Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Petty and the Pusillanimous

I don’t remember for sure but I believe it must have been LBJ who said, “If I could walk on water the headlines would read, ‘President can’t swim.’” This attitude would seem to be far more relevant for President Obama than any previous President. It seems there is nothing he can do, literally nothing, that Republicans will not criticize and oppose. I submit this is petty in the extreme. You might think Republicans would be interested in the serious problems that confront us: global warming, unemployment, infrastructure, health care, the deficit, whatever, but they are not, being consumed with opposing Obama’s choices for his cabinet (whoever they are) and vowing to oppose everything he wishes to accomplish. As none of his appointments are unqualified, and as Presidents usually are entitled to name their own cabinet members, this can only be seen as petty. John McCain has to be seen as the most petty opponent of all as his objections to Obama’s wishes are clearly driven by revenge for his defeat by Obama in previous election. Similarly, their criticism of Obama’s choice of four white male cabinet members because of the lack of diversity is, coming from those consistently “warring on women,” is simply laughable. There appears to be nothing Obama is for that Republicans will not be against, even things Republicans themselves previously approved. If this is not petty in the extreme I do not know what would be.
Their pettiness is overshadowed by their pusillanimous voting records. They are far too timid (or cowardly) to vote for anything that might upset the NRA, Israel, or the corporate interests that contribute to keeping them in office. They seem to be incapable of connecting their votes to the everyday lives of real, live human beings or what used to be considered the public good. Seemingly ideologically, rather than reality driven, they timidly vote as they are told, thoughtlessly and apparently without either shame or guilt. In fact it is not ideology that motivates them, as they claim, but rather, obvious bribes in the form of financial contributions, golfing trips, devious financial benefits, and so on. There is no longer any connection between public service and the public. The concept of public service has given way to the private enrichment that comes from serving your lord and master and remaining in office as long as possible.
You can take it as a given that wherever capitalism thrives the public and the environment will suffer. Marx may have been wrong about communism but he was right about capitalism.
Oh, yes, guns. It may be that assault rifles and high capacity magazines will become illegal. It may even be that a national register for guns materializes along with universal background checks. I am all for such restrictions on guns and gun ownership. I’m not sure I think it will make much difference as there are already far too many guns in the U.S. and they will quite likely go underground into a thriving black market. But any restrictions are better than no restrictions and perhaps over time (a long time I fear) if they are faithfully pursued it may ultimately make a difference. It is true, however, that we live in a culture of violence that will also have to change to make a real difference, a change that may prove to be far more difficult that improving our gun laws. If we obsessed as much with our culture of violence as we do with our obsessions with diet and erections perhaps something positive might be achieved. Don’t  bet the farm on it.


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