When I was a kid playing sandlot football we would line up and wait for the quarterback to call the signals so that the center would hike the ball and get the play started. The most important task at that moment, for any of us on the line, was to listen carefully for the true signal to the center and avoid being distracted by all of the other numbers and words. As we all knew, if we moved too early our team would be penalized for being “off sides”. In other words, we had to carefully distinguish the signal from the noise. There has rarely been a time in American politics when this has been more important.
As have many of you, I found the events of this past week very distressing. It seems that every time we turned around there was another accusation or scandal. What has been equally infuriating to me is that Obama seemed incapable of acting with authority and decisiveness to respond. His administration seems to have lost direction and the agenda he espoused in both his Inaugural and State Of The Union Addresses seemed to be in tatters. Not surprisingly, the Republicans have been busy at work exploiting this opportunity and have used it to try to unite their many fragments into oneness with a sense of mission. To say the least, there has been a great deal of “noise”.
However, in order to distinguish the “noise” from the “signal” we must not lose sight of the context and the true motivations of the players. In that football game I mentioned earlier, it was the job of the quarterback to confuse the opposition with his count and catch them off guard, just as it is the job of the Republicans to catch this administration off guard and confuse the issues. This is not to say that the events that all seemed to peculate to the top at once are inconsequential. They all touch on matters of import. They all have to be responded to in a swift yet constructive and thoughtful manner. While the President tries to do this, the Republicans will yell that the sky is falling in.
But he doesn’t have unlimited time to act. Politics is heavily wrapped in a blanket of perception. If given the opportunity that blanket will smother reality and truth, and perception will become the new reality. Mr. President , for all of us who worked for you and support you, please act decisively and positively to resolve these issues. Please, do not let perception become the new reality.