Just Another Day
A few weeks ago the excellent blogger Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo calmly stated with iron certainty that the American Executive agenda prerogative has a shelf life of 1 year maximum, meaning that only in year 1 can anything really be legislatively accomplished, after that: oh well. Reactive existence—slap back in real time with no planning whatever comes at you for three years, that is way American Presidents have always behaved, ignore many decades of empirical patterns and be prepared to be wrong or disappointed.
While not exactly espousing change I can believe in, what struck me at the time was the total unthinking acceptance that 2009 is an American time like any other, things are basically as they always were so we shall behave just as we always did.
Apparently—without telling or discussing it with anyone—the weighty, wizardly frontal Obama Executive lobes have to decided to ba-ba-ba along to the implacable fates of American history and tackle One Big Thing for 2009, quite understandably Economics. Okay, but as Krugman gently reminded us this morning, where is Healthcare? Good question. Where too, in fact, are War and Energy?
Let’s be calmly amicable about this, shall we? We are all Democratic brothers and sisters here. Obama spent 20 months starkly outlining how everything was so fucked up and that he was the agent for change. There can be no doubt that Bush and the Republicans have blown almost everything to complete hell, the Big Four listed above are merely the very beginning of what needs to be fixed, we all should be able to easily agree that these are not normal times.
Yet so far the Obama agenda for 2009 has sent confusing and mixed signals about what agenda to embrace on the necessary scale. These are not normal times, Obama very rightly thrust at the greedy, crooked Wall Street creeps who gave themselves billions in bonuses with our taxpayer money.
Is that so? Why then is America so disastrously going to crank up a war in Afghanistan, Mr. President? We have the money and human resources to do this in these allegedly amazing times? Josh Marshall is a wise man, Mr. President, do you really wish to buck hundreds of years of empirical experience—not just decades—to somehow demonstrate the Obama American experience in Afghanistan will somehow be magically differently from everyone who failed there before?
What about the war in Iraq? What about those permanent bases? The general goal has been 18 months to finally get out of there, but why not six? Oh sorry, history implacably shows us only One Big Thing can be done in the first term, so since this is year 2 goal maybe we’ll leave, maybe we won’t. Don’t get mad at me for being a smartass, go leave a comment at Josh’s place.
What about Energy? What about our disastrous current account, being led around by the balls by grinning Saudis and global warming? Again, ruthlessly put away a partisan frame of reference and ask the question: Obama spent 20 months outlining change for Energy, yet so far the little people have heard nothing. Well?
You’re being impossible, comes the calm reply, the man has been in office 10 days and you’re demanding solutions for everything instantly. This is incorrect. I’m simply stating these are extraordinary historical times, yet the legislative embrace of them appears to be ordinary or confusing. Where is Healthcare? Krugman asked today. War and Energy will almost instantly follow with vicious clamps of searing immediate reality, yet Obama defenders insist the President be treated with faith of ordinary times.
President Obama cannot take on War, Economy, Healthcare and Energy in year 1, any reasonable citizen can agree on that, the point is that if Obama leaves them to the reactive political winds of fate hurricane forces will wrench any control whatsoever he could have had by explicitly embracing them to smash him and the country with it. Is that good enough for the America we all cherish? Please.
Apparently it will have to be so, for except Economy there has been mostly silence. Where is healthcare? Where is Energy? What about Iraq? Never mind, citizen, faith and year 1 is all you get, Obama’s just another American President, it’s just another day.