Remember back to your school days. All different types of students shared the classroom with you. Usually, the other kids didn't affect your grade much except during group projects. That's when you had to seriously consider what type of students you wanted on your team, not just which you liked as friends. The challenge was to differentiate between the four major types of students: nerds, hard workers, slackers, and posers (the ones who sounded cool, but couldn't back it up). Once you figured out who was who, you could more than likely maneuver your way to a good grade on the group project. Even if you were stuck in a group with slackers and posers, at least you knew where everybody stood and recognized when you had to pick up the slack.
Even though the relationship between citizens and the American government is not set up like a classroom, sometimes when we hear President Obama make one of his speeches, it feels as if we are all on a big group project together. He seems to relish being the leader of the group and so we accept him in that role. Three years into the class project, it's time to reflect back on how things fell into place with Mr. Obama.
Picture the first day of class. Wasn't Obama one of the few students who stood out as really involved and full of optimism? He said "we have to get this economy going again and get people back to work," and we thought that sounded pretty good. So our teacher, Miss America, picked Obama as our group leader and Jobs as the topic of our project.
First, President Obama suggested that the Wall Street group had a similar project topic, the Stock Market, so he'd go talk to them about working together. After befriending many in the Wall Street group, Obama told us that they don't have much to work with at the moment and needed our help now. But don't worry, Obama said, because they'll pay us back with jobs later in the school year. We said "Are you sure we should just volunteer our work to them when we've barely started on our project? They're not even in our group." Obama said we were all in it together, and couldn't let our classmates fail, so he got our reluctant okay. We thought that this Obama must be a really hard worker to get all this done for another group, but we still weren't sure what kind of grade our own project would receive with so much work left to do.
Then around the second quarter of the school year, Obama called a group meeting and said we'd be changing our focus to Healthcare. Wait, we protested, our topic is supposed to be Jobs. He said don't worry, he spoke to Miss America and it's what she wants because working on healthcare reform will help create plenty of jobs. So the group tried, but we couldn't find much agreement. However, since group President Obama really knew what he wanted, and even showed up with a 2000 page report, we figured he must be a really smart guy bound for med school. So we turned in his report hoping to impress the teacher with its sheer size. None of the other groups liked this very much, especially the Doctors and Nurses group who said we should stay out of their project. Meanwhile the Wall Street group was getting good grades on the Stock Market by using our work from last quarter, and Obama disappeared for a while to join the golf team. Although we did work on Healthcare this quarter, we still had no progress on jobs, and our grades were starting to slip.
At the next group meeting, President Obama said that we didn't have a good grade yet because all our old work was costing us too much. He said we should take work back from the other grade-rich groups and step up our own efforts to make up the Deficit. Obama had a Deficit plan, or so he said, but never really let us know the specifics other than earnestly talking in generalities that ate up weeks of project time in class. As we waited for some kind of written outline of his plan and the deadline approached, we thought, this slacker doesn't really have any work done, so we rushed to create something ourselves on the project that wasn't really our best work. Obama went away for vacation with his friends from the Wall Street group and we had to go home with a bad report card.
Over the break, Obama called to tell the students in our group that when he came back, he'd definitely have a plan together to help us finish our project on Jobs. Although we still couldn't figure out what type of student he was exactly, we held out some hope that he'd come through in the clutch. Maybe Obama was a couple types of students in one, we thought. He seemed nerdy and intelligent sometimes, willing to work hard at some areas like on healthcare and the golf team, but then other times he slacked off and waited for others to do the work. He told us he'd have it all by Wednesday and scheduled our group's presentation for then, but it got bumped to the next day since the Potential Leadership group was already presenting. We complained because the big football game was on Thursday, but Obama said don't worry, I'll be done before that. So we said okay.
The big day finally came and although he had nothing written down yet, President Obama said it'd be fine; he had it all memorized. He called the class together, and as he got up and spoke our hope was renewed. We thought these sound like good ideas and he must've done a lot of work on this. As the presentation went on, Miss America seemed disctracted, she'd heard all Obama's ideas before. Although troubling, we thought it'd be okay as long as Obama talked about how he could take all these different proposals, and make them all happen, so that we'd finally have Jobs. Isn't that what a leader does, we figured, turn ideas into action and make sure they're paid for when executed? Surely, he'd cover that in the speech which was otherwise pretty good so far.
When he finally got to the part about paying for all the ideas that would create the Jobs, our whole group waited, hoping Obama was the right type of student. But this hope was unfounded. Obama said that his actual plan for paying for these would be revealed later, probably on Monday, but that we should still accept his project now even though incomplete. But this is the most important part, we all whispered in unison, as our faces fell. Obama quickly mentioned that another "super" group would figure out how to pay for his plan and continued on, but none of us were listening after that. Instead we were all wondering how we'd chosen him as a leader without recognizing what type of student he really was.
Obama seemed cool at first, but now we know he's a poser. Someone who talks the talk, makes great excuses to the teacher, loves to hang out with the other students in the class, but someone who should not be a group leader. At the end of the day, a poser will always fail the group because exaggerated attempts to belong are no substitute for practical intelligence and hard work.