Tonawanda News

January 31, 2014

LEFFLER: Perception is everything in politics, life

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’ve said before that if President Barack Obama cured cancer there are some people who would find fault with it. It’s not just Obama, mind you. We all have our detractors.

If your worst enemy was crossing the street with a handful of packages and you offered to help, they’d probably turn you down. They’d later tell all their friends that you tried to rob them.

Now, I’m not saying that the president has a cure for cancer. Nor am I saying that you tried to rob your worst enemy. But Tuesday night, President Obama took to the podium to lay out some plans to move this country forward — at least that’s how Democrats saw it. Republicans heard a completely different speech.

“Unfortunately, President Obama did not talk about plans for economic growth, like fundamental tax reform, energy independence, or significant changes to ObamaCare,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence. “We could immediately bolster our nation’s economy by changing ObamaCare’s definition of a full-time work week from 30 hours back to the traditional 40. And we could repeal the medical device tax, which is hurting American manufacturers. But we didn’t hear any of these solutions from the President. Instead, we heard more ‘big government knows best’ solutions that are paid for by borrowing more money from China.”

Compare that with Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s press release: “President Obama presented a compelling plan of how to achieve real opportunity for all hard working Americans. There is no doubt, the state of our union will grow stronger when every middle class American has a fair shot to earn their way ahead in our economy, and the next generation is equipped with the skills they need to reach their full economic potential.”

So … were they at different speeches?

I have a feeling that, as is often the case, both press releases were written before the commencement of Tuesday’s State of the Union address and the send button was hit just as the president was saying “and God Bless the United States of America.”

I also have a feeling that Collins’ press release would have remained unchanged even if the president announced the cure for cancer. And Gillibrand’s would be the same even if President Obama revealed that he truly is the closet terrorist many on the far right seem to believe him to be.

Perception is everything in politics. And life. We are defined not by our own actions but by how others see those actions, sadly.

In other words, you just can’t please all the people all the time. So when you’re doing whatever it is you do, building your legacy, do what you think is right, not what you want other people to think is right. 

Contact Scott Leffler at scott.leffler@tonawanda-news.com or on Twitter, @scottleffler.