Saturday, July 03, 2010

Sunny President in a Clouded Country

Mixed political weather for the nation's 234th birthday: Barack Obama basks in a solar future while Tea Party members gather to shake their fists at what they see as darkening skies.

The President, in his weekly address, looks at Colorado, Arizona and Indiana, seeing "once-shuttered factories humming with new workers who are building solar panels and wind turbines, rolling up their sleeves to help America win the race for the clean energy economy."

But, in a USA Today poll, Tea Party adherents find nothing on the horizon but gathering clouds in the "firm conviction that the federal government has gotten too big and too powerful and a fear that the nation faces great peril.

"Nine in 10 are unhappy with the country's direction and see the federal debt as an ominous threat to its future. Almost as many say neither President Obama nor most members of Congress deserve re-election."

At rallies in Atlanta, San Antonio and elsewhere, glass-half-empty grumblers will observe the holiday by remembering only what the Founding Fathers did to gain independence rather than how hard they worked to make something lasting of it.

The government those disaffected now revile went on from throwing tea overboard to crafting a union that in the past century, as the President puts it, "mustered a sense of common purpose to overcome Depression and fear itself...that embraced a call to greatness and saved the world from tyranny...that turns times of trial into times of triumph."

For perspective, Tea Party followers may want to ponder a new survey of historians who now rank Barack Obama as the 15th best president ever for his "imagination, communication and intelligence."

They may also want to examine what new spectral technology has revealed about what Thomas Jefferson crossed out while writing the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson changed his designation of Americans as "subjects" with "citizens," a status that implies responsibilities as well as grievances.

As they hammered out the final draft, the Founding Fathers made many other changes, including one Jefferson regretted most, deleting a rueful expression of pain at parting from the country of their origin: "We might have been a free and great people together."

In a time of growing division, Americans would do well to recall that sentiment about human unity as they celebrate freedom.

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