Thursday, May 23, 2013

Waiting For The Miracle

Back a million years ago during the darkest days of the Age of Commander Cuckoo Bananas, we Liberals used to make a big deal of the fact that it was gonna take a generation to undo all of the destruction wrought by eight years of the Bush Administration;s pandimensionally ruinous fuckuppery.  They had pulverized everything they had touched into a poisonous snarl of barbed-wire-botulism-and-dynamite and they had left behind a cohort of dead-eyed  dead-ender fanatics fanatically dedicated -- as a matter of standard operating policy -- to making every shitty situation infinitely worse by any means necessary.

Maybe some people were under the impression that that this "It will take decades" talk as merely the rhetorical pinstriping of bloggers who had to SHOUT to be heard over the din of Republican sappers demolishing the republic.

It was not.  

This was never going to be easy.  

There never was a Big Wooden Timejump Wheel down in the basement that would turn it all around overnight if we just pushed hard enough on the king spoke.  This was never going to happen without crushing disappointments from our own leaders, relentless sabotage from the Right, and understandable exhaustion and despair and contempt from within our own ranks as every couple of tiny steps forward seemed destined to be immediately followed by some bit of dumbfuck backsliding calibrated specifically to demoralizing the base.

It was never going to be easy, but it is at least possible that we made a small step in the right direction today.  Charlie Pierce turns an unjaundiced but case-hardened eye on President Obama's speech today and comes away with some unsparingly realistic observations:
... Let us be honest with ourselves as a political people. Had Barack Obama run for president completely on the platform laid out above — not piecemeal, like closing Gitmo or restraining wiretaps — and had he run for president by divesting himself fully of the prevailing momentum from that rage and that fear that still existed in 2008, then he every likely would not have found enough people in this country to vote to make him president. We are the people who strung the tightrope on which he now walks, and on which every president after him will walk as well. That's why half the speech defended what he'd done, while the other half tried to define the limitations of what he can do.
So the speech came down to little more than an attempt to find an exit strategy for an eternal war. We did X, because all the alternatives were worse. We will try to do Y. but maintain our right to do Z, if necessary. The global war on terror always was the vehicle through which conundrums were produced that presidents would have to solve. His predecessor didn't try to solve them because he didn't see them as conundrums at all. We rewarded that view by re-electing him. Now, at the very least, we have a president who recognizes that he's in a box on this kind of thing.
We will never elect a president on a platform that he will weaken the office, and that also means giving back powers only recently acquired and exercised. If that were the case, then George W. Bush would have been a one-term president. The speech today was probably the best for which we could hope. What was even more clear is that he has no intention of letting Congress off the hook, either...

I know it must have hurt you
It must have hurt your pride
To have to stand beneath my window
With your bugle and your drum,
And me I'm up there waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come.


Scott Ingram said...

Do you remember back when everyone was talking about infrastructure and Maddow droned on and on about bridges that need to be maintained and other nanny state mamby pamby stuff?

Do you remember when Van Jones was calling for a new plan to "Rebuild the Dream" and infrastructure jobs to repair crumbling bridges?

Nah, me neither.

(LOL I did a search on your blog with the keywords Bridge and Infrastructure and the number one search result concerns this sentence "And this is the one thing that the Right does supremely well: employing literally hundreds of thousands of people to construct an entire lie-based infrastructure which is constantly rebuilt, refreshed and expanded upon." Too bad equivalent effort isn't put into physical infrastructure.

Scott Ingram said...

"We will never elect a president on a platform that he will weaken the office, and that also means giving back powers only recently acquired and exercised."

True 'dat. The electorate is Maureen Dowd, just wanting someone to lead them...

Good luck with that.

DeistPaladin said...

Respectfully, Pierce makes some sweeping statements about what the American people will or will never elect based on little evidence that I can see. W. Bush won by a thin margin largely due to the opponent being a long-winded boring wimp, the opposing campaign being inept, the media being complicit and possibly a touch of hanky-panky with the votes with Ohio. I don't think we can make grand pronouncements on what is or isn't possible based on 2004.

Very often, I hear this kind of defeatist rhetoric from those who pronounce America to be a "center-right nation" and the best liberals can hope for is a milquetoast moderate president who'll occasionally get us a few concessionary bones. All I can say is I'm glad that the pro-choice movement didn't succumb to this apparent allure that premature compromise seems to have for some. If Democrats had fought for abortion rights the same way they now fight for other progressive causes, right now we might have a nationwide ban with exceptions for rape or incest in some states while being told that this is the best deal the Democrats could realistically get. Instead, the pro-life movement has largely lost the fight both in the courts and with popular opinion and now have been forced to wage this war through back-door bureaucratic means, trying to hassle both patients and providers, rather than getting what they want through direct legislation. Why? Aren't we supposed to be this hopeless center-right nation where liberal causes are doomed?

I'm not suggesting that politics isn't the art of the possible. I'm well aware that our nation has been built on compromise and that politics is often a dirty business where needed changes are won only by long hard fights and piecemeal increments. I'm not sulking because, as the strawman argument goes, "Obama didn't get me the pet unicorn he never promised". I've held my nose each election whenever I needed to vote for the "conserva-dem" because at least he/she was better than the GOP candidate.

I am saying that maybe we shouldn't be so eager to toss in the towel before we even enter the ring. What has been disappointing about Obama is his style of negotiation where he gives away half the store before he even gets to the table. "Yes we can" quickly morphed into "Aw c'mon guys" as he made the transition from candidate to president. And this is not just a problem for Obama. Obama is a symptom of a larger disease that seems to have infected most of the Democratic leadership.

Perhaps we could take note of where we have been successful and look for clues for what has worked. Let's examine our relative success on the pro-choice issue and see if perhaps there's a way to make the case to the people for other progressive causes.

Lumpy Lang said...

This Charlie Pierce reverently cited by Droneglass... What twaddle! Blaming the betrayed, cheated, oppressed electorate for the Dems' blatant treachery.

Repent now, ruling-class bootlickers, "progressive" toadies ! Beware the peoples' wrath that is to come!

n1ck said...

Spot on, DG.

Of course the purists who many candidates in office progressivizing everything...are here to tell you that Obama should be the magical negro that David Brooks and the rest of the moderates pretend to want him to be.

The fact that an American president, which is an Imperial Office, just told the country that we cannot continue doing the BS that we've been doing is a step in the right direction. And as Pierce or someone else I read wrote, not at the end of his second term, but at the start of it, says something.

Obama is a pretty decent 70's era Republican.

And that's a fucking start.

For the purists: Start getting actual progressives in office, from the bottom up, or shut up. It gets old reading the purity trolls complaining that Obama doesn't just wave his magic wand and fix everything. As if the fascists don't control the House and have enough fascists in the Senate to stop anything substantive from being done.

Unless you purity people want a progressive dictator, deal with the system. Or continue making threats about revolution, when it's clear that the American people couldn't be arsed to revolt against their television, cable and iPhones.

mahakal said...

DeistPaladin has a good point and Charlie Pierce seems to think it unworthy of consideration that the selection of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 was not exactly democratic. If you'd like to say it's all Bush's fault, I can't really agree. But that doesn't mean Obama has the ability to turn on a dime either. Still, there's a pretty big gap between words and actions.