Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beyond the Hyperbolic: 11 months of Obama

The liberal criticism of President Obama's record -- and reality.

MeanMesa continues to hear the irritating rush of utterly flaccid pseudo-liberal critics as they bewail the "deceptions" and "failures" constituting the Obama administration's performance to date. One would think that the first eleven months of this government have produced nothing more than a dismal string of half-hearted surrenders to the Right punctuated by far too many "pick-up" basketball games.


Any MeanMesa visitors with an inclination to join in with this unsettling "whining" had best be prepared to avoid the rather significant evidence to the contrary. "Avoid evidence to the contrary?" Let's take a look at exactly what that means. There have already been plenty of accounts of the administration's successes, so there will be little to be gained from any repeat of accomplishments. Instead, MeanMesa is interested in exploring the psychology of this troubling new "glacier in the potty" before we all sit on it any longer, bitching about how cold the seat has become.

A Matter of Long Term Memory Failure

Amazingly, even Liberals inclined to support the President are now entering into a crescendo of wave after wave of complaints. The most noticeable visibility of this phenomenon arrives in the MeanMesa kitchen via the progressive radio hosts. If one had only begin to follow the daily chatter of such folks as Ed Schultz, Mike Malloy, Thom Hartmann and even the usually objective Rachel Madow, and unavoidable conclusion would be that none of these voices was particularly happy with the performance of the President or his administration.

The comments? Speaking in the AM radio equivalent of a depressing stereophonic wail, the criticisms are typically based on disappointment with the schedule of correcting the disaster left by the autocracy in its withdrawal. The unemployed should be employed by now. The carbon emissions legislation should be on track for an Obama signature by now. Wall Street should be regulated by now. A health care reform bill astonishingly similar to precisely what all liberals were dreaming about should be in force by now.

The list of complaints goes on. Afghanistan is escalating when it should be winding down by now. The W's Church of Death in Iraq remains the grisly meat grinder it has always been when, instead, we should be out by now. The civil war in Iran should have already toppled the medieval terrorist clergy by now.

And perhaps the most chilling of all, the economy should be back to where it was just before the bubble exploded -- by now.

So, if this is a problem of Long Term Memory Failure, how long is Long Term?

Actually, not that long. Eleven months ago the single pressing question foremost in the minds of those interested enough to know what was going on was simply: "Is this the end of the Republic?"

Of course, there were lots of other reasonable questions lurking around the periphery, but only for the citizen interested enough in the country to have second thoughts about the legitimacy of a continuing exclusive obsession with his own fortune. The "big screen tv" and "new Malibu every two years" crowd didn't even bother to watch what scraps of news managed to trickle through the remnants of the media.

"Our credit score went back up to 761. My wife and I were overjoyed!"

One would, perhaps over generously, think that maybe this happy couple would remember that their 401K had just finished being gang raped. Had they been actually watching fifteen minutes of news once a week or possibly following a blog reportage, they might have even realized that the country was bankrupt, thoroughly looted by a few Americans at the top of the stack under cover of the autocrat's crime family.

Of course this "overjoyed" couple with the new credit rating were aware -- at some brief point along the path of their financial collapse -- that they had been screwed, but that "moment of clarity" apparently passed quietly far afield under the constant blithering about Obama's birth certificate, the moans and groans of the hill billies and bigots at the tea parties and the dire warnings of the worst remaining looters claiming that the Democrats will wreck the economy.

MeanMesa suspects that the "overjoyed" couple was actually so extremely fickle in their fleeting lack of political realism that their indifference to "events of the ground" paid its own fair wage -- no matter how cruel that might be in terms of their financial survival let alone their future plans. The psychological sensation of having been savagely stripped of half of all their assets for which they had labored hard and long must have been unpleasant indeed.

Still, all this never rose to a level of serverity which they couldn't conveniently handle exactly as they had handled all the other outrages and insults before. They simply forgot about it. And, once all that nerve racking worry was removed, the "overjoyed" couple found that they had time to bitch! No need to remember where all that money went! No need to remember who had their nest egg and why! No need to allow the memory of what had transpired in the last eight years to remain an explanation of their new, desperate poverty. Nope.

"Now that we have our credit score back up, we're going shopping. Maybe we'll think about political realities later."

"And then, maybe not. Selective memories and denial always worked before -- so, here we go -- off to Macy's!"

