International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Reality Check
Temptation of Obama
Joe Cool Must Rally To Save Progressive Movement
is pointless to argue that George W. Bush all-but destroyed the
conservative movement, while ironically, in more ways than a little,
failed to resemble or embody any of the true aspects of conservatism.
His lunatic federal spending, ill-conceived and badly executed nation
building, and most strikingly, an almost hippie-fueled freedom-around-the-world
meddling was distinctly progressive and at times downright liberal;
the final straw being his $400 billion Medicare Prescription Drug
Modernization Act, which will doubtless bankrupt the system, not
to mention simultaneously signing into law the recently dubbed "Death
behavior in the controversial but wholly private Terry Shivo case sealed
the deal. Under Bush, the federal government became a massive, invasive,
insufficient mess; all the fears of the original and less religiously
baked and corporate lapping conservatives of yore. Yet so-called conservatives
defended Captain Shoo-In all the way through, trading in their fragile
ideologies for a slice of the power pie.
Now it is the progressives turn. Handed the entirety of the government
and the majority of the public's trust in two consecutive ass-stomping
elections, and the hiring of the first African-American as chief executive,
they are faced with choosing between the purity of their ideological
faith or staying in charge. This faith was squarely laid on the shoulders
of a Democratic Party, which handed over the reigns to the party's liberal
wing last November just as Republicans handed a powerful voice to the
right wing in the autumn of 1980, when their holy patriarch, Ronald
Reagan landed the final blow of a century-old conservative push.
Barack Obama is, as stated more than once in this space for over a year,
the yin to Reagan's yang. He understands this better than most, having
put his liberal-cred on the line during the primary campaign by quoting
Reagan copiously at rallies and giving network interviews that conspicuously
skipped the impact of the Clinton era while heaping praise on the totality
of Reagan's political reach.
Thus, the president went into this thing with eyes wide open, and should
now realize that the man he sold the progressive liberals and the majority
of the nation's Independents with chants of Change and Yes We Can is
now on trial -- in the halls of governance and the Main Street he loved
It is Go Time for Joe Cool, the man who did not listen to crazed pundits
when they prodded him to go ugly on the Clinton Machine or get tough
on the weak McCain/ Palin rhetoric over months of campaigning. The vaunted
Obama Syndicate, which bested all comers and stayed above the fray during
racial nastiness and mud-slinging hoo-hah has to emerge soon, or not
only will his legacy be in jeopardy, but the significance of his entire
presidency and the last stand of true progressive politics in America.
The August stand-off on National Healthcare, the continued struggle
for energy reform and the pogrom on the rich and all-things corporate
has turned the new president's first significant challenge into his
Gettysburg; notwithstanding the moronic notion that this is his Waterloo
as recently proffered by sub-mentals whose laughable grasp of history
is on display every time some nitwit minimizes the horrors of Adolf
Hitler by portraying or referring to the president of the United States
to humanity's most celebrated monster. It was imbecilic when the anti-war
movement did it to the last guy, and it is equally so now.
This space offers Gettysburg as the perfect wartime analogy, seeing
how Napoleon's last stand at Waterloo implies a lengthy run of victories
and unquestioned power coming to an ignominious end over a seminal moment
when what appeared to be an unstoppable Union force had to prove on
the battlefield and not on the statistical sheet it was to either crush
the rebellion or slowly be bled dry.
But a shameful lack of historic perspective aside, the next few weeks
will likely render a verdict on liberalism and its always-entertaining
off-shoot, progressivism. And this is not merely because Barack Obama
is the most progressive president perhaps ever, but because not since
The New Deal or The Great Society has this country been faced with such
a severe legislative shift in the role of the federal government over
the private sector. And like the previous two massive shifts, this one
has been at the very least agreed upon by both major parties: There
is a problem with our healthcare system and it is time for some type
of energy reform. The debate rages on as to the length and breadth of
the government's, and let that read the taxpayers' level of responsibility
For his part and to his credit, the president has taken to the streets
like none other in my lifetime; engaging direct dialogue with the citizenry
on the healthcare issue specifically. And although this has helped frame
his enthusiasm, it has met with mixed results, merely because no one
pushing the legislation can clearly define its more detailed pratfalls,
sacrifices, or benefits, as laid out in perfect bureaucratic banality
over 1,000 pages. Generalities and axioms have not taken hold, nor should
they, for generations have understood that once the toothpaste is out
of the tube in large government programs there is no putting it back.
Due to the occasional ferocious public pushback and more importantly
a Republican contingent in the senate that is emboldened by the groundswell,
the president is already beginning to sway from ideology to politics,
miffing those on the far left like Howard Dean, who from the periphery
try and hold Obama's feet to the fire. Then comes more rumblings from
the House that there could be two bills, following in the public relations,
"Insurance Reform vs. Public Option" the president has leaned
on in weaker moments.
There is already a sense on the Right that the white flags are beginning
to be unfurled, and to a certain extent, they are, as long as this progressive
president tries to both govern and chase the two-party unity tag, at
best a pipedream worthy of a man banging his head on the unyielding
It is an enviable quest, whether agreed upon or feared, for it is the
determinate of what leadership means. And isn't that the deal you run
on, raise all that money and have every fiber of your being vetted 'til
Tuesday to achieve. It comes with the gig, and the gig has suddenly
challenged what Obamamania stood for, not some political ploy, but a
very real and inspiring movement.
And that is as much at stake now for progressivism as the supply-side,
less-government, Shining City On The Hill rallying cry was for conservatism
in 1981, not long after the Reagan Victory became the Reagan Myth as
the 40th president of the United States, faced with a crippling recession
and an alarming spike in the national deficit, unilaterally rolled back
his famous tax cuts one by one, until he was forced to repeatedly raise
taxes across two terms. But the myth lives, like the myth that The New
Deal without an ensuing world conflict was a rousing success in saving
a nation plunged into a Depression by the same drunken spasms of greed
we too paid dearly for these past months.
A presidency and his ideology on the line.
© James Campion 21 August 2009
the Speaker of The House and its Majority Leader decided it would
be a good idea to deftly illustrate how arguments can be utterly bereft
of reason while simultaneously driving home the point of their opponents.
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