Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO CA for Februrary 6, 09
Inauguration Déjà vu
Watching the Obama inauguration was eerie. Suddenly, the tone, tenor and even the cold, sparkling weather reminded me of the Reagan inauguration. If you recall that ceremonious transition, there was the very unpopular, soon-to-be ex-President Carter, who had asked Americans to grow up, face some hard financial choices, deal with the energy issue, turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater. Americans HATED that. Couldn’t wait to get him out of office.
While at the podium stood soon-to-be President Reagan, The Great Communicator, promising “Morning in America,” a radical break with the past, a new day. Telling Americans that their present Government was the problem, not the solution. Telling us we didn’t have to sacrifice, that tax breaks for the rich would trickle down and save us all, that the free market worked best that was regulated the least, that it was time to shuck the sweater, buy that Hummer, have free pudding and let the other guy (our grandchildren) pay for it all. Americans LOVED that. Add on the announcement that the Iranian hostages had just been released (yes, I know, many muttered, “My, how strangely convenient,”) and there was a sense on that morning of a whole nation positively giddy with promises and hope.
And here we were again. There sat the very unpopular, soon-to-be ex-President Bush, the end-game of so-called Reagan Revolution, run out to it’s logical destructive and inevitable end – the gap between rich and poor at Gilded Age heights, the free hand of the market in evidence all around in a failed economy, a housing bubble and bust (don’t need regulations since Government Was The Problem, remember?), outsourced jobs, national debt beyond measure (let the other guy, i.e. our grandchildren, pay for it all), the value of the Commons reduced to zero, and everyone suddenly stuck in the “Ownership Society – Ha-Ha, You’re On Your Own.” Americans HATED that. Couldn’t wait to get him out of office.
While at the podium was soon-to-be President Obama, the Great Orator, only this time as a strange mirror reversal, telling us it was “Hard Times In America,” time for us to grow up, sacrifice, pay our own way. Telling us that there never was free pudding, that tax breaks for the rich trickled up, not down, that it was time to sell that Hummer, deal with the energy issue, turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater. Americans LOVED that and there was a sense on that morning of a whole nation positively giddy with promises and hope.
Over at that flagship of “The Liberal Media,” i.e. the New York Times, conservative pundit, Bill Kristol, number one cheerleader of the NeoCons, enthusiastic supporter of so many of the policies and philosophies that have now flowered into discredited disaster, has departed. Did he put a Paper Bag of Shame over his head and skulk out of the building into well earned ignominy? Not a bit of it. Look for him to regularly appear in a number of venues as a well-paid pundit.
And no paper bag for Rush Limbaugh, either. He’s got a new contract and so will still be hauling in a deliciously large salary (no sacrifice for him) for blatting to his foreclosed and pink-slipped Kool-aid drinking fans that he hopes Obama fails, thereby hoping that America (including his fans) sinks even further into painful chaos. This from a guy who declared that people who criticized Bush were treasonous pond scum who hated America and wanted the terrorists to win, blah-blah-blah.
Well, of course. All the architects of our disaster are busy shredding paper, stealing every last bit of silverware, and brushing off their resumes. Soon they’ll all reappear as highly paid “consultants,” media pundits, and corporate lobbyists, all talking loudly of the need to look forward, no use pointing fingers, don’t let play the blame game, it’s a new day, time to start rewriting history. And with the eager complicity of the American public, The Great Forgetting will commence.
Which is too bad, since what’s needed here is a Great Accounting. Without that, in twenty-some years, there will be another inauguration on a bright sparkling day, another mirrored reversal, the result of another disaster caused because we never learned the lesson of our Constitution: Without properly administered checks and balances enforced by an engaged and accurately informed public, this country always ends up in the ditch, which is an unnecessarily wasteful way to get on down the road.