Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Art of Overreacting

We have so many who do it for a living that I find the term "art" sadly appropriate. There are hosts of cable news shows that get paid for and draw quite an audience to their overreactions. They invite overreacting pundits to appear on their show to either agree with, or loudly and rudely disagree with some other overreacting pundit.

Valid criticism aside, we saw a lot of overreacting during the Bush administration and now we are seeing it again with Obama. Most recent is the issue; should the President of the United States be "allowed" to speak to school children by way of video broadcast. To some, this is evidently a great horror.

Now I get the parent or teacher who says that they should have the opportunity to preview any content put before students. But we are talking the President here. We are not talking about Rush Limbaugh or his alternate universe twin, Keith Olbermann speaking to our kids.

The overreaction is almost comical. People in complete ideological agreement with each other and against the President are calling him a Nazi and a socialist. That's like saying he is a member of two opposing street gangs. I guess rhetoric is more important than truth in the art of overreacting.

Let me offer a little pastoral counsel here. Lighten up. If he gives a highly partisan speech, he will be skewered in the press for doing so, and his speech will have the opposite of what one might speculate was his desired result. He is the President for crying out loud. If he wants to talk to school kids, he can. When did we all become so fragile and easily offended by what we think might possibly, who knows, could, but might or might not not happen?

For those who don't like the President, be encouraged. Like all recent Presidents, every time he speaks, his poll numbers drop. Why? I guess ideas that don't sync up 100% with our own scare us. And fear is the key ingredient to the art of overreacting.


  1. amen to this...insane. Since when do we not teach our children to respect the authority God puts before us - whether we voted for him or not!?? Even if we don't agree with his content, then let's have healthy conversation with our children about the speech. But seriously, this is the President, and it's time we as a country learned to respect the man. I respect you for posting your thoughts.

  2. Alan, once again you are the voice of reason. God bless you for your sane, cogent post. I only pray more people would heed your advice.

  3. Amen brother. Intellectual dialogue, even about issues we disagree with, seems to be a dying art in itself. I find it interesting that the overreacting folks were fine when G. H. W. Bush and Reagan spoke in the schools, and by the same token many of those who support President Obama's future speech did not support these Republican Presidents' speeches in the past. As you said, they ARE elected Presidents after all. We could at least hear what they have to say to have an intellegent opinion about it rather than just agreeing with our favorite "overreactor", as you so beautifully put it. I always admire your thinking, Alan.

    Eric Czechowski

  4. Thanks for the thoughts. Our default setting out to be to give the President the benefit of the doubt until we have really good reason not to do so. I don't think we have such a reason. Having said that, if he, as some fear he might, uses his speech as a means of recruiting students to advocate for his version of health care reform, then a very definite line has been crossed and trust will have been violated. But I really don't think he is that dumb.