Absentee Dadon August 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm
Keuth Koffler is a White House correspondent who maintains a blog called White House Dossier. This generally even-temperered conservative nonetheless provides ample red meat for sedentary Che Guevara’s like myself, and I comment on his posts often. I thought his most recent editorial deserved some deconstruction.
Keith leads off by taking the temperature of the zeitgeist, and–no surprise–discovers that America is in an unprecedented spiral into the abyss:
“There is a sickness gripping America, an systemic illness that threatens President Obama more than any particular problem. Because the problems are but symptoms of the illness. Two of the symptoms appeared just in the last few hours: the downgrade of U.S. debt, and the shooting down of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special forces. The downgrade is not just an economic blow; it’s a disgrace. (…) The illness, perceived by a country that overwhelmingly says things are on the wrong track, is such: This country is out of control, and the president is either incompetent or unwilling to lead it. Other symptoms abound: the abnegation of the U.S. leadership in the world, the rise of China to take our place, the failure to deal with a gnat like Qaddafi, the high price of gasoline, the millions of jobless American. The president has both created the illness and failed to cure it(…)”
Koffler’s sentiments could have been written by anyone at anytime during a period of economic malaise, and revisionist history (encapsulated in the last sentence quoted above) always trots at the heels of those who have just woken up to long-term trends. The skyrocketing price of gasoline , the ascension of China as a first-world economy and two fruitless wars are not new crises at all. They erupted into full bloom under George W. Bush. But dealing with these facts sanely would require that the Republican’s be willing to address publicly the emptiness of their own promises over the past decade. If this reconciliation to facts were paired with the anxiety of a largely deflated Democratic base, the resultant honesty could pave the way for a serious reconstitution of our leadership class.
Instead, the conservatives, their faces covered in crusted egg, have chosen the other route: The Tea Party, a rigid (and we see now see largely catastrophe-bent) resurgent right wing, which seeks to do in one congressional term what the Republicans have pledged and failed to do since Reagan: shrink government to the point of being able to “drown it in a bathtub”. But the Tea Party is both the product and victim of our times. Spurred by a rapid growth in spending. they have arrived too late for their dogma of a taxless Utopia to undo the damage that their own forebears have wrought.
Not that Obama has managed to distinguish himself as the man of the hour that the times cry out for, but considering the hog waller he inherited he could be doing worse. And yet the conservatives have employed pure schizophrenia against Obama from the moment that John Roberts fucked up his swearing-in. They demand leadership but put a shotgun to his balls from the moment he wakes up in the morning. How can a president lead a country where half the population questions his very citizenship? Meanwhile, seasoned Republicans cannot figure out whether to burn the president in effigy or seek asylum in Saudi Arabia. John Boehner has proven his impotence at wrangling the Uruk Hai of his upstart House, while even low simmer Republicans like Mitch McConnell are pleased to tell the nation that Congress’ agenda is not governance, but making Barack Obama a one-term president. Is anyone surprised, then, that the mood of the public is like one of children waiting for Mommy and Daddy to announce their divorce?
Koffler, again revealing his deliberate ignorance of recent history, continues to lay at Obama’s feet the sins for which Republicans past and present were co-signers:
“(Obama) is a leader who has never led anything larger than a Senate office, and he is a liberal ideologue. The credit downgrade is the direct result of the president’s failure to get a handle on the cascading U.S. debt, a potentially existential threat to the nation. (…) His ideology trumped any sense of responsible management of the country. Similarly the war in Afghanistan. Presented by the military with the options of increasing troops by 80,000 to get the job done or 40,000 to maybe get the job done, he took 35,000. And just as even this limited number was starting to have some success, he began withdrawing them. If the job is not going to get done, it would have been better to take the option that had been offered by Vice President Biden – ignominious defeat, with the withdrawal of most troops while trying to keep the pressure on al Qaeda.”
I don’t know which is more delusional: the notion that our recent credit downgrade is the result of anything less than the game of Russian Roulette that the Republicans just played with our credit score in order to preserve unsustainable tax rates or the idea that there is a magic troop level for Afghanistan that will get anything “done” except prolong a war where we have nothing —nothing— at stake. Al-Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the American public simply doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Taliban. If this war could have been won– a term that even the army fighting it concedes has no meaning– it would have been won years ago. But conservatives, who think that there is still some prestige to be had by grinding down the poorest nation on the planet, just cannot let this one go.
Koffler’s rose-colored cynicism puts me in mind of a quote from George Orwell:
“Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. (…) This habit of mind leads also to the belief that things will happen more quickly, completely, and catastrophically than they ever do in practice.”
But what “power” are conservatives idolizing? Surely not Obama, who they hate out of all proportion. Instead they bend the knee to today’s rough circumstances, because today is all they know. They cannot look backwards and see what has brought us here lest they see George W. Bush occluding Ronald Reagan. They cannot stare the facts of geo-capitalism in the eye to discover that free trade has given China the advantages that they are now exploiting with gusto. They hate the wars they loved only one election cycle earlier and do not know why we can’t just push a button and “get ‘er done”. Far from being exuberant patriots, today’s conservatives are extremely pessimistic, and it is their own rancor which feeds this outlook. This is masturbation at it’s most vicious.
The conservatives have chosen the path of bitterness, acrimony and power politics for their own sake. This is why they can’t see the prospect of China burning itself out as their economic growth wanes more rapidly then ours by dint of their enormous and now restive population. They cannot anticipate the benefit to our economy of calling it quits in the wars that America has, at heart, abandoned years ago. They see the end of our shuttle program, and don’t feel a swell of pride at all for a nation that just launched a probe to Jupiter, and will soon put another rover on Mars.
Ironically, what Koffler’s editorial reveals is the same fact disclosed by all that Reagan-humping the conservatives are fond of. They dislike Obama because he will not play the daddy. Conservatives are exactly the opposite of the macho, self-reliant John Galt’s they ooze over. They are traditionalists, and that means hearth and home and the strong embrace of a powerful father figure. That is what they want out of a president, not some mellow accommodator.
And Obama likes being a father! It is his strength. He even wrote a gushing children’s book dedicated to his daughters. But that (if I may wildly extend my analogy), is the problem. He is the father of daughters. The conservatives are little boys, and they have been breaking a lot of lamps lately.
It is time for Barack Huessein Obama to bring a little of that Hussein to the forefront. Give the conservatives the no-bullshit attitude they secretly crave. And that would begin by having them hike down their britches and brace for an ass-tanning. They just lost us our Triple-A credit score, and that is going to cost America plenty. If Obama is smart, he’ll let the Republican’s know that their father just came home, and he’s got booze on his breath.