While I recognize Bill Felber’s right to express his opinion about President Barack Obama’s trip to Nevada to speak to an audience of mostly Latino high school students about immigration reform, I feel the “Arts and Entertainment” section of the Mercury (Sunday, Feb. 10) is an inappropriate place to do so.
I feel Mr. Felber was wrong in several ways. And, I feel he was disrespectful of the president especially when, as in the last line of his rant, he told him to, “Hunker down, dude.” Mr. Obama is the president of the United States and not some “dude,” Mr. Felber. I would have thought it beneath the dignity of the Mercury to use sixth-grade playground language to refer to the holder of the highest office in the nation, even in an opinion piece.
Should the president take Mr. Felber’s advice to be a good role model, “hunker down” in the White House and not travel during these “tough economic times” because of the expense and the other reasons cited, he would likely be attacked from the Right as being out of touch with the people and be accused of being afraid to come out and face the nation in public. Then there are those on the Left who would attack him for not taking his message to the people and for failing to use the bully pulpit he earned by winning a second term.
Hunkering down is what one does when under siege, but if the Obama Administration feels it is under siege, it is only because of Republicans in Congress who are hell-bent to see him fail and have stated so publicly. At every step of the way, they have attempted to blockade this president.
In spite of that, he has managed to run the blockade and actually get some positive things done for the country. Much of this blockade running has been by taking the message — campaign style — directly to the people.
I don’t believe the president is under siege and needs to hunker down due to the economy. I think that in spite of a lack of any cooperation from the Republicans, this administration has shepherded economic growth and improvements since taking office. Yes, growth has been slow, but unemployment has been steadily declining from where it was when Mr. Obama took office.
Factory sales are up. The automobile industry has rebounded and is making profits. The stock market continues to go up almost every day. Housing sales and starts are going up with each report. So unless one believes the lies being spread by the Coulters, the Limbaughs, the O’Reillys and the Republican propaganda machine that is Fox News, every indication out there says that this president has been good for the economy.
And perhaps the “tough economic times” aren’t quite as tough as those who are intent on making this president look bad at every turn would have them seem to be.
Mr. Felber’s screed makes me wonder: Had this been a trip to speak to mostly white high school students rather then mostly Latino, would the squawking be as loud? And as for the trip on Air Force One setting “a bad energy efficient example,” just when did Republicans become concerned about the impact of presidential trips (or any airplane travel, for that matter) on the environment?
Furthermore, I don’t recall Mr. Felber writing in criticism of President George W. Bush, who spent 1,020 days, or 32 percent of his time in office, away from the White House on vacation. Those trips to Crawford, Texas, Camp David and Kennebunkport, Me., cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Indeed, Mr. Bush spent more time on vacation (and, therefore more taxpayer money) than any president in history. Whither the criticism, Mr. Felber?
And, take it to the Op-Ed Page, dude.
Charles R. Pearce lives at 1720 Westbank Way.