Commentary: Go ahead, Mr. President, I'm not watching
As President Obama settled into his first full day of work today, he faces high expectations. But commentator Peg Guilfoyle has this message for the President: "Go ahead. I'm not looking."
I was watching pretty closely before. Speeches, debates, promises, plans, platforms. Went with my sister to the big rally in St. Paul the night your nomination was clinched. Followed the results at an election night party at a little restaurant in Mahtomedi and later, from my couch, watching the crowds in Grant Park.
And now...I've stopped watching for a while.
It's not lack of interest, I hasten to say. It's that what interests me now is what you're going to do. And I do not believe that you need my daily attention to do it. I don't, frankly, know much about the specifics of the work you have to do over the next year. I don't need to. That's what you've been hired to do.
And I suspect you can get more things done if you, and yours, are not having to spend time thinking about how it all looks to me.
Also, frankly, I have enough to do here. I have elderly relatives, and two young adult children trying to launch. My husband and I still need to expand our small business, even in this recession or depression or downturn or whatever it is, in order to support us all. I completely understand that we are luckier than many...that we all could get bitten much harder. But we have our own work to do. Don't get me wrong. I know that someone needs to be watching...and I am 100% sure there will be no lack of people to do so. But you should know that for me, the "honeymoon period" will be an extended one. For a while, I will not howl when you make mistakes. I expect you to make mistakes. The work, after all, is difficult.
But just because we're not howling doesn't mean we aren't here.
To some degree, you have revived hope in this country. It is *our* work to revive, to some degree, trust.
The other day I caught part of a speech, from before you even declared for the presidency where you invoked Martin Luther King, Jr. You said "The arc of the universe is long, and it bends toward justice." And then you added, emphatically, "But here's the thing. It doesn't bend on its own."
A public servant who knows that is worth some trust. And the trust means...for a time...for some of us... no obsessive watching. And minimal howling.
So I'll check in with you more closely in six months or a year or so. In the meantime, we'll be doing our work, and you do yours. Do the job we elected you to do. Get a start on bending that arc in the universe.
-- Guest Commentator Peg Guilfoyle lives and writes in Stillwater, Minnesota.
- All Things Considered, 01/21/2009, 5:56 p.m.