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You Missed an Opportunity, Mr. President

Dear Mr. President:

You and I agree on practically nothing in the area of public policy, so I don’t expect my words to have any weight with you. Despite our policy disagreements, I have always tried to show you the proper respect as our president. As a veteran and the child of a veteran, I was raised “old school” – I respect the commander-in-chief, even if his politics are not my own.

I also respect you as a husband and a father. Your words and deeds leave me no doubt that you are a loving and devoted husband, and a doting father, and in that regard you are a much needed role model for the young men in our country, especially young black men. Most of them have never seen a positive male figure in their lives, so I do not diminish the example you set for them.

It is because I am an “old school” officer and gentleman, and because I admire your family ties, that I was extremely disappointed that you missed an opportunity during your press conference today to show leadership that transcends politics and the divisiveness of our day. You had an opportunity today to allow your better angels to take hold, and you let it pass.

You recently called a supporter and ideological ally to offer your support after conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh used intemperate language to describe her after her public statements defending your contraception mandate. You said you thought about your daughters and how you hoped they, too, would someday become actively engaged in issues they care about, and you didn’t “want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

Twice in today’s press conference, you were given an opportunity to show your fair-mindedness and burnish your credentials as the president of all Americans, not just those with whom you agree. You once indignantly declared, “I am not an ideologue,” and you were given a perfect opportunity to prove it. You were given a chance to show that your concern for women is more than about just politics, but that you defend the dignity and worth of all women.

And you failed miserably.

Many of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues will chide me for being disappointed, saying, “That’s just the way he is,” or “What did you expect?” I am a hopeful person, however, even in the midst of trying times for our nation and world, and for me personally, and I was truly hoping you’d knock this issue out of the park. I was hoping you would be a man.

It wouldn’t have cost you anything politically, either. If anything, the independents who’ve been running away from you in droves might have been persuaded to give you another chance if you had chosen to be a leader and a statesman rather than a panderer to your base.

Kirsten Powers showed leadership this week. The liberal columnist for the Daily Beast risked taking it on the chin from her ideological teammates by decrying misogyny regardless of its origins, and correctly pointing out how liberals look the other way when it’s one of their own making crude or vile statements about women. Any fair-minded person knows it shouldn’t matter if the person being insulted is conservative or liberal, but in our superheated, hyper-partisan political environment, the side on which you stand along the ideological fault line seems to be all that matters. Ms. Powers showed courage and integrity with her words, the qualities of a true leader.

Instead of taking on this issue like a man, you offered up an excuse that you didn’t have the time to take on every insult made over the public airwaves, and that it’s the press that should be holding commentators accountable, not you. That, sir, is a flimsy excuse. You clearly took the time to call your supporter after the Rush Limbaugh flap, and you’ve had no qualms in the past about jumping right into the middle of a current story – if your friends are involved. You disrespect us with your light regard for our discernment.

In the  end, you continue to demonstrate your inability to show even the most rudimentary qualities of leadership over a diverse nation much in need of a sign of unity from you. Everything in your calculus is political, and there is no room for considering how your tactics are segmenting the nation to the point where the damage could be irreparable. I have daughters, too, Mr. President, and a son, and the example I try to set for them is that right and wrong are not ideological concepts, but matters of truth. That is why I can write in defense of your wife when she is attacked unfairly, even if I don’t agree with her politics.

I am disappointed that you couldn’t, even this once, meet that standard, and I fear that because you took the wide and well-traveled road, the chances your daughters will be “attacked or called horrible names” as they exercise their citizenship are increased, not lessened. You were given a chance to put out the flames, and you chose to walk away while the nation burns.

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About The Author

Ron Miller

Ron Miller of Lynchburg, Virginia is an associate dean and assistant professor of government at Liberty University, a commentator and author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications. Join him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Title and affiliation are provided for identification purposes only. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Liberty University.

One Response to “You Missed an Opportunity, Mr. President”

  1. santababy52 Says:

    I applaud your chivalry as you made note of respecting the First Lady and that as a gentleman you would step to her defense had she been publicly degraded, and too that you respect the position of POTUS and that Obama seems to be a decent husband and loving father. Significant kudos to you for your character. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Obama. His battles are of such political expedience that it is a glaring motive. To call this woman who was actually chosen instead of the planned person to speak by the administration was the first political maneuver, and then to call her personally (and share it with the press) to address the indiscretion of Rush Limbaugh’s remarks when she put herself out there in a public manner to talk about the “expense” of birth control (which pretty much put’s her sex life in the public light) she open herself up to scrutiny (odd too that birth control pills & condoms are free at Planned Parenthood and $4 at Wal-Mart) It is odd however that Obama has not called for civility among his minions on MSNBC, CBS, BILL Mahyer, NBC, etc. when conservative women have been targeted with extremely vile and ugly words. He seems to have no opinion or encouragement for them. What hypocrisy!
    I was reading from Thomas Sowell this evening “Ever Wonder Why?” and found a saying of his toward the end of the book in the chapter called “Random Thoughts” which made me think of you, a black conservative…a lonely existence, when he wrote “Liberals seem to believe that blacks should be representative proportionally everywhere–except in conservative organizations.” I have read your book and know how you have been ostracized by so many of your people as a “Sellout” so I thought you might enjoy his enlightening statement. I am certain you are familiar with Thomas Sowell, but if you do not have this particular book, I highly recommend it. Such common sense solutions to so many problems!
    I wish you well in your new job as professor and pray for your continued strength to fight the good fight, believing in a faithful God and a nation waiting for healing.
    Laura Thompson

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