America is in the midst of a giant anxiety attack!
Really, it’s true. You can feel it. It’s palpable. You can see it in people’s face. No one is smiling anymore. No one is looking anyone in the eye. Run into an old friend at the supermarket and you get first, a furtive glance, then maybe a tentative hello, and finally, a pouring out of all the tumult in his life.
Stand in line at your local Wal-Mart, the place where the rich meet the poor these days, and listen to virtual strangers pour their hearts out. Everyone has a story about their spouse losing a job, or their investments going south, their kid or grand-kid not being able to find a job. They have to sell their home in a hurry because they are over-leveraged. Retirement isn’t happening any time soon.
So it is no surprise that exit polls in this off-year election showed that most people were casting their votes because of their pocket books and the fact that nothing was in them. Yes, according to the pollsters, mostly what is bothering American voters these days is their financial situation. All their woes stem from that.
Costs are rising, but investment income is down. If you run a small business, your accounts pay late. If you need a bridge loan from the bank, fer git about it! Insurance premiums continue to rise, fuel, too. Ten percent of Americans are out of a job, and that number is depressingly a low-ball figure. In other words, for Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe, life isn’t a box of chocolates, Forrest Gump.
How did this happen? Just a year ago Americans were filled with the newly-elected Barack Obama’s hope and dreams for a better future. Even if you weren’t a believer, you couldn’t help being hopeful that Mr. Obama would prove, finally, to be a new and different politician. Then, too, we’d been down so long there seemed no place to go but up. Of course, the bottom fell out and here we are.
Oxycontin, Rush Limp-baugh Limbaugh?
TARP saved the banks and Obama saved the auto industry, but ain’t anyone out there lookin’ out for the little people. And no one on Capitol Hill seems in much of a hurry to do so. Health Care reform legislation that was supposed to help you and me has been pared down to what amounts to insurance reform. And although President Obama promised us health care legislation by the early fall, Majority Leader Harry Reid now says no one should expect a vote in the Senate until 2010.
Here, have some Prozac.
Apparently, President Obama has. Our President, the one and only Barack Obama, once heralded as the great communicator, able to leap tall buildings in a single bounce seems anesthetized and is bizarrely missing from America’s conversation.
While the rest of us agitate, the president of the United States cogitates, and seems decidedly insensitive. Knock, knock, is anybody there? It’s no wonder voters said their votes weren’t a referendum on the president. What president would they referen-dumb? The skinny guy, who seems to come to life mostly while playing golf on Sunday afternoons or when he is courting his wife at chi-chi dinners? Hey, just a thought. Is Barack Obama depressed? He sure has the symptoms.
Maybe you should try Zoloft, Mr. President?
Because one can only wonder what happened to the electric candidate of the 2008 campaign. Mr. Kool seems to have turned into Mr. Cold and Uncaring. It’s as if the president is in some sort of stupor. He seems like an apparition of his old self. Where’s his spirit, his spunk, his force of character? To describe the president of the United States as detached seems an understatement. Clearly, he is missing in action (MIA).
I think Obama needs electric shock therapy to bring the man back from the dead. OK, give this guy a script for Cymbalta.
Or how about a session with Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke at the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous? We miss you, Mel Brooks. We really miss you, Barry O!
But, all kidding aside -- although I’m not kidding -- what’s the deal? Where did The Audacious Mr. Hope disappear? Has he become the boy in the bubble of the White House? Why does he seem so remote? What happened to the iconic dream weaver? Is he nothing but a dreamer? In the Illinois legislator Obama made a name for himself for too often voting ‘present’ rather than taking a hard stand. Is that because he isn’t present?
Have you ever tried Paxil, Mr. President?
Truly, this seems to be the winter of Obama’s disconnect and American’s discontent. Americans are anxious about how they’re going to pay their bills. How they’re going to afford the price of their newly-prescribed medicine. They’re holding their breath not only from worry but from fear of breathing our polluted air. The president has decided not to attend the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen. Instead, he plans to travel to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for the peace we’re not even close to having and he’s not doing much to get.
Anxiety afflicts Americans. They worry. Is that crazy Ahmadinejad going to nuke us all? Or will it be Kim Jong-il who does us in? What happened to candidate Obama’s promise to get Bin Laden? Never mind the Taliban; by the time the president makes a decision to move more troops into Afghanistan, Bin Laden will have moved out of the region. And what about Iran and Obama? The Arabs and Obama? The Muslims and Obama?
I keep wondering: Why is Barack Obama so willing to talk to them, when he has so little to say to us, the anxiety-ridden Prozac Nation over which the seemingly depressed president presides?
c. 2009 Reprints with permission.
Halli Casser-Jayne is the author of A YEAR IN MY PAJAMAS WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA, The Politics of Strange Bedfellows. You can read more of her opinions @ http://www.thecjpoliticalreport.com