Sunday, 24 February 2013

Budget hijacking

‘Sequester’ carries the echo of the latinate words for ‘kidnapping’ (secuestro in Spanish), which is a pretty accurate description of where the wacko brigades are leading our national polity these days. Sadly, I don’t see Barack O as much of an action hero capable of elbowing the guns out of their hands and saving the innocent maidens.

It’s actually kind of funny that Mr Reasonable is suddenly discovering that his let-us-now-hold-hands-and-sing approach to these goons is going nowhere. As Mike Davies points out in an interesting New Left Review summary, the extremist wing of the GOP is not only geographically concentrated in the old Confederacy and a few patches of the Great Empty (Kansas, Idaho, etc.), its attitude is highly reminiscent of the ‘massive resistance’ era of die-hard segregationists in the 1950s and ’60s.

In vehemence and intent, . . . the Tea Party reincarnates much of the bigotry and intransigence of the White Citizens’ Councils, albeit with the moral salves of a few reactionary black celebrities. . . when governors and legislators in coordination with congressional delegations defied all the rules of coalition-building, compromise and obedience to the Washington establishment in order to wage all-out war against black political empowerment.

That’s a good insight into why Obama’s search for common ground with these people was a fantasy. But it raises the question of what would have been a reasonable or workable strategy and, more to the point, what can be done about them now?

I don’t pretend to know, but confronting reality is always a good starting point. It now looks as though the ‘sequester’, i.e., the announced attempt to cripple all governmental functions so that our elected government will be intimidated into retreating from the positions we voted for, is going to happen. Unless President O or someone is willing to deploy some serious hardball countermeasures—like maybe cancelling a couple big Pentagon procurement contracts in certain strategically located defense plants?—they will get more and more of what they want.

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