What hoax? by Pat Bagley
We are beset by two teams of crisis junkies playing a game of chicken for self-serving ends. Big surprise -- Washington shadow boxing rains down serious injury far and wide, lately undermining what's left of American exceptionalism: one-time stellar credit-worthiness. Default threats, though averted, shake up bond vigilantes, adding to our profligacy as failed, nation-building empire (that won' t tax our own invasions), plus infamous slayer of our own affluence (bad taxation, NAFTA, outsourcing, credit defaults and more).
Only worse than the farce of a manufactured debt crisis, signifying a nation crashing into itself, is the exhibition of shrill ideologues hitting the gas pedal.
That's more inevitable when an elected president abandons his vision (and supporters) for chronic crisis management. Today's dire "deadlines" fabricate "wins" that buoy up and speak to vacuous leadership. Unfocused regimes not only get ambushed but end up besieged, as Obama today wards off blows from friends and foes alike: "What do you stand for? What hill will you die on"? When a president can't rule his own destiny, or the nation's, unelected powers rush in to fill that void. The usual suspects then make key decisions unimpeded by oversight, namely: investment bankers, corporate chieftains, advisers and lobbyists, land and resource owners, the Pentagon, and dominant foreigners.
Ironically, the defensive crisis junkie-in-chief founds his billion-dollar re-election on the glory -- say what? -- of fulsome defense of the status quo. Don't wait for "systemic" or "reform" to reappear for Obama's big push will limp home (read: squeaking out a win) by riding today's distrusted, unpopular government. Victory is simply defined by holding your own, the White House and Democratic Senate, perhaps slicing the GOP House majority. Obama's audacity of hope shrinks, like the vitality of his government, to the urgency of survival.
Pitching the Status Quo
Need we recall what got Obama and Democrats elected? Not to redeem the world, even America, but begin to remedy years of belligerently criminal Bushism. Certainly not to negotiate away historic triumphs to today's radical (but still minority) scourge. Squandering the core mission -- then failing at recovery (who picked Summers-Geithner?) -- guaranteed the current WH default as wimpy, ever-conciliatory crisis managers. Mocking change-agent audacity, Obama's election push comes down to "staying the course," with dubious claims his status quo way is better from Bush's. See Fred Branfman's provocative demur, "If McCain had won."
Democrats hold the fort, by this curious logic, with resistance to especially dramatic shrink-wrapping of federalism, though current government is emaciated, stripped clean of options. Nothing marks American decline more than having a cornered president who reacts, not leads. Items: no jobs, no jobs programs, and negligence not just to the rape and pillage by Wall Street, BP and mining infamy, but bowing on Social Security and Medicare to House extremists channeling the Tea Party blarney.
A Riot of Disaster Capitalism
In contrast to Obama's rope-a-dope wariness, Republicans are ready, willing and able instigators of major league chaos and mayhem, operating a three-ring circus of disruptions. Majoring in contempt and obstructionism, the Tea Party GOP's crisis mentality suits its explicit war against government. Plying every medieval, Senate impediment, Republicans first impede, then handcuff, and finally hold governance hostage. Yes, imagine callous, mustached villains exploiting the innocent, overmatched Obama, like old melodramas. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste unless you're victimized by it.
Though W. prattled on about "staying the course," in fact he radically overturned what federalism does (pre-emptive invasions, torture and rights abuses, crony subsidies, massive spending) and what it doesn't do (fund science, education and research funding, modernize infrastructure, spur job growth or comfort the afflicted). Today's GOP march is Bushism on steroids, taking no prisoners and surrendering (read: outsourcing) government to the less visible, highest bidder, domestic or foreign. How can this extremist GOP, merely controlling the House, dictate national policy without being assailed as anti-America?
War Against the Future, War Against Us
In leftwing terms, any war against government is a war against the future, against people, children, what remains of the national spirit and sense of community; plus, with more climate change looming, against our species and planet. Where is Obama here? The concoction of shredding education, job relocation and scientific-technological research while favoring overseas production undermines the strong domestic industries still intact. As a result, considering modern "wars" target phantom abstractions, like terrorism, poverty, drug usage, or crime, the war on government leverages its own indirection. Like corporate Republicans would allow bond defaults on U.S. Treasuries? Right!
However, remorseless political addiction to crisis management signifies serious, global contradictions. Though problems increase by leaps and bounds, our collective problem-solving skills falter, crumbling into gridlock or hostile face-off, as today. The outcome is inevitable and tragic: formidable but approachable tasks, like preserving the Gulf or addressing our carbon footprint -- amplify and grow into behemoths, so expensive and intractable, they surpass human intervention.
On climate change, we're hardly planning rational responses (whatever the cause, awful results are undeniable), instead bogged down by propaganda broadcasting the "hoax" perpetrated by brilliant, tenured top scientists (what, to grow bureaucracies?). That misdirection achieves the cynical end, to banish serious evidence as suspect, for an opponent's bad faith invalidates his findings. You can't debate "good intention" any more than faith alone or the Rapture (until it happens). Ditto: months wasted "debating" debt limits while ignoring joblessness, endless, dead-end wars, infrastructure breakdowns, or planetary carrying capacity.
Crisis Management Sucks