Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 16, 2010

Let Me Be Clear, Make No Mistake

Filed under: Events,Humor — by Mark Chubb on June 16, 2010

As I listened to President Obama’s Oval Office address last evening, I was struck by his recurrent use of a familiar idiomatic expression. He often prefaces important points with the statement, “make no mistake.” His speeches have become so peppered with this interjection that it has almost acquired, at least for me, the air of a phonic tic.

Why does this bother me? For starters, as someone who admires and supports the President, it draws attention to the tendency of other people who neither trust the government nor support the President’s policies to question his confidence and competence to handle their problems. “Make no mistake,” is another way of saying “trust me, I know what I am talking about.” But too many people don’t trust him, and need a better reason to do so than his assurances and repeated statements that he is in control of the situation.

The President rarely has difficulty convincing people that he understands the situation. They often concede he has a clear vision of the future. But they often express profound reservations about his plan for getting from where we are to where he wants to take us. And too many people are not yet prepared to go along for the ride.

President Obama is not the first president to exhibit vague vocal stylings. When he was president, Bill Clinton was prone to saying, “Let me be clear,” when he wanted to make an important point. He had no reason to ask our permission to make a point, much less make it clearly, but his habit of doing so was far less annoying or cloying because it suggested he had our interests at heart. As we all came to find out, Bill Clinton was an expert at making connections with people, and had a very practical and direct approach to doing so.

Is it a mistake for President Obama to try to reassure us? By no means, no. But he should give us better reasons for backing his positions. That will require him to ask more of us as citizens, particularly when it comes to seeing our interests aligned with the national interest and his vision of the future. He can do this by making the small but specific tasks we can perform on behalf of our country a bigger part of his policy pitch.

If this is a war, as the President suggests, it will require sacrifices of us all. As such, I hoped he would have found a more appropriate metaphor. But then again he may be right that the only way we can win the war against al Qaeda is to see the Deepwater Horizon crisis as another frontier in a long and bitter campaign that has its origin in our own misadventures as well as the government’s when acting on our behalf.

We could begin making sacrifices by expecting a lot less of our leaders and more of ourselves. Let me be clear, as a nation we would make no mistake if we interpreted the situation in the Gulf of Mexico not as a question of Presidential action and corporate accountability, but rather as a call to individual action, a message to our nation to start taking specific and measurable steps to matching our energy appetites with our abilities and our resources.

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4 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 16, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

So the Presidential standard is infallability when he says “make no mistake”? A very high standard indeed and since unlikely given the human condition and interesting word choice. So where are we? The $20B is only a pledge at this point! I am still not sure how long the WH meeting was in length! 20 minutes as Drudge reported initially or 4 hours? Whatever it will be interesting to watch Kenneth Fineberg again who in a speech I witnessed stated flat out that no victims compensation fund would ever be enacted by Congress again. If so they this will be accomplished administratively? Congress is a broken reed at this point on which to build any boat or raft for survivors but I doubt that the administrative aspects of the fund can be handled without some legislation. Given that even with expedition unlikely to become law before the August recess.
So how to expect more of ourselves? Let’s prioritize! The Gulf over warfighting? The Gulf over education? The Gulf over medical care? The Gulf over infrastructure? Or is the fact that the green light of the BP fund attempts to avoid any accountability or effort by US means that again the real spotlight has turned away from efforts to promote resilience and accountability. Well maybe the President will get lucky and avoid another catastrophic event during his tenure? And of course that means the people of the US get lucky also. The President states that there can be “rightous indignation” at BP and that they will fund the claimancy process? I always liked the REAGANISM “trust but verify”! So hoping that the BP check is in the mail.

Comment by Mark Chubb

June 16, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

Bill, I certainly do not expect infallibility of the President or anyone else. I simply find this habit curious in the context my earlier criticism, and the widespread skepticism about his leadership approach. For such an accomplished writer and eloquent speaker to fall into such a pattern also strikes me as odd.

As for priorities, I agree that this is one place where the President needs to show his leadership ability. The Deficit Reduction Commission seems poised to make recommendations that will largely leave defense spending untouched, which I consider a big mistake.

The National Security Strategy, if it can indeed be relied upon as an indicator of the administration’s defense priorities, hardly justifies standing by the status quo spending plan. If the President does not propose significant cuts in defense programs to fund his domestic agenda, he will have almost no chance of matching his administration’s record to its rhetoric.

Like you, I find it interesting that the President has chosen to establish a victim compensation fund. I am particularly surprised because I don’t think the situation can be resolved simply by spending money, no matter whose it is or how much.

A Gulf Coast restoration plan, rather than a reorientation plan, strikes me as the wrong medicine. Helping the region recover need not mean a return to the status quo ante, if that’s even possible.

I am of the opinion that using at least part of this money to help the region design a secure and sustainable future for itself makes much more sense. Protecting the region’s unique ecosystems and preserving its special culture should need not be incompatible with creating new economic opportunities that do not rely on extractive industries that exploit the commons.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 17, 2010 @ 1:47 am

Yes the “business plan” of the Gulf Coast cannot be based on either the past or its casinos.

A regional strategy is necessary which can only succeed if STATES are willing to give up some perogatives and recognize they succeed or fail together.

Comment by "the little people"

June 17, 2010 @ 4:41 am

It is truly unfortunate, yet reality that man’s greed has again compromised good people – how did BP CEO reference them – the little people?

