by Crane Durham
Imagine everything that was connected to you was under a microscope. Your business, family, and friends were all covered with the intensity of OJ’s car chase. These microscopes/spotlights are operated by organizations that profit from making you news. Meanwhile, there is an entire political party dedicated to analyzing/criticizing your policies in order to raise money and support for their organization. On top of all of that, you are the leader of the free world. The decisions you make can result in the preservation of life, or in the death of your soldiers, citizens and enemies. Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown; welcome to the White House Mr. President.
Nobody likes to be criticized when they are trying to help. When we make mistakes, we wouldn’t them put on a replay loop for the world to see. True leaders possess a thick skin as well as a vision that can inspire their supporters, give pause to their critics and engage those who are undecided. Think of leaders who have changed the world for the better: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan. They had the courage of their convictions and could take on their critics without subscribing to censorship. In fact, their critics became their greatest allies. The louder their critics would shout, the more they would expose the intellectual bankruptcy of their ideas/policies. Why would you attempt to silence organizations that cover or criticize you, especially when you hold the power of the bully pulpit? This brings to President Obama’s strategy to attack Fox News and conservative talk radio.
The concept of silencing your critics, perceived or otherwise, would be honorable if it were done through vigorous debate in the arena of ideas. It is in this area where a leader confronts ideological opposition with statements like:
· Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
· I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
· General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
These are the statements which embody platforms that truly give pause to critics as well as engage those on the fence. While these are highlighted excerpts of great American speeches, and not mundane policy matters, the fundamental precept does not change: if your ideas (policies) are creditable, they will not only withstand criticism; they will benefit from it. So, why would President Obama attempt to silence those who analyze his policies?
When the head of state attempts to silence his critics, it is precisely because their ideas cannot stand up to examination. President Obama should end on this pathetic media strategy and evaluate why his policies are rejected when scrutinized. Unfortunately, his attempt to influence the Fox News organization seems to be working, but I will detail that in another piece.