Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I've Heard It (Almost) All Before

As written earlier, in the middle of the President's State of the Union Address, President Obama talks a great game (mostly).

The best moment for me was the President's rebuke of last week's Citizens United ruling, and watching Justice Alito mutter "that's not true" when the President--in so many words--accused the court of judicial overreach; activism, you might even call it.

The problem for me, and--I suspect--for most Americans, is that I have already heard it all before. It's not that during the campaign first and during his first year in office the President has not laid out his view of where America needs to go in the future. It's that with every utterance, with every repetition of these ideas, and in the face of Washington reality, the view is less and less compelling.

Some will say that President Obama is not really to blame (and polls seem to confirm this view) because the real problem is not the President but Congress. There is some truth to this view, and until we change the political system in this country, until we manage to oust or change these two parties that treat us like their fiefdom, and the corporatocracy that feeds them, nothing will change substantially. But the fact remains that the Oval Office is where the buck should stop. And deflecting the blame away from the President himself does not change the fact that there are many mistakes the President either made or facilitated, and many promises he has broken.

Ultimately, whether you liked tonight's State of The Union Address comes down to this:
If you believe that the way to rescue the economy was to pour money into failing and criminal banks instead of rewarding the good ones;
If you believe that picking guys like Geithner, Summers, and Rahm Emanuel, and that confirming Ben Bernanke as Chair of the Fed is the right thing to do;
If you still believe that the answer in reversing unemployment lies in a better educated workforce, in spite of the fact that the real problem is that the market economy and the principles of globalization that nobody in power criticizes require that jobs go to the CHEAPEST educated workforce (to be found in some other country);
If you believe that health care reform means finding a way to give insurance companies more business no matter the cost to America;
If all these things ring true to you, then probably you got your kicks from the President's speech.

Me? I've heard it all before. Great speeches impress me to a point. But nothing makes a stronger impression on me than reality and facts, and both have a way of deflating any enthusiasm I might feel for concepts well expressed and badly betrayed.

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