Sunday, October 03, 2010

What have you done for me lately?

I was having a late lunch with a friend of mine yesterday, Russ, who volunteers for the Martin Heinrich campaign. And he mentioned a campaign mailer that he helped send out, which showed Heinrich's opponent, along with McCain, Palin and other Republicans. This is one of the basic messages from Democrats this year. "OK, so we suck. But they suck more!"

That's not really a message that raises people's spirits, is it? Not really inspiring hope, right there.

But that seems to be the nature of this political season. Go negative, as hard as possible. And while you might be expecting this to be a Republican tactic (after all, if you have no new ideas of your own, what do you campaign on?), it's coming from the Democrats, too.

Was there ever a time in America when politicians would just run on their accomplishments? Or at least show how your political beliefs are improving the country?

Well, we can thank that media narrative being advanced by the right-wing press, who want us to believe that a Democratic White House and a Democratic-controlled Congress are getting nothing done. Or worse, destroying the country.

Some Democrats are just leaving Obama out of their ads (and at least one tongue-kisses George W. Bush). Because, after all, Obama hasn't been able to get anything done, has he?

Which, of course, is complete bullshit. But try telling that to the media.

(Perhaps this is why Bush's "No Child Left Behind" focuses more on children regurgitating what they've been told recently, and less on critical thinking. A compliant electorate, used to being fed the answers and not thinking about the questions, is easier to fool.)

Now, admittedly, anything that the Obama administration has accomplished has been over the intractable resistance of a Republican party who would watch the country to fall to ruins before they'd allow a Democratic President to succeed. Hell, they're already planning, if they "win" the midterms, to do absolutely nothing except smear the president. (You know, like the end of Clinton's term, only with less ethical investigators and a compliant press.)

Obama took an economy in free-fall, and has managed to stop the plummet. It's true that everything isn't perfect. But consider what this country was up against.
"Hey, you've had two years to clean up what we took eight years to break! Aren't you done yet?"
Despite what the GOP desperately want you to believe, Obama's stimulus program worked. It didn't work well enough, because Obama and his advisors were too conservative - it didn't go far enough, but it still worked.

In the words of Alan S. Blinder (professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board):
TARP must be among the most reviled and misunderstood programs in the history of the republic. Voters are clearly appalled by the idea that their government spent $700 billion bailing out banks.

The only problem is: It didn't. Even if we count insurance giant AIG as a bank, no more than $300 billion ever went to banks. TARP's total disbursements, including the auto bailout, never reached the $400 billion mark. The money went for loans and to purchase preferred stock; it was not "spent." In fact, most of it has already been paid back—with interest and capital gains. When TARP's books are eventually closed, the net cost to the taxpayer will probably be under $100 billion—far under if General Motors ever repays.

Spending perhaps $50 billion of taxpayer money to forestall a financial cataclysm seems like a bargain. Yes, I know it's maddening to hand over even a nickel to bankers who don't deserve it. But doing so was a necessary evil to save the economy. Think of it as collateral damage in a successful war against financial armageddon.
And it continues. He's enacted cuts in spending, instituted financial reforms to prevent another economic meltdown, passed credit card reform to keep the banks from stealing from you directly.

Oh, and he also passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to essentially prevent businesses from saying "Hey, she let us fuck her for four months before she complained. It must not be an issue! So we can keep on fucking her!"

He has installed not one, but two female Supreme Court justices; Elena Kagan actually started her new job on Friday. There have been twenty Supreme Court Justices appointed since 1960 (date chosen arbitrarily as the second wave of the Feminist movement). Only four of them have been women: they make up 51% of the population, they're equally affected by the law, but only four have been appointed to the Supreme Court; and Obama is responsible for doubling that number. And, by the way, we also have the first Hispanic Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.

(Think of that number for a second, by the way. Fifty years, and only twenty Justices. You wonder why American jurisprudence is so freaking slow? Where's the anti-incumbent crowd on this issue?)

You know that a lot of the provisions in healthcare reform just kicked in, right? Yes, it could have been better, it could have had a public option, it could have given puppies and kittens to every child in the United States. But it's also the first major healthcare change since the Medicare and Medicaid legislation was passed almost half a century ago.

And despite the panicked cries of the ignorant and ill-informed (as well as the blatant liars), it's entirely market-based, without even a tinge of socialism.

And America is now safer than it was just twenty-one months ago. America's reputation in the international community is improved, we are withdrawing from Iraq, in as safe a manner as possible. And we're moving toward an effective nuclear treaty among the world's major powers.

And these are just highlights, without even mentioning advances in environmental protection, science and education, among others.

George Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But at the moment, maybe we should just work on understanding current events.


The Real World said...

"And, by the way, we also have the first Hispanic Justice, Sonia Sotomayor."

You aren't counting Benjamin Cardozo?

Nameless Cynic said...

You aren't counting Benjamin Cardozo?

A Sephardic Jew with Portugese ancestors? Yeah, I'm pretty happy not counting him.