To the extent that politics is a fast shuffle and house of cards can anyone deny that Barack Obama has been dealt the worse hand in history? His five cards are:
1- The ugliest, far-reaching man-made environmental disaster ever recorded.
2- The most severe financial crisis and unemployment in eighty years
3- Two un-winnable wars.
4- An opposition party notable only for its recalcitrance, meanness and mendacity
5- Inflamed racism
Yet in eighteen months he has pushed through the most progressive agenda since Lyndon Johnson ….to the satisfaction of few. Not the Left who have been waiting outside in the cold for five decades, nor the so-called Independents whose direction changes like a cork on a wave.
I, myself, waver between writing that check in support of the DNC and withholding my meager contribution until the administration has the courage to admit the futility of our foreign misadventure in Afghanistan . Excuse me now while I convince myself to be not disencouraged.
Considering the glacial movement of social progress I would argue that Obama has moved the progressive agenda remarkably well. However diluted, the Healthcare bill will warrant a significant chapter in the pages of American history. Financial reform, though far from our fervent wish, is also a push-back on the reckless practices of Wall St. The stimulus bill provided desperately needed funding for infrastructure arguably saving up to three million jobs and his intervention rescued General Motors from insolvency. Did he not reverse eight years of a hold on stem-cell research? Let’s not forget a re-direction away from misguided Unilateralism and a reaching out to the Muslim world.. Give him credit, also, for two sound Supreme Court additions.
He has weathered more lies and ad hominem attacks than any president in memory. Imagine dealing with FDR’s banking collapse, LBJ’s Vietnam War and corporate malfeasance as never seen before all on the same plate.
As chief executive he leads the parade but there is no parade unless his supporters have his back and get noisy about it. If he is slow to act or perhaps too conciliatory with the Repugnant Party it may well be because he doesn’t hear his constituency behind him.
It is far too easy to criticize or become cynical. We need to be reminded that this is a time of momentous change which has engendered momentous resistance. People are hanging on to old ways and images that probably never existed in the first place. Conservatives know how to capture the symbols and rhetoric which conjure the safe and familiar and conversely characterize sensible legislation with threatening terms. Taxes on millionaires’ inheritance has become a Death Tax. and a medical review board is a Death Panel while a check on rampant corporate abuse is labeled, Socialism.
Will we ever catch on to the malice of the big lie? The coming election will be a referendum on the intelligence or gullibility of the American people. A Conservative vote would be a gift to defense contractors, bankers, evangelical zealots and despoilers of our planet. It would affirm that indeed our vote can be bought by corporations. I think we may just surprise them. I’m writing my check.