*The next time they screen movies at the White House, they should run a double feature of “Rocky III” and “The Lion King.” These two films could both challenge and inspire President Obama as he labors against his entrenched, uncompromising conservative opponents.
One of the better entries in Sylvester Stallone’s boxing saga, “Rocky III” is a fitting metaphor for Mr. Obama’s bruising battles with the Tea Party-led Republicans. “III” finds Stallone’s fictional champ, Rocky Balboa, struggling to recapture his courage and fire after a humiliating loss to the brutal challenger, Clubber Lang (Mr. T in his starmaking film debut). Sagging under the weight of self-doubt, Rocky mumbles during a depressing sparring session that he will train harder tomorrow. Former champ-turned-coach Apollo Creed (the charismatic Carl Weathers), shouts down at the self-defeating Rocky, “There IS no tomorrow!”
President Obama keeps promising us that he will fight for our interests…tomorrow. He told us that after he removed the public policy option from his healthcare reform initiative. He told us that last November when he opted not to make tax cuts for the wealthy a central, driving issue in the midterm elections. He told us that this summer after he agreed to Tea Party demands during the debt ceiling debate (even though some 70% of Americans favored his idea of balancing spending cuts with tax adjustments for corporations and wealthy individuals).
None of these give-aways appeased the President’s Republican opponents. But they have eroded the enthusiasm of his supporters. Frustration with Mr. Obama’s unwillingness to fight explains why Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus are on the President’s case. It’s the reason AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says his union will significantly reduce its financial support for Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party. And it is the reason that President Obama’s approval ratings have declined sharply among his base voters (including African-Americans whose support for Obama has plummeted from 95% early in his Presidency to 83% in the most recent Gallup poll in the last week of August).
There is no tomorrow.
When Rocky climbed into the ring for his rematch with Clubber Lang, he knew he was in for the fight of his life. By then he had regained the “eye of the tiger” and he took the fight to his foe, ultimately vanquishing him in a flurry of fearless blows. This is what President Obama must do. Like Rocky, the President is facing a mortal enemy. The Tea Party-led Republicans who are battling him relentlessly on every point of policy and political philosophy are committed to politically destroying Mr. Obama and everything he represents.
President Obama needs to face the fact that he is at the make or break point. If he continues to let his opponents run roughshod over him, then he will deflate his allies on The Hill, alienate his supporters in the electorate and get voted out of office next year. But, if he straightens up and fights for what he believes in, then the President will energize the Democrats in Congress, inspire his voter base and win re-election.
Which brings us to why I’d like President Obama to watch Disney’s “The Lion King.” (The movie returns to theaters in 3D on September 16 and comes home on Blu-Ray Hi-Def and Blu-ray 3D on October 4.) There’s a stirring scene in that animated epic where Mufasa, the powerful and wise monarch, tells his impetuous young son, Simba, that the innumerable stars flashing in the night sky are, in fact, great kings of the past who are watching from on high. I’d like President Obama to gain courage from the great heroes of our past who are no doubt urging him on from the great beyond. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, Cesar Chavez, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Samuel Gompers and countless others are watching our President – along with all of us – and they’re admonishing him to keep the faith, to make the sacrifice and to fight boldly.
When he does this, President Obama will find allies will rise up in every corner of the country, just as they did when he ran for President in 2008.
Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.