Liberty, New York, USA - 9th October: As Ireland approaches its Presidential election on October 27, 2011, it occurs to me that we here in America, over the past several decades, seem to have lost respect for the office of President of the United States. No longer does the office or the title come with a guarantee of respect and reverence. Today it is seeded with disrespect, discontent and sometimes downright disgust. The pride we as a people held dear and guarded vigilantly has sadly deteriorated.
I was a child of the “fabulous ‘50’s”. Dwight Eisenhower, a WW2 military icon, was our magnificent president; the hero of every kid in America. His image on the new fangled box in the living room smiled at us as he spoke of prosperity and honor. As I approached my teen years, the handsome John Fitzgerald Kennedy appeared on the horizon of change. He was young, charismatic and Catholic. His short and tragic administration brought challenge, controversy and confusion that rang loud and clear around the world. Both of these men were human, both had personal flaws and failures. We treated them with respect and never “trashed” their character publically, never questioned their hopes and dreams for our country to be anything less than pure and honorable. Showing dissention or distaste for the man or the office was taboo and considered un-American. Oh My! How things have changed!
Years of scandals involving presidents of the USA seem to have taken their toll on the American public. No longer is a person “above the law” simply because he is our Commander-in-Chief. President Nixon was the first to create an atmosphere of distrust and dishonor in the Oval office. Fast forward to Bill Clinton and the sex scandals of the 1990’s: WOW!! Now THAT was a mess, a shocker, a sensational ratings grabber for the networks. Nixon was a criminal and Clinton, if not a criminal then certainly on the shady side of the moral code. These men deserved whatever criticism they received. Bush and Obama do not. These men, if not squeaky clean are close to it. Their moral character is, in my opinion, fairly noble and honorable. Neither deserves the personal ridicule they have and continue to receive from the press and from the general public. Dwight Eisenhower once said “This world of ours…….must avoid becoming a community of hate and be, instead, a proud confederate of mutual trust & respect”. I think we might take his words to heart today.
I watch the news channels, each slanted to its own political agenda. Fox News, right wing Republican all the way, has Bill O’Reily, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin & Rush Limbaugh spending hours each day slandering, demoralizing and undermining the good name of our current President, Barack Obama. Several years ago, its rival network, CNN [bleeding heart liberal], trashed the character of our then President George Bush in virtually the same way. Each time I watch these commentators blatantly lie about our president, call him names and degrade him, I feel embarrassed and ashamed. What must the world think of us, a country that chooses to disrespect its own head of state? Are we a laughingstock? Our country is so big, strong and full of promise, even in times of economic trouble. Are we are becoming less credible partly due to our lack of something as simple and basic as good manners?
A new day is dawning for Ireland with a new president in just a few weeks, a fresh start, a new beginning. I hope and pray that the Irish people will not fall victim to the same mistake we have made. I am counting on the fact that the Irish people have better manners than we do and will embrace their new president with open arms, clear minds and forgiving hearts.