Letter: Focus on what we’re doing right

The “Afternoon of Conversation” on July 1 progressed smoothly and timely. Gen. David Petraeus was held for last, no doubt, to keep patrons to the end. It was well worth it.

Tough questions were not the order of the day. Walter Isaacson remained an expert at political correctness even when the audience was anxious for revelation from the person under the gun.

Hearing Valerie Jarrett called the “moral compass of this administration,” I strained to learn why, but that answer never came. The emphasis was on President Barack Obama’s new charity, My Brothers Keeper, and his quest to level the playing field for people of “color.” Isaacson suggested that we the people believe Obama’s effort to date toward race relations went only “halfway.” He was passionate and vocal, yes, but was he effective? Will that change in his final 18 months? Her counter: “Why is that all on him? Each (of us) should be willing to have that conversation. He’s done much — the question is: What are we (Americans) going to do?” Maybe I am wrong, but I felt she was blaming the audience. It was a significant deflection of the responsibility of the office of president, in my view, to lead.

A panel was assembled to give their personal experiences as Americans of color — diverse, too, with an Asian, a Puerto Rican (but born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, who refers to himself as American) and a token white. A few came from impoverished neighborhoods and families without two parents but have succeeded. A focus was the American Dream — “Is it on the wane?”

Our government has not succeeded in the War on Poverty, dealing more with inputs that enlarge the bureaucracy and increase the use of tax dollars than with outcomes and efficiency, according to Paul Ryan (one of the presenters).

The mantra heard is, “See what we are doing for you.”

We need leadership that reminds all Americans every day that we are a great nation, a nation of opportunity and hope. We are a beacon to the world, not free of problems but certainly far ahead of the alternatives. A person of color, by Obama and Jarrett’s standards — Asian, white or race-neutral and rainbow — is suffering in America. From the talk, you might see us as a Third World country. Certainly further pathways to improvement are needed. However, look around; improvements have been and are being made. Obama says “not enough.” He paints a dark picture of more doom and gloom. If born in poverty, in poverty you will stay, was not said but implied. Yet the panelists have escaped. What must be asked of those Obama has corralled and seeks to be their “keeper” as a “brother” is, “Would you rather be in any other country than America?” If the answer is “no,” then implied must be that this country, this nation, is not in need of a dressing-down by our president. Are the excuses necessary? The emphasis must be on what we are doing right, not on the wrong. Let’s change the conversation.

The leader, if not this one then the next, must instill in people a positive attitude. He must believe in America. He must love it enough to die for it. He must be uplifting and leave all negative thoughts or comments on the cutting-room floor. Our next leader, we can only pray, must work to uphold the greatness of our nation, making it clear that opportunities abound. Incentives to work must overshadow entitlements that discourage development.

We all know we are better than what Obama is suggesting — or is it his “moral compass” speaking?

Tom Balderston

Snowmass Village