From My Armchair

December 2, 2009

in Whatever

A Hillbilly's Library And ArmchairIn a very busy schedule I devote some time and effort to a blog for which I receive no monetary remuneration. Why?

I have a degree of knowledge and experience in some of these areas. My intent is to share the resulting, hard won perceptions on matters I consider important. Others have different backgrounds and differing perceptions.

Admittedly, I derive a measure of satisfaction from providing viewpoints that readers might not otherwise consider. The blog has received as many as 577 visits on a single day. I value each and every reader.

Sadly, I have only two readers who are inclined to provide feedback on a regular, or irregular, basis. These two are highly prized. They are not prized because they always agree. I am a true iconoclast. If someone agreed with me on every matter, one of us would be unnecessary.

Therefore, a recent comment from one of the two disturbs me greatly. To reiterate, my discomfort is not the result of a disagreement. It comes from a misapprehension of my intent.

I feel compelled to respond in a longer format than would be appropriate in the comment area. I wrote what for me was a short blog on areas of disappointment I have with the President. Cheryl’s response was succinct: “Who are you and what did you do with Crawford?” I devoted the next four posts to elaborating on those areas.

Cheryl then sent me the following comment:

I don’t know, but it seems like everyone wants to play arm chair President. My goodness, the country is a mess. He cannot do everything at once. He cannot wave a magic wand and fix everything in one clean sweep. It’s not like the president has authority to just change everything he desires. I am really tired of everything he does getting picked apart by everyone. I am astounded (yeah, I know I shouldn’t be) by how unfaithful people are to others. I voted for President Obama and I, for one, am standing behind him. He has already done much good. Why does everyone think it’s their obligation to trumpet how they believe he handles every matter?

I don’t know how to send this privately, so I’ll just have to send it this way and you can ‘moderate it.’ I am deleting this site from my favorites because I am tired of all the negativity about our president. I really bet there are a couple of things he’s doing well. Thank God we don’t have McCain and that silly traveling ex-governor in the White House. “Bomb bomb bomb Iran?” “I can see Russia from my house so I know how to protect America.” Yeah, that would be much better, huh? Well, keep all the trashing of Obama and we’ll get another 8 years of what we just had.

First, anyone is welcome to send me a private email at


As you say, the country is a mess and he cannot do everything at once. I could not agree more and I don’t believe in magic. Many people do expect the President to accomplish matters that are actually the responsibility of the Congress or others. As one who has held public elective office and holds a degree in Political Science, I am not in that group.

All presidents are the focus of the citizenry, and rightly so. That focus is for hopes, dreams and ideals. They are also the focus of criticism. Given that presidents are human, some of that criticism will be warranted. Some will not be justified. Obama has been the target of far more than a fair share of the later. But criticism can be constructive and instructive. I hope that all of mine so qualifies.

I too voted for Obama. But, I voted for what he represented more than for him as an individual. The presidency is not an individual. He is the embodiment of the executive obligations of our system. From my training and experience I see the role of the citizen to require participation in a public dialogue. It isn’t just our right. It is our obligation. That dialogue is, or should be, the energy that drives our system. It makes it possible to improve upon what the Founding Fathers gave us.

We have made improvements: abolition, women’s rights, civil rights and others. But, as you said, the country is a mess and requires considerably more improvement. I would not consider myself a responsible citizen were I to just accept matters as they are.

I don’t see myself as being unfaithful. If a friend had a booger hanging from his nose, I would consider it an act of friendship to tell him. Sure, Obama does many things well. He is an improvement of several magnitudes over his immediate predecessor and several less immediate ones.

Having been a journalist, I have heard the frequent complaint of the dearth of ‘good’ news. News is, almost by definition ‘bad’ news. We shouldn’t stand around waiting to read a news item that a dog didn’t bite a man.

I too get tired of all of the criticism, mine included. It is personally debilitating and enervating. When I began this blog I listed nine topic areas plus the catchall of Whatever. I desperately want to comment on many other subjects but the economy, healthcare and war have dominated the national dialogue.

I have, on too rare occasions, commented on the deaths of two friends, my college English professor, my trip to Scotland, etc. Believe it or not, I have other interests on which I would like to pontificate. I feel acutely that I am becoming Poor Johnny One Note. I would welcome questions from readers on the other listed topics and suggestions for posts that they might enjoy.

I hope that my criticism is more than simple complaining. I intend it to be instructive. I want to provide information and background and a different, considered perspective for readers who must devote their energies to responsibilities and interests that don’t leave them the time and opportunities I have had on the discrete subjects of my posts.

I hope, not that you find my takes always correct. Rather, I hope that they may provide the impetus for the reader to explore their own position in a different, hopefully broader, context.

I do have one special point of appreciation for President Obama. I will be eternally grateful to him for saving the country from McCain and his biggest mistake.

If you need to cut down on your dosage of negativity, I’ll understand but I hope you only reduce it, not eliminate it.

I appreciate the chance to speak to your concerns and hope I assuaged them to some extent.

Crawford Harris - Polymath


Cheryl Simpson Nelson December 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

and now we agree!

Ed December 3, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Ah, that’s nice. See? We can all get along, if we really try.

Cheryl Simpson Nelson December 3, 2009 at 5:49 am

Thank you for the time you took to explain and to also let me know you appreciate my replies. I will not ‘delete’ your site. Didn’t mean it as a threat, okay? I mainly want to let people know that occasionally it is good to pat someone on the back when they succeed at something. There’s not nearly enough of that where the president is concerned. To me, President’s presence in the White House is enough to have given him some grace before so many knocked every thing he does. When I think of Sarah Palin being vice president right now it physically turns my stomach. I even imagined McCain giving the “Afghanistan Speech.” Oh good god, can you imagine the rest of the world watching that???? Anyhoo, I guess I’ll get over my little pity party soon and figure out a way to add to the solution instead of whining about it. PS, yes if I had a booger I’d truly want you to let me know. And I also would appreciate when you tell me that I did a good job when I fixed someone else’s problem for them. I truly like your site. Thanks for all the effort you do for me and others to remain informed. I washed my face and sat up a little straighter. I’ll be a grown up again now. 🙂

Crawford December 3, 2009 at 6:45 am

From now on it might be better to take advantage of the privacy of email for the discussion of boogers and Sarah.

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