Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Happy Half-Century, Mr. President
Today, our president reaches the half-century mark. Like Clinton before him, Obama celebrates this milestone birthday as president. Clinton reached this birthday in 1996 and George Magazine featured actress Drew Barrymore on the cover, dressed like Marilyn Monroe to wish the president a happy birthday. I remember one lady I knew said that if Jacqueline Kennedy was still alive, she would have been upset by the cover, but for me, it showed the sense of humour that editor-in-chief John F. Kennedy, Jr. had. He could joke about his family's history.
For this birthday, I wish that Obama Girl would have released a video of her singing Happy Birthday to the president. After all, her song "I Got a Crush on Obama" was a huge hit on YouTube in 2008. Where is she now? Perhaps she's moved on to have a crush on Mitt Romney.
Obama's birthday probably comes as a relief, after the intense discussions with the defiant Republican Congress and their refusal to consider raising taxes in order to meet the country's budget goals. Hearing all about raising "the debt ceiling" and the compromises Obama was willing to consider to get the budget under control just made me livid. Especially when I read articles about foreign leaders, such as a member of the conservative British government criticizing the Tea Party movement as extremists who were holding the world hostage with their stubborn stance, or Vladimir Putin telling the youth of Russia that America was living way beyond her means and this could not stand for long. Al Jazeera even had a feature on the threat posed by fundamentalist Christians. This was perhaps no surprise in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Oslo, Norway. When the news first reported the bombing, speculation automatically fell towards Islamic radicals, even though Norway, like the other Scandinavian countries, is not known to be a target for terrorist groups. After the shooting of people at a summer camp for politically active youth, the world learned that the perpetrator of the violence was a conservative Christian. So, its not only radical fundamentalist Muslims committing acts of violence on innocent people.
These are intense times. I hope that President Obama will use his milestone birthday and the recent budget deal to reflect on his presidency. I'm an Obama voter and supporter, but in the past week, I really thought he showed weakness and reverted to the stereotype of Democratic politicians as being jellyfish, which lacks any kind of backbone. When facing a cutthroat political party like the Republicans, one simply cannot back down. Clinton certainly didn't, and he had personal flaws and an ongoing $100 million investigation into every part of his personal life. Republicans caved in to Clinton's budget deals, but Obama is showing himself to be more Jimmy Carter than Bill Clinton, when most of us who voted for him in 2008 were hoping for a leader on the scale of FDR, HST, or even JFK.
So, Mr. President...my birthday wish for you is: Get a backbone!
The video is of the famous rendition of "Happy Birthday" that Marilyn Monroe performed for President John F. Kennedy. I love the breathy way she sings. Its obvious that she wants the President. The author of Jackie, Ethel, and Joan: The Women of Camelot claims that Jacqueline Kennedy absolutely hated Marilyn Monroe and had threatened to leave Kennedy if he did not end his involvement with her. That would have killed his reelection chances. Some who are critical of the Kennedys love to speculate that Robert F. Kennedy had killed Marilyn Monroe to protect his brother. I find that outrageous, though. RFK may have had a reputation for ruthlessness, but he had a conscience. Kennedy did not get to celebrate his 50th birthday in the White House. He did get to celebrate his 45th, though. He was the youngest person ever elected president (but Theodore Roosevelt still remains our youngest president when he assumed the duties after the assassination of President William McKinley).