Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Cups Runneth Under

Much of what I've written here lately has been, shall we say, somewhat pessimistic. Sadly, I'm not alone, as Paul Krugman proved yesterday:

I find myself missing Richard Nixon.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Nixon was surely the worst person other than Dick Cheney ever to control the executive branch.

But the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren’t as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system’s ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.

Missing Richard Nixon

While I didn't have President Nixon in mind when I wrote this:

Compare those leaders and their accomplishments to what we are seeing from our "leaders" today. The Republicans today are the epitome of the "What about me? What about my needs?" impulse. They whine about how minorities and the poor have it so much better than they do. The Democrats seem to be following their own path to uselessness. The Democrats in Congress didn't get it done when it came to ending the useless war in Iraq. They didn't resist the urge to pander to the telecom industry instead of bringing an outlaw President to justice. They couldn't even handle the banking crisis. We've listened to these people snivel about how hard it all is to do these things, even though anyone who could hold a thought in his head knew they were necessary. You'd think they hadn't even applied for the jobs they now have.

If We Can Put Men On The Moon ...

he's still way ahead of today's "leaders" in that regard. Nixon could snivel with the best of them, of course, but he could also get things done. He went to China, and helped make our relations with the Soviet Union less confrontational, as well. He did thing that were likely to offend his supporters, and Middle America.

Of course, you can get away with more when you're willing to hire ratfuckers.

Krugman's conclusion is scarcely more hopeful:

I’m not saying that reformers should give up. They do, however, have to realize what they’re up against. There was a lot of talk last year about how Barack Obama would be a “transformational” president — but true transformation, it turns out, requires a lot more than electing one telegenic leader. Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system.

Missing Richard Nixon

I'd have to take exception here. First of all, one of the things you have to do to have a true transformation is elect a leader who wants transformation. I have yet to see any evidence that Obama does. Second, it's going to take electing legislators who want change. That too, is something we've been mistaken about in the past. That's going to be even harder now, with Obama's numbers starting to tank.

Krugman may have the bigger brain, but my pessimism can still kick his pessimism's ass.

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