OBAMA DISAPPOINTS REVISITED

               Gosh a rootie. Breaking news has given me a new perspective of what I had viewed as failings of President Obama, particularly a charge of moral cowardice I leveled at him in OBAMA DISAPPOINTS  PART DEUX. In that post, adopting an opinion expressed in an article on Slate.com, I voiced my dismay Obama had not offered stronger rhetorical support for gay marriage and the building of the Ground Zero Mosque, which, as I continue to emphasize, is not a mosque and is not at Ground Zero, among other hot button issues.

           It is presumed that one of the responsibilities of our Commander In Chief, no matter the individual, is to use his office as a bully pulpit offering moral suasion to our citizens on matters of moral conduct or deep-seated beliefs rather than say, pocketbook or national security issues. Theoretically, his sincere and strong words will influence many of the recalcitrant to reconsider their own beliefs for the good of the country.

           Now I was a political science major in college, not a true scholar of our political systems, but well-versed enough to understand the concepts that mold governmental behavior and the influences, internal and external, that affect the way our executives, legislators and bureaucrats act.

             Lo and behold experts in this field have their own convention, just like various unions, businesses with a common interest and Shriners. (If you have ever seen “Bye Bye Birdie, you know which group I want to convene with).

           The recent American Political Science Association convention in Washington, D.C. was noteworthy for several reasons. Perhaps the most startling initially was that, though politicians usually flock to conventions like flies swarm around garbage cans, this meeting was bereft of our elected saviors. Even moreso was the revelations that emanated from the conventioneers that defy conventional wisdom.

            These political scientists were asked what they wished politicians knew about politics. One is that lobbyists don’t run the show. A study of lobbying efforts on 98 legislative fights revealed that despite spending lots of money and great expanses of time, the lobbyists usually lost.

            There is much public clamoring for term limits or ridding the Capital of “professional’ politicians. Yet, when there are few experienced legislators, they rely heavily on long-time staffers and lobbyists to maneuver their way through the morass, which is the totally opposite effect sought by those favoring citizen-legislators.

            Coming to the defense of Obama in regards to the charge of moral cowardice, the basic finding is that speeches don’t matter. Rarely does a President, dramatically orating from his bully pulpit, actually sway citizens from their prior held views. George Edwards, an author and political scientist at Texas A & M, has written a book in which he notes that few Presidents have been able to move opinion with their rhetoric, save for FDR during WW II when news from Hitler was really behind FDR’s speeches and the public’s reaction to them.

For more on the convention: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10262/1088323-109.stm?cmpid=newspanel

            So while I continue to wish for a firmer message from President Obama, I now realize that should he do so, it will benefit the morale of me and others sharing my views, but is unlikely to bring change from those who don’t.

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