Lead, Damn You!

The difference between womanly and womanish — like the difference between manly and macho — is instructive. It reminds us that even the traits we admire most have, like all things human, their dark side. Gentleness may become weakness; strength may become belligerence — and so on.

Witness President Barack Obama's performance after his attempt to violate the Second Amendment met the fate it deserved. He could have responded to the setback in a womanly manner: with warmth, understanding and compassion. Maybe wear something nice to make himself appealing. Sympathize with our concerns. Represent the moral attitude he wishes we'd aspire to.

Instead, he was petulant, scolding, hectoring — refused to take any responsibility for his actions. Womanish. See the distinction?

All right, I'm clowning around. But really, I'm not one of those wingers who hates the president. I don't think he's evil, not even a little. But can anyone — on either side — remember a moment when this man inspired us? I mean, all of us, together? Can anyone think of a day on which he lifted our hearts or moved us toward unity or did not seize on a crisis to demonize the opposition and so divide us?

I'm asking — seriously. Even as divisive a figure as George W. Bush, after 9/11, sought to call all of us to our best selves, to remind us why, in spite of our flaws, in spite of our differences, we were all part of a great historical project worthy of preservation. I know a lot of pretty left-wing lefties and even they appreciated the measured dignity of his speeches in those days, though of course they opposed the policies that followed. And even during the tough times, when his popularity was falling, W. always went out of his way to show respect to the opposition, to take their views into account. People hated him, I know, but he did try.

But Obama... it's like he hates the place he finds himself. America, I mean. He behaves like some snooty moneybags who woke up  on the wrong train and now expects it to stop and turn around and take him where he wants to go, instead of where all the other passengers want to go. It's like he's saying, "Oh, well, if you're going to be all American about it, to hell with you!"

Our country is hurting. The economy. Boston. Texas. The political divisions that have us at one another's throats. It's time for someone to stand up and bring us together. Unite us in the projects we all know need doing and leave the political culture war nonsense on the back burner for a while. It ought to be the president, but at this point, I'd settle for Oprah or the Pope or the dwarf guy from Game of Thrones or anyone who isn't constantly hectoring and complaining and whining about who and what we are.

Three and a half more years of this? So help me, I'll retire to Bedlam. We all will.