I've been critical of the administration I supported and helped vote into the White House. Just review my past "Please Kill Me" posts. The evidence of my cynicism is all there.
But the other night a very wise man of color, and large of stature I might add, and I only mention this because of who he is and his job said, "I'm grabbing my mop and my broom and we're scrubbing the floors and trying to neaten things up."
That single line pounded me in the gut and brought me straight back to earth. I quickly realized this man was making an important point. So, I listened closely to what he had to say.
"Instead of standing on the sidelines," he continued, "why don't you grab a mop?" Well, if this man could grab a mop, was it beneath me to grab a mop? Because the man talking to me was the President of the United States of America.
Obama NYC Get a Mop 10/20/09 Photo by: Neil Mack
This wasn't over the phone or in some letter or on the television machine. Mr. Obama exhorted me in person. I don't think I have to tell you; I grabbed a mop.
And, lest you think I'm a sucker for a charismatic cult-of-personality, hear me out. I should say, hear him out for yourself. I'm not going to agree with everything our current President says or does, but I have to agree with him that it's time to grab a mop. Allow me to elucidate.
Speculation on the left has implied that Mr. Obama is going too slow or hasn't shown enough backbone or is in the pocket of Big Greed. To my face, he proceeded to disabuse me of that notion.
I had my questions. Are you in favor of real health care reform? Do you know we need to create jobs, jobs that will really contribute to our economic stability? Are you going to close Guantanamo? Do you believe war should be a last resort and are you being thoughtful about handling the ones we're currently fighting? Do you hear my anger and frustration over pseudo-capitalism and egregious corporate welfare? Can't we build a clean renewable energy system that will benefit us in priceless ways?
But there he was talking to me, not a bite taken from the sound, not a panic spinning. I obliged by suspending my disbelief. I'd like you to know the deep impression this little talk had on me. So, from here on, I'll be filtering his words, but I implore you to read everything he had to say for yourself: Here.
Obama NYC Crowd 10/20/09 Photo by: Neil Mack
Mr. Obama reminded me that it was only nine months to the day that he had been in office. He thanked me for my help, but then admonished me for my thinking that once the election campaign was over so was my job. Did I feel I was being treated like a child? Yes, but only because I was acting like a child and he made me feel that I was a big enough man to admit it.
Look, he said, "There's a whole industry feeding cynicism and skepticism, and promoting a notion of, well, it hasn't happened yet so it's not going to happen...
"I didn't run for President to accept mediocrity. That's not what this country is about. That's not why you got involved and got engaged." He was right.
"You didn't decide, oh, this is actually harder than we expected. The insurance companies don't like health reform. I guess we'll just pack up and go home. Oh, well, the banks, they don't want financial regulation. I guess it's just too hard." No, I didn't.
"We came to solve these problems -- right here, right now."