Water Man Spouts

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Countering bitterness

{1} "What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." – Oscar Wilde
The attention being given to Senator Barack Obama’s comments about the bitterness that many Americans feel is a good thing. What’s more, the manner in which Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain react in identical ways to Obama’s message is also helpful to the Obama campaign. Let’s take a closer look.

An easy experiment can be conducted at any gas station in the country. While filling your tank, ask those nearest to you what they think of the price of gas? Then go to any grocery store, and ask people what they think of the rise in prices. The majority of the people that I speak to express concern over the increasing costs. I have yet to meet anyone who says that they wish prices would go up even more, so that they could get less for their dollar.

People across the country are also feeling the pressure of the economic trends inside their homes. Homeowners are paying huge increases in taxes. The costs of sending a child to college are enormous. Healthcare costs are a burden. And jobs are becoming scarce.

Many Americans recognize that the country is in a crisis today. Obama was addressing this. His opponents’ attempts to take cheap shots at him will backfire. They will come off as being as out of touch as President Bush the Elder when he had no idea how much a gallon of milk cost. And it opens up the opportunity for Obama to have an open and frank discussion with the American people.

{2} "To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable." – Erich Fromm

I was in the grocery store this week. A relative was wearing a shirt with a picture of President Bush, and the words "Dumb as a Rock." As we talked about politics and the price of groceries, a few other people stopped to talk. My relative said that as an old man, he was glad that he had had the opportunity to live the American dream. But he was angry that his grandchildren and great grandchildren would never have the same opportunities that he had.

All of the people taking part in the discussion, except for me, were grandparents. All of them were upset at the direction that our country is heading in. We talked about the democratic options: some support Clinton, and others support Obama. But no one thought that things are going well in the small towns of America today.

{3} "Much of your pain is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals you sick self." – Kahlil Gibran

Barack Obama is giving voice to those Americans who recognize that there are some serious problems that cause pain and suffering for families across the country. At her best, Senator Clinton does this, too. That is, in my opinion, why it is troubling to witness her attempts to score cheap points by attacking Senator Obama for telling the truth about the growing sense of disillusionment that Americans feel about the federal government.

Barack Obama was correct in his statements about the problems that small towns and villages are faced with. And the attacks by McCain and Clinton will allow him to continue an open discussion with the American public. I thank McCain and Clinton for that.

{4} "You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies.
You may trod me in the very dirt.
But still, like dust, I’ll rise." – Maya Angelou

There is an interesting pattern emerging from the attempts to trod Obama in the very dirt of politics as usual. It backfires.

Obama is what in boxing is referred to as a counter puncher. That is a skill that requires perfect balance. The counter puncher allows his opponent to lead. He lets them throw their best shots. And when the opponent is slightly off balance as a result of over-extending, the counter puncher responses with fast, hard combinations. He punches through his opponent’s attack. And it is the opponent who gets dusted.


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