U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann created a stir last week when his office published a postcard-styled message that “welcomed” President Barack Obama to Chattanooga with arms folded rather than outstretched. The fact that a draft version containing some unfortunate misspellings was attached to the release only excited the reactions, including a breathless rebuke by columnist Roy Exum that contained its own errant keystrokes (including an incorrectly transcribed version of the misspelled “Pensylvannia” from the postcard address).
Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson, a longtime Democratic Party activist, waited a couple of days before penning his own, sincere welcome to the president.
President Obama has chosen Chattanooga’s Amazon.com fulfillment center as the site from which to announce a jobs bargain he wishes to seek with GOP members of Congress.
Much chatter has been expelled about the reasons given by U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and Gov. Bill Haslam for not being in attendance at today’s festivities.
I can actually see the logic in avoiding spending at least a whole working day just to be in some photos, given the short notice and the domino of delays such a schedule change would trigger. But there is also merit in at least asking why an elected official wouldn’t drop everything to stand with the president as he visits one of your state’s most promising cities.
Still, I can accept the practical answer, provided it doesn’t come with snark. (UPDATE: A statement by Corker is gratifyingly snark-free.)
What I find more difficult to tolerate (without saying something) is the outright hatred and disrespect shown by many in the community towards the President of the United States. And here’s where honesty is part of the maturation process: there were moments during previous administrations where I might not have maintained an appropriate level of respect. So the full object of my consternation includes those missteps on my part.
And even though the time should and will come when we need to continue a good discussion with this president about Guantánamo, drones, the War on Drugs, Manning and Snowden, and more…for today, I gratefully welcome President Obama to Chattanooga, and I hope he is able to glimpse from his short visit what a true treasure the Scenic City is, despite some of the loud whining that threatens to embarrass us all.
And I hope the nation’s economy gets a boost either due to or in spite of whatever jobs plan gets implemented.