Seven minutes in history. The President of the United States provided seven minutes of commentary at the recent Duke-Georgetown basketball game. That’s a new one, if you ask me. Considering that our last President couldn’t even speak properly, the idea that Obama can commentate on a fast paced sports game like basketball is very pleasing. Obama’s presence even deterred a foul-mouthed chant from picking up speed, as one student nudged another with the words, “Dude, the President of the United States is right there.”
President Obama seems intent, despite falling approval ratings, on showing that he really is a “man of the people”. Rather than sitting in the luxury suites many politicians prefer, President Obama munched on popcorn in his front-row seat, sitting between CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg, and joined by Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. He shook hands with people entering and leaving the arena, and, despite increased security, the game (and crowd) was lively and energetic. It certainly helped President Obama’s image to be seen there, mingling with the every day citizen, and proving that he enjoys such mundane activities as a night out to watch the game with coworkers and/or friends.
However, this is ONE basketball game. Participation in ONE sporting event does not a man of the people make. And while I realize that even the President of the United States needs a chance to decompress away from the job, wife, and kids, he really needs to get on the ball already.
Where is the change he promised? Yes, he HAS held to some of his commitments, like signing the Freedom of Choice Act, and pushing to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military. And I certainly realize that this economy needs more than one year and a charismatic president to regain its balance. It’s not like President Obama is a faerie godmother or a djinn that can grant wishes with a flick of his wand or a nod of his head. These things take time, and I’m more than willing to give it to him. Nevertheless, what does the everyday citizen do when there is a promise from their leader, in writing, and said leader breaks their promise?
As a New Yorker, I am absolutely appalled by the fact that the Obama administration is reneging on its $11 billion dollar promise to the 9-11 Health Bill. They are committing only to $150 million for 2011, a staggering blow to the thousands of 9/11 First Responders who are suffering from medical conditions due to their endeavor at Ground Zero.
John Feal, a 9/11 First Responder living in Suffolk Country, is now missing half his foot, not to mention other difficulties. He has a letter from President Obama promising his support for the 9/11 Health Care Bill and is devastated at this turn of events.
“I’ve been to 39 funerals in the last four years, including today. Brian McCauley, 42 years old. We’re talking about human life. At what cost do you put anything in front of that? Cash for clunkers? Bailouts for banks?” Feal said in an interview with John Metaxas of CBS News.
Over 830 people have died since 9/11, 300 from cancer alone. Many of the survivors have lost limbs; have pulmonary problems such as emphysema and COPD, or other medical conditions, and can no longer work. Their health insurance alone (if they even have it) is not enough to cover the overwhelming costs of the care they require.
These are the people who risked their lives to save others on a day when many others would have turn and ran. They threw themselves headlong into danger to save their fellow human being, and many remained, day after day, week after week, month after month, in the spirit of grace and compassion, and the hopes of bringing closure to just one more family. How can they be repaid like this? Their lives brought to a screeching halt and the government who promised its support turning its back in their time of need?
Mr. Obama, you need to rethink this one.