Mr. President, we’re here today because you obviously have a serious issue with your anger.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m the best anger manager that you’ll ever meet.”
That’s the problem, sir. When the American people get angry, they’d like to know that you’re feeling what they’re feeling. They’d like to see you lose your temper once in a while. Staying cool and unflappable during a crisis is fine, but sometimes overmanaging anger can be just as unhealthy as undermanaging it.
“Of course I get angry. I get darn angry.”
And how might we know when that’s happening, Mr. President?
“When I say things like, ‘Hey, I’m just as angry as everybody else.'”
Clearly we’ve got some work to do. Let’s pretend this is a nationally televised press conference. I’m going to say a phrase as an anger prompt, and I’d like you to react spontaneously, emotionally, straight from the gut.
“Fine. Fire away.”
The first prompt is: Government shutdown.
“Reckless. Partisan. Blackmail. Unacceptable –”
Sir, with all due respect, dour disapproval isn’t the same thing as anger. The shutdown instigated by the House of Representatives caused more than $20 billion in damage to the country’s economy. Didn’t you see the growth figures from last quarter?
“Yes, very disappointing. The whole thing was disappointing and unnecessary.”
Disgraceful is the word you’re looking for, Mr. President. Disgraceful and pathetic. The American people were highly ticked off by the shutdown and it would have been heartening for you to act ticked off, too.
“You mean like throw an ashtray at Boehner? Or flip the finger at Ted Cruz? Let’s be clear, doctor, that’s just not me.”
All right. Here’s another anger prompt: NSA spying scandal.
“Well, let me reiterate that I didn’t know our intelligence agencies have been tapping the phones of important allies such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Apparently this practice has been going on for decades.”
But doesn’t it make you mad as a hornet that you weren’t in the loop? I mean, you’re the commander-in-frigging-chief of the most powerful democracy on the planet!
“I’ve strongly expressed my concerns to all those involved.”
Your “concerns”? This is sort of a big deal, sir. Did you ever think about firing somebody for not telling you this stuff, so you wouldn’t have to read it first in the newspapers?
“Hey, I’m just as angry as everybody else.”
You’re killing me. Seriously. Let’s try another universal anger prompt: The Obamacare rollout.
“Frustrating. Unacceptable –”
No offense, sir, but those are words of annoyance, not anger. This is a perfect example of why we’re having this therapy session.
Kathleen Sebelius, the head of Health and Human Services, testified that the rollout has been a “debacle.” Why couldn’t you say something like that?
After all, the Affordable Care Act is your baby, the signal legislative achievement of your administration. You should be mad as hell!
“I am actually madder than hell.”
Then say so, Mr. President. Blow your stack. Lose your cool. Stand up and snarl that the rollout’s been a total cluster! Disaster, fiasco, nightmare, train wreck — pick up a thesaurus, dude!
Your website crashed harder than Charlie Sheen on a coke binge. Some poor souls have been waiting so long to sign up for health insurance that they’re now old enough for Medicare.
Really, Mr. President, who was your hotshot IT expert — Larry the Cable Guy? I mean, there are Ukrainian porn sites that work about a thousand times faster than yours.
“Calm down, doctor. Take a deep breath.”
Sorry, sir. Give me a minute.
“If somebody had informed me the Obamacare site wasn’t ready to be launched, I certainly would have postponed the rollout day.”
But doesn’t that make you furious? Isn’t your blood boiling? Don’t you want to strangle someone?
“Look, we’re moving forward. We’ll get this thing fixed.”
Right, Mr. President, but in the meantime it’s all right to pitch a fit and fire the chowderheads responsible for this mess. In fact, it would be a perfectly normal reaction….
“Hey, I’m just as angry as everybody as else.”
“Where are you going, doctor? That window’s locked.”
(Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.)
AFP Photo/Saul Loeb