Friday, December 25, 2009


It's not easy for someone who used to have a sign on his desk that said "If I wanted it tomorrow, I'd ask for it tomorrow" to counsel patience. But I've been watching as the pundits and various talking heads keep complaining that the President hasn't done this or that already. There are some excellent reasons why he hasn't and I wish we'd hear more about them instead of this carping.

First of all, he inherited an unholy economic mess. We now have a bunch of worriers about the federal debt who never muttered a word during his predecessor's budget busting. We have Wall St. types still aiming to do business the old-fashioned way--by selling crap, dressed up so most people don't understand what it is.

Most important, he inherited a war that was started on lies and weakened the U.S. ability to fight a real war--against Al Quaeda, not Iraq or even Afghanistan. He's in both of those places, stuck because despite his belief that the war was wrong, he won't just pull up stakes.

Next, the Democratic Party doesn't function the way the Republicans do, for better or worse. The GOP is intent on pure destruction. Democrats are usually afraid to stand up for their principles. They are phony populists--if only because they look to big money for their campaigns and there is none in populism. That's why people like Rubin and Summers and Geithner are still around. They weren't actually crooks like Ken Lay and the Enron-ers but they really don't care if Wall Street lays still more eggs that sink the economy.

Bill Maher put it best: we have two partys, a center-right party called the Democrats and a totally crazy party called the Republicans. Democrats were afraid to really go after Bush II or Reagan, despite the expressed intent of both to wreck everything the Democratic Party supposedly stands for. I'll give Obama credit for trying to work with Republicans and look what he's gotten for it. He might as well get ready to unload on them with both barrels--it seems that they do that and everyone expects it. Today is the ultimate day to preach turn the other cheek but I'm afraid it doesn't work in American politics.

I'm slightly disappointed in Obama myself because I thought he stood for something. He doesn't seem to want to get out there and get his hands dirty fighting for anything except to get the bill passed. The Clintons were not very different, as it turned out. I'm starting to think that change is hard to produce in this country today because (1) no one really says how hard it is to attain, given the money needs of political campaigns and the lobbying and (2) there are too few Democrats of the Hubert Humphrey-Ted Kennedy type who will really fight. I'd certainly take LBJ today in view of how he knew how to work the Hill and his own dedication to principles that he wanted advanced, like civil rights--even though he knew it would lose the South for the Democrats for a generation.

Kennedy made political mistakes (I really care little about his or any of their personal lives.) such as going along with S.1, the crime bill. It took a fairly conservative Supreme Court to give federal judges back the sentencing power that bill took away from them and gave to prosecutors. It also ensconced ridiculously low levels in the law for conviction on drug crimes so we still have prisons filled with people who don't belong there, at huge cost. Yet Kennedy was almost always there for the good fight and he won a lot of them.

It's sort of sad now when the only folks who aren't afraid to come out strong and tell the real facts about so many things are people perceived as so far out they don't get taken seriously in Washington, such as Bernie Sanders or Alan Grayson.


  1. Richard: It's getting very hard to take Alan Grayson seriously, even if he did go to a fine law school. He has fallen too much in love with the sound of his voice. I posted as Anonymous but I'm Mae.

  2. He's retained some ability despite his attendance there. OK, he may be over the top at times but most of the Democrats never seem to take on the other side. They don't even provide good bites for the media, again as the other side keeps doing all the time. This is part of the reason the media keep buying the GOP garbage, or almost even worse, keep taking it seriously. I think Obama may now realize that they would never support any health bill of his.