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Seizing The Moment/The Obama Condition

Most, if not all, Presidents are, and have been, students of history. Knowing this, I sit here wondering why President Obama has not, or, by the time many of you read this, did not, take any of the myriad opportunities available to him to stand up and forcefully seize the moment. Didn’t he, or whoever was/is advising him, ever stop to consider just how patently fed up America’s citoyens  must have been to even think of putting a black man in the white house? Don’t they realize that in this America perception is everything? Obama was elected holding a full house aces up and has played his hand as if he has been holding a pair of deuces. His main Republican opposition is the so-called Tea Party, a gaggle of mouth breathers with little or no knowledge of history, economics, and The Constitution of this country, which they will proudly defend with the flag of all their glorious ignorance flying. This Tea Party is none other than the Koch brothers, the corporations – mainly oil and gas, big pharma, and agri-business – Grover Norquist, (wouldn’t you know it, a tax schemer – google Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, and Indian Gaming), and his highness Rush Limbaugh. Polls clearly show that most of the electorate does not like this bunch. Paradoxically, the Tea Party members of congress were elected to govern and they hate government. The voters who elected these folks were plainly, and understandably angry. But they weren’t exactly clear as to who it was that they should have been angry with. That, coupled with how relatively ill-informed they were by their major sources of “facts” – Limbaugh and Fox News, and how easily they could be whipped up and manipulated to act against their own interest, made it the perfect right-wing storm. All this I can understand. What I can not understand is how, given what we have seen of the Tea Party/conservative Republican agenda, these people can ever get re-elected, their entire agenda consisting of no new taxes on the wealthiest one per cent of us, and destroying this nigger who had the downright temerity, the unmitigated gall, the fucking nerve, to get his skinny black ass elected to the highest office in the land. For someone to vote Republican now means to me that they are either very rich, very ignorant, very against the working class (which ironically, most of these dumb-ass Republican voters belong to), or just out and out racist.

Which brings me back to the mystery of why President Barack Obama seems unwilling, or is unable, to stand up to these bullies when he must know the entire schoolyard has his back. He has had quite a few chances during his time in office to stand up and say in effect, a la Teddy Roosevelt, FDR,  Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon Johnson “I’m the boss, and this is the way we’re going do this, and if you don’t like it here’s your hat, and there’s the door”. To a varying degree these presidents all faced hostile congresses, even from their own party. Why, even George W. Bush for crying out loud gets points for driving us into a war by sheer force of will, and taking a stand in defending the lousy performance of Donald Rumsfeld saying, “I’m the decider”, never mind that what he was “deciding” was all wrong. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s right or wrong, the show of strength is all. President Obama had two years with a Democratic congress. Two years before anyone from the tea baggers got into office. As much as he has accomplished he still hasn’t pulled all our troops out of Bush’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, turned the terrorist deal over to Interpol where it belonged in the first place, and put this great tranche of money into an Infrastructure Bank, rebuilding our country and putting people back to work at the same time.  Obviously these wars have gone a long way towards driving us into the economic ditch we find ourselves in. The money we are still spending on these wars, and all their ancillary costs, could easily put us on the path to recovery. Why didn’t Obama take page out of the history he must know by heart and mimic FDR’s famous First Hundred Days? He had a golden opportunity. In this recent debt ceiling fiasco for example, in which for the umpteenth time the Republicans refused any sort of a reasonable compromise, and the public, whether they understood what was going on or not, could clearly see the Republicans were making unreasonable demand after unreasonable demand, not to mention walking out of the negotiation, Obama would have gained an enormous amount of political capital by seizing the moment and using the fourteenth amendment – thereby enacting exactly the bill he wanted without any conditions. In effect saying “I’m running the show, not you”. Why didn’t the people who make the political calculations for Obama advise him of how much we all were wanting, needing, and waiting for him to say “fuck you” to this piss ant Eric Cantor and these tea-baggers? And we still are. Did they not know this? Do they not know this? Did they not calculate that every Democrat, and most of the working class voters in that mysterious undecided category, who’ve been waiting to see him get up on his hind legs, would stand behind him cheering? If they didn’t, or if they don’t, then they should all be replaced immediately. This simple action alone could have locked up the 2012 election right here and now.

Today in Wisconsin a parade was held to thank the Democrats for standing up for union rights against their newly elected, and soon to be recalled, Koch Brother’s stooge and Tea Party Governor Scott Whatever-his-name-is. Seventy per cent of the voters in Wisconsin agreed with what the Democratic legislators did to protest this anti-union Republican attack. How much more evidence is needed by Obama, and his people, to convince them to take a “fuck all y’all” stand against the Draconian ideas of the Republican Far Right-wing?

Or, could it just be that we are behaving in exactly the same fashion as Obama and his advisors in expecting a different outcome from the same repeated set of circumstances? They think that these crazy tea baggers will finally compromise, and we think that this man will finally, even after repeated wasted opportunities, turn into FDR…and it ain’t gonna happen. What is happening though, is that this good man is losing his popularity with the American electorate not because of his policies, but because he continues to be the reasonable conciliatory adult in the face of the uninformed, unreasonable, intractable, children who oppose him. Yes, perception is everything, and whether the facts back it up, or not, doesn’t matter. What matters in our new virtual, instant society, is that the man has had his chances to make the Grand Gesture, and he repeatedly has not. And what’s killing me here, and the paradoxical part of all this, is that these right-wingers are behaving in a way that I actually have to admire in that they are taking a hard principled stand for what they believe in…but unfortunately, what they believe in is just mean and selfish shit, while the guy I admire because he’s not mean and selfish is acting in a way that reads ineffectual, and just plain ticks me off. And, far from seizing the moment, the moments seem to be seizing him.

About barkinginthedark

Tony Powers is a writer/actor/musician. His full bio may be seen by clicking on the picture, and then clicking on either of the 2 boxes below it.

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