By Austin HillSensibility – the capacity for sensation or feeling; keen consciousness or awareness.
Sometimes dictionary definitions can seem vague or esoteric. So let me suggest that the word “sensibility” might also be described as one’s “gut instincts” about their experiences.
And it may also be the case that President Obama’s recent decline in the polls is not merely because unemployment is high, or because the cost of living is rising higher. It may be that some of President Obama’s own recently stated positions are violating the “gut instincts” that many Americans have about their own country.
Let’s start with the insurance industry mandates for abortion coverage, and the alleged “war on women.” When President Obama mandated in February that medical insurance companies provide coverage for abortion, sterilization and contraception, reaction was swift and visceral. Many religious organizations – most notably the Catholic Church – responded very negatively, and characterized the decision as a threat to religious freedom .
As presidential politics go, Mr. Obama’s mandate probably achieved its intended short-term goal: it successfully re-directed the national conversation away from issues surrounding the economy, the national debt, and a faltering foreign policy, and toward a discussion of abortion and religion. But the ways in which the conversation has devolved since its initial re-direction may not be playing to the President’s favor, and may now be contradicting Americans’ sensibilities about personal responsibility.
Most Americans do not share President Obama’s enthusiasm for abortion. But, fortunately, a majority of Americans still do not share the President’s support for economic entitlements either, nor are most of us as excited about government control over private businesses as he seems to be.
Yet the abortion enthusiasts who have run to the President’s defense in the last several weeks – most notably Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, who we now know has a direct connection to former Obama Advisor Anita Dunn – have pushed a message of support for both abortion, and entitlements. “If somebody else doesn’t pay for my abortion and birth control,” Ms. Fluke is essentially telling us, then she is being “denied access” to healthcare – and this amounts to a “war on women.”
Americans are tiring of the “somebody else should pay for my stuff” attitude. In fact, there is a growing perception that the Obama entitlement culture is damaging our economy and our future, and the reality that President Obama would intertwine abortion and economic redistribution contradicts our gut instincts about how America should operate.
Another problem for the President may be his recent handling of the military. In the aftermath of the horrific news that a U.S. Marine allegedly massacred several civilians in Afghanistan, the American people have been treated to a barrage of conflicting information. The Marine had a “brain injury;” the Marine was “suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;” he may have been “drunk,” and he was angry about another deployment. We’ve seen all these explanations emerge, with no clear comments from the President or his Administration.
Yet what we have seen and heard from the Administration has been worse than mere message mismanagement. The President and his Administration have exhibited a sense that they neither enthusiastically appreciate the men and women in uniform, nor do they trust them.
It started last Monday March 12th, while President Obama was being interviewed by a Denver television anchor. When asked about the massacre allegations, the President noted the horrific nature of the killings, but then went on to say of our troops that “you can’t help but be proud of them, generally..”
To be fair, the President is in an awful position. He commands the military, yet one that he commands now stands accused of heinous crimes.
Yet the sensibilities of most Americans regarding the military are such that we aren’t just “generally” proud of our troops. Our trust and respect for the men and women in uniform is a near-constant, and it is a rare instance when an individual solider fails to meet our expectations.
To make matters worse, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta paid a visit to Afghanistan days after the offense to address the troops and the Afghani government. But before American military personnel were permitted to enter the room where Secretary Panetta spoke, they were forced to disarm, and leave their weapons outside.
The Administration later noted that the reason for this was because there were Afghani troops in the room who were required to disarm, so therefore the U.S. troops needed to be treated equally with the Afghani’s.
Again, the Obama Administration appeared to be out of step with American gut instincts. While Americans trust the men and women of the military and regard them as superior to any other fighting force, the Obama Administration appears distrusting of the troops, and uncertain of the mission in Afghanistan.
Americans disagree vehemently on ideology and public policy. But, for better or worse, we still haven’t given up on the idea that collectively we are still a good country, and we try to live with a sense of personal responsibility.
President Obama has reminded us that his policies undermine personal responsibility, while advancing the cause of entitlement. His handling of the Afghanistan fiasco suggests that the nation which many of us believe is great, is perhaps for him, not so great after all.
Email: Austin Hill
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