Friday, September 24, 2010

The Obama Malaise

Is it me or is the mood of the country somewhere between a Sylvia Plath novel and the end of the movie Requiem for a Dream?

Remember the utopian future we were promised back in 2008? Remember the pledge to alleviate all suffering, unemployment and a war seemingly without end? We would be propelled into the future, a vibrant and prosperous time without a recession, where the thriving middle class could achieve the American dream. The Wall Street fat cats would be tamed. No more would the Average Joe worry about losing his life savings. Families would have affordable heath care and not have to sell their children to pay for that expensive gallbladder operation. We would bring jobs back to America, and not just petty little service jobs, but gigantic manufacturing jobs where America’s bounty shall be sold throughout the globe. We’d show these envious and idle nations how American ingenuity and gritty determination trumps despotism and sloth. We would be soaring into the 21st century, not in a cumbersome SUV powered by fossil fuels, but on jetpacks that harness the sun’s rays, or soybeans or chicken farts or something revolutionary and renewable.

Yes, the United States of America would be a leaner, healthier, wondrous nation where science and technology would miraculously transform our jaded, filthy cities into shiny metropolises reminiscent of a Hugo Gernsback novel. We’d use stem cells to cure cancer, teach evolution in schools and our multi-racial, multi-ethnic children will be super geniuses, knowledgeable in six world languages and three styles of martial arts.

So what happened to Barack Obama’s rosy vision for the country, and why are the Republicans, who were breaking out the razor blades and arsenic two years ago, poised to capture Congress this November?

Did Obama inflate our hopes, only to have them dashed by vicious realities of a world in recession?

Were Obama voters led like mice by a Pied Piper to follow his every move, a Svengali from Chicago who used slick marketing and clever propaganda to sell us on a lofty promise that he and he alone would transform the last shitty eight years under George W. Bush into Shangri-La?

With every election, Americans are becoming more conditioned to reject the present authority and yearn for something else.

In 2008, after eight years of being paranoid, scared and broke, Americans took a chance with Obama. Those who voted for him truly believed that he’d deliver, yet how can you deliver a Frank Capra ending in a Sam Peckinpah world? How can you sell us on Hope and Change and whatever flowery, saccharine buzzword your campaign used when we’re up to our nipples in debt to China and are fighting a war with Islamic terrorists who think nothing of strapping C-4 to their abdomens and blowing up shopping malls? How can you sell us on changing Washington’s corrupt culture while still keeping Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? Wasn’t this a time for new blood, for new leadership?

Further, where was all of this bipartisanship we were promised? What happened to Democrats and Republicans working together in harmony, standing barefoot in grassy fields and drinking Coca-Cola? Instead, we’re cursed with one of the most divisive Congresses in history, with filibusters, distortions and outright threats.

The Democrats will lose Congress this year and it’ll be their own damn fault. Their failure to articulate a central legislative theme - that of working to turn the economy around and restore prosperity while punishing the greedy bastards who got us into this mess – will cost them big. But what do you expect from a party that’s comfortable wearing the ball gag and being whipped? Whenever trouble strikes, whenever their opponents hurl accusations, instead of standing up for the workers and the middle class, the Democrats stick their dicks between their legs and mince around like prissy schoolgirls.

When a Tea Party member calls Obama a socialist, a secret Muslim or demands to see his Kenyan birth certificate, the president remains silent. How can you project strength and authority and not respond to the charges made by the lunatic fringe? Obama should call them out on their accusations.

According to the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll this week, 29 percent of voters strongly approve of Obama’s performance, while 42 percent strongly disapprove. Compare this to January 2009 when Obama took office, when 44 percent of voters strongly approved of the president’s performance compared to 16 percent that strongly disapproved.

So what has POTUS done for us lately? Besides being called Hitler, the Antichrist, Muslim and a socialist/communist/fascist, what’s Barry done for America? How has he placated the sheeple and brought his promise of Hope, Change, and Unicorns for All to the masses?

