By Alison Slade
According to myth, the Roman emperor Nero played the fiddle as the capital city burned to the ground around him. The story of the brutal emperor who loved music, playing as Rome burned is legend, a fabrication in time, but a narrative that is haunting nonetheless. In some histories, Nero started the fire himself, a cruel means to achieve his selfish vision of a new and improved Rome. It is not beyond the realm of comprehension to envision Nero laughing and playing as the commoners watched their lives fall apart before them, losing everything while the leaders of the city lost nothing. As I watched the presidential news conference yesterday, I could not help but think of Nero and his destruction of an empire.
In case you missed the dog and pony show (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43575197/ns/politics-white_house/t/amid-budget-impasse-obama-calls-news-conference/#slice-2), you can find a variety of breakdowns from various news outlets. While the media continued to suck down the crazy juice and praised President Obama for his eloquent handling of today’s interviews, let me tell you what I heard.
The Economy. President Obama opened his news conference with a discussion on the economy, and he was just a little, teensy bit off-base describing the worries of the middle class. As the self-appointed representative of the middle class, I can assure that a broken refrigerator or car transmission is not on the top ten list of my worries. Actually, those would be classified in the file “I am not even going to consider the possibility of this or this happening because I will then be up a creek.”
The most immediate needs for families struggling would be food on the table or keeping the roof above them, not thinking about a pay raise for the job I may or may not possess. But the President identified that the struggles of the middle class have existed for so long before the recession hit in 2007, so maybe he was just a little confused on the details. And anyway, that was only about two minutes into the talk, so I gave him a moment to collect his thoughts.
However, the conversation was quickly derailed by the good ole “it’s not my fault, it’s Congress’ fault” train. I heard “if Congress can get their act together and quit goofing around, I will look so much better to my constituents.” Apparently Congress is lazy. This is not really a surprise; remember they admit to not reading bills before they vote on them. President Obama called Congress out for not passing pending bills which could help the economy while eloquently reminding us how hard he has worked in the last two years to make sure tax cuts were made and manufacturing jobs were on the way. Oh, and let’s not forget the scare tactics in this segment, where we are warned that Congress failing to do their job means no college scholarships, no food safety, no medical research and no help for old folks. The Democrats are willing to compromise, but the GOP is stalling and lazy. That’s what I heard.
The good news, according to the President, is that he has been working hard. Real hard. You know, golf, basketball, Martha’s Vineyard, Obamacare and failed stimulus took a lot of time and work. The critical decisions regarding Libya were difficult to come by all alone. Congress needs to get real, never take a vacation, and solve these problems before the United States defaults on our bills in August. I heard he is responsible for a lot of “good” things happening in our country while everyone else is slacking. Well, except his daughters, who do their homework a day ahead of time. Who knew Presidential privilege allowed the children to get their assignments early?
I heard arrogance and blame placed on everyone else for not working hard. I heard not so gentle reminders that the American people would be eating rotten food if the GOP did not come to agreements with the compromising and helpful Democrats. I heard some dodging on social issues, like gay marriage, and some fluff about Afghanistan. I heard the only clear plan to fix our country’s economic problems rests on the backs of everyone but the President.
I did not hear accountability. I did not hear responsibility. I did not hear clear answers without pointing fingers or blame. But I think I am starting to hear some fiddle music coming from the Rose Garden.
Alison Slade is a professor who has her own talk radio show: The Alison Slade Show. This political news-talk program airs every Sunday night from 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. CST on the GCN Radio Network. Or listen On Demand anytime.