Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Obama Disrespect Disorder

What the President is going through now recalls a life lesson I learned in World War II and never forgot. Barack Obama’s run of apparent incompetence—-on attacking Syria, rolling out health care, over-surveillance —-may be rooted, at least in part, on five years of being publicly pounded by criticism and hatred.

No matter how intelligent, skilled and capable one is, constant bombardment of carping, laced with hatred and disdain, takes its toll at some level. Has anyone ever been subjected to more?

Americans on a less exalted level who have worked for bad bosses can understand what such treatment can do to shrivel a sense of self-worth. What if they were trapped in such a situation with no escape and the whole world watching?

This is not to excuse the President’s shortcomings but to remind fair-minded critics of what he must be enduring.

I learned about it dramatically in my teens. In an office I worked briefly for a lieutenant who was a former college English teacher and life was good. We talked for hours about books and life, and one evening he suggested we take the office jeep to the post movie.

Someone had given me driving lessons and, a few days earlier, I had gone solo to deliver a file across the base. I put it on the seat next to me. At the first turn, papers flew into my face and, by the time I braked to a stop, the jeep was in a ditch on the left side of the road nuzzled against a tree.

We started for the movies in proper military fashion; I was driving, my unsuspecting lieutenant in the passenger seat. A minute later, he was braced against the windshield, gasping. When we arrived at the movies, soldiers were staring at a private being chauffeured by an officer.  

That kind of dumb luck did not last. My boss was shipped out and replaced by his polar opposite, a high-school dropout who had earned a commission during the officer shortage after Pearl Harbor. He despised me on sight and, from then on, it was like being in a Shrinking Man movie. Every day his beady eyes and sarcastic voice shriveled me with disdain, criticism and mockery, and I soon found myself becoming what he saw, an incompetent jerk. I started making mistakes I had never made before.

That experience gave me something of great value. A few weeks showed me what could happen if I let myself be treated that way. I swore I never would again, no matter what. I never did.

Until Barack Obama writes his memoirs, we will have no idea of how years of massive disrespect affected his psyche, but one former private has the utmost sympathy for what the Commander-in-Chief is enduring. As he steps to a podium to rebuff the latest attacks, at least one old soldier is saluting him.


4 comments:

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

From the beginning, even before Obama's inauguration, the far right wing faction of the GOP has tried to delegitimize this president. It started with Limbaugh's infamous "I hope he fails" remark.

Worse than sour grapes from sore losers, this faction has a terminal McCarthy streak.

Suzanne Moore said...

Absolutely 199% on target! I too have wondered what the insanity that has been rampant before the President was even NOMINATED would do to anyone.

I know what it's done to me as an American citizen who has had to watch in horror - it has shown me an America I didn't know existed, at least not any more. Not only does it still exist, it's worse than anything I ever saw growing up in Texas in the 1950s.

It's also more ignorant. It knows nothing of history, doesn't "believe" in science and is just totally devoid of independent, critical thinking skills.

They are revolting and frightening.

MoDMaN said...

Syria? Disarming the chemical weapons is a fail? I'd say it's more distructive to buy into the echo chamber's memes as compared to the outright disdain.

Anonymous said...

Here, here. Good on you.