Here are a few things this lazy playboy president dared to list as accomplishments:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - Signed into law Feb. 17, 2009. The comically-named “stimulus package” distributes $787 billion to various projects as a way to jumpstart the economy during the recession. The act allotted funds for job creation, education, infrastructure improvements, first-time homebuyer credits, alternative energy, federal tax incentives, and expansion of unemployment benefits. The Obama Administration hoped this act would boost the country out of the recession and ensure that Americans were not huddled around a barrel fire and heating cans of Dinty Moore stew.

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – Signed into law April 21, 2009. Creates a Summer of Service program where 6th to 12th graders can earn money for their educations. The legislation also expands the number of positions in AmeriCorps and creates a National Service Reserve Corps where participants can coordinate with FEMA during disasters. There’s nothing that will get young Americans to volunteer in their communities like the image of late Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy requesting a third gimlet and pinching the hostess.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 – Signed into law May 22, 2009. This credit card reform legislation protects against arbitrary increases in interest rates, eliminates penalties for those who pay their credit card bills on time, safeguards credit card holders from misleading terms and “gimmicks” and restricts anyone under 21 from owning a credit card unless they have a co-signer over the age of 21. That last provision was put in place so teenage girls don’t go hog wild and buy everything in Hot Topic or Juicy Couture. I mean, how many pairs of freakin’ shoes do chicks need?

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act – Signed into law June 22, 2009. Puts the regulation of the manufacturing and marketing of tobacco under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Obama celebrated this legislative milestone with a pack of Marlboros.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Signed into law March, 23, 2010. Expanded health care to 32 million of Americans, whether they wanted it or not. Patients with pre-existing conditions can buy into an insurance pool. Businesses have incentives to provide health care to employees. Pledges to reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. However good intentioned, this health care bill was responsible for increasing the blood pressure of several Americans who articulated their views by boisterously shouting at town hall meetings and hurling rocks through the windows of several Democratic lawmakers.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – Signed into law July 21, 2010. Named after Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, this act is a sweeping reform of the nation’s financial services industry. Among its provisions, the act creates the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify risks and respond to threats in the U.S. economy, creates the Office of Financial Research to provide research and budget analysis to the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The act also provides for the orderly liquidation of financial institutions, ends corporate bailouts and protects investors. If you try reading this law your brain will literally explode like that guy in David Cronenberg’s 1981 sci-fi movie Scanners. Just smile, nod and say it stops Wall Street from fucking us over and prevents investors from living in an alley and blowing drifters for crack money.

In addition to this, Obama’s administration saw the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, giving Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg some gal pals to schmooze with.

Oh, and he also pulled our troops out of Iraq and started a troop surge in Afghanistan, home of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

On paper, it’s quite a record, but reality reflects a different story. The bold agenda alienated Republicans and drove Independents away, and his administration is viewed as arrogant and out of touch with the average American. Going after Wall Street, while daring and necessary, is causing a big backlash. It was perceived by many as going too fast too soon and in the wrong direction.

The problem is Americans are impatient. They were promised change and when Obama failed to deliver it at light speed, the people grew restless. They wanted the American dream delivered to their door like a Domino’s pizza, in 30 minutes or less. What they got was a sluggish economy, a Congress in gridlock and grown adults wearing tri-cornered hats and screaming about taking their country back.

Democrats failed to tell people that change won’t happen overnight. It took over a decade for us to climb out of the Great Depression, and that was thanks to World War II. Now that we're already involved in a war, a recession and high unemployment, is it any wonder that the crazies are coming out of the woodwork?

Promising Hope and Change may not have been the right tactic. Perhaps it was only a way to sweet-talk the voters. In many ways, the GOP in 2008 had a more honest message; the super patriotic “Country First” told voters that if you don’t vote for John McCain, you’re an effete pussy who hates America. Bullying the public into voting for you takes balls. At least with McCain, we could’ve had a rough-and-tumble administration of patriotic pirates who would have nuked Mecca and given us free Bibles we'd use to line our cardboard shantytown homes.

The Democrats squandered an opportunity for real change and look weak and ineffective as a result. This November the pissed off rabble will turn them out and give Obama a real test at making bipartisanship work.

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