A Beginner Behind the Wheel

After the Tuesday Oval Office address to the nation, I was grumbling about the speech when my son asked me what was making me so angry. Desperate to find an analogy to convey my meaning in understandable terms, I brought it down to his teenage level.

"Son," I began, "when you first started driving, did we just put you behind the wheel and send you out on the roads?" 

He looked at me with a puzzled expression, shaking his head. "No way, Dad. You made me take a driving class first. Then I had to have a learners' permit for a year. Then I couldn't have any of my friends in the car." 

"Precisely," I told him. "We knew that you had never done this before, so we wanted to make sure you knew the rules of the road. We wanted you to have at least of year of supervised driving experience before you hit the road. You needed to know how long it takes to stop car in an emergency. You needed to know the power behind a five-thousand-pound car hurtling forward at full speed." I was getting to him now. "Son, this president bought his seat behind the wheel, and America gave him the keys without first making him take a test, or a class on the rules. He's pushed the pedal to the metal, full speed ahead, and he never learned how to stop. He didn't have a learners' permit, yet we put him behind the wheel anyway."

I put my arm on his shoulder. "Son, during your first year of driving, did we ever let you go out by yourself?"

Again, the look. "No. You wouldn't let me drive at night, and I always had to have an experienced, licensed driver in the seat next to me."

"Exactly, and why do you think we did this?"

"Because you wanted me to get firsthand experience at driving, and you wanted to see my progress during the year, before you would let me go out by myself. You wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing and that I could get out of tough situations."

"Now you understand what I'm talking about. We wanted to make certain that if you were put in a potential situation, you would know how to avoid it. We also wanted to give you the benefit of our many years of driving experience. Chances are that we've been in most situations, and we wanted you to have that knowledge for your safety. Mr. Obama has not had the good fortune to have any experience at all when it comes to running this country. He is a beginner, and the only "licensed drivers" he's had to teach him are as inexperienced as he is. And most of his teachers don't like the signs and rules of the road in the first place, so they're making up the rules as they drive along. They have all learned from a book or a rally, but none has ever been behind the wheel."

"So you're afraid of where they're driving the country?"

"I couldn't have said it better myself, son. Imagine if we had let you out on the road, all by yourself, with no training, no rules, nothing to guide you. Imagine that you didn't know what the road signs meant or what they required you to do. What do you think would have happened?"

"I probably would have crashed the car and maybe killed some people."

"Exactly. We've also taught you to drive defensively. You always assume that the other guy doesn't see you, and you prepare yourself accordingly. And what have we told you about text-messaging or talking on the cell phone while driving?"

"You said you'd take the keys away if I did it."

"Exactly. Younger, inexperienced drivers under twenty years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. That's why we set the rules for you about this. Now, look at the president. While he should be concentrating on the economy and jobs and the deficit and immigration...what is he dedicating his time and effort to?"

"His golf game?" came the quick retort.

"Well, that's partly right," I said with a dry smile. "He's concentrating on the agenda items that will remake this country into something that he can finally be proud of. He's focused like a laser on health care reform, financial reform, cap-and-trade, regulating the internet, and a myriad of other 'distractions' that prevent him from concentrating on the road ahead. I'm afraid, son, that if he keeps this up, he's going to drive this country over a cliff, and we're all just along for the ride."

"So that's what making you so mad? This guy has no experience, he doesn't know the rules, and he's distracted?"

"Yes, that's why I'm so angry. This guy can't read the signs. He keeps filling the tank with borrowed gas and he, like many teens, thinks that he's ten feet tall and bulletproof and that nothing can happen to him. And he keeps running over one American after another in his quest to get where he's going. This just sounds like an accident waiting to happen."