At yesterday’s White House news conference, correspondents were chomping at the bit to ask the President questions about Boston, health care reform, Syria and gun legislation.
Standing at the podium for 30 minutes, he gave long tentative answers before looking at his watch and telling reporters, “One more question.” It was good he concluded before giving his political enemies even more opportunity to exploit the perception that he is weak and fails to lead.
But, as he left the podium, there was one final question that allowed the President to give the type of heartfelt response we have come to appreciate. It was about Jason Collins, the first active professional male athlete from one of the four major sports to openly admit to being gay. It is moments like this that make it difficult for some to criticize him, even when he is unable to get overwhelming, publicly supported gun legislation passed.
Being President of the United States might be the most difficult job in the world, but it is more difficult when leaders fail to effectively communicate their vision for public policy. President Franklin Roosevelt, our nation’s longest serving president, used the radio and his famous fireside chats to calm the nation’s fears and explain his policies for social change. President Ronald Reagan during his presidency not only used the Oval Office, he began traditional presidential weekly radio addresses that are still delivered today.
Today, political pundits, bloggers and others in the media twist messages to cater to their audience. And, while the President in 2008 limited lobbyist access to the White House, he has failed to use his most powerful lobbyist, the American people, to get legislation and a budget through Congress.
It’s amazing because without enlisting the American people, we have seen ObamaCare get passed. He has led the nation out of the Great Recession, and made the decision to go in and capture Osama bin Laden. But he has been weakened by Congress’ bickering and an incessant need to find middle ground. Thus, we don’t have a budget and have a budget sequester with no resolution in sight. If politics and perception are about appearance, this doesn’t look good.
Even when we disagree, we respect and honor our Presidents in life and death. We watch them age before our eyes as they make the difficult decisions only they can. This is why we look at our Presidents differently when they speak from the Oval Office. Sitting behind the Resolute Desk, their words carry more weight, and we trust them more.
This is why over the next year President Obama should speak from the Oval Office to get the support he needs to advance legislation that will end the debates on immigration reform and gun control, and offer the nation direction on energy independence, education and job growth. The President can reach millions of Americans in primetime instead of speaking from the Press Room when Americans are at work or heading home to pick up their children. More importantly, he can rally Americans to push Congress to move our nation forward. His addresses from the Oval Office directly to the American people will not be diluted by the press. It provides the opportunity for a man recognized for being calm, cool, and steady to provide assurances that the nation is moving in the right direction and that together we can get there faster. Mr. President, we are waiting.….