Is it just me? Or does it seem that we just might be pulling out of this national nosedive that started way back in November 2000? Quite suddenly, I think I might just detect a glimmer of hope for these United States.
President Obama is on a roll, right now. If national politics could be likened to an NBA game, the President has suddenly found his "zone" the same way that Magic Johnson used to do back in the 80s. You know? Like when Magic would thread the needle with a no-look pass to find a streaking James Worthy for the throw-down, or Byron Scott all alone beyond the arc, feet planted and square to the basket.
Big wins at home and on the road
The President won big, politically, with health care reform. Polls show that the public is rapidly moving toward solid approval of the new law. But apart from that huge victory, the President this week also rolled out a "Mortgage Modification Assistance" plan aimed at addressing the national foreclosure problem. Also, Congress overcame an "intense" lobbying effort by Big Banks to pass legislation that forces the banks out of the student loan business. Now students can borrow for college tuition directly from the government without having to give a cut to private bankers (the very same who nearly destroyed our financial system in 2008). I got through college with my Guaranteed Student Loan and I'm glad students today will have that same opportunity.
These accomplishments in and of themselves would comprise an ambitious presidential agenda for an entire term, and this president has been in office for just over one year!
The partnership between the President and his former rival, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is working very well, apparently. On the foreign policy front, the President announced a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia, continuing the START program that Ronnie Raygun initiated back in the 80s. Also, the President let Bibi Netanyahu know that the United States does not approve of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, winning the praise of none other than Bush consiglierie, James Baker. Then, the President flew to Afghanistan to rally the troops and put some pressure on Junior's favorite marionette, Hamid Karzai.
It seems apparent that President Obama is proving himself worthy of the respect that the rest of the world hungers to give him. (Of course, Junior set the bar pretty low. Heh.)
Left to right: Ensign, DeMint, Coburn, Richard Shelby (AL) and Vitter (sans diaper)
Meanwhile, the Republicans are in disarray. Although one would think they might have become accustomed to defeat, they are reeling after their humiliation in the health care debate.
Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Coburn (R-OK) and Brownback (R-KS) are now drawing attention for having lived in a posh Washington DC boarding house while paying subsidized rent by unidentified parties. (But no quid pro quo, eh? Yeah, right!) And, of course, Senator John Ensign's shenanigans smell worse by the day. (But, hey? How 'bout that Senator Vitter?)
The long simmering feud between the various oh-so-noxious factions of the GOP is erupting into full scale war, with tea-baggers challenging and threatening to destroy such GOP paragons as Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and even Mad Johnny McCain himself!
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele just got into the stew (again) with reports that the RNC comp'ed a visit by donors to a fetish nightclub in Los Angeles. (It's called "Voyeur.") Add this to the long list of gaffes the chairman has compiled during his term and one begins to wonder if he's not a Fifth Column Democrat.
Americans waking up
Although the spike in militia and racist group memberships is undeniable, it is not surprising. This is the traditional nativist/Know-Nothing strain of American politics that has always existed. As President Carter said last year, there is a deep current of racism in this country, and there are those who can never accept the idea of an African-American as their president. As long as that particular faction holds the levers of power within the GOP, the party will remain in the political wilderness. If there are moderate elements in the GOP, those elements must purge party ranks of the racists and reactionaries. But, considering how deeply entrenched are the bigots within that party, it will be some time before they have their house in order.
I'm confident that the "vast middle" of this country, to the extent that such exists, will recognize the real accomplishments of this president, will distinguish the differences his policies have made in their lives. All the Glen Beck hysteria and frothing vitriol will disgust them and they'll turn away.
So, let me urge fellow progressives to take a moment to smell the roses. Our president is on a roll, our political opponents are bewildered and lost, and this economy is starting to show signs of life.
Don't look now, but...