It’s high noon, not morning

February 2, 2012


A picture, the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, we have only about 550 with which to appraise a picture that has raised eyebrows across the country: In it, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is seen wagging her finger in President Obama’s face during his visit to her state last week.

The two were apparently engaged in a discussion of Arizona’s controversial immigration laws and of a 2010 White House meeting that Brewer described at the time as “very cordial.” She has since written a book in which she now claims the president’s demeanor was “condescending.”

As to her demeanor in that picture, Brewer says she, ahem, has a habit of talking with her hands. She also says she felt “threatened.” Apparently, she thought the scary black man might hurt her even though he’s president of the United States and they were standing in broad daylight surrounded by security. Good thing he didn’t follow her into an elevator. She might have Maced him.

Perhaps you are old enough to remember when it was morning in America. That was the title of a 1984 campaign ad for Ronald Reagan, but it also came to symbolize an era. Say what you will about Reagan, but credit him with this much: He restored to his party and the nation a sense of vibrant optimism that came as a welcome jolt after Carter’s malaise and Nixon’s crookedness. Nearly 30 years later, as his putative political offspring attempt to claim his mantle, it is obvious by many measures that none of them is Reagan. But the most glaring deficit is embodied in that picture.

It reminds us that Republicans are no longer about sunshine and can-do. These days, they simply seem cranky and dyspeptic. As in Herman Cain vowing to build a fence to electrocute Mexicans, Newt Gingrich verbally punching out the media, and debate audiences cheering for record executions and the death of the uninsured. As in Jan Brewer poking her finger in the president’s face.

Under Reagan, optimism about the future was the Republican brand. But that brand has curdled in the ensuing 30 years, and the party that once sold hope has become instead the party of grouchy codgers yelling at the future to get off their lawn. More to the point, it has become a party of those unable to process the sense of dislocation, the loss of primacy and privilege our present demographic path portends. Thus, it has become the party of resentment and resistance, the last stand against ongoing racial, religious, cultural and sexual upheaval, the Alamo in the fight to forestall change.

This is why a Jan Brewer feels herself empowered to wag her finger in the face of the president. And why the charisma-challenged Mitt Romney spends long weeks out in the cold looking for love like a character in a country song while bomb-throwing zealots who would have been laughed out of previous elections take turns playing frontrunner.

They will likely settle for him, but what Romney offers is not what many in the Republican electorate evidently seek. At bottom, they seem less concerned with competence or a new economic plan than with finding a gunslinger for a showdown against the future.

Ronald Reagan would not recognize his party today. Morning in America is almost 30 years gone. It’s high noon now.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. His email is lpitts@miamiherald.com.


Armstrong 6 years, 2 months ago

 Reagan did unite the country and rally the economy to the biggest boom in recent history.   Between all the bashing of the current republican cast and clearly absent critique of the current " leadership " Pitts failed to capture the true essence of of his piece.  His title should have read  "Actions speak louder than words".

 Compare the two Presidents, both inherited similar economic situations. The difference, well history speaks for itself. Reagan delivered results, Obama to date ( dont get me started ) let's just say all powder - no lead.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Tripled the national deficit.

But I guess that doesn't matter when a Republican does it.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago


National "debt", not "deficit".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Reagan did nothing to revive the economy for the 99%-- to the contrary, he started the class warfare that's only accelerated ever since-- and even a significant number of Democrats have jumped on that bandwagon.

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

Spoken like someone that doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 2 months ago

Obviously, you must work for a right wing group because that makes absolutely no sense.

Which explains your current group of candidates for President.

They make absolutely no sense.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 2 months ago

Brewer simply reflects many Americans' attitudes about Obama. Based on reports from both sides of the aisle, he can be extremely condescending toward people with whom he deals. He was publicly condescending toward members of the United States Supreme Court in his 2010 State of the Union address, conduct which he may later come to regret.

rtwngr 6 years, 2 months ago

President Obama is the height of arrogance. The tarmac was not the place to express his exception to the way Gov. Brewer described their White House meeting. His arrogance exudes every action he undertakes. The only thing he has done correctly is allow the military to undertake the operations it recommends. They are his only sound adviser.

His immaturity has allowed this country to flounder and, soon, there will be no turning back.

BigAl 6 years, 2 months ago

Please notice rtwngr that it isn't Obama with HIS finger in her face. Quite the opposite. If he had done that to her, you far-right lockstep non-thinkers would be going berserk.

BigAl 6 years, 2 months ago

I think Pitts has a point. A few years ago I felt like the Democrats swayed a long distance from the party of Truman and Kennedy. Now, I feel like the Republicans have traveled a long distance from Reagan and Bush (the elder). In today's Republican party, Ronald Reagan would not, could not, get elected. He raised taxes and the national debt. Where was the tea party then?

John Edwards is considered, rightfully so, a low-life scum-bag for his extra marital escapades. These escapades are very similar to Newt Gingrich's but Gingrich is running a close campaign within the Republican party for President. How does that happen?

I still believe that most Americans are middle of the road type thinkers. Where and who is their candidate?

