Lose the Religion, Already

I was pleasantly surprised with President Obama’s speech today, and although by now I find myself reluctant to believe much of it will happen, for once he firmly laid the blame for the deficits and debt where it belongs, with the Republican Party.  Of course, the fact that he hasn’t been making this point in a thousand ways for a thousand days partially explains both his current weak political position and the loss of congress that created it, but better late than never, Mr Ivy League.  While I rejoiced at his admittedly belated willingness to talk about tax cuts for the wealthy in a more factual way, i.e. that money given to so few people who don’t need it blights the lives of millions who do, he still didn’t take a crack at the bonkers philosophy behind it; that such short-sighted and dumb-ass cruelty is supposedly good for us all.

Saddled with his bankster-sodden administration and, sadly, policies, Obama has put himself in a place where he always has to leave behind the biggest rhetorical tool in the shed, one that would bedazzle everyone from teabaggers to firebaggers*: Simply and plainly stating that rich people, when allowed to, will use their excess money to buy the government, and widespread poverty and suffering is the inevitable result.  Every Republican policy, every last one, shows this, and basically hands him a daily narrative of oligarchic plunder to exploit, were he so inclined.  We have thirty years of data to prove that, far from benefitting the economy, handouts to the rich invariably cause debt and repeated crises, and always result in a declining standard of living for everyone else.

Of course, that inconvenient truth would have gone over like a fart in church amongst the millionaire Villagers, who still say a prayer to St. Ronnie whenever their contracts come up, so in his typically wienie way, Obama wouldn’t go after either the idiocy of the Laffer Curve (in which evidently 100% or Republicans still believe) nor the resulting pernicious uses to which absurdly rich people put their newfound large excesses of cash, like buying elections, for instance.  Naw, he couldn’t say that, not when he’s got an election to buy for himself; too chancy to try and get it for free (which he would) by puncturing some of the right’s most successfully embedded Big Lies, so he is left to fight a squirmish** here and there, but against a narrative so stupid and discredited that he shouldn’t have to fight it at all.

Today Glenn Greenwald argued pretty persuasively what I’ve been thinking for a long time, that Obama isn’t really trying to reverse the rightist lurch because he never really wanted to; it’s disappointing but probably true.  After all, as we saw today, he is smart, and has gifts to which he could put to any goal he wanted.  And so far, those goals appear to differ only in style and presentation from his predecessor, the worst president America ever had, who seems an odd model for success for someone supposedly in the nominal opposition.

It’s infuriating enough to anyone to the left of say, Blanche Lincoln, to continually find that nearly all politicians of both parties, once they reach Washington, end up on the same self-serving team.   It’s doubly infuriating if you’re a Democrat, and naively thought that was exactly what you were ostensibly voting against. Obama made some welcome if predictably tentative steps back toward his repeatedly scorned “base” today, and went further than I expected in “educating,” as righty might put it, those listening.  But he again failed to aim his slingshot squarely at the Chicago School Goliath, that is, Voodoo Economics itself.  It was either a missed opportunity, or a simple and understandable desire to spend his twilight years at Burning Tree, resting assured that generations of his heirs won’t have to work.  Just like Bill Clinton, who compellingly showed all future Democrats that doing good for others should never get too much in the way of doing well for oneself.  Ideological purity is quite evidently a luxury only available to Republicans these days.

President Kennedy is reported to have once wondered aloud how much money it took to turn a Democrat into a Republican, but being rich himself, he was only talking about voters, not Presidents.  Those were the days, huh?



*When Firedoglake criticized, appropriately, some of Obama’s early caves, other lefty bloggers dropped them from their blog rolls and called them “firebaggers.”

**Thank heaven for Sarah Palin’s many Shakespearian contributions to the language….



  1. dirigo says:

    This whole thing turns on Silvio.

    Today’s Financial Times headline on Sil’s myriad legal troubles, topped like a … (ahem!) cherry … by the allegation that he paid for SEX with an underage prostitute, blares: BERLUSCONI DEFIANT AS COURT CASES RATTLE ALLIES.

    Sil, holding court Tuesday night, with some 20 international reporters hanging on every word, said: “It is a war. A real war for democracy,” referring to what the paper called “dozens” of court cases brought against the Italian P.M. since he entered politics in 1994. Sil, as he has before, appeared to take the position that legal briefs of whatever kind or source aimed at him are being brought by an Italian judiciary full of black-robed commies.

    So much for the rule of law.

    Sil told the reporters he would remain the “noble father” of the country, for as long as it took to hand power over to his hand-picked successor.

    “Senior western officials” say, according to reports, Italy has become irrelevant under Berlusconi, but they warn that Italy’s fiscal problems – aggravated by its apparent political and legal paralysis – could affect European economies, and the world economy, well beyond the crises now dragging on Greece, Portugal, Spain, and other troubled EU member states.

    Meanwhile, one of our own backbenchers – perhaps a budding “noble father” in his own right – got up this week and let fly with this:


    Fortunately, Rep. Broun has a clean record when it comes to bunga bunga parties.

  2. avelna says:

    Greenwald’s post brought to mind (again) Obama’s claim way back when to Diane Sawyer, that he would rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-termer. I’ve become convinced that he was directing that statement towards Wall Street not Americans as a whole. I would be willing to bet that his speech was a campaign tactic meant to appease the base. And of course, his plan is the “extreme” left-wing counter to Paul Ryan’s extreme right-wing plan and god knows where we’ll actually end up.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was certainly one of the biggest lies he’s ever told, and it gets bigger every day. He seems to care about absolutely nothing other than reelection. Clinton, for all his faults, actually tried to do things, and did leave the budget balanced and a roaring economy when he left, against a wall of opposition and impeachment. Obama’s tactic seems to be to go along to get along, and never piss off the wrong people, two terms and out. A presidency about nothing for the post Seinfeld era.
      Too bad Republicans never do that.

  3. retzilian says:

    What would KO (Keith Olbermann) have said?

    Listening to Obama’s speech (and the gushing, teeny-bopper response to it by Ed Shultz and Rachel Maddow), I felt as if I were listening to a wayward spouse promise to help out more, take out the garbage, to never miss our anniversary, and buying me a dozen roses but never once mention putting your child in a hospital as a result of drunken rage, banging the babysitter, or losing your life savings at the casino.

    Seriously. He can kiss my azz.

    He doesn’t mention the most glaring, horrifying sins of his administration: letting Wall Street rob the taxpayers blind, refusing to investigate or prosecute war crimes and economic crimes, perpetuating wars of aggression and imperialism in the middle east, propping up effing Israel, strengthening the surveillance state, prosecuting whistle blowers, extending his pals’ tax cuts…

    Oh, never mind. He makes me sick.

    • cocktailhag says:

      And, given that he gave similarly convincing speeches about all those things prior to getting elected, one ought to take this one with a watermelon-sized grain of salt.