Smart, but oh so young

By Tom Putnam | Aug 18, 2010

Shirley Sherrod is just the latest administrative gaff. It brings back to mind Hillary Clinton's prophetic 2008 presidential campaign question: "It's three o'clock in the morning and the emergency phone rings. Who do you want to answer it?" Ms. Sherrod, an African American in the Georgia office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was asked to resign because of alleged racial remarks of hers. As so often happens in the political scene, statements that she had previously made to reveal how she had personally and positively adjusted to racial discrimination, including the death of her father by southern white racists, had been revised by a right-winger in his blog and placed in a new context that seemed to show racially motivated prejudice on her part. Without bothering to do a rudimentary check on the facts of the story, the administration reacted in a knee-jerk fashion and canned the lady. One would expect the administrative branch of the federal government to act in a more principled manner: one that has been the result of cautious and deliberate evaluation. To behave otherwise can only be attributed to youth and inexperience.

The folly in Afghanistan continues. There is a rising note of disapproval of the administration's military policy in that country. A study of that country's history would tell the student that it is not actually a country, but a loose collection of different tribal people. More recently, the predominant tribe, the Pashtuns, welcomed the Taliban who governed Afghanistan through the 1990s. That reign ended when the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden after 9/11. The resulting attempt to form a democratic society with Hamid Karzai as the president of the so-called country has been doomed by endemic corruption and an ingrained preference for tribal leadership.

More recently, our country's leader has been on the television gossip show "The View." Yes, he was awesome in a Hollywood sort of way. Where is the majestic being who was elected to be our president in 2008? Yes, most of the electorate was enamored with his youth and promise for change. But where is the change? True, he has a glib and youthful tongue; but his actions bespeak a lack of political experience and education. He is more gloss than substance. As an example he recently said in a speech: "If you want to make the car go forward, you put it in D (drive). If you want it to go backward, you put it in R (reverse). D = Democrat and R = Republican."

Cute, but it does not help to solve the stalemate in Afghanistan, bring back jobs and solve the ever increasing budget deficit, which will overwhelm our 20- and 30-year-olds in the next decade. With conditions in their current state in the United States, one has to seriously ponder: which is preferable, continue to drive forward or consider backing up and thinking a little more. Barack Obama admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he may well achieve FDR's experience over time, but Obama was elected at much too young an age, and it's 3 o'clock in the morning and the telephone is ringing.

Being a retired physician and recognizing the immense responsibility of caring for someone who has put their life in your hands, I expect that the education of physicians should be deliberate: rich in sciences and studies in human behavior, and the development of a desire to investigate various diseases and their causes and treatments. One would think that a person, especially one who is interested in becoming a player in state or federal government, should receive an education to prepare them for current and future unforeseen political problems that could confront the governed masses. They should have some knowledge and experience before operating in their theater. What about universities offering specific courses that would lead to a degree in how to govern well. Yes, there are courses in political sciences, and political history; but are these sufficient enough to prepare those who want to govern to do so with wisdom, fairness and sureness? In addition, not in my day but in today's medical environs, there are the MCAT exams that all take who want to go to medical school. These provide a measure of the academic abilities of the applicants. How about the development of PCATs to measure the person's ability who wants to enter training and then be licensed to go into politics? (Maybe a better term for those examinations would be POL-CATS.)

Currently, it would appear that we are being governed by Hollywood educated people. A political role is an entrance to self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. This frequently leads to corruption and the need for our public officials to hold public trials against one of their own. There is less and less trust by the electorate in their governing bodies, and when this disillusionment reaches to the presidency, this risks a collapse in our form of democracy. The one saving grace is that there are periodic elections and that has to keep those elected on their toes. Think about it: term limits would be a superb amendment to our Constitution.

Yes, Obama was elected with a message for change. The electorate believed this meant change for the better. Yes, these are tough times for everybody, including the president. The president must be equipped to deal with such problems. President Obama is smart and makes clever and outstanding speeches, but he is so inexperienced. In today's world, his time in Illinois politics and two years in the U.S. Senate have not given him the education required to fill this demanding job that his ego has permitted him to seek and accept. Yes, Obama is smart; but think what he could have been if he had had at least six years of education in the U.S. Senate.

It's too late now.



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