Work and Days

Fantasies, Present and Future

The Obama administration has offered a number of recent fantasies. Here are a few examples.

a) Despite owning the presidency, the House, and a filibuster-proof Senate between 2009-10, the president could not introduce an immigration bill, in the manner he rammed through health care? What nefarious force stopped him, and why does he blame “them” in a recent speech in El Paso? Who are “they,” who so illiberally sidetracked his immigration visions during his first two years, and instead preferred “alligators and moats” to reform? Democrats in the House, Senate, or administration between 2009 and 2010?

b) How in the El Paso speech can one pontificate about and deplore partisan politics and “ugly rhetoric” on immigration when at the same time asking the audience to log on to a White House website to lobby for the president’s political agenda — a few months after asking “Latinos” to “punish” their Republican “enemies”? Is the latter “ugly rhetoric”? If not, why? And was it not more ugly rhetoric, when his whipped-up audience interrupted his own cheerleading with “they’re racists!”?

c) Obama also swore that 650 miles of border fencing of all sorts along a 1,900 mile-plus Mexico-U.S. border means that the border fence “is basically completed.” How does less than one third of a task constitute “basically completed?” What does “basically” mean?

d) In his speech on the debt a month ago, Obama seemed confused over the sudden additional $5 trillion in debt. But who ran that up between 2009-2011? A Republican House, Senate, or President Bush? A Republican-controlled Congress? And what happened to his own debt commission?

e) If not raising income tax rates was smart in December 2010, why is raising them suddenly smart in April 2011?

f) Why was voting against raising the debt ceiling in 2006 considered principled when we owed $8 trillion, but it is not when we owe $14 trillion?

g) We are to believe that future additional drilling in the U.S. will not help lower world oil or gas prices, but calling on the Middle East to pump more, or praising Brazil’s proposed commitment to offshore exploration, will?

h) What role does inviting a rap “poet” to the White House who has praised a cop-killer and invoked violent imagery about the former president play in the promised new age of civility?

i) How can increasing five-fold Predator targeted assassination missions against suspected terrorists, dropping precision bombs to take out the person and family of Muammar Gaddafi, and ordering a hit on Bin Laden be considered OK, but waterboarding three admitted terrorists who claimed responsibility for 9/11 and gave information that led to the demise of bin Laden be considered both amoral and illegal?

j) How can we praise the authority of the UN and our newfound compliance with its authorizations, when we cite a UN resolution to offer humanitarian aid and to enforce a no-fly-zone over Libya — but then deliberately subvert them by trying to bomb and kill Gaddafi, whose destruction is and is not the object of our campaign, but most certainly not in the praised UN resolution?

As before, I will let readers decide the answers to the above questions from the usual alternatives previously discussed:

a) Obama has no idea of what he is doing, so he makes things up daily without worry that they often contradict what he has said before, or make no sense at all: no drill here, drill in Brazil; whatever — when do we tee off?

b) Obama knows exactly what he is doing — shifting positions hourly, without worry about prior statements, to reflect political, poll-based realities — but he counts on the media, his rhetorical skills, and his supporters to play down inconsistencies and hypocrisies: What do 51% feel today about spending, health care, higher taxes? OK, give another exemption from ObamaCare or another talk on the deficit.

c) All presidents make up things and flip-flop; Obama is thus typical and not exceptional: Why should I care what I said as a senator or campaigner—did you really expect me to turn down Goldman Sachs and BP money to abide by campaign finance reform?

d) In all these cases, there is a pattern: the liberal vision is more noble and therefore justifies the means to achieve it, even if at times it proves inconsistent, hypocritical, and illogical. What some call hypocrisy and contradiction is just the rocky road of politics necessary to get to the promised progressive land: you have to bring a gun to a knife fight and “get in their faces” to bring hope and change.

One thing is certain; we have now seen the blueprint of the 2012 campaign. It consists of four parts:

1) There will be no reference to or defense of four years of record massive debt, sky-high gas prices, creeping inflation, 9% unemployment, or slow growth— only on the “mess” that Obama inherited 48 months prior.

2) Constant demonization of a bogeyman “they” and “them”: Sometimes it will be old George Bush, sometimes John Boehner and his House, sometimes BP-type CEOs, sometime tea-party reactionaries. Such partisan selfish types want to throw Down syndrome children into the street, deny Juan Lopez his PhD because of a minor immigration technicality, and insist on tax breaks for their junkets to Costa del Sol, Martha’s Vineyard, or Vail.

3) Race all the time: a sort of passive/aggressive invocation of race. On the one hand, we get the beer summit and reckless charges against the Boston police, Eric Holder’s “my people”/”cowards”, “wise Latina”, “sit in the back” of the car, Van Jones’ rants, a cop-hating rapper in the White House, juxtaposed with accusations from Obama supporters of racist and biased opponents of the Obama agenda: emphasize racial tensions, then charge racism when anyone resents such divisiveness.

4) Money and media: raise a billion dollars from the Wall Street and corporate BP/Goldman Sachs types that one trashes publicly. Ignore public campaign financing again, while praising government intervention everywhere else. Praise and court high-brow media (NPR, NY Times, CBS, NBC, etc.) while not letting up on the usual demons — Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity, Drudge, etc.

The debate will be over 2008, not 2009-2012; the issues will be the callousness of conservatives, not the bankruptcy and recessionary economy of the nation; most criticism of Obama will arise from racial animosity, and big money will be as courted privately as those who make it are publicly scorned.

Get ready, it should be interesting…