Jon Stewart Nailed It…

Comedian Jon Stewart is spot-on. This past weekend, at his Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington D.C., he criticized the media for exaggerating and polarizing Americans’ opinions. His message: We’re different and yet we still work together despite the reports.

“We live in hard times, not end times,” Stewart said. “We can have animus and not be enemies.”

Of course, partisans on both sides claimed he was an ill-informed commentator. Yes, people who have divided and polarized the country criticized a man for trying to unify the country into one people. Who’s the comedian again?

Most Americans know that our problems will not be solved overnight and that real change comes through working together.

“There will always be darkness and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land,” to which Stewart comically added, “Sometimes, it’s New Jersey.”

Despite the media’s portrayal of racists, homophobes, Marxists, and Stalinists, we work together “every damn day” and make this country work.

In fact, when we call each other names, like “bigot” and “Marxist,” we insult people we disagree with and completely miss true dialogue.

“If we amplify everything, we hear nothing,” said Stewart.

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was designed to literally restore sanity to political dialogue, not demonize or insult anyone of any particular ideology (unless, of course, your ideology thrives on division and strife).

Stewart said it perfectly:

We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is — on the brink of catastrophe — torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don’t is here [in Washington] or on cable TV.”

 

 

President Obama’s Mixed Ratings

President Obama is average in ratings. According to the American public, he’s not doing a horrible job nor is he doing a fantastic one. In comparison to other presidencies, his is relatively popular.

According to USA Today and in collaboration with Gallup, President Obama has an approval rating of 41% (nearly 600 days in office). Six percent of people polled where either undecided or had no opinion. In other words, 51% of Americans – at least those in the group polled – disapprove of President Barack Obama’s performance.

The Tea Party and increasing amounts of Republicans seize on this and declare that he’s “very unpopular.” While 51% disapproval may seem unpopular (and it is), it is important to note that most Presidents typically have fluctuating performance ratings, especially 600 days into their first terms.

During this time in Bill Clinton’s presidency, he had an approval rating of 43% and a disapproval rating of 48%.

Ronald Reagan is recognized as being one of the nation’s most popular Presidents. In December 1988, Gallup recorded his approval at 63%. However, nearly 600 days into his first term, he had a 41% approval rating and a disapproval rating of 47%. (His lowest point was 35% approval nearly 750 days into his first term).

President Gerald Ford’s approval was around 46% with disapproval at 40%.

It is too early to tell whether President Obama will have a “successful” first term…but then again, who decides what is “successful?” Popularity isn’t necessarily the mark of a good presidency. Those who adore the President (Nancy Pelosi) will see the current numbers as evidence that many Americans are accepting of his executive agenda. And, of course, those who despise him (Rush Limbaugh) and suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (Glenn Beck) will see them as evidence of a so-called “revolution.”

The American people are a tough crowd to please, especially when they’re in the midst of a horrible recession and increasingly polarized politics. With both sides screaming at each other – in particular the right since they’re out of power right now – it can be difficult to stay level-headed. All in all, his performance is rather average and unimpressive.

Through all the rhetoric and propaganda, it’s important to keep perspective. As the President’s numbers fluctuate, keep in mind that they will continue to do so. Only time will tell how popular or unpopular the Obama presidency will be in history.

President Barack Obama - Photo credit: AP

Correction to my post on the “Ground Zero” mosque

On my last post, I expressed my personal view of the supposed “Ground Zero” mosque that has been all over the news recently.

I must correct an embarrassing error: The mosque is actually not on the Ground Zero site itself but a few blocks away. And not only is a mosque planned, but an Islamic cultural center as well.

In the light of this updated information and after giving the issue some more thought, I have to say that my opinion has changed.

Peaceful Muslims are trying to bridge the vast gap  between two different cultures. In a way, they are showing that they are not only sorry for the extremists who murdered thousands of Americans but also very interested in showing a brand of Islam to the American people that is frequently forgotten: A peaceful religion that is able to coexist with Western society.

In the name of peace, I hope that this works. I have nothing but disdain for the violence and brainwashing that fundamentalism and extremism preach…and that goes for all religions. Whenever the Mother Teresas and Benazir Bhuttos of the world speak up and make a difference, progress is made. In order for the world to move forward, the twin demons of extremism and fundamentalism must die out like the dinosaurs.

That’s my two cents.