And while Washington burns with pressing policy concerns, the rest of the nation is swirling in a tempest of questionable practices, poor judgment, and plain stupid behavior that rises to the most elite and highly-regarded in our society.
At a time when the President could stand up and rightly (and righteously) call out the abominable behaviors of our fellow countrymen, silence is his only response. At this time, we need a president willing to decry the injustices perpetrated on the innocent. We need a president who can set a new tone both inside and out of Washington – one of simple morality.
We live in a world full of grey. I get that. Casey Anthony murders her 2-year old daughter – by accidental drowning or whatever fantasy you may choose to assign to the unquestionable death of this innocent life – and is found not guilty. Only in America.
Yes, the judicial system worked. She faced her accuser and, by a jury of her peers, Casey Anthony was acquitted. But is that enough? Should we as a society just go about our normal lives in the wake of such tragedy? But if we should not, then who among us should stand up and say, “Something’s not right here”?
Let’s get closer and take an issue where this White House could get involved and, I believe, missed a moral duty to.
Begin with the countless episodes of infidelity throughout elected office today. Look at the near-criminal acts of Sens. John Ensign or David Vitter. Or how about Sen. Larry Craig and his “wide stance” defense? A former candidate for president fathers a child and uses campaign funds as hush money. A sitting governor of the largest state in the union fathers a child, but only allows it to go public once he leaves office. I’m just getting started on this motley crew.
Did we hear of any admonitions from our president? Was there one sincere comment by Mr. Obama to the point where the media reported it?
The cynic would say he chose to look the other way. That Obama was concerned he may be perceived as “playing politics” by castigating Republicans, knowing he couldn’t do the same to those in his own party.
Nonsense. Morality has never known political boundaries. What is right will always be right, no matter what label any American chooses to wear. Truth is truth. What the President chooses to do with that truth ultimately contributes to how his presidency will be regarded.
Take for example disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner. A bald-faced liar, Weiner stalled and obfuscated for weeks to try and outlast those numerous voices calling for his resignation.
On June 13th, feeling pressure to say something, Obama offered up a weak “if I were him, I would resign.” It was anemic because it didn’t call out the congressman for his behavior. Instead, Obama merely proffered a gesture to atone publicly for Weiner’s offences. It was almost as if Obama himself had trouble admitting he would most likely step down if facing a similar situation.
This could have been Obama’s Sister Souljah moment. And yet he offered only a tepid repudiation of Weiner’s actions. A few days later when the congressman actually did resign, Obama’s response was equally unimpressive and certainly absent any moral indictment of Weiner’s wrongs. He stated, “I wish Rep. Weiner and his lovely wife well. It's obviously been a tough incident for them, but I'm confident that they'll refocus and he will refocus and be able to bounce back.”
“Tough incident”? “Bounce back”? That’s the sort of pat on the back one gets when they just lost a great uncle, not when a prominent leader snaps photos of his junk and posts them online.
The sad commentary is this lack of moral direction we as a country face doesn’t begin and end with politicians so consumed with their egos they don’t act properly. It extends much farther.
Last month, it was reported the Navy has fired over a dozen commanding officers this year alone – a near-record rate, and nearly all terminated due to personal misconduct such as engaging in sex and substance abuse.
Who sets that standard? More importantly, who steps forward to fix it? Can we lay the inappropriate actions of every soldier, sailor and airman in our Armed Forces at the feet of our Commander-in-Chief? Of course not. But we can and should expect that same C-in-C to publicly condemn such behavior and ask the tough questions to ensure such behavior doesn’t become a pattern, which it certainly has in the U.S. Navy.
This column isn’t meant to condemn President Obama. On the contrary, it’s to draw attention to an area where the President doesn’t need to wait for congressional action or a law to press his case. He can take steps now, as the leader of the free world, to press a morality agenda that all won’t agree with, but they will certainly take notice. And others will follow that lead, and begin to look inwardly at themselves.
History is full of such examples – Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, even Carter.
To hold reign over the bully pulpit and not use it to cry out against even basic injustices is to neglect a key mission of the one who holds the Office of the President. He can do better. We sound the clarion call on the question of good moral judgment.
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