Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Meaning of Bad Taste

President Obama said it was "in bad taste" for companies to pay out large bonuses while accepting taxpayer money to bail out of a tough economic atmosphere. While I may agree that the appearance is not good, the President and his wife, for that matter, have much to learn about the perception of "taste".

"Bad taste" is the least of our problems as we move to firmer ground with our economy.

There is truly little the administration can do to demand good taste from a corporation. A corporation is not a human being. A corporation is a group of human beings coming together to make a profit. We hope the corporation is providing a service for the profit. We hope they are doing business in an ethical and honest way. There are legal penalties to deal with a corporation if not. However, taste is a quality possessed by human beings, not entities. A human being either has it or not.

Obama's proposed legislation to limit the amount of money in salary to a CEO of a company participating in a bailout doesn't cover the ones who have already received their golden parachutes and bonuses. That's all be written and put into effect.

President Obama, for example, did not show the world much in the way of good taste by saying he "screwed up" in some of his choices of potential cabinet members. The statement was true enough, but, the choice of words was not good. He is President of the United States. Like it or not, the office commands a respectful tone and as President, he is charged with maintaining the tone. Leadership comes from the top.

Hopefully, the President has someone close by that has the wisdom to gently remind the President that his position demands better. It is understandable that he wants to project an image of being one of the guys. The fact is he hasn't lived a life of being one of the guys - whether it was in his education opportunities or in his political career - and his alleged superior intelligence is being put to the test. He should have said he made some mistakes as he took responsibility for them.

Street lingo is fine in its own place. The Oval Office or wherever he is conducting interviews is not the place for it. Yes, the office of President of the United States is the place for old-fashioned decorum.

Michelle Obama is no model of good taste either. On the campaign trail she was known for her ugly statements about our country. With these statements, she completely ignored the goodness of our country. She said she was only now 'really' proud of her country, for example, because her husband was running for President as a serious contender. She shows a level of selfishness not needed in the role of First Lady.

Michelle Obama ventured out to the Department of Education Monday on what is described as a 'listening tour' through the federal bureaucracy. She thanked the employees for serving and to boost morale for their work ahead. "I'm a product of your work", she told them. Unfortunately, this is a misstatement. Michelle Obama was born in January 1964. The Department of Education was created by Jimmy Carter (another disgrace from his term) in 1980. Her public school education in Chicago had nothing to do with the Department of Education.

While at the Department of Education, she also patted herself on the back by saying, "This kind of turnout and enthusiasm is sort of for me, bu, you know, you're behind --(laughter)--but I know you're behind your new secretary."

Yes, Mrs. Obama. You are important and they would all like to enjoy your visit. You will find that people will be thrilled to meet you throughout these next four years. You are the First Lady of the country you are now 'really' proud of and this is your job. Patting yourself on the back for a good turnout is not good taste.

So, someone needs to be honest with Mrs. Obama, too. Tell her that her statements of our "downright mean" country are not appreciated and that most people were grateful to receive a $600 payment in the first of the stimulus of our economy while she was saying that wasn't even enough to buy "a pair of earrings".

The Obama girls are in an expensive private school. While stopping at an appearance at a Washington, D.C. public school Tuesday, the president was quoted as saying, "We were just tired of being in the White House." That according to the article written by Ben Feller of AP. Then Michelle Obama piped in, "We got out! They let us out!" While the teachers and the second graders laughed and clapped for their guests I doubt that I am alone in the thought I had upon reading the article. I thought, well, if they are so unhappy being in the White House after only two weeks, I'll be happy to work to make sure their stay in it is as brief as possible.

When Michelle Obama visited Sidwell Friends School, the one her children attend, one little girl said she would like to have Mrs. Obama's job one day. In typical fashion, the First Lady responded, "well, it doesn't pay anything." How tasteful.

I miss the graciousness of Laura Bush and the humble respect shown by President Bush throughout their eight years in the White House.


Kris, in New England said...

If they want to get out of the White House - I say let them go and certainly let the door hit them on the way out.

srp said...

Where, oh where is the office of protocol? I DO hope someone from protocol tutors these two before the first state visit from a foreign leader! And the Bidens could use a brush up as well!

Did you happen to see Greta's interview with John McCain on Wed. night? He IS a class act, calm, determined..... NEVER asked for any pork for his state. What a mess.... and about to get worse!

I just heard that another one of the cabinet appointees has some TAX difficulties..... wasn't it Biden who said it was the patriotic thing to do to pay taxes? Someone forgot to send the Washington bigwhigs the memo.