DEMS POISED TO GIVE UP
President Obama is getting poked in the eye
by Democrats as often as Republicans as
his Administration limps into the midterms and a probable electoral rebuke.
(October 18, 2010. Middle America, USA) If the polls, for what they are, can be believed, the looming midterm elections will see a major shift in power in Washington come the morning after. President Obama's poll numbers have been in a steady decline and, while he is not yet as unpopular as Congress, Wall Street, Banks, and mortgage firms, he has fallen far enough from his lofty numbers of just 22 months ago to cause real concern among Democrats. As his fortunes have taken on water so to the fortunes of his party. Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress are predicted to fall. What a difference the reality of governing makes.
President Obama was swept into Office by a wide and deep current of intense discontent, frustration, anger, and even gross disgust after having witnessed the unmitigated individual failures that collectively defined the eight year reign of the Cheney / Bush Administration. That candidate Obama was running against a feeble-minded, self serving creature of Washington in John McCain, and his barely literate, woefully inept, dangerously unequipped, running mate he inexplicably grabbed from the obscurity of Alaska's Governor’s Mansion, the hopelessly dimwitted Sarah Palin, no doubt helped Obama's cause. The time was right for “change” and, at least on the most superficial of criteria, candidate Obama did personify change.
Our first African American President was elected by a broad coalition of traditional Democratic interests as well as hundreds of thousands of others, voters, who had come to feel disenfranchised as our economy tanked, banks failed, homes were lost at as fast a rate as jobs, we learned of the lengthy trail of lies that lead us into a fabricated, criminal, “war of choice” in Iraq while we remained deeply entrenched in an untenable conflict across the expanse of Afghanistan while the elements that attacked us on 9-11-01 reconstituted under our puppet government in that perpetually ungovernable failed nation / state. Yes, the Cheney / Bush fiasco had easily paved the way for a freshman Senator to bill himself as just what was needed in Washington, DC. That he was able to defeat the formidable political juggernaut of Hillary and Bill Clinton merely added to his appeal for many, for those most eager to see actual, tangible, change come to the White House and a reversal of the way our government had been co-opted by the many negative forces of hubris, greed, deceit, special interests, as well as the dangerous disconnect from reality across the board. The public was more than restless and, obviously, more than ready to give Mr. Obama the keys to the White House.
He was not given those keys by any one demographic or segment of voters. He was not elected by African Americans, labor unions, any traditional Democratic allies alone. His victory was a coalition in the truest and broadest sense of the term or, at least, as broad as is possible in our heavily divided, dangerously polarized, ultra-partisan electorate. His victory was a shining example of what a diverse and disparate electorate could accomplish if sufficiently motivated. Self identified Republicans and Independents cast their votes for Obama as did record numbers of young and first time voters. The victory and history making coalition was initially viewed as commanding enough to represent a mandate. That may have been so. Certainly, the “anti-Bush” Obama was granted a relatively long honeymoon and was also blessed by a wave of good will not seen by any President in many years. For a time, a time not easily defined but, still, a time of substance, virtually anything was possible. The public was ready to believe, was prepared to accept the facts that the Cheney / Bush Administration had left the new President was such an array of daunting, complex, and ever increasing problems, that there was not going to be a “quick fix”; solutions to the enormous troubles that ailed the Country and remained on the desk in the Oval Office even as the imbecilic Bush retreated to his simpleton existence in Texas, would require tough measures. None of the problems would readily succumb to “black and white” fixes and, after an especially black and white Cheney / Bush Administration, there would be some very difficult and nuanced challenges to be met head on. Shades of gray colored days while time was of the imperative.
As of this writing, President Obama has been in Office for 687 days. 687 days. Given the glacial pace our Government has devolved to working at, given the severity, complexity and sheer number of issues that needed to be addressed, why has the coalition that gave Obama his victory allegedly crumbled? Why is there so much dissatisfaction among the population that certain Democratic defeats are all but confirmed?
There are no easy answers to these questions and, the most likely answers being bandied about fall short of reality. They are but partial and, in some respects, “pseudo” answers. Our collective attention deficit disorder is a partial reason for the pronounced discontent with the President as is the rapid pace of the simple-minded “newsertainment” cycle. The non-stop inflammatory blather from the right wing media outlets and such dangerously demented demagogues as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, the village idiots at FOX News, and all the other more insidious cast of behind the scenes characters, financiers, organizers, zealots, and flame throwers provide just another piece of an answer. The answers, just like the questions, defy simplicity. This is not to imply they are not understandable. Not at all. However, they do require some thought, some small modicum of effort to understand, and an appreciation for the interconnectedness that defines our world and all topical landscapes today. The problems of today have been years in the making and, in some cases, decades of efforts by various factions in the business, banking, regulatory, lobbying, and Congressional corridors acted with blatant, arrogant purposefulness to create the conditions and climate that made the institutional melt downs and subsequent fires possible. The “mortgage crisis”, “toxic assets”, “deregulation”, and all the other myriad causative factors were permitted to amass under the eight long years of the Cheney / Bush regime of greed and gall.
