The Day After

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns waxed sentimental (is there a word for pre-emptive nostalgia?) with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC last night about the historical and sociological significance of the nascent Obama presidency. (Included is a cut-away at the end to his appearance at the Neighborhood Ball and the first dance with his wife to the Etta James song “At Last” …)

Okay, enough Obama inauguration stuff already. I certainly wouldn’t want to be accused of being an apologist, a “worshipper” or anything like that, which according to the envious, grousing right-wing hate-puppets known as “The Blogging Tories,” anyone expressing the remotest sense of sincere hope or genuine goodwill towards the new administration must certainly be.

While the media coverage may have grown tiresome in its ubiquity and fulsome praise of the new president and yesterday’s festivities, I have to admit that it was difficult not to be moved by the spectacle of approximately 2 million people on the Mall yesterday, not to mention the general sense of optimism and excitement that the celebration inspired. Unfortunately however, the same feeling isn’t shared by implacable ideological foes (BTs and other heartless whackaloons) who seem more inclined to echo the sentiments of Rush Limbaugh in desperately wanting him to fail. How awfully pathetic.

16 Replies to “The Day After”

  1. Irony of it all…Obama is probably to the right on many things, of Harper. So the love in from the progressives and the spit-flecked hate of the BT makes not sense from a policy perspective.

    It only makes sense from the perspective of uncritical, unthinking tribalism (and a dash of racism) – we must support or hate him because he’s “left”. He is on our team or the other team, even though policy wise, its actually the other way around.

    I would rather be realistic and set my expectations low: he has inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression and most divided America since the Civil War. Economically he does not seem that far off of Bush – both want a massive spending stimulus plan. In this I don’t think he will succeed.

    I wish him the best and frankly think that he will do better than Bush, but that isn’t really a very high bar, is it? My expectations are low – if he can close Gitmo and stop the US from using torture, everything else he does is gravy.

    I’d rather be pleasantly surprised, than sorely disappointed.

  2. RT, I just listened to Obama at his staff swearing-in ceremony…wow, what a difference it makes having an adult in the White House. I’m trying to find the transcript, but here’s an article on it.

  3. Pay-freeze, transparency, a clamp-down on the “revolving door” etc. All good stuff.

    Somewhere right now Karl Rove’s head is exploding.

  4. “How good looking is my wife?”

    While Obama seems to be hitting all the right notes in his speeches, he will still have to deliver. Even if he delivers 1/10 of his promises, that will be good.

    It’s funny to hear all the frightwingers already calumniate and vilify the man – where were they when Bush was amok?

  5. I have to agree with Mike at the top of the thread. Personally I don’t expect all that much from Obama regarding progressive policies, but then I will be delirious with joy if he manages to repair their judicial/prosecutorial system from the partisanized disaster Bushco turned it into and restore the rule of law and impartial justice that existed prior to “the best President evah” that just departed office. I know I will not cross the border until I trust that the rule of law has been restored to its place, and so far at least the early signs look promising given who he chose to staff the senior judicial branch with in his WH team.

    Personally, I tend to doubt he is going to be able to do all that much because of the deep hole GWB and the GOP have created on the economic front for their successors to dig themselves out from. Grover Norquist got his drowning the government in the bathtub approach in spades with the tandem of GOP total Congressional control and GWB during GWB’s first 6 years, and even without the current financial/economic mess we have today Obama’s room to maneuver in terms of advancing progressive economic policies would have been limited.

    I also doubt he will prove to be as socially progressive as many want him to be too because since he will have to wear the responsibility for trying to fix a broken economy (and the tough times and hard decisions such inevitably pose) he is not going to want to inflame his opposition too much in other areas. It needs remember that Obama won by a seven point spread despite all he had going for him and the GOP had against them, which to my mind means the GOP may be out at the moment but are far from broken/spent as a political force nationally, including the socon element of it (although I hope they have been discredited enough within the party to allow the old time rational conservatives to take back control, but we will have to see on that one).

    I wish Obama the best with what he has to clean up, but I cannot say I am all that confident of his innate abilities to do all that much. He struck me far more as a professional politician moving up the rungs as fast as possible and a good campaigner without gaining all that much experience in actually creating and implementing legislation and policy, and because of that I have to question how well he is suited to fix such a disaster as was left by the outgoing Administration. There is after all a significant difference in the skill-sets required to be a good campaigner and a good officeholder He at least appears to have selected good people for the most part and that can go a long way to overcoming what I see as his shortcomings in terms of experience, but until I actually start seeing hard results I am keeping my expectations very small and limited.

    Personally, I thought HRC was the better choice simply because she had far more experience and understanding of the national political infrastructure and knew how an Executive branch was supposed to function prior to the massive changes introduced by the Bush/Cheney Presidency from seeing it in action during her husband’s tenure. One of the things that really tends to make me wonder (and worry) though in both countries is how many people across the political spectrum do not understand how their systems of government are actually designed to work and how much that provides them with false expectations of what anyone can do in office and all too often a false basis for their disappointments when the officeholder does not do what they want and/or in the manner (aka how) they want it to be done.

    The next couple of years in particular are going to be very interesting to watch where Obama and America is concerned, as will be the results of his first midterm election fight for his Democratic allies in Congress. That should tell us more than anything how far the GOP really has been broken as a force within American national politics.

  6. Grover Norquist got his drowning the government in the bathtub approach in spades with the tandem of GOP total Congressional control and GWB during GWB’s first 6 years

    But government spending and the overall size of government both increased during Bush’s eight years, just as it has during previous Republican administrations.

  7. CWTF — It’s funny to hear all the frightwingers already calumniate and vilify the man – where were they when Bush was amok?

    Can we accuse them of being “America haters” now?

    Also, suffering from a hopeless case of ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome)…

  8. RT:

    As I recall, one of the main tools Norquist wanted used was to drive spending up along with more and more tax breaks so as to reduce the government’s ability to pay for these programs, especially Social Security which is a real bugaboo for American conservatives with the eventual result of forcing massive cuts in government spending as the end result. I will admit I am a bit hazy on my recollections at the moment (bad day for pain, which means my use of pain pills is higher than normal, with the unfortunate impact of making it harder to recall things at times) but I know for certain that part of it was based on reducing the revenue stream incoming via tax cuts and I think increasing spending (although not so much in entitlement programs but things like defence, subsidies for businesses, and other spending that fits GOP/conservative ideology better than entitlement spending that now that I think on it) so as to force major cuts in entitlement programs like social security and other social infrastructure programs which is what American conservatives believe is where government needs shrinking in, including Norquist and his ilk.

    While yes spending went up as it did in prior GOP governments, I suspect the degree by which it increased was higher this time around, and the cutting of tax revenues sharper than prior GOP governments as well, but I freely admit I can’t say that for certain at the moment. From what I recall offhand though I do think that is the probable reality. I recall that the Bush tax cuts (especially the attempt to make them irreversible/permanent) were denounced by many as being way out of line, especially with the increased need for revenues to pay for things like the Iraq war and such, and I am don’t recall any prior GOP government that increased the debt by anything close to 5 trillion dollars, or even the even the debt to GDP ratio we saw from Bush and the GOP this time around. I could be wrong in this, as I don’t have the hard figures on hand at the moment to know for sure, but given that the last GOP Presidency was in the Cold War period and its ending under Bush41 with the spending levels that had incorporated within it I could see it as possible, especially with Reagan given his military spending history.

    I should have said in my original comment that Norquist’s agenda had yet to be completed in how he wanted to drown the government in the bathtub, but I do think the GOP and Bushco made a good start in the elements I just mentioned in terms of increased spending, debtload, and reduced revenue sources in terms of taxes. Thanks for catching my sloppy thinking there RT, it is one of the reasons I like writing at your blogs, the quality of the criticism from the reality based critics like you is so much better than at some other places.

  9. You could be correct about Norquist’s approach, but again, it’s an odd way of going about things seeing as Bush expanded so-called entitlements through his Medicare Part B (while also gutting the ability to negotiate volume price discounts drug companies). Unfortunately, I’m too busy with other stuff to go do the research on it today.

    There’s another theory of course — the one advanced by Thomas Frank in his latest book where he speculates that so-called “conservatives” who don’t believe in government have done everything possible to ensure that it’s a dysfunctional, poorly led, and generally messed up as possible. Essentially, the idea is to discredit government as an institution and undermine its ability to fulfill its core mandates at every turn — in other words, to ruin people’s faith in it.

    Mission almost accomplished on that score, it would seem.

  10. You and Scotian have it exactly right. It is all part of the “starving the beast” musings from back during the Reagan era. The past couple of decades of Republicans have basically wanted to choke functioning programs of necessary funding, then complain about how the programs don’t work as a premise to gut them completely.

    My biggest fear of Harper in the current climate is he’ll use the coming deficits (of his own engineering) to do the same thing here. Whenever I read their rhetoric about wanting to make “incremental” steps to “change Canada,” that it always my first thought.

    I particularly liked Obama pointing out in his inaugural speech that the question is not whether government is too big or too small, but whether it works.

    I think he gets it, both the game that’s played and how to counter it with honest, basic language. If the legislative process starts with the question, “What will work?” instead of statements declaring pre-disposed selective “conclusions” based purely on ideology, there might actually be a chance at changing the dialogue back to something resembling sanity.

    I wish him only the best in what I sense is a genuine desire to do that and truly “change the tone.” He’ll have his work cut out for him.

  11. Me thinks Joe Biden may be a problem – when he started to make fun of John Roberts….Obama put a stop to it. Obama doesn’t believe in demonizing people – are you listening Harper?

    Boy oh boy, the BT’s are grumpy these days about Obama.

    Jealousy it is for sure.

    I’m not one for huge hype, but given the struggles over the last 8 years under Bush, I think the Americans needed a day to be happy.

  12. Me thinks Joe Biden may be a problem – when he started to make fun of John Roberts.

    Biden doesn’t appear to have any internal filters, but he’s suffered two brain aneurysms and even though he’s recovered and he seems a bit sharp in other ways… it does make you pause and wonder.

  13. I thought Biden’s remark was harmless enough, but clearly it didn’t go over well. I suspect that’s because they just wanted to ignore that gaffe and focus on the business at hand. As it turns out they had Roberts come over an re-administer the oath in a private service just so everything is kosher and critics can’t harp on about how he’s “illegitimate” etc.

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