I am the Joe that spoke to the president on 8/20/09 during Michael Smerconish’s call-in show with President Obama. I start at about a minute into this clip.
The phone call was a garbled from my own fault. I was soooo incredibly nervous about saying what I felt I needed to say to the President, that I forgot to switch from speaker phone back to the regular handset. That is why my voice was bouncing all over the place.
I saw some commentary online saying that somehow things were censored. They were not. That is partially why I am writing this. The other half, is I want to remember this. It’s pretty cool.
When Michael Smerconish asked for suggestions on Wednesday for his Thursday presidential interview, I was able to get through and TC, his aide-de-camp, allowed me on. I touched on the main points that I am a supporter, I am ticked off the message has been allowed to be derailed, and I want the president to get on track with this. Michael liked the phrases about knee-buckling, and the idea “we (Democrats) have the whole shooting match”. I rambled a little bit and he gave me some constructive criticism on the air. He put me on hold and John, one of the producers, took my particulars and said he would call back later, one way or the other.
I have been calling his morning show for about a year. (I was depressed when he was moved from the afternoons to the morning a couple of years back.) This way the first time the communication went the other way.
John called that night to say the Michael liked the tone and word choices enough to throw me in the water. Cloud 9 looks pretty cool. John said he would be calling at 1 o’clock tomorrow to get ready. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I verified 1:00 AM or 1:00 PM? PM was the answer.
Giving somebody 15 hours to re-formulate the question and how to say something to the president is a dangerous thing. I spent the night on pins and needles. I am just one guy with a big mouth. I felt like Ralph Cramden or Fred Flintstone. The nightmare is when the spotlight gets turned on and I’m goin’ “habada habada habada”. A bigger nightmare is insulting or embarrassing a person, either President Obama or Mr. Smerconish, both of whom I hold in very high reguard. Being misconstrued nationally was the biggest nightmare of all.
At 1 PM, the dog was neutralized (in the basement), the kids were watching TV in the family room and I was upstairs answering the phone. John was right on time. I was a wreck. John and I exchanged pleasantries, and I was placed on hold. I could hear the show thru the phone. After about a minute, the show went to break and then silence. I thought I was cut off. I placed the phone on speaker, turned on a TV in another part of the house and hoped for the best. It didn’t appear I was disconnected.
The next voice I heard was Michael introducing me to President Obama. I got the first few words out. I am glad I got both the President and Michael to crack a smile. Then I could hear the phone cutting in and out. I may have been too close to a TV or whatever, but that’s life. I realized it was the speaker phone. There was no way I was going to futz with it. I just knew I had to keep talking. In about 15 seconds (that felt like an eternity) I was off. I went downstairs with the kids and they said it was choppy but everyone got the idea.
It was a blast. Everyone involved was gracious. No one involved told me what to say except to say what they liked about my Wednesday call. Keep it short and sweet, which is common sense when so many others would like to speak to the president.
Since the call I’ve had family and friends call and congratulate me on getting thru. MSNBC, CNN, Huffington Post, FOX, NPR are a few of the venues that I heard where the comments hit.
Those who know me, understand that I am a passionate Moderate Democrat who believes in getting things right. We, Democrats, are in control. If we can’t handle that, the GOP will be more than happy to take the steering wheel next year.
I am not as ticked as before calling into the show. I understand where the President is coming from. He is offering the GOP to become part of the solution. I think most of us would want to see that if the GOP were willing to cooperate.
Instead, the leadership of the GOP has filled their part of the message space with garbage. In the spring of this year the GOP asked for all sorts of concessions on the TARP Bill. They got loads of them. Not one House member voted for it. GOP Governors railed against the stimulus, but are happy to get their pictures taken handing out the oversized checks.
Now that healthcare is on the agenda, we have endless GOP sanctioned drivel from birthers then death panels. They have offered no solutions to the problem, except to scare the hell out of the rest of us.
I think, and suspect many of us think, that the President has taken enough of this foolishness. He has done his part in trying to appease these folks. The rest of us are in the middle with our jaws dropped on the floor while armed protesters freely troll outside venues where the President appears. (Where is homeland security on these guys?)
Our economy is in peril. He has had the tools to fix the problem for the last 6 months. He has allowed the opposition their say and they have not been constructive. I think and hope President Obama will go it as a single political party solution. If there are Republicans who want to get on board, it is time to choose whether you are part of the probelm or part of the solution.
That is why I think I can have a beer tonight and chill out.
I enjoyed my 15 seconds of fame…