At a Memorial Day gathering last week, one of the guys from my hometown entertained a small group of us guys for an hour with some of that old South Carolina storytelling magic. My homeboy has been in law enforcement for almost 30 years, which means he has a never ending stream of stories highlighting how ridiculous human beings can be some times. While we were catching our breath after laughing our heads off at the climax of one of the capers he was involved in thwarting, I baited him with a question.
“In every story I’ve ever heard you tell, you always call for back up. Nobody ever calls for back up on TV.”
He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “That’s why they call it TV.”
Which brings us to the point I want to make today about our president.
He is not Harrison Ford, hanging out of the back of an airplane thousands of feet above the earth, or Michael Douglas, snarling at the White House press corps like a man possessed, or even Dennis Haysbert, calling a government agent on the phone to be updated on an international crisis. Barack Obama is a real life president, with real life president problems, who has to deal with issues that may take years, if not decades, to solve. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to put on a full court press against his administration whenever they seem to less than willing to provide us with facts instead of fiction, or hold his feet to the fire when he tells us one thing, and then does another.
Even now, with a deliberately low definition video feed of oil spewing into your living rooms every night in high definition, with Jews from New York to Florida wondering whether to cheer Israel on to slaughter another group of aid workers or roast Netanyahu's ass on a spit for giving the world a reason to rally against the Jewish state, there are thousands of other lesser known situations going on that still need to be addressed, lest they blossom into another catastrophe or international incident.
Which is why President Obama is a lot more like my homeboy than he is these make-believe presidents , or the mythological constructs the press has erected around the other ordinary men who have risen to this office.
They all put their pants on one leg at a time – Washington, Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama.
None of them put all their chips on the line on any one issue. None them, not even "Star Wars" Ronald Reagan, nor "Civil Rights" Lyndon Johnson, ever "went off, one time" the way our friend and racial mascot Spike Lee insists he should.
And they all “called for backup” when they were in the White House, the same way a real police officer does when he is trying to take a suspect into custody.
Dying like a hero, even if it is only a political death, is pure cinematic fiction.
Living to fight another day is the sign of a true professional.