Disrespect of President Obama is Telling

Governor at a book signing in Phoenix, Arizona...
Image via Wikipedia

I keep trying to put into perspective what I feel about seeing the picture of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer shaking her finger in the face of President Obama.

Actually, I don’t know what that perspective is…I guess whatever the president said to her annoyed her.

But I am thinking that other presidents have said things to governors in the past that were not words of comfort or praise for jobs well done, and yet, I have never seen a picture of any other governor shaking his or her finger in the face of the President of the United States.

Gov. Brewer said that she respects the office of president; it was striking but not surprising that she did not say she respected the President.

But her actions belie her proclamation of respect. Shaking one’s finger in someone’s face suggests that one thinks one has the right to do such, and that the one being “scolded” is somehow so much “less than” than the person doing the scolding that the pointed finger is deserved.

What has bothered me from the beginning of this president’s term is the lack of respect for him which has then spilled over into actions which have shown an absolute lack of respect for the office of President.

From Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s proclamation at the beginning of President Obama’s term that his top priority was to make sure that President Obama would be a one term president, to Joe Wilson shouting out “You lie!” during the President’s first State of the Union address to this …the lack of respect has been blatant, scorching, and arrogantly communicated.

So does this mean that some people will not and cannot respect the office of president if someone they truly dislike and/or disagree with is in the White House?

Why is it that I cannot remember anyone showing such disrespect when President George W. Bush was in office, a president who got the country into two wars, ran up our debt by out of control spending, and who, frankly, kind of made a mockery out of Republican/Conservative principles when it comes to spending?

Was it because he at least gave big business and the wealthy what they wanted – tax cuts – which arguably have contributed to the financial mess we are in now?  When one thinks about what President’s actions and policies have done to this country, it would seem that his actions would have stirred the ire of red-blooded Conservatives, and yet, nothing. I never saw anyone openly disrespect him.

Has Gov. Brewer apologized for what she did? I haven’t seen it. I have seen a story where she said that she went to the airport to give President Obama a letter to invite him to an event, but that he ignored that invitation and voiced disapproval over the way she characterized a meeting the two had dealing with immigration.

The story did not quote Gov. Brewer as saying the President had been rude, or disrespectful, in the way he voiced his disappointment; had that been the case, I am more than sure we would have known it. No, the articles I have read have merely said that she took issue that he had taken issue with the way she summarized the way she wrote about their meeting.

And for that, she shakes her finger in the President’s face?

I am appalled by what I have seen overall since the President took office. I am not an “Obama groupie;” I think the President has done well in some areas and not so well in others, but he is the President of the United States, for goodness’ sake! I did not like President George W. Bush, but he was the President of the United States! Had I met him, there would have been no way I would have disrespected him.

That so many people think it is OK to disrespect President Obama in the way that they are is troubling. The President has handled it well, probably better than we who have observed it. But the type and the width and the breadth of the disrespect of this president says a lot about what’s going on, on many levels.

I leave it to you to unpack that last sentence.

It is a candid observation.

8 thoughts on “Disrespect of President Obama is Telling

  1. Certainly Bill Clinton was treated equally badly by the right. The change that is interesting is how the mechanisms mirror changes in media overall–largely brought on by technology and “social media.” Just as the tools give individuals more say versus the professional news and entertainment institutions, we see that while Clinton was attacked by the organized political “machines,” Obama is getting it from the political equivalent of individual bloggers.

  2. We can try to ignore the two ton gorilla in the middle of the room, but the gorilla will continue to sit there until we move it. President Obama is treated with the same respect ( or lack of) that thousands of Black elected official across the country are treated with when dealing with their white “colleagues”. We need to recall all the snippets, the subtle remarks, the caricatures, the hateful comments and the comments from the political pundits that have been used in the last three years to disrespect both candidate and President Obama. He will still be a inexperienced “boy” in the eyes of some of his own colleagues. Could you imagine how he would be treated if his agenda showed the slightest reference to correcting the disparities in this country that are clearly race based, like mass incarceration or public education funding?

  3. Your comments provoke a lot of thoughts…first, the issue between the AZ Governor and the President has some history behind the recent confrontation. If you will recall, the Justice Department made it a point to publicly challenge Arizona’s immigration law, which was an attempt to, at the very least, embarrass the governor. The move was unprecedented in nature, because it was a public disapproval of a state’s rights issue. Whether or not you agree with the law is immaterial. When Governor Brewer claims that she was “lectured” over the issue instead of having a discussion about it, I actually believe her account because of the nature of “bad blood” that already existed between the two. With that said, I don’t think that a photograph of finger-pointing by Gove. Brewer was such where we can conclusively state that there was an intent to disrespect President Obama. We can infer it, but that’s about it. The history between the two, however, paints a better picture.

    As far as the respect of the office of the President, that ship has sailed long ago because of the evolution of our political process and our overblown media coverage. We can go back to look at the jokes told even on the Tonight Show or Saturday Night Live about the persons in office…President Ford was a bumbling klutz…Jimmy Carter was just a peanut farmer…President Reagan was only an actor who did not deserve any respect…and on and on from there to George Bush. Taking race out of the picture, this lack of respect for the person (and to some degree the office) is not a new event. When you put race back into it, you can make an argument that the lack of respect for President Obama is glaring; however, I must point out that respect begats respect, no matter who the person is. If it were Colin Powell or Herman Cain in this position, I can’t help but believe that things would be a little different.

  4. Thank you, Melvin, for adding insight and history to the piece. It certainly is important and balances the piece out. I appreciate your comments!

  5. Shaking a finger in someone’s face is a blatant sign of disrespect, and disrespect is never okay, no matter how much you may disagree with one’s politics. I didn’t particularly care for George Bush, but I would never dream of putting my hand in his face (frankly I would’ve been honored to be in the presence of the president of the United States). A disagreement about policies or procedures is no reason to show disrespect, period.

  6. I’m like you. Though I didn’t like President Bush’s policies and presidency, I would have been really honored had I ever been in his presence. Gov. Brewer’s apparent lack of respect is really troubling.

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