January 2009: huge Democratic majorities, a hot new president who came out of nowhere to crush the old guard, a fired-up popular movement dominated by youth. Anything is possible, right?
So what do we get? A two-year plea to the losers to please come inside while the Yes We Can movement is systematically jettisoned. No movement on Guantánmo, no action on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (despite the military’s readiness to give it away), no face-down of the banker-criminals, a double-down extension of the Afghanistan war. A half-hearted stimulus with no direct jobs-production component and the health insurance rewrite from hell.
The iron is now cold, and behold, whaddaya know? Now that the danger is passed, the old creeps are rushing back on stage with all their worst ideas. The new Marine Corps head wants to preserve DA/DT after all, and Lindsey Graham thinks it would be nice to bomb the shit out of Iran. Time to give the super-rich new tax breaks and restart the privatize Social Security campaign so that Wall Street can loot that too. (Obama: I’m open to all ideas from my Republican friends—even totally fucked ones.)
The Bush-era agenda is about to come surging back as if those guys were still in charge, which thanks to Obama, they sort of are. But the circumstances are in some ways worse given that the loonies from that debacle now don’t have to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong and can just snipe from the sidelines.
The most ominous development is the talk about ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran, starting with David Broder at the Washington Post, who said that threatening yet another war would be a great way for Obama to restore his standing.
(I strongly recommend this article on it describing how the Republicans could induce Obama to do their dirty work—it makes all too much sense.) Graham’s endorsement turns yesterday’s wacky into today’s normal, and Obama is so reluctant to say no to the powerful that he is unlikely to quash the talk, thus enabling more of it.
Unless there is a change of climate at the White House—which would signal the existence of an Obama heretofore unseen—the next two years could outdo late Bush in awfulness. Obama has to turn things around by showing he’s not afraid of actually exercising the power that his office awards him. If he’s not capable of that, he shouldn’t have run for it in the first place.
Incidentally, I love the fact that Graham spoke of ‘neutering’ the Iranian regime—this from a guy threatened last year by rumors in his own camp that he is a closet case. No better way to tamp those down than to look butcher than a Marine platoon—from the safety of a fancy office in Washington, of course.