Monday, November 10, 2008


I understand the resentment. God knows if John McCain and Sarah Palin had won, I'd've been deeply disappointed and pathologically depressed (as opposed to resentful.) Along with the passage of the gay-hatred bills, it would have said something about our country that I'd have preferred not to know: we are terminally divided. On the other hand, Obama and Biden campaigned on inclusiveness, on the idea that our problems are so great we need everyone on board. Will enough people buy in?

No matter how disappointed or resentful, no matter how much a person dislikes or fears Obama, it seems indisputable that wishing for his failure as President is wishing for the end of America. I believe -- because I felt it myself -- that a great mass of people saw in Barack Obama the possibility of an end to hyperpartisanship, a turning toward governing by problem-solving, where results are what matter, rather than the label attached to them or who takes credit. More than that: I believe that if it doesn't happen now, it'll be too late. I've said it many times before.

The tasks are daunting: shoring up a failing economy, addressing deficits (how, and when), seeking solutions to two wars, finding energy alternatives, fixing education and health care, the environment, illegal immigration, repairing international relations. It's no longer about party power politics. We're on a downward trajectory that threatens our country if not the entire planet. It's not just political rhetoric; it's the end-game. It's hard to doubt it.

I never expected everyone to join hands. I'm not surprised that John Boehner is grousing and that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are screaming. To them, evidently, loss of personal influence is more threatening than the imminent loss of country, and I guess it always will be. But the rest of us, people actually living in the real world, have to hope Barack Obama and his government succeed. Hard as it would have been for me, I'd have hoped the same for John McCain and S.... (I can't say it, but I would have.)

If my house were sliding off the bluff near which it's perched, I'd want rescuers to find a way to shore it up; I wouldn't care what color they were, what brand of machinery they used, what language they spoke, or what they might have said to each other before they showed up. If they pulled it back to safety, I'd be grateful and relieved.

That's the situation in which we find ourselves, except that it's way more complicated: it's not just a war, or just a depression, or just an energy crisis, or just a technology gap. It's all of them and much more, wadded together into a giant pulsating and frightening mass. We simply can't afford the luxury of political posturing, of ill-wishing, of power- and hate-mongering. And that goes for those in and out of power.


At the very least, give the guy a chance. More than that: the times ahead will test, well beyond anything most of us have ever known, the notion of patriotism and sacrifice. The "me, not you" mode of the last eight years (okay, longer than that) will have to go on hold. What we need -- dare I say it -- is "change." Cutting back on energy use, willingness, yes, to share the wealth -- what remains of it -- for as long as it takes to get the economy going again, continually pressuring our politicians to stay on task, to put aside pettiness. A recognition that being in it together is the way it is, not just a slogan.

It will test us all. And it's a simple "pass/fail." No grading on the curve, not any more.


  1. Sid, if only it were that easy. There were several letters in the Op-ed section of our paper this weekend complaining how 'everybody was criticizing President Bush and now they want us to be friends.' or something to the like. One letter was even asking where to get the "he's not my president" bumper stickers.

    Despite my criticisms of Bush in the past, it's not like I had much say in his policies anyway.

    I assume your message of Bipartisanship relates more to the elected officials in Government than it does to the average Joe six..well never mind;)

  2. I trust you were also posting about respect for the president, wishing for the success of the president, the "he's my president" idea a year ago, right?

    I will support him though, since he does have to clean up the mess from the last two years of Congress, which solved...exactly nothing, right? Any accomplishments from two years of Democrats in Congress?

    Zero...matches Obama's accomplishments, though, so now we have the completed set.


  3. BC: the time for hoping for Bush success had long passed. The hope is that Obama can rally enough support (I count you as a lost cause) to reverse the fall.

    In fact there were several accomplishments of the recent Congress, although they were mostly thwarted by a recalcitrant opposition who -- despite decrying it only two years earlier -- used filibuster to trash progress. And I agree the Dems were lilly-livered in their unwillingness more effectively to confront that obstructionism. We agree on that.

    My point -- which, as usual, you either miss or deliberately ignore -- is to give Obama a chance, and to hope for success because if he fails, we all do. You obviously don't see it that way. I did hope for Bush's success early on, and after 9/11 most especially, right up until he decided to invade Iraq. I hoped I was wrong, but I saw it as the disaster it turned out to be.

    It became obvious long ago that Bush was a failure and the only hope was that his successor would be able to undo some of the damage. For you to wish Obama ill even before seeing what he will or won't do is exactly the attitude that could, for you own personal satisfaction, drag us under. Enjoy the ride.

