Obama On the Defensive

Criticism builds for President Obama’s Stimulus Plan.

There are few things in the world that give me social anxiety like talking to the person cutting my hair. I rarely go to the barber, I have a friend in Bergen County who does a great job, and best of all I don’t have to rack my brain for a neutral topic to talk to her about.

This particular stylist though had no such qualms about a topic:

“Things are getting pretty rough out there, especially if that idiot gets his bailout plan through, huh?” the lady chimed in as she took her first swipe with scissors.

I thought about the door she opened with this comment: “Do I want to engage the lady grooming the monstrosity I’ve allowed to spring up out of my head in a serious debate about the economy or politics?” But I backed off.

“Yeah I know, ha ha,” I mumbled. Then I thought for a second, “Meanwhile you’ve got baseball players turning down $25 million contract offers, ya know?” Ah good. Steer the ship away from politics and the economy. Topics that tend to make people’s blood simmer until eventually the discussion hits the tipping point and you find yourself in a shouting match with half a shaved head.

I didn’t argue with the stylist who was cutting my hair. She’s entitled to her opinion, and I’m not even necessarily sure she is wrong, but it did make me aware of the growing tide of resentment the new President is already facing.

I’m not as smart as I thought I was a few months ago. I’m not sure I can play defense. I’ve had very little to say since George Bush wandered off a few weeks ago. Now the educated right are showing their fangs again and gearing up to play whack-a-mole with the over-exuberant college kids and pop culture freaks who thought Barack Obama was going to kiss all the countries boo-boos and make them go away his first week in office.

Obama has been on the offensive for the last two years, against Hillary Clinton, John McCain and George Bush, but now it’s time to switch sides, it’s time to play defense. Obama is a sports fan and as the old adage goes, “defense wins championships,” this is something he surely has in mind as he tries to sell the people on his policies.

The other side has had 8 years of Bush bashing beat into them and is salivating at the idea of painting the picture of Obama marching right into Stalin territory. In his first news conference Obama spent most of the hour trying to explain his vision of what the bailout plan will mean. He kept an even keel during answers about partisanship while still managing to get in a few light jabs about his early lack of Republican support.

It’s going to be a difficult task for the President to get the public to wrap their heads around billions of dollars when most are worried about keeping jobs, paying bills, or staying in their homes. But his best shot at getting the public to support him is to be able to defend his plan.

I’m no good on defense. I managed to guide my barber room conversation away from anything that resembled politics and even told her I liked the Young Republican-looking style she brushed my hair into. She said she thought it looked good. I guess sometimes two people look at the same thing and see something different.

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Shaun McGann lives in New Jersey and writes fiction, some of which can be read at bleak07.blogspot.com He also has a terrible addiction to American history and politics, which he often feels the need to comment on in late night typed out rants.