February 24, 2009
President Barack Obama found his voice last night. For the first time since Jack Kennedy nearly half a century ago, an American president looked the American people straight in the eye and called for shared sacrifice. For the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt three quarters of a century ago, the chief executive demanded that the sons and daughters of privilege pay their fair share of the nation's tax burden. For the first time in who-knows-how-long, the President of the United States of America gets it:
This time the CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes disappear on a fancy jet. Those days are over."
Someone pinch me.
It was such amazing thing to witness: the first African American president addressing the American people from the podium of the House of Representatives. Behind him sat the first woman Speaker of the House and the first Catholic vice-president. Is this a great country, or what?
But the highlight of the evening (for me anyway) was the Republican response from Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Someone has likened it to Air Supply opening for the Rolling Stones. The speech was so jaw-droppingly pathetic, so politically tone deaf, it left MSNBC's Rachel Maddow literally speechless. The choice of Jindal to respond to the president's oration was as interesting as it was obvious. They could not choose a sitting member of the House and Senate to go on the attack so they chose someone as far removed from Washington politics as is possible to be. The fact that he, like Barack Obama, is not white was also the reason for the choice. If you didn't have a chance to watch it, please, check it out on You Tube. It bordered on the comical. One could not help wondering whether the governor even read Obama's speech before responding:
"Democratic leaders in Washington, they place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you, the American people....A few weeks ago, the president warned that our country is facing a crisis that he said we may not be able to reverse. Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that America's best days are behind her."
It was your typical right wing smoke, mirrors and bullshit. First of all, Barack never said - never even implied - that our best days are behind us. As has been the case for as long as memory serves, they cannot deal with the facts directly, the only strategy available to them is to lie and distort. That's their only hope these days. As ex-Republican congressman Joe Scarborough related this morning on MSNBC, he received an e-mail from one of his former colleagues in the House which said, quite truthfully: "MAY DAY! MAY DAY! WE'RE GOING DOWN!" Indeed.
The desperation of the Republicans at this stage is a truly funny thing to behold. Jindal is being discussed as a possible nominee to run against Obama in 2012. The reason for that is obvious as well. There is no way in hell they'll be able to run a white guy in four years. It will either be Bobby Jindal - or a white woman. Take that to the bank. Better yet, stuff it under your mattress.
Keep your eyes on these jackasses in the next few weeks. They're going to to everything humanly possible to ensure that the president's stimulus package is a complete and utter failure. Count on them to make statements in the press so reckless that the market responds in a negative way. As has been stated on this site before, they know their history. After FDR was inaugurated in 1933, they would not control the executive branch of our government for a full twenty years. Their very survival depends on the destruction of this country's infrastructure. To hell with the American people.
Last night President Barack Obama, in words that will be echoed down the decades, elevated America's political oratory to a to a precipice higher than it has soared in generations. Calling out to the best in each of us, he pleaded the cause of governmental activism in a way that hasn't been articulated in many years. The tired old Reaganesque idea that "government isn't the answer, it's the problem" has been rendered deader than the Gipper himself. There will be times (and this is certainly one of them) where government will be the only answer. Wake up and smell the gnarled carcase of that dead elephant. We're entering a new age. Get used to the idea.
If there is one thing that a quarter of a billion people need, it is governance. The very idea of eliminating the government or (as was once fantasized by GOP strategist Gary Norquist) "shrinking it to the point where it can be drowned in the bath tub" is - to be polite - nuts. The mantra that they have been chanting for over thirty years, that government is bad needs to be euthanized. Here's something we need to understand, when government is at its most functional, rich people pay more in taxes. The Republican party is controlled and owned by those people. It is their financial interest that the only function of our elected representatives is to fund the military industrial complex and make bad laws. It's as simple as that. For the last three decades, America's tax burden has been shouldered by the poor and middle classes. That's about to end, boys and girls.
Am I waging class warfare? You'd better believe it, Buster.