Mastering the Art of Being Uninformed

How in the world could our urbanite examples move along so comfortably with such irrational plans? The answer is fairly clear.

Long Term Memory Failure is exquisitely easier when there wasn't much in those lost memories in the first place.

Has any MeanMesa visitor ever heard a house guest utter "I don't want to watch the news. It just brings me down." or some other, equally curious phrase? Might such folks dream that, absent any information about what was happening in their country, no consequences could reach them if they simply avoided knowing about it?

The matter could be additionally lubricated by a over-riding self-calming cynicism, not an unexpected result based on the quality of news information reaching them. Of course, there would be no effort made or initiative taken to access any facts -- ignorance is bliss. Further, if the actuality of the matter remained conveniently confused and incomplete, anything particularly laborious or challenging about shelving the whole thing for Long Term Memory Failure would only be that much easier.

Why worry about one's life savings being suddenly missing when there are far more important matters at hand. "Important matters?" Of course.

For example, the President said that health care reform would be revenue neutral. The idiot Senator from "somewhere down South" said that it would plunge our grandchildren into economic slavery.

The President said that he intended to "get to the bottom" of the Nigerian lad who smuggled a bomb onto a US passenger jet on Christmas day. The half-witted neo-con Congressman sobers up long enough to say that the President has taken a lackadaisical approach to terrorism, nevermind that his outfit was in charge when 911 happened!

And that they were warned -- in writing -- that the attack was coming!

Now, these are only a couple of examples. The point here is, however, that such nonsense can be delivered for public consumption with a straight face! How can they do this? In the MeanMesa household, they can't, but it's fairly clear that the most reactionary forces in the country believe that they can sell this hogwash to enough uninformed citizens to make it worth their while to try it.

The neo-con media corporations are certainly not going to stop them. That would be integrity and commitment in delivering the news, the First Amendment, Free Press. Screw all of that, those boys are in it to sell toothpaste and wreck the country for their billionaire masters. America be damned! Snatch the profits!

So, What Has Obama Accomplished?

Well, the President -- as is trotted out perhaps over frequently -- inherited a country in a state of collapse. Yes, the economy was a train wreck, staggering under the Bush-Reagan deficits. Yes, the military was a train wreck after being consumed by the W's war for oil (the Iraq Hydrocarbon Treaty). Yes, the hill billies and bigots had been inflamed to a maximum craziness ("We want our country back!"). But, these were only symptoms of the most frightening aspect of what he inherited.

In the mind of a Constitutional scholar, the real threat was a structural one. Obama inherited a country where the richest had managed to almost take control of the government, where the Constitution (start with habeus corpus and plunge down hill from there...) was in tatters, where the Senate and the Treasury were owned by the Masters of Wall Street, where there were private armies of mercenaries walking around US cities with automatic rifles (Blackwater in New Orleans).

Now we come to what Obama has accomplished. Of course, there is a stream of legislative corrections, each one bearing the scars of Republican looting. Of course, there are international successes such as the closing of W's torture dungeon in Cuba and the withdrawal from W's war in Iraq. Of course, there are economic successes such as a lowering unemployment rate and avoiding the Great Depression of 2008. But none of these accomplishments really reveals the most serious successes of the first eleven months of the Obama administration.

What would those be?

MeanMesa's take on the matter is as follows:

The cockroaches are out in the light.

Day by day for the last eleven months, Americans have been carefully brought along to a new understanding of who exactly owns this country. Of course, that "ownership" is utterly illegitimate -- it has only gone on for so long thanks to Long Term Memory Failures and Mastering the Art of Being Uninformed.

No amount of "lazy anger," denial or lack of interest can camoflage the reality of what is emerging -- unstoppably -- into the light of day. Obama isn't the only one who has inherited something which is critically, foundationally not what we all thought it was. We all inherited that.

It is Childhood's End.

What we were convinced was a national democratic Republic turns out to be a thinly disguised oligarchy with wet dreams of becoming a permanent nobility of wealth. What we always thought was a representative government turns out to be a literal den of thieves, thinly disguised as sincere ideologues. What we thought were reasonable hopes for our future were subject to approval by our new, silent masters.

Obama could never stop this headlong destruction of American ideals until we -- the uninformed and the amnesiacs -- were carefully brought back to our senses. This has begun.

This is what Obama has accomplished in his first eleven months.

"Jest lahk them tea baggers done said last summer -- we plan to take our country back."

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