences, or has gone on social good will visits.
Obama has lived in the most austere White House environment that America has ever offered a President; few balls, few state dinners, not enough fine china, bow ties, and satins, no schmoozing with an international guest list, or even a national guest list.
Maybe the Obama family doesn’t care about this stuff but the nation should. It makes us seem poor and so embattled that we mustn’t socialize. Perhaps recessionary times call for this lack of ceremony, or perhaps in a world that is so skewed between rich and poor a fancy party is not appropriate. The Obamas have held a few entertainments with musicians but few of those grown up, uncomfortable but diplomatic occasions that give a government an air of polish. With the entire world in a sort of grim mode it may be wrong to stage a good party, but it might lift everyone’s spirits to get dressed up and pretend to like each other. Guests could pay a per plate charge and the money could go to a number of charities chosen in a random fashion by lottery or a computer random number generator in order to be sensitive to the needs of the times.
Perhaps this lack of glitz is Obama’s choice or perhaps he is just responding to the toxic climate in Washington which has been so hostile and disapproving that the hypocrisy of pretending to be in a celebratory mood is just a tad too unreal for a genuine first family to support. The outcry over any activity that the unpleasant contingent in Washington sees as wasteful is enough in itself to prevent America from entertaining.
Why doesn’t the President ever go to Camp David? Presidents have always invited foreign leaders to Camp David to converse, negotiate, recreate or to at least pay homage to political protocol. Perhaps Camp David is a bit in the “good ole boy” mode of campers and hunters and shooters to appeal to Obama who obviously didn’t grow up in that culture. Seeing Presidents off to Camp David had been a rite of passage in America for a number of administrations and it would be nice to know that Camp David holds no interest for Obama, rather than to have us guessing that he has been discouraged from using the facility (for budgetary reasons of course). Perhaps we need a new President’s Camp that offers more modern pleasures like a great private golf course only for world leaders or some such thing.
I believe I heard somewhere that Obama works in an office exactly like the oval office but it is not the real oval office. It was explained that renovations have been planned for some time but we suspect that this isolates the President even more and interrupts tradition in ways that affect perception. It would be nice if someone talked about this lack of social activity, of glitz and glamour, so that our minds don’t draw improper conclusions. America is a sad place to live lately, so serious and negative; judgmental and accusatory. It is good to concentrate on the problem areas that challenge us in the 21st century, but, of course, we are being prevented from doing that. So we might as well dance.
I do miss that feeling of being the child looking through the stairway banisters at the adults partying in their best clothing. There is no “state” in our state and we are the poorer for it.
This is the view from the cheap seats.
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