Storm Clouds on the Fourth of July

I don't think I've ever seen my country so divided and depressed on the Fourth of July in my lifetime and - no matter what Bob Dylan dreamed up - I'm not young, forever or otherwise. That includes the Vietnam War period when both sides at least had some conviction and excitement for the future, even if wrong. Not so now. The current situation is grim.

Obama is already over. In six short months the now-spattered bumper stickers with "Hope and Change" seem like pathetic remnants from the days of "23 Skidoo," the echoes of "Yes, we can" more nauseating than ever in their cliché-ridden evasiveness. Although they may pretend otherwise, even Obama's choir in the mainstream media seems to know he's finished, their defenses of his wildly over-priced medical and cap-and-trade schemes perfunctory at best. Everyone knows we can't afford them. His stimulus plan - if you could call it his, maybe it's Geithner's, maybe it's someone else's, maybe it's not a plan at all - has produced absolutely nothing. In fact, I have met not one person of any ideology who evinces genuine confidence in it.

On the foreign policy front, it's more embarrassing. He switches positions every day, such as they are, while acting like a petit-bourgeois snob with our allies and then, when people with genuine passion for democracy emerge on the scene (the courageous Iranian protestors), behaves like a cringeworthy, equivocating creep. Enough of Obama.

Only the Republicans are barely any better. We have yet to hear any original ideas from them and there isn't a real leader on the horizon, mostly retreads like Gingrich and Romney and disappointments, to put it mildly, like Mark Sanford. I write this only hours after Sarah Palin's announcement of her resignation as Alaska governor and don't know yet what to make of that. I certainly agree with those who say the attacks on her were unconscionable, but I challenge her most staunch defenders to say that this is really the kind of person to lead us out of our Twenty-First Century malaise.