Monday, October 18, 2010
The battle Bam refuses to wage: He's a slow learner at a time when his cause demands a fighter
Black Americans used to warn their children, sometimes with bitterness but usually with heroic resolve, that they had to be twice as good as whites to get hired and perhaps three times as good if the job was gotten.
That is why Barack Obama has been such a disappointment to a country that believes that almost impossible things can be done quickly. Either that or we've been duped by the shining surface of a hollow shell.
As many have pointed out, it's time for the country to grow up. The adolescent part of the American character, which has been visible to the most intelligent foreign observers since its very beginnings, is dominating our nation with excruciating volume, vulgarity and self-pity interwoven with a sense of entitlement.
That tendency to a protracted immaturity is extremely dangerous. Those who saw it coming tried to warn us, but what they had to say was largely neglected. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby," we are told that wealthy people have a sense of entitlement fatal to others. And in a little-known Bette Davis film, the 1942 "In This Our Life," we are given a similar message about narcissism. As in Fitzgerald's book, the film shows how an irresponsibly driven automobile becomes a murder weapon.
We are now in such a bad state that we do not even vaguely understand what distinguishes American capitalism: the ongoing struggle to bring morality and the profit motive together. At this moment, the only remaining sovereign force in our country is wealth, which has replaced the old aristocracy.
The Republican Party has not even faced the facts of the financial crisis. Rather than truly addressing bad or insufficient laws in the world of high finance, the elephants continue to remain in bed with business at all costs, covering themselves with cash when the cold winds of reality crack the windows and put a big chill on everyone and everything. The blues of debilitating influenza await them.
At the same time, poisonous clowns and vapid cheerleaders for the Tea Party - Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin - have become wealthy by shilling for Tea Party irrationality with hysteria, empty slogans and half-truths. Fox News protects both of them; it is owned by Australian Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul and major GOP donor.
If the Democrats lose their majority, it will be the fault of a President whose optimism about working with the Republicans during this difficult time is politically suicidal because they obviously have no interest in working with him or changing what needs to be changed.
Everyone needs to slow down and take a long, hard look in the national mirror. We can no longer afford to spin around, always lost in tactics when a grand and unsentimental strategy must be devised.
Obama may admire Abraham Lincoln a great deal, but it did not take long for Lincoln to realize that a Civil War had been declared because the South was not inclined to reject slavery.
Obama needs to accept the task of fighting almost ruthlessly hard and winning. But for all of his eloquence and brilliance, the President is a stubbornly slow learner burdened by an idealistic sense of governing rather than understanding and facing the fact of just how low down and dirty governing sometimes has to be.
Oh, he knows there is fighting going on because he hears the rounds going off. He just does not yet understand that there is a time to talk and a time to do battle.
pay for it!