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How My Rabbi Told Me Obama’s Outreach Isn’t Serious

When I was young and went to Hebrew school, it was expected that the students would bring in a little bit of Tzedakah, or charity, every week.

Of course, every week, I forgot.

But once in a while, to make up for things, I would arrive with a relatively large amount of cash that I had earned through my various work endeavors on the yards and snowy driveways of our neighbors. And the other students would express awe at the generosity they had just witnessed.

tzedakahOne day I did this, and as the murmuring about my largesse subsided, the rabbi offered me and the others lesson that I never forgot.

He pointed out one of the other students, Carolyn, who quietly and dutifully brought a small amount every week. There was no fanfare, she just gave.

“This is nice,” he said of the money I had just splattered on the table. “But what’s important is remembering.”

I’m always reminded of this when I see someone who has been neglectful – of their friends, their job, their duties, or anything else – suddenly try to make a big splash.

I know that it doesn’t count for much, and that once the brouhaha has passed, the old habits will return, and the true person will reemerge unchanged.

Obama’s current solicitousness toward Congress – he’s been dining and phoning lawmakers and will be on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week – may be for show, or it might be a real attempt to try to get deals on a variety of issues. But it won’t be sustained, and it will only be a matter of time before the stance with which he is comfortable – campaigning and demonizing his opponents – will be assumed once again.

Legislation on issues like immigration may in fact get passed, and some kind of a temporary accommodation may be reached on the budget – though the large-scale reform that is needed probably is impossible with this president. But it will be because Republicans have perceived these things to be in their interest, not because of Obama’s outreach.

Because what’s important is remembering, and Obama always forgets.

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31 Responses to How My Rabbi Told Me Obama’s Outreach Isn’t Serious

  1. You just have to look at Obama’s history/ record over the past four years to understand what’s going on with this so-called “outreach”.

    Just as a tiger doesn’t change its stripes, an Alinsky-Marxist never stops scheming and lying.

  2. Great analogy Keith, and it rings true.

    I’m sure most of us also will remember that it’s the random, anonymous gift that is truly highly regarded in Judeo-Christian theology.

    It’s the person that does something without fanfare (and even stealthily) that helps another which is the best rated, though it obviously hurts the ID and the Ego.

    President Obama never does anything without major fanfare. Every act (except playing golf) is done with a Production worthy of the Olympic Opening Ceremony. In fact, each event he treats (to paraphrase his lunch partner) as a “Big EFF’ing Deal”.

    Yes, his works are for the public but they are so over the top (Children on display, Various constituents of certain ethnicities…). Even private things must be shared (Dates with Michelle, getting her flowers way out of town, Michelle can’t even give out the award for Best Picture without having selected armed forces surrounding her)

    Of course, the President doesn’t believe in Charity, unless its the involuntary kind.

  3. Something happened in the halls of power in DC. The wall cracked, the earth shifted, any cliche will work, but something changed that scared the Obama administration.
    Maybe MrWoodward calling MrO a liar, the truth of Bengazi, questions about the drone policy, sequestration Doom & Gloom predictions, or the backlash at closing the WhiteHouse tours was each or together enough to change MrO’s public direction. He hasn’t changed his base ideology or his penchant for ridicule or sneering distain for the Repubs, but altered his public performance to an artful farce of bi-partisanship out of self-preservation.

    The Dems in Congress who are up for re-election have to put a lot of space between MrObama’s agenda of tax more and spend more to keep support at their local polling places.He didn’t do them any favors with the sequestration armageddon predictions, or shutting down the White house, either.
    The Repubs seem to be playing along with the new nice-guy routine, but they’re just being polite.

      • There’s no argument from me on that. At this point in our country’s financial problems, any little cut, reduction, re-distribution of funds is better than plunging us into a deeper hole.
        The basic difference seems to be the Dems wanting new and bigger spending programs and the Repubs want to stabilze what’s already on the books.

    • Of all the reasons you mention (drones, Benghazi, doomsday predictions) probably the one he jumped the shark on was closing the WH to public tours. They don’t know how to walk that one back either. It reminds me a little bit of when Carter decided the US would boycott the Moscow Olympics.

      • Oh, yes. The boomerang effect. The roadrunner, DC version.

        They’re probably calling in some of the Hollyweird directors to propose scenerios of how they can re-open the tours without looking foolish……..an amazing discovery of cash hidden behind GeorgeWashinton’s portrait, the brave sacrifice of two janitors to take a leave of absence to free up some funds, or the generous contributions of some wealthy patriotic Dems or hip-hop artists .

      • So true, Julie. It was a ‘coup’ of sorts. Can’t believe they didn’t catch themselves immediately – and issue an apololgy. Too late now.

        Just saw a tweet to the first wife: “Can someone volunteer to walk and groom your dog so the WH can be open for our School Children’s tours?”

  4. Since Barack has consistently shown his ass to the American people – especially the right, anything he does is always viewed with suspicion and with the full expectation that everything he does is done for personal political gain.
    In other words the one off “big splash.”

  5. Keith, you learned an important lesson in your youth, unfortunately, Obama did not. He lives for the fanfare because he is his favorite charity.

    During the 2008 primaries when I was supporting another Democrat while debating Obama supporters, I kept asking them “What has Obama done in his adult life that benefitted anyone but himself ?” “And Michelle?” Both seemed to have gaping holes in their resumes and nobody really bothered to fill them in for me. Still haven’t :D

  6. The only comment I have in regard to last week’s ‘outreach’ and sumptuous feast starring Barry and the 12 Pigeons is that they didn’t have to buy a $3.00 raffle ticket! Hope they asked for separate checks!

  7. Keith – what a great story. Yes, it has political applications (the lesson is certainly lost on Obama) but I think your story has much broader appeal and application in our own lives. Thanks for sharing.

  8. “He pointed out one of the other students, Carolyn, who quietly and dutifully brought a small amount every week. There was no fanfare, she just gave.

    “This is nice,” he said of the money I had just splattered on the table. “But what’s important is remembering.” – Keith Koffler

    Here’s a New Testament parallel, also by a rabbi;

    “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Matthew 6:2.
    http://bible.cc/matthew/6-2.htm

    Obama is definitely after the “glory of men”, and he CERTAINLY will “sound a trumpet” every time he throws Republicans – or anyone else – a crumb. And how does Jesus suggest we – Republicans, Americans, the world – view this behavior?

    I believe the word is “hypocrites”.

    Obama’s “Outreach” is just a sham, a public play to try to make the ignorant think HE’S the moderate.

    Here’s another take on it;

    ‘. . .You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just — as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit, as you desired — even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hàma’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the house of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.’ – Theoden, “The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers).
    http://www.thecimmerian.com/gibbets-and-crows/

    Read “Saruman” as “Obama”, and you’re pretty much there…

    THAT’S how Republicans should address Obama’s “Outreach”.

    With outRAGE.

  9. By the way, there was a long, articulate letter in the AZ Republic saying why go to such an expensive place–didn’t the White House have a nice chef? People do notice this stuff.

  10. I have a family member who is constantly using the “C” word ~ CHANGE. I keep being told just how much change has happened, and that I refuse to see it. Thanks for an excellent article with many insights….much appreciated today!