Tag Archives: failure

It is not the wind

It is not the wind.

The house shudders. A cold front is moving across the Midwest. Tiny snow crystals blown by high winds have returned. I hear a wail as it comes down the street, the cold drafts seeping through the walls.

But it is not the wind that I hear and it is not the cold that chills me and frightens me.

It is not the wind that woke me. What I hear is the wail of a thousand children, a thousand thousand children and their parents for whom the safety net has just been removed, from whom hope has just been stolen

I am up in the middle of the night, shaking and in tears at what I fear is the end of the most promising presidency since my childhood. How sad that it seems that it was only our projection on the blank slate of Barack Obama – large shadows of finger puppets projected by a flashlight on a back yard sheet

The President has written himself into a straight jacket from which, I fear he will not be able to get free. His is not Houdini. How can he start a desperately needed jobs program and cut domestic spending? How can he pass the most needed health care reform without initial increases in costs even if they might ultimately result in savings? How can the economy be restored without stimulating small business and entrepreneurs? How can families survive without extensions of unemployment insurance, and food stamps and job training and . . . and . . .

We have waited a year for bold action. We should have known better. Bold action is more than rhetoric.

When I saw the headline in my email Monday night, “President Obama Rather Be Really Good One Term President – ABC News,” I knew another shoe would drop. It reminded me of all the Presidents who have boasted of doing the hard thing when it would have been easier to do what was popular – In each case they were doing what they thought would be popular instead of the right thing.

I pray that I am wrong, that it was only a nightmare and in the morning I will find I imagined it all or that somehow I am missing something and that Wednesday night he will make sense of it all and soar again.

But I fear it is not just the wind that keeps me awake tonight.

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Bipartisanship Won!

Churlish headlines this morning read, “Stimulus 2, Bipartisanship 1.” But they spell it wrong. Bipartisanship Won!!

How can I say bipartisanship won? Because in during the election campaign which ended so happily on my birthday, Barack Obama and the Democratic congressional campaigns reached out to everyone, and especially to centrist Republicans (sometimes to the short term frustration true blue Democrats). And they succeeded. The focus of the media has been on the lopsided votes in the House and Senate, where troglodyte Republicans are holding on to the past and imagine that they are proving something by refusing to participate in addressing the serious economic problems we face.

But in November centrist jurisdictions elected Democrats. Republican voters voted for Democratic candidates. The congress we now have includes may centrist Democrats who are sensitive to the concerns of their constituents. Our President and the Democratic party are now “bipartisan.” Centrist and liberal elements co-exist in one grand party.

The remaining “Republicans” in both houses are the tired right-wing dredges of their party spouting worn out slogans and touting more of the same failed policies that got us where we are.

I am among those who have complained that the stimulus and some of the other proposals of the current administration have not gone far enough in addressing the excesses of the truly partisan policies of the past eight years. I hope those policies will be reviewed and progress extended. But I have come to realize that they are the result of the fact that the Democratic party is now, under Barack Obama’s leadership, truly a big tent. What look like failed attempts to reach out to the Republican Party are really, in part, necessary accommodations to the former Republicans who now find themselves within the Democratic party, either in Congress or in the electorate. There is the true bipartisan stretch.

This sometimes leads to short term frustration for purists, those of us who would prefer the perfect to the [insert your favorite term: good, necessary, possible . . .]. But in the long view it this may be for the best. The remains of the Republicans in both houses may think they are having the best of both worlds, letting the Democrats carry the water while they sit back and carp, in the theory that if current policies fail they can point fingers but if they succeed they will share in the benefits. But in reality they are just falling behind.

As Arlen Spector said, “I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation.” Except in the most reactionary jurisdictions their perfidy will come back to haunt them.

Specter, along with centrist Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were the only Republican members in either house to join in crafting and supporting the stimulus, but millions of other Republicans joined on November 4th to create the bipartisan Democratic Party that made this possible.