Further thoughts on Obama's conference with Congressional Rs.
Only the most ideologically hidebound could, after watching it, continue to think of him as some sort of left wing fanatic. Only those who truly wish him ill or who care only about party power could claim not to have seen something unique, and desirable. Namely, a president who is intelligent, thoroughly versed on a wide range of subjects, and who truly wants to rise above hyper-partisanship in the name of getting something done. Who relishes and demands factual debate.
This is, most decidedly, NOT to say that conservatives ought to agree with him, nor that Obama hasn't made mistakes. But it IS to say that people who actually agree the US has deep problems, and who think solutions are needed, and who understand that in democracy it simply never happens -- and ought not to -- that everyone or anyone gets everything they want, should be able to say, y'know, he's right about some of this. We DO need to tone down the rhetoric, we DO need to stop claiming he's the devil incarnate, we DO need to be willing to place solutions above self-solvency. For our survival, all-or-nothing politics has to stop.
In a time of great need -- perhaps, other than WWII, our greatest need -- we most amazingly managed to elect exactly the right president. The smartest guy to occupy the office in a long long time. The first in a longer time who really is NOT a hardened ideologue, who IS willing to take difficult positions, to disappoint his "base" as well as to piss off his opponents, for what he thinks is the greater good. Actually to listen to -- to demand that he got -- opposing views.
We're blowing it.
When you see how easily refuted are the right wing talking points, how much of their positions to date have been smoke and mirrors; when you see the extent to which a media network has taken up those falsehoods, and how uncritically the tea partiers have accepted them; when you see how polarized our politics have become, in large measure (in my opinion) because Republican leaders have recognized the power of reasonableness in a Democratic president and its effect on their future; when you see all this it's hard not to feel deep sadness.
We really need a president like this -- if there were a Republican in the office who spoke as much sense, I'd hope I'd be able to see it, and I'd hope a Democratic Congress could see it too. (For the record, they cooperated with a recent R president who was anything but that, so, unlike the Rs, I expect they would again. But that's Ds for you. Occasionally, at least, agreeing that elections have consequences. Occasionally, at least, voting for less than they'd have preferred, in order to move things forwards. So far, not a single R has done that during this administration. Not one. Not when it mattered.)
Thus is explained my deep disappointment and my belief that we are doomed as a nation. We actually had a president willing to think, to act, to seek help, to look for common solutions. And we're completely blowing the opportunity.
On the right wing blogs there are comments on the conference, saying it revealed how evil Obama is; confirmed he can't talk without a teleprompter; made himself a laughing stock. (There were actually a couple along these lines:
Obama did not look "bumbling", rather he looked like a lion tamer who walked into the cage before 140 Republicans and proved that he can master them without a Teleprompter. Obama looked fully in command. The Republicans did not do a good job of grilling him, they were pathetic. He walked into their trap but he sprung it on them. To the contrary, we should be very afraid of Obama [me interjecting here: "afraid?" Of a reasonable president? We're f*cked.] because he is one of the best mechanics and craftsman among politicians alive today... no self-respecting observer will ever again say that Obama cannot operate without a Teleprompter and we will cease deceiving ourselves, at least in this respect.
But it's pretty clear: most of them see what they want to see. In this case, however, it really is one of those situations: who you gonna believe: me, or your lying eyes? (Where "me," of course, is all those RWS™ and their mignons.)
As the President said, in demonizing him to the degree they have, Rs have left themselves virtually no room for negotiation. In acceding to the vitriolic RWS™ they've set themselves up for banishment from their party were they to make the slightest move toward compromise. Happily whipping up hated built on falsehood, they've given themselves, and the rest of us, no way out. It's no way to run a country. Particularly one in such peril.
If we last long enough for the history to be written, and if there's anything left to be found by the intelligent species that might take our place, it'll be said:
In their final and best chance to right their drifting ship, the United States of America, having improbably elected a person willing and able to steer that ship, blew its chance in a dance of self-destruction and unfocused rage. At the time when they needed it most, they actually had the makings of correction. But, led by a dishonest and self-interested media enterprise, picking as opposition leaders people fully willing to lie and to obstruct, they -- in numbers great enough to matter -- chose instead to let opportunity slip away. Accelerated by the misfortune of having a feckless majority leadership, unable to have their voices heard above the din, the tragedy continued. Except once. Briefly. When the President came and spoke to the opposition. But it was drowned and expunged within days, and they resumed their steady drift onto the rocks. That is all we know of this strange civilization; but we can safely conclude the world is probably better off without them.