Crossposted from Daily Kos
Why am I so angry?
I feel terrible. Why?
Part of it is the disillusion borne of a youth squandered and a middle age fraught with emotional fragility and a stunning lack of honest effort on my part. My personal failures are large and deep. Brought up to be selfless – to be “Christian” in the best possible sense – to put others before myself, to turn the other cheek, and to give my life over to the benefit of others, I did not do it. I squandered the promise I showed as a youth. I failed to develop and nurture my special talent for music, and my ability to write both music and words. I have been selfish rather than selfless.
I let my primary adult relationship turn into a half-hearted mumbling contest, broken up by bouts of misunderstanding and incoherent yelling.
Nevertheless, it isn't just me. The outside world sucks, too.
Part of it is the disappointment I feel in the behavior of our President and the rest of my party, the Democrats, but even this charge is suspect.
I could be said to be practicing the time-honored psychological art of “transference,” assigning my self-loathing to someone else who can't fight back – someone who doesn't know I exist, the President of the United States of America.
I transferred another part of it to other easy targets, the villains of our current political life – tea partyers, media wretches of dubious sanity who prey on the fears of an America in decline, and the politicians and lobbyists who take advantage of Americans' collective stupidity.
Ah! you say; things aren't be that bad. You, at least, recognize your own limitations and failings. You aren't a bad person, just a depressed one – a man of intellect and artistic bent who is bound to suffer the fate of all artists, self-doubt. You still have a chance for redemption.
That might be true, but I doubt it. It's too late for me to reclaim my promise, and much too late to become a much different person. But, I can do one thing. I can take this life and use it as an object lesson for others.
I believe the President, while achieving far more than I have or will, is making some of the same mistakes I made, and that he runs a risk of regret later.
I set the wrong goal in my life. I achieved it at a young age, and only much later did I realize I had set the wrong goal. I wanted to get a record deal with a major label so I could get my songs played on the radio for millions to hear. I “knew” that if I achieved that, my success would be complete. It never occurred to me that failure could follow such an achievement, but it did.
I may not be worthy to criticize the President. I may be full of shit for feeling he has underestimated his own promises, and his own ambitions, but I recognize a far better version of myself in him, a person who did achieve, through hard work, talent and intellectual ability, the goal he set for himself, but that it, too, was the wrong goal.
The President has made the same mistake I did. He “knew” if he could overcome the unlikelihood of being elected President, that his Presidency would succeed, that he would be successful AS President.
For me, getting the deal was the wrong goal. Taking advantage of the opportunity should have been the goal, but it wasn't. After our album failed rather spectacularly, I had no idea what to do next. I think the President is in a very similar situation.
The President may be in the same position, but there is one major difference. For him, there is still a lot of time to set the right goals and go after them. He promised change. I believe he thought that his becoming President would guarantee fundamental change in our government and in American life. I'm afraid he has overestimated the affect his election would have on the world.
So did many of us. I certainly did. I thought he would be spectacular as President, just as I thought I would be spectacular as a recording artist. It is not a given.
I just finished reading Matt Taibbi's scathing indictment of the Obama financial team in Rolling Stone. Taibbi has the talent to make one uncomfortable, even while agreeing with him. His disgust is so well founded, and his research is so precise, that his doom-laden conclusions are downright frightening. One cannot believe they could be true, even though they probably are.
If Taibbi is right, Obama's decision to rely on the Clinton and Wall Street veterans he has chosen to lead the economy is an absolute failure, and more than that, an abrogation of responsibility to the American people. I disagree on technical grounds. Taibbi has recognized failure, but it is not the failure he believes Obama has created.
Obama's failure is one of nerve, a failure borne of caution where boldness is needed, a failure borne of indecision where action is called for. Obama isn't so much in bed with Wall Street as he is afraid to stay in bed with the American People who elected him. He thought his election guaranteed success!
I am angry because I remember Winston Churchill, a great orator who willed the British people to victory in an unwinnable war. Churchill saw the only winning strategy was to make his leadership the focus of the war effort. His ability to show resolution made Roosevelt move to help, and eventually to enter the conflict.
Churchill's achievement has become the stuff of legend. His achievement wan't becoming Prime Minister, although that was an amazing feat, considering the ruined political career that preceded his election. His achievement was being unafraid. He went for broke and won.
Obama needs to do the same. He should have learned from the campaign that his election would never be enough, all by itself. He needs to understand that intellect and understanding will not get the bills paid – that conciliation and patience are only part of the equation for a great President. He needs to stop fearing that he will lose if he gets out front.
I am angry because the President doesn't see the truth of his situation, that his success will depend entirely on him. That leadership is sometimes the fanatical will to win, so often seen in sports, but very rarely seen in government. Only if he demands change will it happen. His success depends on his ability to see this, see himself doing it, and then doing it.
I hope to God he realizes what he needs to do before it's too late. The uncertainty is killing me.