State Of The (Groan) Union

State of the Union871This week’s State of the Union dispelled any lingering doubt that the two dominant political parties truly hate each others guts . With Obama reeling off executive orders on immigration and Cuba, and the promised veto of the Keystone pipeline, any pretense of presidential submission in the coming congressional session was unceremoniously dumped onto the dungheap of history. The newly-seated Republican House and Senate wasted no time in making it clear that they will dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of psycho-wingnut legislation even though their first attempt, a bill restricting abortion, was itself aborted in a whirlwind of confusion and last-minute backsliding.

And the dust had barely settled on the midterm election before the campaign to replace Barack Obama had begun. Jeb Bush, hoping to go three for three on a Pennsylvania Avenue occupation, started to shed the potentially conflicting financial monkeys on his back and testing the temperature of the rich donor pool. Then suddenly, without warning, Zombie Romney arose from the dead, staggering from the elephant’s graveyard chanting “Come-back! Come-back!” There was much chattering among the also-running second tier wannabes, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and (!) Carly Fiorina?

It’s somewhat quieter on the Democratic side, with the smart money still betting on Hillary Clinton. To the left of the left, there are those that dream of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Saunders denying Her Hillaryness another chance at the golden ring and fufilling the progressive dream of a socialist utopian society, but it seems unlikely at this early date. (Of course, we thought she was a shoo-in in ’08 as well.) All hope of retaining the top job for the Dems depends on Obama now. If he can keep the economy from sliding into the ditch and avoid bumbling us into another war, they may buck the electoral odds and stay in power.

And they’ll no doubt have plenty of help from the neanderthals in Congress. Right off the bat we have rising star Iowa Senator Joni Ernst  Joni Earnstcalling for self reliance in the official party rebuttal, despite her family’s pork barrel farm subsidies in the neighborhood of $463,000 from ’95 to ’09. That’s a lot of pig nuts, although it doesn’t hold a candle to our own congressdude Doug LaMalfa’s $5.1 million. We can expect plenty of belt-tightening for food stamp recipients while our Republican friends dine on Iowa oysters on a bed of California rice. Joni was followed by no less than four additional rebuttals from her fellow conservatives, all jockeying for position in the coming GOP presidential beauty contest.

Because that’s where the state of the union is now; in a perpetual campaign cycle. The give and take of legislating has been permanently replaced by partisan grandstanding. Oh, they’ll no doubt work together to keep the whole rotten mess from collapsing on their watch, but tackling real problems will have to wait until one side or the other claims total dominance over all three branches of government. And in a nation as divided as ours, that outcome is about as likely as peace in the Middle East.

Some people (who shall remain nameless) have accused me of being a cynic for pointing out the shortcomings of American politics: too negative, too combative. It’s not like there aren’t good people doing good things to make this a better world. I would agree, and you can find plenty of inspiring stories at the click of a mouse. It would be folly to just give in to despair, but all those good efforts will come to naught unless what passes for leadership changes their partisan stripes. Even a nation as rich and powerful as these United States can’t go on forever rearranging deckchairs while the ship of state slowly sinks into the sea of failed democracies. The “smart people” crow that we are still so far ahead of our closest competitor it will be another fifty years before they catch up. Yeah, well, time flies when you’re having fun.

So I’ll continue to add my voice to those who believe that it’s time to ditch these dinosaurs and find a place that truly fits the middle of America. The fantasy of waiting until one or the other of these extremes goes extinct is not an option. The clock is ticking…

UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner, in a classic political Pearl Harbor moment, announced the booking of Israeli Top Gun Bibi the Yahoo for a one night stand at the capital, causing the White House to go into convulsions. Expect a counter attack in the weeks to come.


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5 Responses to State Of The (Groan) Union

  1. Terry says:

    I’m not too sure they really hate one another because I’ve seen lots of attorneys go at it tooth and nail, pleading their respective clients’ case in nearly violent adversarial mode, then shake dice for drinks at the local hangout, so buddy-buddy you’d think they were sleeping together. (Are they?) I think a great deal of lawyering is all an act for the benefit of the peanut gallery, the jury and especially the TV cameras. (Remember the OJ Simpson trial? What a 3-ring circus that was.) Essentially though in the end both sides spend so much time posturing and postulating, they seem to have forgotten the real reason they are they is to represent the American people. It’s readily apparent in the case of Boehner vs. Obama that there is only one loser and that is the American citizen. To coin a phrase, they fiddle while America burns. By extension, almost everyone is so busy arguing over things of little or no real significance that the important issues get shoved to the back burner. Corny theatrics, the soap opera that congress has become, distracts most of the public from the truly criminal acts perpetrated by people who have taken an oath to work FOR the very people they have betrayed. I’d like to see us all put our petty differences aside and concentrate on issues that will impact on our collective futures. Of course that is unlikely to happen because it’s not as much fun as slinging mud.

  2. Chris Peterson says:

    It’s also a telling sign of the times that Warren’s efforts are seen as “left or left” and socialist because she seeks to protect the American taxpayer from the fiasco caused by Wall Street in ’08. And the fact that Bernie Sanders is a democratic-socialist, (which is the basic outline of our government), doesn’t make him a radical leftist either. In a world where Reagan himself would be judged a flaming liberal by today’s teabag standards, being for the people is somehow seen as communism run amok in America.

    Personally, I blame the Smothers Brothers for all this: in their weekly fights with the censors, they would propose commentary that was outrageous, and then settle for material they wanted in the first place. Conservatives have used that basic recipe to move the center of discourse far to the right over the years, where liberals are forced to defend legislation that was considered right-based ten years ago.

    Warren and Sanders are merely arguing long-held American standards, regardless of the political windsock, and I support them both 110%. We are a democratic republic, not a capitalist oligarchy, and the nightly stock market report in every news cast is the state of the elites’ economy; not a report on the health of our society, as we’re being led to believe.

  3. Douglas Keachie says:

    Should the weather go on going haywire, and should the Republicans be unable to blame it on Obama, they will lose in 2016.

  4. Bob, look at the bright side–these are going to be good times for political cartoonists. Just when we were starting to miss Michelle Bachmann, along comes Joni Ernst. (The Republicans are truly clueless if they think she’s a rising star.) Even Sarah Palin may make a comeback!

    As for Netanyahu: We wouldn’t put up with this kind of meddling from any other foreign leader. First, he tries to influence the 2012 election (image the reaction if Putin pulled that stunt) and now he’s essentially flipping the bird to the president by accepting Boehner’s invitation.

    People like Chuck Schumer and Sheldon Adelson should remind him of a few things: America is Israel’s best friend, the Republicans won’t control Congress forever (heck, they not make it past 2016), and there’s a limit to how much clout American Jews have when it comes to influencing American policy toward Israel. He will use up a lot of goodwill if he goes through with this speech.

  5. Don Baumgart says:

    Sarah Palin made her comeback with major media coverage. I watched portions of her speech before the teleprompter froze, and after as she was forced to improvise with nonsense phrases. Couldn’t tell the difference.

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