Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Missing You

The government is still in shut down. The House Republicans have allowed a hand full of Tea Partiers to march them into a box canyon and it's hard to feel sorry for them as their poll numbers plummet to historic lows.

As appalling as the GOP's behavior has been, I'm not loving President Obama so much right now, either. He's distant, aloof, seemingly almost disengaged as the Republicans wage war on one another. It's as though it's not enough for Obama to win this round. The Tea Party has to suffer a humiliating loss, as well.

Which is why I'm thinking longingly of JFK.

As JBKO recounted in Historic Conversations with John F. Kennedy, he never lost his empathy. No matter how angry he became with an opponent, he always kept his adversary's situation top of mind. During political negotiations and fights, he kept his public and private faces separate. He could cajole and threaten and berate in private, but in public he was always respectful (if, at times, frosty) so that his enemy could make a graceful exit.

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully, without a shot being fired and with nuclear war averted, because while he played hardball with the Soviet leader and gave up nothing behind the scenes, JFK was willing to let the world believe that Krushchev had won an important concession from the mighty US. He knew how important it was for the Kremlin to tell the Russian people that America removed missiles from Turkey as part of a negotiation with Krushchev, even though they were obsolete and would doubtless have been removed that fall anyway.

War hero, Lothario, intellectual ... Kennedy was supremely confident in his masculinity and his abilities, which made games of "¿quien es mas macho?" irrelevant. Those qualities helped the world avoid tragedy.

I hope President Obama puts the full faith and credit of the United States ahead of his own political victory. I worry about another Recession. And while it will undoubtedly be the Tea Party's fault, the President won't be blameless.

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