“It doesn’t make me mopey. It energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.” – President Obama, commenting after the Democrats got their butts kicked at the polls on Nov. 4
Dear White House staff members,
Some of you have privately expressed concerns about my mood in the wake of the midterm elections. Let me repeat what I stated in my press conference:
I am not mopey, which the Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines as “given to or displaying a resentful silence and often irritability.”
Let me be clear: My silences are not resentful. They are thoughtful, contemplative, occasionally reflective – but never, ever resentful.
Same goes for irritability, which you can look up for yourself. I’m definitely not irritable.
Are there any less enthralling lunch companions in my future than Mitch McConnell? Would I rather spend the time having my molars yanked out with rusty needle-nose pliers?
Well, sure. But I’m not irritated about it.
True, most of the Democratic candidates I campaigned for ended up getting trounced. And, yes, we blew some close races and lost control of the Senate, which pretty much dooms all my legislative goals for the final two years and casts a pall on my presidential legacy.
Am I disappointed? You bet.
Mopey? Ha! No way.
Nor am I the least bit gloomy, morose, dour, touchy, testy, cranky, snappish, brooding, peevish, grumpy or cross. Those are not adjectives that I wish to see in print describing my current frame of my mind.
This democracy is working. America now has a Democratic president and a Republican Congress, which means our government is finally in pure karmic alignment. Absolutely nothing will get done!
Crunch the numbers yourself – I won’t have enough votes to get any new bills passed, and the other side won’t have enough votes to override my vetoes of their bills. Presto! The executive branch and the legislative branch basically cancel each other out.
It’s like a monster truck pull with both trucks stuck in neutral. In a way that’s the purest balance of power, when nobody has enough of it to make anything happen.
Maybe that’s what our wise Founding Fathers had in mind: Unbreakable gridlock. No foul, no harm.
I want all of you who work in the administration to be as excited about this new era of hopeless intransigence as I am. Remember, history will judge us not only on what we aren’t able to accomplish, but on how energetically we don’t accomplish it.
Perhaps some of that fiery populist spark that I showed during my two campaigns for president was missing during this past election cycle, as I was distracted with the ISIS threat, Ebola and Ukraine.
I admit I was off my game.
And though I’m sometimes criticized for being too aloof and isolated, I’ve never been accused of just moping around feeling sorry for myself. I renounce mopey-ness, and will not tolerate any of it in my staff.
So let’s lay the dreaded M-word to rest, square our shoulders and focus on the future. We’ve got a big job ahead, and practically zero chance of getting it done.
Our choices are clear. We can meekly stand still, or we can proudly run in place.
My message to you: Put on your Nike cross trainers, and let’s go!
Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald.