Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary of Obama's inauguration. I've seen this pointed out in a (surprisingly) few places, but of course the big news is the Massachusetts special election, and the Republican's now overwhelming 41-59 majority.

As an aside, we started a year ago with a 41-58 Republican majority. Specter switched sides (heh-heh) sometime last spring. and Franken was finally granted his Senate seat sometime in late June/early July. We saw essentially no legislative progress during the first six months and less during the second. The Republicans have made it clear that they will fight tooth and nail against anything, anything, other than tax cuts for the wealthy, taxpayer support for their corporate contributors, and cutting off "entitlements." And they've been quite successful in furthering their agenda for the past 30 years.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are bound and determined to try to compromise with "no." It's like a Monty Python sketch: The Shopkeeper and the Barterer.
Shopkeeper (Michael Palin) is standing in an art gallery, behind a counter near a cash register. Barterer (Terry Jones) enters, smiles at S, and walks over to a large painting. S returns the smile, and approaches B and the painting.

B: This is a fine painting you have here. What are you asking?

S: It's a steal at 200 Pounds, sir.

B: I'll take it off your hands for free.

S: Oh, you are quite the connoisseur, sir, but I couldn't possibly let it go for less than a hundred pounds.

B: Hmm... on closer investigation, I think it might be worth as much as... nothing.

S: You do drive a hard bargain sir, but my family and I do need to eat. 50?

B: 25?

S: (Delighted) 25 it is, sir! Shall I wrap it for you, or would you like to arrange delivery?

B: On second thought, 25 sounds just a bit high. Hmmm... I would be happy to remove this from the premises at no cost at all, effective immediately.

S: (Downcast, looks up from the floor hopefully) 10 pounds?

B: No, I think that's still a bit high. Zero.

S: Five?

B: Nada

S: Two-fifty?

B: Zilch

S: OK, this is my final offer: one.

B: (pauses, and wrinkles his brow in consideration) Look, it would help if you'd make some effort to meet me halfway. So here are our current positions; nothing and nothing. Let's find the middle ground.

S: (ponders, then looks up with a conspiratorial smile) ...Okay, then. Nothing it is. Would you like that wrapped, or would you like to arrange delivery?

B: Oh, neither, I think. (B proceeds to smash the frame and rip the painting to shreds, leaving the debris on the floor. B then starts toward the shop door)

S: Do have a pleasant afternoon, Sir! Always a pleasure doing business with you!

(Just before B reaches the door, it opens, and wearing a Bobby uniform...)

Obama: (leans into the shop) Did I hear a disturbance? Is there a problem here?

B & S (together) Of course not, officer!

S: (Smiling widely) Just concluding a transaction with my best customer!

Obama: (Nodding sternly) Good then! Carry on.

(Obama and B exit shop door, S returns to counter and register, still beaming)
This is what I've seen in US politics over the last year- even the last six months, in which the Democrats have supposedly had an unstoppable supermajority. Do you understand why I don't assign a whole lot of importance to the MA results? It will make No. Difference. Whatsoever. Further, all the pundits moaning or delighting over "What this means" no more know what they're talking about than do fortune tellers and their tea leaves and knuckle bones.

The reason I started this post was to point out two pieces I've read today that I think do a good job of summing up my attitude toward this, Obama's first anniversary in office. First is Krugman:
Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.
And the other is at The Dean's Office:
I don't pretend to speak for all liberals, but here's how I see the breakdown on some of the major issues confronting the country and why it becomes clear that many, many of us have become completely disillusioned with the democratic party.

OPTIMUM POSITION: Single payer health insurance provided to all legal citizens financed through higher taxes on the wealthy, drug importation allowed.
COMPROMISE POSITION: Government provided national public option coupled with insurance company regulation that would broaden coverage and drive down prices to those in private insurance plans.
LOW-BAR: Medicare expansion coupled with new insurance company regulation.
He then goes through Iraq, Banking/Finance, Gay Rights and Economy with the same three positions... and guess what? Obama clears the low bar on all of them! Yay, change we can believe in.

So in short, I congratulate Obama for completing his first year in office, and I look forward to his first successful year in office.

Lockwood is not in as pissy a mood as he was this morning. I had fun with the captions in the previous post and the (wholly unanticipated) sketch above; the idea came to me as I was writing "compromise with no." When the world hands you a merdburger avec fromage, laugh at the absurdity of a merdburger avec fromage, and the elegant manner in which it was presented.

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