Saturday, June 04, 2011

All according to plan

Back during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when the race had come down to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a bit of right-wing common wisdom started wafting around the Internet that went something like: "I feel sorry for whoever wins the Democratic primary. If it's Obama, and he wins the election, we'll never have another black President; if it's Hillary, and she wins, we'll never have another female President." The thinking was that the state of the U.S. economy, and the collapse of economies around the globe, and the burden of fighting multiple wars, and the general contempt in which the U.S. was held worldwide, would all prove to be too much for any President to resolve in a single term, and whoever got the job would be doomed to failure and would be, at best, a one-term President, with the Presidency passing back into Republican hands in 2012 as the Democratic leadership took the fall for failing to unmake the mess that they were bequeathed in 2008.*

I countered that, if this line of reasoning were to be followed through to its logical conclusion, then we would never again see a white male Protestant in the White House, either, considering their cumulative track record that had brought us to this point. At best we could hope that some sort of pantheistic multiracial hermaphrodite might come along to take the reins of power.

We knew - everyone knew - back then that unscrewing this pooch was going to be an immensely difficult task. It was going to take lots of hard work, lots of skillful guidance, lots of butt-clenchingly terrifying decisions, and lots of cooperation between everyone involved - a willingness to set aside politics and partisanship so that everyone could work together for the common good and set the ship of state aright.

That didn't happen.

In the earliest days of the Obama administration, the leadership of the Republican party set out a strategy that was verbalized by Rush Limbaugh when he was asked what his hopes were for the new President. His reply was simply, "I hope he fails." And from that point on, it was clear that Republicans in Congress were less interested in setting the ship of state aright or achieving the common good and more interested in thwarting Barack Obama's plans at every turn.

But why would any Republican want to see the economy recover as long as Barack Obama is in the White House? Such a thing would be seen as a policy victory for the Obama administration, and would serve to benefit Democrats politically. Such a thing could not be allowed.

The Republicans couldn't accomplish their goals alone, of course. They were in the minority in both houses of Congress, and only held sway in a Supreme Court packed with right-wing activist ideologues appointed by George W. Bush and his Republican predecessors. But many Democrats in Congress held their seats by only the slimmest of margins in districts that leaned far more to the right than to the center, and their support for Barack Obama's plans was tepid and timid at best; in the worst cases they took an antagonistic attitude toward the goals of the President, and joined forces with Republicans in tyring to bring about his failure. Thus we saw a stimulus package that was, in the assessment of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, far too small to be effective, but as large as could be achieved through concessions and compromise. (Ironically, many of these Republicanish Democrats were rewarded for their efforts with election defeats in 2010, and they were replaced by the Republicans they had strived to emulate.)

Now we find ourselves two and a half years into Barack Obama's term as President, and we see that in those two and a half years he has not yet managed to undo all the damage done by the Bush/Cheney administration in its eight years in office.  He saved the auto industry and received enormous scorn in return; he prevented Wall Street from self-destruction and has had hatred heaped upon him by the very Wall Street figures he rescued. He has been blocked and thwarted at every turn by corporate-owned Republicans, who have constantly tried to lay the blame for the economic downturn at his feet. And now that the race for the Republican primaries has begun, candidates are counting on Republican voters to have simply forgotten how we got here in the first place and accept the alternative history that this is all the fault of Obama and the Democrats.

The failure of the economy to recover is not the result of a failure on President Obama's part. It is not a failure of the Democrats who are fighting hard for economic recovery. The failure is the responsibility of those who have placed politics and partisanship over the well-being of the people of the United States of America. The people whose only hope for President Obama is "I hope he fails."

All according to plan.

*Of course, if by some preposterous chance the McCain/Palin ticket had won the race, the only hope they might have of escaping the same fate would be to immediately launch more discretionary wars to distract the nation from its domestic concerns.  Can you sing "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran..."? 

1 comment:

dr.antony said...

That was an interesting thought.
I am not American,but unfortunately we are affected by whatever happens there.
So much damage has been done in the last decade,which cant be undone in the coming hundred years. I dont know what kind of principles had guided Bush,whatever,they are simply not principles.And he was no worse than Saddam himself.

It is not an easy task for Obama.His hands are tied by many strings.
"There is a time for everything under the sun"