Two months ago, President Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts that his position on same-sex marriage had officially evolved. Just over a month later, the President announced in a press conference that he’d be signing an executive order that would effectively grant 800,000 “illegal” children temporary immunity from deportation. Then, this week, the President took to the East Room of the White House to insist that Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class should be extended for another year, while these same cuts for the rich should be allowed to expire.
All the while, the media is abuzz with commentators and politicians crying foul. President Obama is playing politics, they say. In response to the President’s bold move on immigration, Senator Marco Rubio declared, “The issue has been politicized by the President.” Of Obama’s most recent posture on taxes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Today’s proposal is clearly based on a political calculus, not an economic one.”
And I say, so what?
Are we really surprised that POTUS, the highest politician in the land, is rearranging a few pieces on his political chessboard? Is it so alarming that one of the President’s reasons for wanting to be reelected is the lure of a few complementary paragraphs in the history books?
If, while doing a number on a pesto chicken panini at lunch, your buddy mentioned that he kind of, sort of had ambitions to rest his head in the White House one day, you wouldn’t be crazy to arrive at some credible conclusions about his ego.
Presidents are opportunists. They like to be the most important voice in the room. They don’t mind their name being in national headlines. You’re not likely to hear Oh, stop it, when you remind the President that he’s the leader of the free world, a position only four other living people can relate to. President Obama, like all of his predecessors, is going to be self-serving. He’s going to play politics, because, among other things, he wants to win. GOP senators and political commentators need not tell me that Obama’s recent maneuvers are largely a product of careful campaign calculus. The President is pandering to his key constituents; he is trying to excite a Democrat electorate that sent him $35 million less than Mitt Romney’s supporters sent him in the month of June; he is trying to present himself as the champion of the middle class.
Let’s stop acting like we’re shocked about it. I don’t go to the ballot box to cast my vote for the superman of selflessness (although Cory Booker should absolutely steal that as his next campaign slogan), I cast my vote knowing that the person I’m supporting is more than likely a bit self-serving. The important thing is, the politician needs to be self-serving in the name of your interests. If a politician doesn’t represent you, then he or she doesn’t get to experience the ego boost of office. That’s the point. A democracy doesn’t demand its leaders be the best people, it demands its leaders represent the people who made them leaders.
So, pander on Mr. President: Close Guantanamo. Enact cap-and-trade legislation. Throw the lobbyists out.
Let the President rearrange all the pieces he wants on his campaign chess board. We’re not the pawns, people; we’re the overseers of the game. Let’s just agree to throw Bishop Boehner off the board if he sheds another damn tear.