Friday, August 31, 2012

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

No, I'm not better off. My hair is grayer, my eyesight dimmer, and my balance not so good.

How can I vote for Obama when he's done these things to me?

Wait, you say. Just because he was President while these happened doesn't mean he's the cause.
Correlation doesn't equal causation. But if you're a Republican convention delegate, you'll add, though, that the President is the sole, unique cause of every single bad thing that's happened to America's economy in the past four years (apparently good things are by definition not to the President's credit).

Oil prices--mostly determined by the world market (so the President apparently is also King of the World), bond prices (oh, wait, federal bond prices are up, since the world regards America as the best place to buy T-bills), corporate profits (oh, wait, they're waaay up--those profits just aren't being shared with employees; top managers and big investors have made out like bandits, though), global warming (oh, wait, Republicans believe it isn't happening or if it is, that human activity had absolutely nothing to do with it).

My Republican friends fail to recognize the degree to which the other party can throw sand in the gears of government if it has a mind to. That ability to obstruct is built into the Constitution and the internal rules of the Senate. However, the people who framed those rules had no reason to imagine that 200 years after our nation became a constitutional republic, those very rules wouldn't be used as part of our checks and balances but instead to drive the vehicle of state from the back seat as much as possible, by refusing to compromise about virtually everything, refusing to OK even minor, nonpartisan appointments, all the while waging a billion-dollar campaign against the very legitimacy of this President from the day he took the oath of office.

Never in American history has total political war been declared and waged on a sitting president to the extent that today's Republican Party has done so on this one.

So--how does a President "lead" such people? This isn't a business. He can't fire these people as if they were his employees. Thats the fundamental disconnect of the business model of government BTW. Every Congressman is an elected or state-appointed official not fire-able by the Prez.

The only "leadership" possible under our system under these circumstances is to hold the mob off at the pass. The only "leadership" the Republican Congress would accept would be total surrender--for the Prez to sign every bill they sent him without comment, basically just leaving his left hand and arm in the White House--as they can be sure will be the case with Mitt Romney if he wins, because his acceptance speech last night caved in to all their demands and then some--totally contrary to the principles espoused by Romney's father who he reveres except for the little matter of political philosophy.

Not to mention the fact that it usually takes a lot longer to fix a problem than to create it, just as it may take one kid a second to kick over a building built with blocks but half an hour to reconstruct that building.

So I hand you a problem that takes a week to solve, and after a day demand to see the results, and dismiss your complaints as making excuses.

That's exactly what the GOP is trying to do to the President.

What the Republicans don't want you to even consider is the possibility that President Obama has led the country as well as it could have been led, given the polarization of the country and the GOP's near-total intransigence.

You can't compare what someone did against some ideal in your head. You have to compare real world actions by real world alternatives.

But here's a thought: the President has far more leeway in foreign affairs than in domestic ones, where Congress dominates in our system. So you can make a good argument that foreign affairs are a better way to gauge a president's leadership.

The Republicans don't want you to think about that either, because in foreign affairs President Obama has done much to restore our position and credibility after Bush II's egregious bull in a china shop performance (the Republicans claim the exact opposite, but it's a tissue of transparent lies, from the "apology tour" canard on forward). The President has taken the war on Islamofascism to the actual enemy vastly more effectively than George "Mission Accomplished" Bush ever did.


Some assorted thoughts:

When I say "my country," I'm talking about the country of my birth, and the one to which I pledge allegiance.

But when Governor/Bain CEO Mitt Romney talks about "my country," I can't help feeling that he's talking about one of his many possessions.


There are two Mitt Romneys: the kindly, attentive husband, father, churchgoer, and great friend to the top managements of the companies he didn't suck dry and throw away...and the lying, trash-talking, weasel in a dark suit & a red tie whose campaign centerpiece--his budget proposal--is mathematically impossible, and whose ridiculing of Obama for being concerned with man-caused global warming shows a total lack of concern for his own many grandchildren.

I believe both Romneys exist--neither disproves the other; only the massive compartmentalization in his mind that lets him justify unethical behavior in his public life that he would never countenance in his private one. I can't read his mind but he's so thoroughly both Romneys I can't see any other explanation being plausible.

What I most fault in his presentation of himself is him adopting the kindly, paternal face/demeanor of Nice Romney while the words coming out of his mouth are those of Mean Romney. That's where his two halves clash most, making him as palatable as toadstool swirl ice cream.


President Obama's biggest challenge is the fact that his domestic policies hardly matter, because he'll never get them enacted into law by a Republican-dominated Congress. All he can offer us domestically is to play Katy bar the door against the Republican government-hating, Voodoo Economics-worshipping mob--and to ensure that the Supreme Court doesn't get one of its aging moderat justices replaced with a second Scalia, as Romney has promised to do.

One more Scalia and the Supreme Court will simply become an arm of Mobil/Exxon.

This means that Obama's soaring rhetoric is not to the point. To the point would be channeling what the Spartans said at Thermopylae, as they fought off the vastly larger number of invading Persians: "Tell the Greeks that we did our duty."

All four more years of Obama can get us domestically is four fewer years of the Republicans completing the transfer they've engineered of America's wealth into around 5,000 pockets.

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