George Graham

The President Keeps Some Disappointing Company

I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. That you must creep before you can walk. That half a loaf is better than nothing. That sometimes you must take a step back to take two steps forward.

My mother told me all that.

And I have borne these ancient truths in mind as I have watched President Obama settle for one lukewarm compromise after another.

I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I want him to succeed. I want America’s first black president to leave a glorious legacy of triumph.

And I have made excuses for him as items on his agenda have faltered time and again.

But my mother also told me that a man is known by the company he keeps.

And therein lies the rub.

Would a “transformative” president surround himself with the likes of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner? Would he have appointed Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department? Or picked one of those notorious Emmanuel brothers from the underbelly of Chicago politics as his chief of staff?

If change is what he is after, these are not the people to bring it about.

Of course, I know he thinks he needs people who “know the ropes” to get anything done in Washington DC.

And I know he has had to negotiate with fellow-Democrats who vehemently oppose the kind of change he promised us.

But why on earth would a president who campaigned the way Obama did appoint a man like Alan Simpson (photo above) as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform?

Simpson, a Republican, has spent his career looking for ways to undermine Social Security.

As a Wyoming senator and chairman of the Social Security subcommittee, he has been at the epicenter of several efforts to torpedo Social Security and Medicare over the years.

So it came as no surprise on Tuesday when he trashed Social Security recipients.

In an offensive email to the executive director of National Older Women’s League, Simpson said Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits.”

He has since apologized for his rude language but not for his contemptuous description of Social Security recipients.

I find his remark personally insulting. I paid into Social Security for many years, and I am legally entitled to the monthly allowance I now receive. I don’t see myself sucking at the government’s teat.

I am deeply disappointed that this is the kind of human being chosen by a president I campaigned and voted for.

It’s getting harder and harder to see Obama as an agent of hope and change.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for