The President gave a not-tone-deaf speech yesterday, for the first time in his Presidency that I can recall. He's never known what he should do. But now he's figured it out. I guess sometimes if you're too close to the problem you just can't see it.
What Presidents have to do, every one of them, and so few do, is organize the people of the United States. Keep us thinking in a productive and useful way. If you don't do it, that leaves people's minds idle, and for some of them that means very destructive ideas get in their heads, by people who are willing to lead. People like the governors of Wisconsin, Florida and New Jersey. And Senators from Kentucky and South Carolina. And Representatives from Louisiana and Texas.
Keep it simple. See this bridge behind me. It's old and there's always traffic on it. It's safe to drive on, but it doesn't work in 2011 the way it was designed to work in 1954 or 1968. And we've got all these construction people sitting around doing nothing, wishing they had some work. Anyone can put that kind of two and two together.
You have to drill it. Repeat the ideas. And unless there's humor and levity, no one is going to listen to you say it over and over. So you have to be friendly and cheerful and keep the ideas easy to understand.
It may still be too late for us, but now at least there is some direction to where we're going. At least we have a chance to try, instead of being mere spectators. I think that's a big frustration a lot of people feel. They don't want to be on the sidelines, they want to be involved.
BTW, we could do some of this work on a voluntary basis. I think the President might be surprised at how well that would work if he applied the same kind of gentle, humorous leadership. (And the Republicans have never done this, so they shouldn't be too uppity about it.)