Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Big Day for BHO

Official Portrait (by Pete Souza, 12/6/12)
It will happen at noon today (EST). That is when Barack Hussein Obama will officially be sworn in for his second term as POTUS. Since it is Sunday, though, the public swearing in ceremonies, as you know, will not be until tomorrow (Jan. 21).
Presidents used to assume office in March, but the Twentieth Amendment was ratified in 1933, so ever since President Roosevelt’s second swearing in ceremony in 1937, inauguration day has been on January 20. (Missouri became the 36th state to ratify the new amendment, on 1/23/33, satisfying the requirement that three-fourths of the states approve it.)
Twice before, Jan. 20 fell on Sunday so the public ceremony was held the following day. Coincidentally, all three times (Eisenhower in 1957, Reagan in 1985, and now Obama in 2013) have been for a President’s second term.
So this is a big day for BHO—and even though his middle name has negative connotations for many Americans, I wish the President would go by the initials BHO (rather than BO!) and that BHO would become as commonly used as FDR and JFK.
This is not only big day for the President, it is the beginning of a very challenging four year term. The biggest challenge is, doubtlessly, the problem of national debt and the “spending” of the federal government. At least that is the source of the major opposition to the President in the House of Representatives.
Over the next three months we will be hearing more and more about the problem of raising the debt ceiling and about the adoption of a federal budget that will significantly reduce spending.
Actually, as you know, raising the debt ceiling is sort of a “no-brainer.” That doesn’t approve any additional spending; rather, is allows the federal government to borrow money to pay for past expenditures. But a large number of Representatives are likely not going to be willing to approve raising the debt ceiling—at least not for long—unless there are concomitant spending cuts.
Throughout his first term, there were relentless attacks on the President, verbal attacks perhaps more vicious than on any President in the last fifty years, or longer—although Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush were also often and strongly maligned.
It is hard not to think that part of the visceral criticism of BHO is racist. But one of my Thinking Friends, whom I believe when he declares that he is not racist, says that to him President Obama is “repulsive.” That seems to be the feeling of a significant segment of U.S. society—and that is quite worrisome.
During the last four years I have been worried about the President’s safety. And now that he is pushing for extensive gun control legislation, he is probably in even more danger. Just yesterday there were nationwide “Gun Appreciation Day” activities and “Guns Across America” rallies.
President Lincoln, whose Bible BHO will be using in tomorrow’s ceremony, was assassinated just six weeks after he was sworn in for his second term of office. Even though there are several similarities between Lincoln and BHO, let’s earnestly pray that that will not become another one.


  1. Wow, Leroy. You've reminded us this time what an angry and violent country we live in. I suspect that much of the fuel in the core of America's rage is--as it was in 1865, 1968, perhaps also 1963, and even today--white Protestant supremacy.

    1. Now that you mention it, it does seem that a disproportionate amount of the rage against the President comes from white, male, southern Protestants.

  2. This Washington Post Article indicates that 61% of white evangelical Protestants oppose stricter gun control laws, and 53 percent of white mainline Protestants are also opposed.
    In contrast to that 69% of African American Protestants and 62% of Catholics are in favor of stricter gun control laws.

    It sort of makes one wonder which group is most faithfully manifesting Christian values.

    The following quotation from the article caught my attention: "When evangelical pastors try to weave together pro-life identity and theology with support for stricter gun control, they are, to borrow a Biblical metaphor, sowing seeds on rocky ground." I find "rocky ground" to be an apt metaphor for that demographic.

  3. The philosopher David Hume made much of the distinction between "causation" and "constant conjunction." This is worth keeping in mind as we look at racism and rage towards Obama. Does racism cause the rage, or is it merely in nearly constant conjunction?

    I bring this up because President Clinton was also the object of intense Republican rage. I think there is a lot of racism floating around in the rightwing world, but I suspect there is something more at play. Or, to put it another way, the rage may be fueling the racism more than the reverse. Which gets us back to the original question of what is going on in the rightwing mind.

    Perhaps no other Obama comment has caused more rage than the rather mundane observation that bitter, marginalized people will cling to guns, or religion, or anti-immigration, etc. Think of a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum. He will throw out inflammatory statements based not on what he believes, but rather based on what he believes will arouse his parents. And nothing will cause a tantrum-thrower to yell louder than a parent stumbling over the true motive. Rather than running from it, the wise parent will return and explore it more.

    My suggestion? Obama should hire some child psychologists to supplement the political consultants.

    1. Craig Dempsey has a valid point. I recall plenty of rage being aimed at Bill Clinton, and in 2006 to early 2008 I received plenty of sexist and slanderous emails aimed at Hillary Clinton in the expectation that she was going to be the Democratic candidate. Then when Obama became the candidate, the messages quickly switched to being racist and slanderous. I'm sure my right wing conservative acquaintances were ready to distribute hateful rhetoric about whoever ended up being the Democratic candidate.

  4. Craig, thanks, as always, for your insightful comments. I think you may be right: "the rage may be fueling the racism more than the reverse."