It seems to me that we are all frequently angered by the stupidity of other people. That is amusing considering most people are not stupid, nor are they bad people.
But half the voting population of the United States does not like the American President all that much. They would throw him out of office if someone who represented a better choice came along.
An increasing number of Filipinos also don't care for President Aquino, even though the economy is fine, defense is stronger than before, and the corrupt are increasingly hiding out.
Both provide stabilizing leadership for their nations after a period of turmoil. In the U.S., the turmoil was economic, brought on by Bush fiscal mismanagement (cutting taxes while funding two wars off budget) and regulatory malfeasance (poorly regulated mortgage risks). In the Philippines, the turmoil was brought on by the trickery of the Arroyo administration which allowed corruption to flourish and culminated in a failed midnight raid on the Constitution, presumably to extend her term in office.
So both President Obama and President Aquino entered office with voters expecting they would do something about the problems, and do it quickly.
And both presidents set about that task.
But you don't turn a nuclear aircraft carrier on a dime, and you don't turn a used coast guard cutter on a centavo. Along the way, both presidents made mistakes. Obama inserted himself into a race issue between a black professor and white police. Aquino oversaw a botched bus massacre.
Now neither of these incidents is material in the grand scope of things. But each incident upset a certain segment of the population, and those people decided they no longer liked this President.
Then the next incident came along. And the next. And then the grand, unrightable trend came along.
- For Obama, the failure to bring down the unemployment rate drove the unemployed . . . almost 10 percent of the population, and their families and friends . . . to conclude "anybody but this guy". Never mind that President Obama brought the planet back from the edge of financial collapse on the strength of his charisma alone.
- For Aquino, his attack on corruption irritated a lot of powerful people, because powerful people in the Philippines are corrupt. So they have been attacking back, from former presidents to priests to retired generals stirring up coup talk. Never mind that investment rating agencies have upgraded the Philippines and investors are now looking for opportunities here.
The beauty of democracy is also its weakness. The beauty is that everyone is entitled to express his opinion. The weakness is that the cacophony of opinion generates a relentless undermining of the Presidency. Thereby weakening the state.
If Obama were Stalin, does anyone in the room think Iran would be so full of bluster? If Aquino were Marcos, does anyone in the room think Chief Justice Corona would have a job?
So in democracy, we are entitled to our opinions, and we hang our opinions on specific incidents that strike us wrongly.
We don't focus on good achievements for, after all, we EXPECTED those. No, we zero in on the incidents in which the President "failed us".
And for some, we quickly go ballistic, go to the wall, go to black and white instead of gray. "What an idiot!" "That socialist Obama." "Aquino is incompetent."
Anyone with an incidental axe to grind paints the President "bad" in one bold ideological stroke.
From one incident, to a broad, largely erroneous, conclusion.
We become the incidental ideologue.
We judge the house by the color of the door. We toss the book based on the design of the cover. We don't eat the pancit because it has red peppers in it.
The reason we do this is because we can't "let go" of the things that peeve us. We view the Presidential mistakes as an insult to us, personally. As if all President Obama or President Aquino had to do were worry about what is important to us.
It is back to the trust issue I wrote about a while back. Trust is so hard to build and so easily undermined. But trust engages two people. The one to be trusted, and the one who must sacrifice a little of himself to let the other guy do things his way.
So I rather think the problems in the U.S. or in the Philippines have very little to do with the Presidents of the two countries.
The problems have to do with us, with our outrageous expectation that the President is in office to cater to us, personally. And any small divergence from our personal expectation is worthy of our total condemnation.
We aren't very loyal, are we?
We aren't very dependable, are we?
We are not very trusting, are we?
To anyone who so easily . . . on the basis of isolated incidents . . . condemns a fundamentally decent man with one of the most intricate and challenging jobs on the planet, I'd say, wow, what Ego you have, or personal agenda. What outrageously unrealistic expectations you have. How obsessive-compulsive you are, not to give your President some wiggle room.
You are in a foxhole with the President and you aren't willing to watch his back?
Who, exactly, is the problem here?