Give us on Main Street USA a break – the US government led by this President and the corrupted US Congress of which I am holding my necessary citizen signature petitions to challenge “Mr. Barney” and “smug-smiled Pelosi” who cares nothing for the “little people” – my decision to place my name on ballot or not being persuaded by the gut wrenching ill feelings which tell cause me to ask why I would want to become involved with these hoodlums – Uncle Teddy and Johnny Kerry who voted and have always supported more and more taxes and fees….who allowed the scandalous “Big Dig” $18billion seven mile redesig of Boston;s roadways with very little transparency of course….

Give us all a break as we are bankrupted in so many ways…What a pity…For what did those men give their precious lives on the beaches of Normandy and in the islands of the Pacific to give freedom to the Americans, the French, so many and this the result?

Mr. President and your inexperienced self-impressed White House staff is not comprised of business oriented folks – textbook read, yet with little Life’s experience – Ther is a real lack of know-how, teh ability to organize, to delegate a response delivery required given the calamity which besiegies the coastline and marshes with every incoming ripple in tide unfortunately incompetency prevails and has shown and will certainly be enhanced in reflection when Mother Nature’s fury very shortly spawns a cat 3 hurricane and takes this dramatically grown oil field and places its all over the southern coast and inland with raindrops of oil falling on Jackson and even Memphis, never mind New Orleans – mzybe even here in Boston, a city filled with DOR types who truly believe they are “unique” and with their empty Legislators enact laws contrary to the Rights of citizen, contrary to State and US Constitutional law….

I have had constant contact with top tier of USCG who we should all Bless and thank for their continued service despite all this fiasco as well as the dedicated folks at Southern Command mil who have done their utmost despite the politics and corruotion to assist the people of Haiti. The bureaucracy is very problematic as I have booms and barges, all sorts of equipment, skimmers, so much and the deployment has been thwarted by far too much disorganization – talk to the parish presidents or the Governor of LA especially – he’ll tell you the real story –

I have prerequisite wastewater and water purification global “experts” at hand as well as housing “experts” so many collaboratives of “experts” from US, Canada, Norway and so on and so forth ready to address Haiti and the homeless and displaced there also await the fury of Mother Nature to bring more anguish…again, politics, greed, corruption, disorganization, lack of leadership, ineptness – oh, how man makes Life so difficult for one another –

You, Mr. President talk a good game, however in these months of your administration, it is the deficit numbers which are truly depicting the real story and promise of taxes as solutions -

China and Russia are building a modern military for the 22nd century – you talk of cuts in spending…I would be very careful – the world is threatened with extinction and cybersecurity threats which could hold humanity hostage…this is a very complex environment..just ask the wonderful and dedicated real Americans at NSA and the CIA and other such agencies who could tell you the real story – it’s dangerous out on the street – no matter where and it doesn’t need to be in Berlin or other as We cannot deal with Katrina, Haiti or now BP..oops, I mean the Gulf states and people -

It is not the President’s words of “Let Me Be Clear, Make No Mistake” which I hear, but the real Americans, not illegals who have come to this great Republic knowing breaking the law which we are so obsessed with, but real Americans who have lost everything ther than their prayer and inherent American resilience.

The hurricane lurks about – soon to make matters far worse and with emergency response and unpreparedness so obvious and corporate America and special interest groups placing “entrusted” Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in “gridlock” – with the President’s outragious contribution in such a short term to the overall budget deficit placing us so much further in bankruptcy – our beloved Republic for which so many have sacrificed so much for us and humanity, well, O’reilly and Hannity and Glen Beck and so many others, your television programs will have much more to talk about as this Gulf oil spill, Haiti, a Katrina still not addressed accordingly and so on and so forth…hold onto your hats as the ride will surely get much more threatening as there is void in leadership and the lackluster ambition so paralyzed by self-agenda and indifference to how did he say it, o yeah, the “little guy” -

I represent folks with skimmers, booms, absorbant materials, practical housing, eco-friendly, earthquake resistant with rainwater retention systems and solar package – aoh, so many solutions – proven technologies – wastewater and water purification systems – for Africa, the Middle East, for the Gulf oil response teams, for Haiti and these US, Canadian and European as well as Asian collaborative teams of business and technological folks ready with skill sets, proven competencies and guess what, when I have asked Wall Street to fund “humanitarian” and even profitable projects, they are too busy…I say to the bankers…too busy? What” Writing bonus checks?

O yeah, that’s right, who could really be interested in the “little people” for most at the top have forgotten who they really are yet, “Let Me be Clear, Make No Mistake” as you do not read scripture, you cannot repent and it will be Mother Nature and man’s greed once again just as since Babylon and every man-made government no matter its form, We are all the “little people” for the crashing waves of oil into the Gulf coast, the stock market so fragile and ready for its fall, far more than $20billion from BP and others entities…and the “Brutes of Tehran” being allowed to press on with its agenda much like you the Europeans in your weakness today and in the 1930′s when you truned your cheek to reality -

Soon, with such perverse ways, the outloook for humanity is bleak at best and you Mr. President, far from your league as a bright Chicago community organizer and at best wet behind the ears junior Senator will be no match for the evil doers seeking the demise of mankind to enslave others and empower them and fill their coffers in support of their prowess in power as seen by a BP CEO and his intentional risk taking without a care for ramifications and when the worst occurred, he could give a damn -

God Bless us all and especially those good people throughout the Gulf region and those in Haiti as well as those still in despair from Katrina….

(Chris)topher Tingus
aka Joe Citizen
chris.tingus@gmail.com

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