Americans Shamed by Obama for Carping?

Greta Van Susteren reported on Monday, December 21, about President Obama’s morning speech. In his speech, he scolded those who are opposed to his health-care bill, and said they need to “stop carping.” Greta went to the dictionary to check up on “carping.” She discovered that the word means “marked by or inclined to querulous and often perverse criticism.”

So the President thinks that if you express concern about his bill, then your criticism is “querulous,” and possibly “perverse.” I believe he said what he believes, even if he didn’t mean to say what he said.

On what basis can the President say what he did if the “carpers” add up to roughly 60% of Americans? I think it’s simple. He believes that he holds the cards. He’s the President. Nobody else is. So his opinion counts more. More than each individual American who expresses disagreement. And more than 60% of Americans collectively.

Backing him up in his judgment is the Democrat block of the United States Congress, both Senate and House. Since they are “in control,” they should have the final say. Right?

Why is it about control? Why isn’t it about representation? Those voting in Congress for the President’s bill have been saying that this bill is in the public interest. In the Monday speech, President Obama said that passage of the bill will be a big win for the American people. But that, apparently, is not how the American people feel about it. The American people don’t agree with the President, who hasn’t been able to persuade them that it’s what they need.

Part of the job of a U.S. President is to take his case to “the American people” and win them over. If he fails in that, it should be an ominous sign that mounting disapproval may be about to plunge further. President Obama won’t win people over by pointing his finger and denouncing them for “carping.”

I wonder if Americans have lower disapproval ratings waiting for President Obama if his bill passes. Why would they wait? Because it’s the American way. Stand pat until the dust settles. As long as it hasn’t happened yet, there’s still the possibility that things will turn around. And in that event, President Obama might be off the hook. But it looks like things will not be turning around. Is this bad news for President Obama and congressional Democrats?

The sooner the bill passes, the sooner we’ll know.

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

6 Responses to Americans Shamed by Obama for Carping?

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Mary Ellen,

    Thanks for the link to your Butterflies and Wheels post. I think that Obama doesn’t (or didn’t) know that BP isn’t “British Petroleum.” But I also think he should have known this. His administration is, after all, faced with a major PR disaster precisely over this oil “spillage,” and he should be exhibiting greater knowledge of relevant details. The public ownership of BP is a a relevant detail.

    Does his slip-up mean that he was jabbing Britain in the eye? No. I have to agree with you about that. But there are other reasons to wonder how determined Obama is to preserve the long-standing relationship of partnership with Britain. This is seen especially by contrast, in his deference toward nations of dubious trustworthiness. (Only the most recent instance of this is his current effort to establish a closer partnership with Russia.) Many Americans have been baffled by Obama’s foreign posture, generally. There’s been some hand-wringing over his practice of literal bowing to certain heads of state, for example. Then there’s the question of his stance regarding Israel. And so it goes.

    Obama may not know what “KFC” or “Kentucky Fried Chicken” refer to. I’d like to think he does. I suspect Britain’s PM does.

    I’m not aware of any broad American sentiment against Britain. I would say that, on the contrary, Americans are pretty fond of the Island Across the Pond.


  2. mefoley says:

    Thanks — if I’d seen the other comments and your suggestion to check the AP, I wouldn’t have bothered you! Duh. Don’t know why I missed that…

    Anyway, the piece is up: “Does the Tar-Spangled Banner Wave Over a Nation That Hates Britain?” on the Butterflies and Wheels web site edited by Ophelia Benson, at (scroll down and watch the left-hand edge of the screen for that title). Or else go directly to my piece using

    I’ve also got a blog post, part of which overlaps the info in that article but part of which is different, at — that one has a pointer to a site where you can pick up a blob the size of the oil pollution (well, the footprint of the oil on the date the application was created; there’s vastly more oil now) and put it anywhere in the world. I tried it in the English Channel.

    I’d love to know what you think about either.

    As for the image, I found blog dated over a year ago using it, so I went with “more than a year old”, although somebody told me it dates from before he was elected. Didn’t have time to check that out.

    Mary Ellen


  3. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi mefoley,

    I can’t give you a confirmed date for the photo. But my post is dated December 2009. So you can be sure it wasn’t taken in a context of direct connection with the BP catastrophe.

    Let me know what you write, or at least where I can find your post for tomorrow! I’m interested in what you have to say.



  4. mefoley says:

    Hope you don’t mind, but I’m trying to track down the date of the photo of Obama on this page, which was used last Sunday in the Times (London) coverage of the BP oil leak. Do you happen to know when it was taken? If not, do you know where you picked it up? Or who took it? I’m *not* being the use-of-photo police; I want to make a point in an article (due tomorrow!) about bias in coverage, and I need to be sure I’m on safe ground in saying that this is a really old picture that the Times juxtaposed with a new story. Thanks.


  5. Doug Geivett says:

    Joe, check with AP (Associated Press).


  6. Joe Papa says:

    Can you tell me where this photo came from? IS it yours? Can I use it or are there restrictions?


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