Saturday, January 30, 2010

One smart banker can beat a whole a bunch of dumb ones

One may generally say that the current Republicans in Congress are an especially stupid bunch. There are exceptions, like Darrell Issa (R-San Diego, CA), but most really are dumb.

But it took true "genius" among the Republican Congress leadership to think it was a good idea to let Obama engage in what was essentially a one man debate against eight or more Republican congress people. Of course Obama did well against them, so well that FoxNews, which is run by executives a lot smarter than the Republicans in Congress they have to support, cut away from the scene.

You can catch some highlights of the discussion here.

Obama is a smart person who recognizes there is something called public policy and that one must weigh and consider particular policies in order to operate a national government. That he sides more with elite financiers and members of the military-financier complex than with regular folks, and only wants to help regular folks to stop chaos and anarchy is what makes Obama a smart banker. Obama's weekly radio address this week is a perfect pitch of the nice banker. In it, Obama states he wants to balance government policies to promote job growth with taking action to reduce the government deficits and debt that the dumb bankers accrued over the past eight years. See here for the summary of the radio address.

Our corporate media have helped create a political culture where smart bankers like Obama are forced to argue with people who are not interested in public policy, but who see politics as an extended phony wrestling match. The Republican Party's plan has been clear from the day the dust began to settle after the 2008 election. The Republican Party leaders believe their way back to power in Congress and the White House--and it is working, isn't it, with low information voters?--is to attack and delegitimize Obama. The Republican leadership, in attacking Obama, doesn't even care if their attacks are inconsistent with policies they previously supported. For their "philosophy" is itself a coordinated attack on the very idea of public policy. It also explains why the leadership does not take a firm stand to denounce their Tea Baggers' obsession over Obama's birth certificate or the Tea Baggers' apprehension that Obama is a secret Commie-Muslim.

This week's Republican radio address response to Obama is a perfect example. While Obama is talking about jobs and deficits in his radio address, the Republican leadership's response is to send up the dingbat Susan Collins (R-ME) to keep up the drumbeat that Obama can't keep us "safe."

To take this point to a local level, have you argued in recent years with someone who is a real, honest to goodness Republican? If you have, what you find is that what the politically engaged Republican knows is mostly political gossip, along with endless parsing of words ("Ooh, he said it this way, and that means..."). What such a person also "knows" is a bunch of theory mouthed as fact: Government is incompetent. Big government is bad (except when they talk about the military, and even then the criticism of the military is that it is not killing enough "other" people). Government is oppressive (but it should be allowed to torture people the person fears or just doesn't like the looks of...). The private sector knows best because it looks for efficiency to make more profit.

And that's not even the wacky ones with their conspiracy theories about Obama wanting to create conditions to take dictatorial control in a coup d'etat.

The truly interesting part is when you try to engage such persons with data and facts, such as the per capita spending on health care, the percentage of overhead in private insurers vs. Medicare, they get lost. What you find is that, when you provide such factual information, which begins to undercut their theories, and move beyond the political gossip, they almost invariably respond, "Well, they're all bad. A pox on both their houses."

No, the pox is already in one house, the house where there is a real mental flight from the responsibility of governance. That one house is where the fever is so bad that there is a hatred of anyone trying to even discuss a cure. Too intellectual! Too smart! Get out of here,!

And that's what happened when Obama confronted the Republican Congress people yesterday--except they could not say a pox on both houses because they were the other house! Obama exposed the fact that the Republicans in Congress have no public policy ideas that are anchored in reality. Obama exposed the Republicans' game plan, which is to continually delegitimize him regardless of their own previous endorsements of ideas they now claim to oppose--and regardless of the very fact that Obama kept Bush II's Secretary of War ("Defense"), expanded the war in Afghanistan and pushed to reappoint the guy his Republican predecessor chose to run the Federal Reserve Board.

Good for the smart banker to take on the dumb bankers. It was, indeed, a "pass the popcorn and enjoy" moment.

But meanwhile, our nation continues its long term decline as we fail to respond to the loss of our industrial base. We argue around the edges of public policy because we know international corporations and their executives control our discourse through lobbying and their funded radio and television commentators. And what we talk about as politically "realistic" in trying to understand the cause of Obama's failure is really the sad certainty that we as regular people don't count. Too many years are drifting by without a true set of public policies designed to restore our nation's ability to make what we buy and buy what we make. As a people, we are forgetting how to make things altogether. A nation of lawyers, financiers, hairdressers, restaurant waiters, nurses and movie stars can last another twenty years or so without really going into the fatal decline like Spain or Greece did in their times past, but we as a nation will not last for the longer run without real public policy changes that Hamilton, Madison, Lincoln, TR and FDR recognized as necessary.

As I say, enjoy the moment Obama had with the Congressional Republicans yesterday.


At January 30, 2010 at 8:33:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well said and well written.



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