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“Maybe Next Term”: Portrait of a Presidential Rookie August 25, 2009

Image From Big Fur Hat/I Own The

Image From Big Fur Hat/I Own The

I want to thank my dear reader “Bud White” for drawing to my attention, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal piece entitled, “Obama’s Summer of Discontent”

Such realistic dialogue coming from the media is refreshing is to see as it exposes the tensions between our rookie president and his supporters. Obviously I am using the term “supporters” in a broad sense.

Voters are supporters.

Corporations are supporters as many contributed money to Obama’s presidential campaign fund. Despite what our president promised during his campaign, there is now some proof surfacing that lobbyists (the dreaded “L” word) actually did have a hand in his election.

Unions are supporters and while it is unethical, the various media outlets can be construed as supporters. Only a supporter would describe a “tingling feeling” up his leg while delivering “the news” to a public audience.

In yesterday’s Autographed Letter Signed posting, I highlighted a Washington Examiner article with a somewhat similar title to that of the WSJ piece. Penned, “The thrill is gone for Obama and the media”, as if on cue, we are beginning to the media come to their senses.

With any rookie, we want him to succeed if he is on our team and even if he is not, he is still playing the same game that effects us all.

One misstep on the part of a rookie president could resonate as a tremendous loss for all Americans of all political persuasions.

You may ask why I chose to allude to Obama as a “rookie” ? Isn’t every first term president a rookie? Sure, but some are more wet behind the ears than others as noted in this aforementioned Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Obama’s Summer of Discontent
The politics of charisma is so Third World. Americans were never going to buy into it for long.


The leader would be different things to different people. The Obama coalition was the coming together of disparate groups: the white professional liberals seeking absolution for the country in the election of an African-American man, the opponents of the Iraq war who grew more strident as the project in Iraq was taking root, the African-American community that had been invested in the Clintons and then came around out of an understandable pride in one of its own.

The last segment of the electorate to flock to the Obama banners were the blue-collar workers who delivered him Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. He was not their man. They fully knew that he didn’t share their culture. They were, by his portrait, clinging to their guns and religion, but the promise of economic help, and of protectionism, carried the day with them.

The Obama devotees were the victims of their own belief in political magic. The devotees could not make up their minds. In a newly minted U.S. senator from Illinois, they saw the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama was tall and thin and from Illinois, and the historic campaign was launched out of Springfield. The oath of office was taken on the Lincoln Bible. Like FDR, he had a huge economic challenge, and he better get it done, repair and streamline the economy in his “first hundred days.” Like JFK, he was young and stylish, with a young family.

All this hero-worship before Mr. Obama met his first test of leadership. In reality, he was who he was, a Chicago politician who had done well by his opposition to the Iraq war. He had run a skillful campaign, and had met a Clinton machine that had run out of tricks and a McCain campaign that never understood the nature of the contest of 2008.

Artist Norman Rockwell's "The Rookie"

Artist Norman Rockwell's "The Rookie"

Did you know that my favorite sport is baseball?

My two favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. Being a Chicagoan makes the Cubs a likely connection for me, the Red Sox not so likely. Graduate school in Boston is what indoctrinated me into the RED SOX NATION.

Red Sox fever was contagious, I lived across the street from Fenway Park. Boston being a walking town, made for nice spring time walks down Boylston Street. On game days, the “T” was crowded, antiquated and slow.

Coming home from Harvard, I would take the red line “T” to Newberry Street and walk the rest of the way home. The sidewalks were filled with families padded with bottled water and Red Sox nation gear.

At the time, Boston had not yet captured a World Series Championship. The fans did not care, they still paid big bucks to see their team beat the “Curse of the Babino”

That year, the Red Sox and the Cubs had a lot in common. Both teams had a large number of devotees despite their comparative losing streaks. If you were either a Cubs or a Red Sox fan you were well acquainted with the “summer of discontent”.