  4. Sid,

    I think you're mistaken trying to reason with the likes of BC. You're a better man than I am. He's a symptom of the whole problem: blind and vindictive partisanship. I can't help but think there are millions of 'em out there--I've actually tortured myself by reading several reams of their blather--people who would rather see Obama fail and the country go down the crapper rather than admit the Republican approach is bankrupt, literally and figuratively.

  5. baysage: there are indeed a lot of them out there, and their commentary on various blog, on talk radio, is really depressing, because as we've both said, to fail now is to head off a cliff. Those who claim a corner on the love-of-country market, who agreed with Sarah Palin that there were parts of the country that were real and which loved America as opposed to everywhere else (I assume you saw the irony that the county in which she made her most famous claim to that effect went for Obama), are now the ones who are implicitly wishing the country harm.

    I'm certain there are many, like BC, who'll never change, no matter how successful Obama might be in finding solutions. But I'm hopeful that if indeed he manages well, many doubters will be persuaded. Only time will tell.

  6. Here's an article you all might read on Bush hatred. It's written by one of those smart people you adore who went to approved colleges. Sounds just like you:

    "Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent."

    I already said I would support Obama. Perhaps you are deliberately ignoring that.


  7. BC: I guess there will always be haters. Certainly none were more so than those against Clinton. The whole idea is a little silly: is thinking his efforts --Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, illegal wiretaps, incompetent response to Katrina, deliberate politicizing of the DOJ, ignoring the Constitution, Iraq, polarization, ignoring climate science, environmental science, basing foreign aid on abortion politics, ruining our international standing, destroying the economy, failures in the Middle East, ignoring Korea until just now, bolstering the standing of Iran -- were damaging to the country just to be passed off as "Bush hatred?" It's an excuse, a way to avoid confronting the issues about which his opposition were upset. I hate what he did to the country. For many good reasons. I don't hate the man, although I'd not invite him to dinner. I wish him a happy retirement and a long time out of the public eye.

    Your saying you "support" Obama is pretty thin soup, after the many comments you've made, before and after the election. What does "support" mean to you? Here's what it means to me: wait until he does a few things before condemning; write your representatives and tell them you want them to put aside politics (whichever party yours are) and work together to solve the economy, the budget, energy, health care.... You can save a stamp, and email them.

  8. P.S: a little hard to read the article, since you provided no link. But I think I can hear it in my head.

  9. Luckily, the only people we've met and talked with -- in both Nevada and Oregon -- had voted for Obama.

    One of the very capable and intelligent authors I interviewed on OPB, who hired my ex-husband in a production capacity at ABC in the 1960s, came up with a stunning post at the Smirking Chimp website. It's called "Down the Slippery Slope." He believes America chose "the lesser of two evils" and makes a case for his position.

    If you or anyone else cares to read the piece, it's here.

    Biography of the author:

    Stephen Fleischman, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir "A Red in the House" is now in print. You can comment on his blog or e-mail him at


  10. Shoot-I always do that. Oh well, I'm just a Republican.


  11. Ellen, the link doesn't quite work. I might point out that in a thread about respect of the president, a blog named "The Smirking Chimp" with a picture of W is notable. Perhaps you would find a blog about Obama with the title "Jug Ears" offensive.

    Sid, believe it or not, I had dinner with friends, none of whom voted for BO. We toaseted the new pres and hope for success for the country.

    The standard by which BO is rated is his own: what he promised during the campaign. I could use a tax break. He promised me one, but he also promised to take the public financing. I think his tax increase on higher incomes is wrong-thinking, and his new rate doesn't provide enough to cover his promised tax cuts, though he says it does. We'll see, won't we?

    I don't think I have been personally disrespectful to BO. If I have, it was not my intent. I do think that I have read lines and lines of disrespect to McCain, Bush, Palin, et al. The argument I always hear is that those people are actually worthy of disrespect, so no-harm-no-foul. I think that reasoning is obviously flawed and shows that you don't understand that there are other valid viewpoints.

    Now, go back to reading your blog of hating Bush, president smirking chimp. And then talk about respect and support.


  12. Sorry about that, Sid -- and "anonymous" --

    Stephen Fleischman's link failed in a post above. I haven't been able to unravel it to Blogger's HTML requirements.

    This is it (cut and paste, please):

    PS. Anonymous, I completely agree with you about the chimpanzee idea. I tried for four years to stay away from that characterization.

    However, like Sid, I hope GWB just retires and fades away. I'm entitled to my opinions, and so are you. With the lowest favorability rating of any president, the historians will have to judge him long after I am gone.



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