Our country is still tied up in knots politically, much as it seemed to be in 2000. Back then, we elected a Democrat but the Republican snuck in. Nine months later, we were glad to have a tough hand on the wheel. Gradually it dawned on us that in fact the hand on the wheel might have been tough, but was none too bright.
But we have gotten used to having Republican Presidents. In the last 28 or 29 years, we have had Republicans in the White House for twenty of them. The Congress has passed back and forth, probably more Democratic than not. But all those years of Reagan and Bushes have pulled the Country to the right. The last eight years and really the last year or so have suddenly turned people off to conservative ideas. Tax cuts still seem nice (those who are working would like one now), but not a panacea. What’s interesting is that so many people have not swung back to the liberal fold. Obama has had to make hard sells on some issues so far. He met resistance from conservatives on the stimulus, and now on health care he is meeting resistance from self defined independents. The thing is polls show a majority of Americans want health care reform. But conservatives have succeeded in reframing what’s been proposed as death panels, Medicare reduced to nothing and the government giving everyone an ID card and getting access to our bank accounts. People are so worried they are starting to carry guns to town hall meetings. Just imagine if the next George Sodini or Richard Poplawski shows up armed at a town hall.
I have been surprised that Obama, while he has described what he wants in legislation, has largely outsourced the detail work to Congress. At first I thought he might be doing that because he might have formed a belief while a Senator that Bush had ignored the Congress. But now I am of the opinion that he has given the ball to Congress to avoid having to acknowledge the race card. That is, if Obama is even more out front on legislation such as health care reform, and it runs into tremendous public opposition, eventually someone, somewhere, will decide the opposition is because Obama’s black. I think Obama wants to avoid that situation at all costs.
But I started this post looking at Republicans and I want to return to that. They seem so adrift right now. Among the politicians there seems to be no rising star. So many have fallen to scandal (Sanford and Vitter(?) recently) and the rest disappoint (McConnell, Boehner, Steele and Jindal). Among the pundits, the intellectual conservatives (Brooks, Will, Frum, Noonen?) are largely being eclipsed by the blowhards (O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Malkin, Orly Taitz?). Salon online mentioned that Pennsylvania’s favorite son, Rick Santorum, is in Iowa testing the waters. Salon then raised the possibility of the Obama White House’s dream ticket: Santorum/Palin or Palin/Santorum. I mean, Gingrich is still out there somewhere, but I can see where a hard core of fanatical followers would just love to see Palin and Santorum run.
And so would David Axelrod. And Jon Stewart, and Steven Colbert. The debates … would be classic.