5 years ago
The reaction to President Obama’s April 13 speech at George Washington University has been, predictably, partisan and all over the map.
Democrats have hailed it as “real leadership” and Republicans have denounced it as harsh and misleading.
After reading the text of the speech, I have an altogether different reaction. I wonder if any of you share it.
Obama’s speech leaves me with a profound sense of loss.
It is a sense of deep disbelief, that we, as a nation, could have drifted so far from our original moorings that we are reduced to this kind of speech. That feeling is deepened by the events of early April where the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, faced with a 2011 Budget they inherited from a reckless Democrat-controlled Congress that is on course to spend more than $1.7 trillion beyond revenues, did not have the nerve to push for more than a pittance in spending reductions.
Even the budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R- OH) is no, real encouragement. It takes such small steps over such a long period of time and does nothing to address the looming budget killer– Social Security– that it requires an impossible leap of faith to believe that intervening elections will not derail even this modest attempt at fiscal sanity.
Now we are being told that the national debt limit must— MUST!– be raised again just one year after it was raised to $14.294 trillion.
A friend recently pointed me to an opinion piece by David Brooks in The New York Times that is notable only for its inane quality. I include it here as just a sample of how utterly clueless the State-run Media seem to be about current events.
Brooks’ main point is that, while everything may look much the same in today’s political landscape as it has since the 1980’s, his clairvoyance is telling him that some sort of change is coming:
If you dive deeper into the polling, you see the country is not mobilized by this sense of crisis but immobilized by it. Raising taxes on the rich is popular, but nearly every other measure that might be taken to address the fiscal crisis is deeply unpopular. Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling; similar majorities oppose measures to make that sort of thing unnecessary.
There is a negativity bias in the country, especially among political independents and people earning between $30,000 and $75,000 (who have become extremely gloomy). It is hard to rally majorities behind immigration, energy or tax reform.
At some point something is going to happen to topple the political platform — maybe a debt crisis, maybe when China passes the United States as the world’s largest economy, perhaps as early as 2016. At that point, we could see changes that are unimaginable today.
New political forces will emerge from the outside or the inside. A semi-crackpot outsider like Donald Trump could storm the gates and achieve astonishing political stature. Alternatively, insiders like the Simpson-Bowles commission or the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Six” could assert authority and recreate a strong centrist political establishment, such as the nation enjoyed in the 1950s.
Neither seems likely now. But in these circumstances, rule out nothing.
Maybe it is just the cozy, isolated, elitist cocoon that Brooks inhabits, but it is fairly clear that the “new political forces” that Brooks is searching for have been on exhibition since 2009: the Tea Party movement. How did Brooks miss the entire 2010 elections? The enormous change in the House and even the Senate could not have slipped Brooks’ notice, could it?
And what about the Union Mobs in Madison, Wisconsin, trying to intimidate duly elected officials from carrying out their duties (with the direct and coordinated aid of Democrat “flee-bagger” lawmakers who hid out in Illinois)?
I am in my mid-forties, so my direct recollection of U.S. history prior to the early 1970’s is rather limited, but does anyone remember a time when the Federal government was so hamstrung and a President so disconnected from reality?
Where does this lead us? The U.S. is on a collision course with the proverbial, economic iceberg and what passes for leadership at the moment is debating whether our final meal should be in the dining room or out on the ship deck.