Say what you will about the Republican Party but, there is much to be learned from them. Aside from being able how to launch massive smear campaigns, lie with unmitigated impunity, dodge issues while creating phantom causes, and having absolutely no interest in the greater good, the GOP is at least unified, for the most part. they exercise a discipline of message and matters the Democrats can not match. Right or wrong they support their leadership as was in evidence virtually every day of the Cheney / Bush disaster. They talk without speaking, they oppose without offering alternatives, and they can erect huge edifices of “social issues” they stand behind tossing incendiary rhetorical grenades into the political landscape. While their may be various factions within their numbers, they present a united front.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have so little patience and discipline that they are eager to self destruct over substantively marginal issues rather than adopt a long term strategy. President Obama could do nothing fast enough for certain factions while he rushed to quickly according to others within the sprawling, tattered, threadbare canvas of the “Big Tent”. Currently he is taking as much heat from inside his Party as he is from the GOP and others who sit on the sidelines defining the debates absent any relationship to reality. Those on the far Left seem poised to allow the Congressional majorities to vanish simply to “prove a point.” The idiocy, the sheer churlishness of such a tactic is beyond comprehension when the alternative is fully considered.
Candidate Obama’s Presidential campaign was in many respects a work of political art. What he was able to accomplish while starting as a relative unknown on the national stage has not been seen for decades or, arguably, ever. As much as the time was rigfht for his campaign and for the candidate himself, circumstances had coalesced to present a rare electoral opportunity, sufficient numbers of grassroots organizers, field workers a well oiled campaign machine was assembled and run up to the red line level for almost 2 years. The candidacy of Barak Obama was able to move people, inspire people, and, for a host of reasons allow divergent forces to gather the momentum that swept him to victory. Sadly, his political instincts have not served him well as President up to this point.
However, no matter his failings, shortcomings, or quirks of personality, real or imagined, he is the best hope for the greater good. To abandon hope now, at this early junction of his first term in Office is to defy whatever promise once prompted record numbers of voters to propel Candidate Obama into the Presidency.
Some of the most extreme left wing elements in the Democratic Party have expectations so far removed from reality that they are prepared to throw the baby out with the bath water. The bath water that will fill the tub once it is painted Republican Red, they will soon find out, will be of a temperature that will scald all their hopes and dreams. Gay rights? Forget it. Environmental concerns? Not a chance. Energy policy? Get real. The issues that drive many factions of the Democratic Party and sway the much courted “Independents” must be carefully raised, addressed, and incrementally attacked. Any broad sweeping legislation meant to cure a perceived social ill or address a “cultural issue” will not stand a chance of surviving more than an hour or two on Capital Hill. In their discipline the GOP are extremely dedicated, motivated, obstructionists. Just look at what they have managed to destroy or neuter in the last two legislative sessions.
As all midterm elections this one is being touted as a referendum on the entire Obama Administration. Historically the majority Party and Party in the White House suffer loses. This election cycle has seem record amounts of money funding special interest groups with a ferocity that belies all reality. The mainstream media has once again proven to be unable or unwilling to investigate some of the irregularities in campaigns across the country. The advent of the bizarre “Tea Party Movement” is the just the latest iteration of a wacky fringe movement that actually taps into the fears, frustrations and more sinister idealizations of the “base” of the Republican Party. So crass are their efforts that they have taken to fear mongering and intimidation as never before.
Memories are short in America and, apparently, especially where our politics are concerned. It was just 22 months ago that arguably the worst Administration in the history of America left Washington with an economic collapse rivaling the Great Depression, our banking and financial institutions on the brink of total annihilation after years of unmitigated deregulation, record home foreclosures, staggering unemployment on two full fledged military conflicts that have somehow receded into the not so distant past yet the costs we are paying in blood and treasure continue to escalate, all awaiting President Obama. He inherited a series of challenges of such scale and scope that was unprecedented. No other new Administration had ever taken Office under such dire circumstances domestically and internationally. That the Obama Administration has been able to enact some stabilizing measures to stop the worst of the hemorrhaging is a testament to their tenacity. Every measure they have managed to enact has been done with virtually no Republican support or, if any GOP'ers did “cross the aisle” out of conscience or pragmatism, they were less than a handful in number.
This election cycle will play out as it will. If the predictions prove prescient President Obama will have to find a way to work with republican majorities in the House and Senate. If voters think that divided government configured this way provides “checks and balances” they are sadly mistaken. One only has to look back a few years and see just how the Republicans govern when handed the reigns of power. We are still digging out from the wreckage and debris of their last go around in power and it will take years more of heavy lifting to see our way clear again. President Obama has a far better chance to chart a path to recovery on many levels provided he has a friendly Congress. We will see what happens and we will have to live with the consequences. The stakes are high, perhaps higher than nervous, petulant democrats can imagine.
Tags: Political Commentary, Social Observation, Midterm Election, Democratic Majority, President Obama, Current Events, News Comment, Opinion.
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