Chan Lowe: Tornado devastation
How do you think it would go over if Barack Obama said to the tornado victims, “You red states down there can just go and kiss my overreaching, socialist big-government behind and fend for yourselves?”
We can’t even imagine it. That’s because the president is the leader of all of us…not just those who voted for him but also those who feel indifferent toward him, merely dislike him, and hate him to their very core. As the head of government, he cannot cherry-pick.
No, he can’t indulge in petty, parochial maneuvers like passing needlessly restrictive laws designed to disenfranchise whole classes of Americans. He can’t, while paying obeisance to some no-tax dogma, rob soon-to-be-elderly citizens of the medical care they have spent their entire lives paying for with the reasonable expectation that their country will look after them in their dotage.
Because he is the president of all the United States, he will fly down to visit the devastation in the southern region of the country he heads, and he will shake hands with many people who may still believe he was born abroad, is a Muslim, or is otherwise unfit to serve. He will commiserate with them, and he will promise federal aid to those who, up until a couple of days ago, still screamed that the same federal government that they now approach in supplication was encroaching upon their lives.
In fact, they will expect President Obama and the federal government to come through for them in a timely manner. This is not an unreasonable notion, and presidencies⎯as we have learned⎯have run aground when they failed to perform this most basic of roles.
As Americans, we take for granted the comforting and abiding mantle of the federal government when situations occur that overwhelm our own puny abilities to cope. It is sad that it sometimes takes a tragedy for us to realize how important it is to support that institution, even with all its flaws.