Friday, June 13, 2014

It Could Have Been Worse

A strange quietude sets in during a president's second term. The opposition party falls silent, unable to excel their previous levels of hysteria or effect the desired change, they sit stolid but impotent. The party in power, however, is silent as well. Why could this be? Have they come to terms with their political sins? Are they full of regret? No, no, I say to you, dear optimist. We may enjoy a détente but there is no accord. Today, the vast majority of President Obama's supporters, I hazard, excuse or obfuscate his failings as follows.

The National Debt
How can you blame Obama for the national debt. Bush and Reagan did it too! It was actually Clinton who...

The Benghazi Affair
There's nothing to see here, this is a right wing conspiracy. If anyone was to blame it was Clinton, Kerry, or Rice, not Obama.

IRS Targeting
This is ridiculous. Stop watching Faux News. There were only a few people and the IRS went after democrats too. Ugh.

Drone Warfare, Kill Lists, and Assassinating an American Citizen
This is war. Besides they were obviously guilty and Obama read like philosophy and stuff before making any decisions. 

Invading Libya
But he left right away. And he didn't invade Syria or Iran. Iraq.

Afghanistan Withdrawal
Well there are fewer troops, right? And that was the good war and we won, right?

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
Are you kidding? This is his greatest achievement, like FDR and LBJ and Kennedy. Sure it had technological problems, but it's so complicated anything would have. Besides Canadians made it so it was really their fault. Kathleen Sebelius owned up to it being her fault anyway. It may be inefficient, but as long as it helps some people. It'll get better over time, anyway. 

Quantitative Easings (The Stimuli)
Like all the economists said to do this. Paul Krugman said to do even more.

Solyndra Financing
Come on that was like one company.

"Cash for Clunkers"
Again that was like one program and it wasn't probably even his idea.

Currency Inflation
Things are so expensive because the corporations are making so much money. 

Russo-American Diplomacy
Yeah but they respect Obama because he's so articulate. Bush was such a cowboy.

Operation Fast and Furious
Obviously that was all on Eric Holder.

NSA Spying
Eric Snowden hates America. And the CIA obviously went too far but that has nothing to do with Obama. 

Like come on this isn't Obama's fault. The Republicans don't want to pass laws and they're in the pockets of the corporations. The Supreme Court is full of extremists. Fox news and talk radio are spreading lies about Obama and the Koch brothers are funding all of these fanatical groups. Things might be bad but it would have been so much worse with the other guy. 

It would have been worse. Even when you manage to conjure your inner Cicero and persuade your liberal interlocutor that Obama is to blame for any of the above, it always comes down to that: it could have been worse.

On the one hand such denial is understandable–who wants to confront shattered dreams?–on the other hand we're locked in a cycle of partisanship which seems to be spiraling down to the fulfillment Mencken's prediction that at last the American people would get what they want and deserve in the White House: a complete idiot. Of course the knife on which we perch cuts both ways. If you doubt me just watch the face of a republican recoil at the mention of Al Gore. People feel safe when someone like them is in charge, even if that person is but nominally or apparently similar.

If so many people aren't even willing to reevaluate their support of a politician, what hope is there that a majority are willing to change their mind about actual policies? That sense–that nostalgia for the Bush era when things "just felt better" and the feeling that things aren't so bad just because Obama is running things–that cozy sense people get when "their guy" is in charge, is killing us.

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