The White House
President Barack Obama urges Americans to find time to volunteer this summer. Couldn't the president have made this suggestion before Memorial Day -- traditional start of summer. Schedules and plans for summer fill up real fast -- for those who aren't doing two or three jobs that don't give them much time to volunteer.
The latest round of polls are out and there is something of a consensus between New York Times/CBS News and NBC/Wall St. Journal polls. They say more or less the same thing: Obama the Man is the Sally Field of politics. Americans like him, they really, really like him.
Only problem is that, after six months, the public isn't so sure about the policies. Or wonders if there is too much being taken on. Or is concerned about the level of deficit spending. And there is some definite unrest coming from certain parts of his base, from his failure to be more assertive on some issues.
Stipulating that all this may be true, is it possible that Obama's biggest worry is that not only is he putting a whole lot on his agenda, he's putting too much on the public's plate too. Look, the attention-span of the average member of the public isn't that high in the best of times. But with a couple of wars going, a deep recession, multiple hot spots in the world and goodness knows what else, it's asking for quite a lot for the public to also figure out what the best health care reform might be -- and if there should be a "public option" or not.
But even this list isn't enough for the administration. What may turn out to be the final straw for the American public -- what indeed may actually cause people to fall out of love with him -- was the announcement this week that the president wants Americans to volunteer.
Specifically, he wants people to volunteer this summer.
It might seem like a small thing to make this request specific (it's not the first time Obama has called for the country to become more "of service" to the less fortunate): But, the average person is likely thinking, "Ya know, it would have been nice if the president had come up with this idea -- volunteering in the summer -- a month or two ago!!" Does he realize how complicated people's lives are? Does he know that middle-class couples with kids have had camp, vacations, summer school and goodness knows what else all planned out weeks in advance?
Or those who are in more shaky circumstances: The economy being what it is, a lot of people are taking second and third jobs just to help make ends meet. Such people might like to volunteer, but they're having quite a time just keeping their own heads above water.
Average Americans don't have a scheduler like the President of the United States -- that's why they have to get their plans set out with lots of notice.
And, one more thing: The optimistic "Yes, we can" generation that arguably elected Obama -- they are already doing a whole heck of a lot of volunteering. They don't need to be told by the president to do this. It's already in their DNA.
These kind of pronouncements sound a little, dare we say it, paternalistic? Maybe the POTUS should re-think this approach -- or at least get his own schedule together so he knows enough to put forth these ideas a few weeks ahead of time.