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