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It's Showtime
The lights dim, the curtain rises...

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
wemagazine.org
January 18, 2009

The New York Times had a poll today that strongly suggested that not only did people have high hopes that Barack Obama could lead the country out of the deep Republican mess it was in, but understood that it would take years to undo the damage, and were prepared to be patient, provided they saw evidence that Obama was moving in the right direction.

This is important because an economy any economy is, in the end, based on the faith of the people. The dollar is worth only what we collectively agree it is worth. Consumers base purchases on need first, and probity second. Food and shelter are necessities. So, in our spread out cities, is transportation. All else boils down to two questions: can I afford it?, and do I need it? One reason the crash of the American economy is so steep and so jarring is because much, perhaps most of it was based on people buying things they didn't need and usually couldn't afford. When the floor came up and hit them in the face, people stopped doing that. If the economy is to recover, people need to have faith, not just in the value of the money, but in the honesty of the banks and major companies (now sadly lacking) and the ability of government to make sure there is still food on the table and a roof over their heads until conditions improve.

The president, no matter what his real powers are, is the face of the government, and if people don't trust and respect him...well, you can leaf through today's newspaper to see what happens. America had another Pearl Harbor in 2001, but instead of FDR, we got a Millard Fillmore as president, and it's been pretty steadily downhill ever since.

I was worried about the attitude people might take to Obama because the right wing, with its usual egocentric disregard for the welfare of America, have already been doing everything they can to poison the well for Obama. From the day he was elected, they have been referring to the economic meltdown as "Obama's recession." Never mind that the man hasn't been inaugurated and won't be for another 48 hours: they are busily trying to paste the economy on him. Every incident, no matter how trivial, is magnified in the echo chamber of the VRWC, repeated over and over by right wing outlets such as Faux News, CNN, and in the AP. The same "reporters" who were dead silent when an Attorney General defied a subpoena from Congress clamor for details on a nominee who didn't pay state taxes a few years back. The nominee in question DID end up paying, and the transition team who vetted him and made him correct the problem were the ones who announced it. This didn't stop the "journalists" of CNN and the Washington Times from howling that Obama's transition team wasn't doing the job, and "wasn't anyone vetting these people?" This, from people who were silent when FEMA was put in the hands of a horse breeder.

That the right wing doesn't much care about America is pretty self evident. Even their self-proclaimed "liberal" wing, the libertarians, snarl that people are "sheeple" who will vote for socialism over being ripped off. Can't imagine why people would do that. Why, they must be mind-controlled by commies!

They don't want Obama to succeed, and they don't much care that if he fails, it probably will be the end of America. Most of them never did like that Constitution very much anyway; look over the list of hundreds of proposed amendments over the years, especially the past half-century, and you'll see that most of them were for right wing causes, favoring the rich, reducing the freedom Americans had, and denying basic rights to groups they don't like. If you aren't a right winger, chances are you're in one of those groups they don't like, even if it's just "people who think pot should be decriminalized."

Of course, the right wingers, who live in constant fear anyway, are besides themselves now. A man a black man and self-admitted liberal is about to become president, and he'll have solid majorities in both Houses of Congress. He's starting with the support of more Americans (over 80%) than any newly-elected president since FDR. So one frightie-rightie chortled that Obama, by the mere fact of becoming president, has caused gun sales to boom. Somehow, this did little to change my view that far too many of America's gun owners are gibbering paranoids, meth heads with delusions of racial superiority. The right wing apparently thinks America should reconsider letting Obama be president because he's upset the looniest 1% of the population.

A lot of right wingers are confidently predicting that 2010 will be a repeat of 1994, when Clinton's support faltered, and right wingers availed themselves of the opportunity to strike a blow, and took Congress. And of course, if Obama is so conciliatory that he loses support among the left, and fails to accomplish much in his first two years, that could happen.

Of course, back then, the Democrats had controlled the House for all but two of the previous 62 years, and the Senate for over 50 of those same years. Clinton had alienated many of his core supporters by signing NAFTA, knuckling under on gays in the military, and ceding away his energy package and universal health care. He had made the hideous mistake of trying to reach out to the right, apparently without considering that in the eyes of right wingers, such a move is a sign of exploitable weakness. By the time Clinton did figure it out, his moment to be the next FDR had passed forever. Between his move to the center, and the fact that people were pretty much tired of Democrats, and finally the fact that in 1994, Republicans could call themselves the party of financial responsibility, pride in America and political ethics without most of the population erupting in laughter, Clinton was generally neutralized.

I'm not really expecting that this time, even though Obama has been repeating Clinton's mistake of trying to be conciliatory towards these people. For one thing, the GOP and Wall Street have lost all the moral authority they claimed they had in 1994. People are accustomed to the right wing "media" these days (back in 1994, it was assumed that newscasters didn't deliberately lie to their audiences; now it's expected). There are other outlets, on the web especially, so the right wing can't monopolize the public discourse as it very nearly did in 1994. Big business can no longer preach from a position of steadfast success.

And, of course, the nation is in far deeper trouble, and people realize that nearly all of it can be laid to the feet of the GOP, from the constant efforts to deregulate that led to the ruinous abuses on Wall Street and in the energy sector, to the fact that Putsch brought us two unnecessary wars, torture, incompetence, and endless lies. Even if the right wing media pretends it didn't happen, people know better.

I figure to be critical of Obama once he's in office, but I sincerely wish the man well, because I realize that in order for America to survive, he must succeed.

But it would be unAmerican not to judge what he's doing, and criticize when he screws up. We've had twenty years of right wing whores pretending to be journalists doing that, and look where it got us.

Best of luck, Barack Obama.

Now, just what the hell is this "Bush was a good guy" crap? Is Obama angling for an insanity plea before he even takes office?

Posted: January 20, 2009

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