Wednesday is President Obama’s 49th birthday (he probably feels a lot older after a year and a half in the White House). Good timing because Congress just left for its August recess (Democrats, that is – Republicans are always on recess), so maybe the president can relax a little.

He deserves a break. He’s been working pretty hard. In a year and a half, he’s done more than the previous president did in eight years. Of course, a lot of it involves undoing the mess President Bush left in his lap.

A good birthday present for the president, then, would be to stop blaming the guy who’s trying to clean up the mess and put the blame on the guy who created it.

An even better present would be showing support. He inherited the worst conditions of any president since FDR in 1932 and has done remarkably well, considering. President Obama shouldn’t be mindlessly supported, of course, but neither should he be mindlessly opposed. The last president never earned our support. This one has.

Eliminating the wild exaggerations, hysterical overreactions and outright lies would be fine gifts. Fighting fair would be deeply appreciated.

In the old Chrysler commercials back in the 1980s, Lee Iaccoca used to say, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Since Republicans were a disaster as leaders and since they clearly have no intention of following, one of the best gifts they can give our president is to get out of the way.

Ronald Reagan’s supporters used to say, “Let Reagan be Reagan.” Letting Obama be Obama would be an equally generous present.

Here’s another good gift for Republicans: Try saying “yes” once in a while. Honest, it won’t kill you.

The president’s critics are all about the deficit. They didn’t applaud President Bill Clinton, despite the fact that he reversed our longstanding deficit trend, leaving a budget surplus when he departed. But they voted for President Bush (twice), despite policies that resulted in record deficits (even before TARP). Now they oppose everything President Obama is doing (including extending unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs in the Bush economic collapse), primarily, they say, out of concern for budget deficits. But they want to continue cutting taxes for the wealthy even though that will dig the deficit even deeper.

The inconsistency, to say the least, is glaring.

Consistency would be a lovely gift.

Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and all the other media motormouths could give the president a terrific present: Shut up. Either that or have their brains (and hearts if they have them) surgically reconnected to their mouths. Maybe with health care reform they can do that.

The media’s best present would be to stop giving so much coverage to unethical bloggers and crackpots who doctor videos or otherwise twist facts to assassinate the character of good people like Shirley Sherrod. The media might also stop reporting right-wing propaganda as if it were news.

Fox News could try being fair and balanced – for once.

The president’s supporters, meanwhile, could give him a wonderful present by not cowering in silence or moping because he hasn’t gone as far as they would like. A show of support would be a great gift. Speak up. Show some faith.

A little credit where credit is due would be a fine present from critics and supporters alike. Constructive criticism is OK, but it’s also OK to point out he’s doing a hell of a job under the circumstances.

Cooperation and collaboration are the best gifts of all.

No, that’s not true. Putting yourself above petty partisanship for the sake of the country, that’s the best gift of all.

No, wait. Bridging our divisions and restoring the Union is the best gift.

Overall, assessing this president is a little like regarding the prospect of getting older with each birthday:

He sure beats the alternative.

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