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

"The man needs a scolding"

Hmm - interesting wording. Do you feel you are Obama's parent now?

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

So now you are saying the President would have Romney killed?

Is this really the civil discourse the LJWorld is aiming for?

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

Your play on the word "thug" is even more revealing.

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

Governor Brewer was out of line. She was there to greet the President, not take the few moments to push her agenda and get in his face. She isn't even qualified to be a WalMart greeter.

This is what happens when the GOP pushes and elects people who can't even conjugate verbs properly. 'What we have did for the state ..." Good god. This governor makes Sarah Palin look like Mensa material. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUPKKb...

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

When people hate as much as you do, there's often a component of projection involved - Jung called it "projection of the shadow".

It might be in your interest to consider that the very qualities you see and hate in Obama are in fact qualities you possess but are unable to integrate into your self-concept.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

That's highly unlikely, especially given the level of your hatred for him.

Dig a little deeper.

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

"Apparently, she thought the scary black man might hurt her even though he’s president of the United States and they were standing in broad daylight surrounded by security. Good thing he didn’t follow her into an elevator. She might have Maced him."

And there goes Fonzie, sportin' leather, skis akimbo, jumpin' the shark.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

You've been waiting so long to use that line that you couldn't restrain yourself any longer, and just threw it in here to get it out of your system, right?

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

Um, no. Why? Is that what you do? That might explain a few things.

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

Smooth segue from ad hominem to toddler retort. Riveting as always, bozo.

grahambailey 6 years, 2 months ago

seems like the President picked the arena, the Governor picked the weapons. Pitts often makes goodpoints, this wasn't one of them. Mid article he depicts the republicans with their ongoing racism, yet feels necessary to play the race card himself in his opening thoughts. The Pres being a "scary black man" has little to do, actually nothing, with the issue.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 2 months ago

"high noon" is a coded appeal to Gary Cooper.

Getaroom 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh my Toto, I think we must be back home finally and look how sophisticated the racism is here in Kansas. They don't even use the "n" word in public! Gosh, what a fine group of people.

Ceallach 6 years, 2 months ago

On more than one occasion our president has shown himself to be a petulant man/child, while Pitts is just a petulant old man.

Ceallach 6 years, 2 months ago

Yes, apparently you do not.

pet·u·lant [pech-uh-luhnt] Show IPA adjective moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance

The man is constantly crying about what he "inherited." He inherited nothing! He was a senator, and as such knew much more than you or I about the state of the country. He bid for and was granted a contract with this country, one he has failed to meet.

voevoda 6 years, 2 months ago

its_just_math, You need to learn to refrain from blasphemy in expressing your political opinions. "The Anointed One" is the sacred title of Jesus Christ, and your use of it as a term of abuse is deeply offensive.

Ceallach 6 years, 2 months ago

A geek, oh no! You need to thank him, its_just_math.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 2 months ago

The modern translation of "uppity black" is now "condescending".

Definition: Not knowing one's proper place.

Ceallach 6 years, 2 months ago

Cite the source for your definition. Otherwise, it should be

con·de·scend    [kon-duh-send] Show IPA verb (used without object) 1. to behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity. 2. to stoop or deign to do something: He would not condescend to misrepresent the facts. 3. to put aside one's dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior: He condescended to their intellectual level in order to be understood.

Dictionary . . . . Dot Com

Armstrong 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad I will never go into battle with any of the left posters. Attack Reagan, attack the right, attack each other and not one post to defend Obamas record. Regardless of the fact Obama has no record to defend it is hysterical not one bothered to put up even a half heatred arqument for the next ex-president of the US-IOU formerly known as USA

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure they're/we're equally glad to not be going to war alongside you - any reasonable person is always glad to not be a soldier in battle.

My comment about Reagan wasn't an "attack", it was a correction to your post praising him as a great president economically - there are many other reasons that's incorrect, but the tripling of the national debt is a large and obvious one. Why is it that if a Republican president does that, it's no problem, but if a Democratic one increases the debt even a little bit, it's a huge issue?

Obama is better than the alternatives I've seen, both in the previous and the next election.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Reagan = borrow and spend,borrow and spend,borrow and spend,borrow and spend

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

Starting in 2003, George W. Bush destroyed the world economy by encouraging U.S. banks to make loans to those who could not afford them, through schemes such as the "American Dream Downpayment Initiative".

Also through the destruction of oversight, such as lawsuits to prevent state securities laws from being enforced on Bush's watch.

Once Bush's policies led to their inevitable result of economic collapse, the United States found itself in a situation where it had to take on debt in order to restore the economy.


Flap Doodle 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow, it's been days and days since you copy/pasted this tripe.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 2 months ago

Jan Brewer has a screw lose. Is this behavior any surprise?

Like children and the mentally impaired, she cannot be held responsible for her actions.

Armstrong 6 years, 2 months ago

Still no Obama defenders, interesting. O can't run on his record and still you want to vote for him why ?

Koolaide answer - Because he's a Democrat. Like the logic kids

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

He's better than the alternatives.

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