President Barack Obama is the most powerful man in the world, but he still laments that there is so much still out of his control.
Obama told Ohio State University graduates Sunday that it will be their responsibility to make the world a better place, because forces aligned against them still hold substantial power. The dour commencement address touched on Obama’s familiar we’re-all-together theme and included shots at his regular bogeymen: Wall Street, an obstinate Congress and, of course, the press.
“As you’ve studied and worked and served to become good citizens, the fact is that all too often the institutions that give structure to our society have, at times, betrayed your trust,” Obama said. “In the run-up to the financial crisis, too many on Wall Street forgot that their obligations don’t end with what’s happening with their shares. In entertainment and in the media, ratings and shock value often trumped news and storytelling. In Washington – well, this is a joyous occasion, so let me put it charitably: I think it’s fair to say our democracy isn’t working as well as we know it can. It could do better. And so those of us fortunate enough to serve in these institutions owe it to you to do better, every single day.”
And while Obama said he’s “not going to get partisan,” he included reminders that it’s not his fault Washington focuses on the desires of the rich over the needs of the poor and middle class, that even modest gun control reforms failed in the Senate and that his quest for a grand bargain is perpetually delayed by “small things.”
“The founders trusted us with this awesome authority. We should trust ourselves with it, too,” Obama said. “Because when we don’t, when we turn away and get discouraged and cynical and abdicate that authority, we grant our silent consent to someone who’ll gladly claim it. That’s how we end up with lobbyists who set the agenda; and policies detached from what middle-class families face every day; the well-connected who publicly demand that Washington stay out of their business – and then whisper in government’s ear for special treatment that you don’t get. That’s how a small minority of lawmakers get cover to defeat something the vast majority of their constituents want. That’s how our political system gets consumed by small things when we are a people called to do great things, like rebuild a middle class, and reverse the rise of inequality, and repair the deteriorating climate that threatens everything we plan to leave for our kids and grandkids.”
I’m thinking this Obama guy should run for President. If he was in charge, things would be different.