Monday, September 13, 2010

It Feels Like a Real Fight to Me

David Plouffe wants us [Obama supporters, that is] to "tell our communities" what it will be like if the Republicans regain control of Congress. Since my mind freezes at the mere prospect of that rancid possibility--which, according to pundits and pollsters, is a reality coming at us with the force of an avalanche--I am going to use my blogging time here to respond to that request. It's what I was planning to write about about anyway, because should things should turn out as currently predicted, I believe our country will be dead in the water. Toast. So it behooves us to start paying serious attention, unless we are willing to write our own obituaries. And I'm not.

"If this life not be a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it feels like a real fight," wrote William James.

It feels like a real fight to me, not political theater, to the point where anybody who is not fully engaged is signing up for the biggest mistake of their lives. America is facing death by Republican kryptonite. With or without his former tan, John Boehner (otherwise known as "the orange man") is positively itching to ally himself more fully with Mitch McConnell in dismantling the U.S. government and whatever inventions and richnesses it may have accrued over the years. This is the project that excites them above all else: causing the entire structure of government to collapse and then disappear. Can it be done? I think it can. So if you are someone who is feeling acute Obama fatigue and disappointment, who thinks the Democrats deserve to lose power, you need to get over it, right now.

Because if the GOP takes over in November, we can look forward to fewer services and even fewer jobs, a platform of constant phony investigations, and repeals of every piece of legislation passed during the Obama presidency so far. Plus a possible pre-emptive strike on Iran, privatized Social Security, deregulation of corporations and of the whole financial industry. Wherever you happen to live, you will see Sarah Palin and Mama Grizzlies and Tea Partiers from your front porch.

This Sunday in the New York Times. Maureen Dowd wrote about how her sister Peggy--a Republican-leaning voter who switched her allegiance in 2008 in order to support Obama--is now disaffected and has jumped ship again and will probably vote for Mitt Romney, eek, if he runs. As is usual with Dowd, it was a fun piece to read, but it got its punch at Obama's expense. Obama-bashing, in my view, has now become a luxury this country can no longer afford. One reader of Dowd's essay commented back eloquently, saying that he, too, was disappointed in Obama's performance as president. But he added:

"I will vote for him because I am afraid. I am afraid of what the Republicans and their Blue Dog cohorts will do to this country. I ask myself: Do I want equanimity or John Boehner? Do I prefer the pretense of economic populism to an unabashed bludgeoning by water carriers for the rich and powerful? Do I want corporations to begin to fully and freely exercise their rights as citizens? Further: Have I been hankering for a repeal of health care reform or does coverage for pre-existing conditions still seem like a good thing? Am I pleased that Elizabeth Warren was at least in the game?"

"No. It's not about inspiration anymore; it's about survival. The Republicans seem to have convinced a large part of the populace that throwing water onto a drowning man is a good thing (The Hard-Hearted Hannah Policy). Well, it's not. (One could look it up if one wanted to take the time). I believe that after considering the respective merits between and among an inner tube, life jacket, beach ball, flotsam, jetsam, empty beer keg, milk carton, Chinese take-out container, and a hero sandwich, President Obama would come to a well-considered decision and he would not throw water on a drowning man." You may find this a feeble reason to support someone, but really it's not--not when you realize you are, yourself, that drowning man.

Today, Republican columnist for the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker, used her column to send a letter of apology to the Muslim world. "Dear Muslim World," she began, "I am writing you today as an American citizen who is deeply embarrassed by current events in my country." She then referred to the controversy over the Islamic Center near Ground Zero, and to the Dennis-the-Menace pastor in Florida who had threatened to burn Korans last Saturday. As it turned out, no Korans got burned, but that is no longer likely to stop the hate-America rallies unleashed by these events in Muslim countries. Nor is it likely to placate the sad American Muslim boy I saw briefly interviewed on TV, who claimed he was now being horribly taunted and harassed by his school mates.

Somewhat naively, Parker suggests to the Muslim world that it should "ignore Pastor Terry Jones, because he's nobody," and no one except his tiny congregation cares what he says. Even though many of us would like for him to crawl back under his rock and stay there, she says, "alas, our laws do not forbid stupidity." (What Parker calls stupidity, I call treason.) I can't help wondering how many of the raging Muslims I saw protesting on TV, both here and in the Middle East, will read Parker's article and be appeased. "I am sorry," she writes, "that we [in the news media] handed [Pastor Jones] a megaphone, and I apologize. Please be patient. In a few days, he will be forgotten." Sure, right. No problem.

Apologies can certainly soften enmities and take the edge off distress, but somehow, I doubt that Parker's tender talk and regrets are likely to mitigate the unwholesome rage that has been triggered everywhere. That said, I had almost forgotten to check in with the irrepressible Virgil, who has mastered the animal art of healing with his paws. Pushing his wet nose against my ear, he whispers something. I can't quite believe what I'm hearing. "It sure makes a change from schnitzels," he says, as his loose cheeks balloon into a guffaw.

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