American Elephants

What You Say, Mr. Obama, Doesn’t Match What You Do. by The Elephant's Child

Sometime in the last year, the media adopted the term “optics” as a replacement for “what it looks like.”  It’san annoying word. Andrew Malcolm, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote yesterday of “the increasingly odd political optics of Barack Obama.

He referred to the appearance of President Obama’s activities.  For example, today Obama and Michelle will fly to Chicago on Air Force One.  They will be there for three hours. The purpose is to tape an Oprah show.  Then they will fly to New York City. The purpose there is a fundraiser, three of them.  It costs the government $181,000 an hour to operate Air Force One.

This is the same president who, a few days back, suggested that a commuter worried about gas prices should buy a new hybrid car instead.

With America in a recession and millions of people out of work, the president entertained with Wagyu beef and hundred dollar bottles of wine. With people on the Gulf of Mexico out of work and the region starved for tourists, the President urged tourists to return to the Gulf Coast, as Michelle and a planeload of her closest friends headed off to the beaches of Spain.

When Obama “leads from behind,” as his foreign policy was described in the current New Yorker, the appearance in not one of judicious consideration of alternate policy options, but of a weak, indecisive president unable to make decisions.

When Obama tries to blame speculators and price gouging for high oil prices and threatens criminal action, Americans remember that Steven Chu, who Obama made his Energy Secretary told the Wall Street Journal in a December 2008 interview the “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” He appointed Socialist activist Carol Browner as his energy czar; and Van Jones, admitted Communist, as his green jobs czar.  Obama keeps subsidizing wind and solar energy, when he talks about a clean green economy, yet wind and solar have nothing to do with the price of gasoline.  They produce only tiny, inefficient amounts of electricity, and ethanol increases the cost of driving.

The rhetoric and the actions never match. Does he just say whatever he thinks will please his audience?  Does he simply not understand how things look? We can read. Obama’s own Energy Information Agency projects that the delays in issuing permits are costing us 240,000 fewer barrels of oil a day.

Stopping drilling in Alaska for the sake of what a computer model projects might be the result of emissions from an icebreaker on the air quality in a village nearly a hundred miles away doesn’t look like a considered, careful decision.  It looks like environmental activist blockage.

You have told us, Mr. President, that you are working too hard, that you are thinking of us every night when you go to sleep and every morning when you awake, but with your feet on the Oval Office desk, and golf games when wars are starting or when Japan is dying under earthquakes and a tsunami — it just doesn’t look like you are working hard or that you are thinking of American citizens and their concerns.

When Americans are worried about inflation and rising gas prices — those little items that are not included in the official inflation statistics — and you are quoted as “urging world oil producers to lift crude output,” it really doesn’t look good.  And when your answer to the price of gas rising over $4.00 a gallon is that “They need to increase supplies. We are in conversations with major oil producers like Saudi Arabia,” what can you possibly be thinking?

If you understand that increased supplies will bring down the cost of oil, why are you not increasing our own supplies?  The Saudis, if you remember, have been busy.

The Royal Wedding by The Elephant's Child

There is much talk on the talk shows about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Some Americans are offended that other Americans pay attention. Many husbands find it obnoxious that their wives love the romance of a royal wedding.  Their wives find their husbands’ callousness obnoxious.  Lots of people just don’t get the fascination.  The media wallows in fascination.  So there you are.

I find it interesting.  The British like their royalty, except for those who don’t. Many assume that the royals are empty, vapid characterless folk.  It takes courage and fortitude though, to perform kindly at constant appearances, charity functions, to endure elaborate ceremonies, and to pretend to enjoy long state dinners with other heads of state.  It cannot be an easy life, and they have no real choice. It is the role that they were born to. Despite the trappings, I can think of a lot of things I’d rather do.

When you are just a rich celebrity, you can be rude and do pretty much whatever strikes your fancy. If you go too far, you may have to pay the price. Royalty cannot do that.

I like the spectacle. The British have a long tradition of spectacular ceremonies, and they do it all very well.  It’s fun to watch.  I wish the young couple well and hope they can find happiness in the formal lives they must perform. But I’m not caught up in illusions of fairy tale romance, and I won’t stay up half the night to watch.

I like English history, which is partly my history, though many generations removed. I’m a mix of English, Scots, Welsh, German and Dutch with a stray Norwegian and a Frenchman thrown in, way back. And I had a good many ancestors who fought against the British, twice.

For an explanation of the difference between the United Kingdom, the British Isles, Great Britain and England, don’t miss this brief but enlightening tour.  For an earlier British ceremony when King George III rode to address Parliament on the distressing issue of war in America in 1776, see here, with a picture of the royal coach as well.

Enjoy the spectacle or ignore it, but refrain from being rude about the whole thing. That gets a little tiresome.

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