Friday, August 21, 2009

Damn the speakerphone…

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…

Thanks, Michael…



Tom K. said...

Congrats Joe.

Bill Karwin said...

Great job! You said exactly what is on a lot of people's minds.

Though I also understand Obama's efforts to get bipartisan support, because any system can be made to fail if the people running it don't believe in it.

The Democratic Party won't be in the majority forever, so if Republicans also have some commitment to the plan's success, that would be better for all Americans.

Bob Dobbs said...

If we switched to UK system of taxation and healthcare -- which excludes Social Security -- your "Average Joe" family making 50K / year would make an extra 25% (12K) take home wages. I have other calculations on my blogsite.

dm said...

well done!

Dear AL said...

Great to hear that you got through. Now lets see if Obama buckles or takes the bull by the horns.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,

I totally identify with you. I voted for Obama because I thought he would engage the Right more than Hillary. Now I see how hard of a job that is. Thanks for representin' the nerds!

sgp said...

Fan-bloody-tastic. You said what we're all itching to say.

NEWSGUY said...

Yup. My wife and I have been saying, "to hell with the Republicans, get'r done." They are in no mood to cooperate. They have stated clearly they just want to destroy Obama's presidency. His "Waterloo," one of them said.

So why is Obama sucking up to them? It has been a giant mystery to me, and I hope your question will help bring home to Obama that his bipartisan efforts are futile and unpopular.

I cheered when I heard your question

Tracy said...

Well done sir...T

Ellipses said...

Great job Joe! Would you mind if I wrote something up about this on my blog (

No guarantees that I will... Just being polite in case I do.

Shannon said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comments to the President. You have captured what so many of us would have liked to ask.

Bernardo Jurema said...

Hey there! Good job, man! It's refreshing to begin to listen to reasonable voices. Enough with the death panel nutcases.

I'm from Brazil and have been following closely the obama administration.

i hope all the best to fellow americans! C'mon liberals - get out of the closet! :P

Relationship Education said...

Congrats on a great question to the President! I was so glad you voiced what we've been wondering about his resolve to fix healthcare. I especially liked your phrase "knees buckling".

Suzanne said...

Hi Joe, thanks for asking that; I had the same kind of thing in mind. This was my twitter:

@BarackObama #hc09 Why have #hcr at all if there's no P.O.? What would keep ins. co's honest & costs low? We fought for u - fight for us!

Adrien said...

Yes!!! Finally someone got some attention and asked the question that the press seems incapable of asking. They are so fascinated by the circus clowns that show up at the "town hall" meetings that they fail miserably to report what's really going on. You did everyone a service. Thank you!

But I also think that the president is a very astute politician and he can see what it going on. His read on the right and the early Clinton years is right on the money and I think he may pull this off. The alternative would be tragic, depressing and frankly, shameful. Shameful for this country to be incapable of providing for its citizens what the rest of the developed world believes to be a human right.

Go Joe!

betsy said...

Right on!I couldn't agree more. We need to get more voices like yours heard. Thanks

ral said...

I thought you did great! You asked exactly what I wanted the president to hear - I was alone in my living room cheering when I heard you!

Anonymous said...

Dear, Joe

As a 26 year old married man......All I would like from the President, any President for that matter, is for their to be competition amongst insurance/health care providers, so that I can choose what is in my best interest. Not what is mandated by some politician. I clearly do not trust either Democrats or Republicans, history shows that both as Pat Buchanan put, two separate wings on the same bird of prey.


Life Junkie said...

You the man!!! Thank you for voicing what a bunch of us are feeling and doing it WAY more eloquently than I could've done it!

joe the nerd said...

thanks to all you guys for taking the time to read and respond. it is soooo cool.

i am planning on writing a couple of articles over the next few weeks.

i am letting what you guys are saying set in. i want to use my chance properly.