While growing up, not only did I watch every Cubs game faithfully on the television, I also took trips to my local library to read sports magazines about baseball.

To me baseball was life and it was a game that made sense. By comparison, football was just a bunch of guys on a field who liked to pile up on each other but baseball was a mental sport. It was more civilized and a damn good way to pass three hours of time when I wanted to forget about my problems. Given that the first live Cubs game I would ever see in person would be at the old Yankee Stadium in 2005, I was a pretty loyal armchair fan as mother and I could never afford tickets to see the Cubs play at Wrigley.

My loser team was lovable and “Maybe Next Year” became my mantra.

To what extent I actually believed that the Cubs would ever win a World Series was questionable.

However, in baseball is there really distinction between reality and fantasy?

If so, does that distinction extend to the realm of politics? After all we now play fantasy baseball. Is there such a glorious beast as a fantasy president?

Ajami continues:

…He was no FDR, and besides the history of the depression—the real history—bears little resemblance to the received narrative of the nation instantly rescued, in the course of 100 days or 200 days, by an interventionist state. The economic distress had been so deep and relentless that FDR began his second term, in 1937, with the economy still in the grip of recession.

Nor was JFK about style. He had known military service and combat, and familial loss; he had run in 1960 as a hawk committed to the nation’s victory in the Cold War. He and his rival, Richard Nixon, shared a fundamental outlook on American power and its burdens.

Now that realism about Mr. Obama has begun to sink in, these iconic figures of history had best be left alone. They can’t rescue the Obama presidency. Their magic can’t be his. Mr. Obama isn’t Lincoln with a BlackBerry. Those great personages are made by history, in the course of history, and not by the spinners or the smitten talking heads.

In His painting "The Dugout" Norman Rockwell, captures the fate of the Chicago Cubs on May 23, 1948

In His painting "The Dugout" Norman Rockwell, captures the fate of the Chicago Cubs on May 23, 1948

When we are rooting for a losing team, we place much hope in “the rookie”. The rookie will give the seasoned guys a shot in the arm via envy or a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the game. With the Cubs, my favorite rookie was pitcher Greg Maddux. In September of 1986, Maddux started for the Cubs and was the youngest pitcher in the MLB. His first outing resulted in a complete game win for the Cubs. Maddux was my hero as Cubs rookie pitcher Kerry Woods would become nearly a decade later. Is this fair to the rookie, to become the end all and be all for a team? To become the “hope and change” that they hunger for?

…Ronald Reagan, it should be recalled, had been swept into office by a wave of dissatisfaction with Jimmy Carter and his failures. At the core of the Reagan mission was the recovery of the nation’s esteem and self-regard. Reagan was an optimist. He was Hollywood glamour to be sure, but he was also Peoria, Ill. His faith in the country was boundless, and when he said it was “morning in America” he meant it; he believed in America’s miracle and had seen it in his own life, in his rise from a child of the Depression to the summit of political power.

The failure of the Carter years was, in Reagan’s view, the failure of the man at the helm and the policies he had pursued at home and abroad. At no time had Ronald Reagan believed that the American covenant had failed, that America should apologize for itself in the world beyond its shores. There was no narcissism in Reagan. It was stirring that the man who headed into the sunset of his life would bid his country farewell by reminding it that its best days were yet to come.

In contrast, there is joylessness in Mr. Obama. He is a scold, the “Yes we can!” mantra is shallow, and at any rate, it is about the coming to power of a man, and a political class, invested in its own sense of smarts and wisdom, and its right to alter the social contract of the land. In this view, the country had lost its way and the new leader and the political class arrayed around him will bring it back to the right path.

"The Three Umpires" by Norman Rockwell

"The Three Umpires" by Norman Rockwell

That being quoted, I will pose my question again.

Is it fair to the rookie to become the end all and be all for a team (country)?

I suppose the answer depends upon the rookie in question.

Autographed Letter Signed,



Maybe Next YEAR CUBBIES!!!!