I normally avoid talking politics here, but it’s hard to stay quiet while partisans on the left help with the demolition project that partisans on the right started the moment Barack Obama arrived in the White House.
At a New York political event last week, Republican and Democratic office-holders were all bemoaning President Obama’s handling of the debt-ceiling crisiswhen someone said, “Hillary would have been a better president.”
“Every single person nodded, including the Republicans,” reported one observer.
At a luncheon in the members’ dining room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday, a 64-year-old African-American from the Bronx was complaining about Obama’s ineffectiveness in dealing with the implacable hostility of congressional Republicans when an 80-year-old lawyer chimed in about the president’s unwillingness to stand up to his opponents. “I want to see blood on the floor,” she said grimly.
A 61-year-old white woman at the table nodded. “He never understood about the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy,’” she said.
Another is Obama in the Valley, by Charles Blow in the New York Times. Concludes he,
The country needs the president to rise to this crisis in word, spirit and deed. We need him to reach out of his nature and into the nation’s need. We are on the precipice. There’s growing concern that we may slip into a second, more painful recession. There is little optimism that the housing crisis will loosen its grip on the economy anytime soon. The unspeakable truth is that we may well be on the leading edge of a prolonged period of national stagnation, if not decline.
A robotic Sustainer-in-Chief with an eerie inhumanity will not satisfy. At this moment, we need less valley and more mountaintop.
He’s not Moses, and that’s not his job. He’s the President. He presides. He doesn’t rule. We gave him an awful job, and he’s doing it with dignity, sobriety, intelligence, and a variety of other personal and administrative virtues that were absent or compromised in the prior two administrations.
On November 8, 2008, The Onion ran Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job. It was prophesy:
In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation’s broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it.
A goof with truth.
It doesn’t matter if there’s a right-wing conspiracy (which there is). The right wing doesn’t need a conspiracy while it remains what it became in the age of Fox News and talk radio: an uncompromising partisan bloc devoted utterly to defeating its political opponents, as a Prime Directive. The GOP is hardly unified in all its positions, but as a partisan bloc all its guns have been aimed since 2008 at President Obama, and they haven’t stopped firing. Meanwhile folks on the left have convened a circular firing squad, with their Main Man in the middle.
If Hillary had won, she’d be there now too, because she’d be disappointing the left just as much as Obama is. She’d have to, because she’d be President, and not just a candidate.
The Republicans have also hated Hillary far longer than they’ve hated Obama, and for all the same reasons: she’s a tax & spend Liberal who prefers Big Hands-on Government to the smaller Hands-off kind (that lives as an ideal in the collective Republican mind, even though we’ve haven’t had it in anybody’s living memory, or maybe ever). It wouldn’t matter if she was “tougher.” Her opposition would be just as uncooperative, hostile and determined to drive her from office. Absolute unity and intransigence on Core Principles is the GOP’s chemo for the body politic: it will kill off the cancer of leftism before it kills the country.
So the Republicans are succeeding, with help from Democratic outlets like Daily Beast and HuffPo, whose constituencies are tiny fractions of populations that Murdoch outlets and their amen corners on talk radio preach to every day.
Not saying folks on the left should shut up about Obama; just that they should look at the hand he was dealt in the first place, plus what the guy is up against and what his job is. Pleasing his core on the left isn’t Job One, or even Job Ten. Running a country that risks devolving into misery and chaos is Job One.
Personally, I don’t think anybody can do it, because our system is rigged against it. (And, for what it’s worth, I’m a registered Independent whose usual inclination is to vote for None of the Above.)
Anyway, if you want to help the country, go after Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman. Because that’s who you’ll get in 2012 if Obama loses.