Actually, We Should Be Pissed Obama Cried

When I watched President Obama talk about the Connecticut elementary school massacre, I posted to Facebook “Obama is crying at the press conference.”

I wrote it because I was startled to see a president cry. I had never heard of that happening, in history.

But, upon a little reflection, his tears and the rest of his words during the press conference today were actually disappointing — and maybe even infuriating. Because they distracted an opportunity to make a change. I wanted him to be a fucking leader.

The nation is supposed to mourn. The president is supposed to act.

We’d like to say today’s political silence is “for respect”. But respect for who?

The children? They can’t hear you.

The families? They’re not paying attention to you.

Silence starts to look like convenient cover for not dealing with the problem. The best measure of respect for those slain children and their families is doing everything to prevent this from happening again. And that includes starting the conversation while you can still taste the tears.

That is what addressing the nation is for. The president is talking to millions of sad and angry Americans. We elect him to channel those emotions — not mimic them. And he knows that, at least within his party, he has a mandate to change this country’s gun laws.

Condolences and tears — while 100% appropriate — only address the disease’s symptoms. That is not why we voted for him. The great psychology question “Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?” is at play here. The president should be smarter than us, more worldly, calmer, able to talk circles around us — and stronger, emotionally.

That we can’t remember seeing a president cry is not necessarily a historical precedent to celebrate. Thinking back to our stalwart leaders — from Lincoln, to FDR, to Kennedy — it’s just not presidential. Leaders are rocks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with crying, but there’s a time and place for it. (No doubt all of them, rightfully, had very tender moments out of the public eye.)

Imagine if President Obama steps to that pulpit, offers his condolences (which he did) — but then looks into the camera and says that he’s sending a bill to Congress next week. It will clamp down on fire arms. He doesn’t have to mention anything about parties or politics. The bill is about keeping American’s safe. No more looking over our shoulders in malls and schools.

He honors the dead by trying to prevent more of them.

If he does that, will anything happen? Who knows. Does he give up any precious “political capital”? No — the Right already hates him and he’s talking to a bereaved nation. Does it do much needed damage to the NRA and the psychotic gun lobby, and shift the debate in the correct direction? Absolutely.

But now, we’re staring at the prospect of another terrible tragedy passing without action. We’ll sign online petitions; next week, we’ll read profiles on the killer and the victims; we’ll hug our family a little tighter over the holidays. Then we’ll be into the new year and this terrible thing will be one more point on the line. Columbine seems so long ago.

Like most of us today, I let tears flow — in public.

But the president doesn’t get to. Until later, when he closes the door to his bedroom and collapses in Michelle’s arms.

Let’s hope for that fucking leader next week.

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9 Responses to Actually, We Should Be Pissed Obama Cried

  1. Fran says:

    Totally agree that Obama has got to step and lead us on this!

    • Jennifer Hughey says:

      Caleb, you can be a leader and still feel grief and cry. Like all humans, I think it is good that so many of us cried today.
      I am older than you and have witnessed so many tragedies , so I can only assert that you can lead and cry at the same time. The strength of your reaction reflects that you would cry if you could not strongly express your reactions. But I am proud of you for taking a stand at such a horrible thing.
      Respects from your (slightly distant) cousin, Jennifer (Garling – Winn )Hughey

    • terry riley says:

      I just want to say that Obama should be also crying for the numberless children he has murdered by assigning drone aircraft to fly off and shoot down anyone he considers an enemy. It is amazing to me that he can look at his own daughters and not see they are the same as the brown skinned children of Asia and Africa who have died as a result of his orders. It is no wonder we have private citizens mimicking the governments violence. Was the deranged boy in connecticutt any more mad than our elected leaders. The shooter killed 26 innocent souls today (O God…precious flowers of sweet children protect them) …. but Obama may have easily topped that, killing innocents including women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the name of protecting Amerika … sadly that is accepted for after all “we are at war” as they like to so cynically remind us. If our government gives up it’s violent aggressive stance gun control should be so much more achievable.

  2. Joe Jester says:

    Hi Caleb, Your message is right on. I have a problem with the fact that a middle aged divorced schoolmarm with two grown kids can get a permit to buy three high powered guns witho0ut a question as to what possible reason she had. What a mess this country is in. joe.

    Hi— From: Garling Files To: jhj1210@att.net Sent: Friday, December 14, 2012 6:23 PM Subject: [New post] Actually, We Should Be Pissed Obama Cried

    CQG posted: “When I watched President Obama talk about the Connecticut elementary school massacre, I posted to Facebook “Obama is crying at the press conference.” I wrote it because I was startled to see a president cry. I had never heard of that happening, in his”

  3. Bob Jones says:

    Drug companies and medical device companies have to register serial numbers on every lot and device they make, in case they go wrong and hurt someone. We should put a serial number on every bullet sold in America. If any bullet kills a child (or any person unlawfully), we should indict every member of that bullet’s value chain – manufacturer, distributors, retailer, and end purchaser – as accessory to murder. Or if that’s too extreme, penalize them where it hurts – restrict their ability to sell bullets in some way. That will get their mind right and make them think twice about whom they sell ammunition to. Do the same with all automatic weapons.

    How could any law-abiding, sport-hunter, gun owner object to that?

  4. Pete Forsyth says:

    I had a very different reaction. I still feel insulted by the level of detachment that Bush brought to the presidency, and am happy to have a president whose reaction looks like my own, and that of the people I care about. I can understand a criticism of the policy goals he does or doesn’t pursue, but it doesn’t seem to me that a few tears detract from that in any way.

  5. Tamam Kahn says:

    I disagree. I was glad to see him respond with grief – what so many of us feel. Sorrow is the layer beneath anger. I trust him and his leadership more because of his real, human response. Tamam

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