Friday, December 03, 2010

With Trouble A-Brewin' At Home, Presidents Head Overseas

To coin a phrase, they "get out of Dodge." It may be to Camp David (Jimmy Carter to meditate before disastrous 'Malaise' speech/Bill Clinton to mend fences with Hillary), the ranch (George W. Bush/Ronald Reagan), or to friendly (for them) foreign policy pastures in Cairo and Afghanistan (Nixon/Obama).

Nixon  in  Cairo,  June  1974 Obama in Afghanistan,  December 2010

Two months after his triumphant trip to Cairo, Egypt President Nixon would resign in disgrace, while back home the Watergate noose tightened inexorably around his doomed presidency. Obviously, President Obama's problems today dwarf what Nixon faced at the time, but they are similar in one respect: Both Presidents' problems were of their own making.

President Obama has consistently reneged on his campaign promise to take a firm stand on ending tax cuts for the rich, now that the rubbber has hit the road. And he is on the verge of caving on every other issue too, from START, a treasonous and unprecedented treaty obstruction by Republicans, to DADT to extending unemployment benefits, which are being held hostage to the Bush tax cuts. As Paul Krugman said: "It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right."

Nixon's triumphant motorcade through the streets of Cairo was but a brief respite from the fires of Watergate consuming his presidency. Two months after this President's trip to Afghanistan, once the new Republican Congress takes over, wither his presidency? It would be less surprising were President Obama to announce he's not running for a second term and then proceed to spend his dwindling days in office rubber stamping reactionary Republican initiatives while playing War Chief, than if he suddenly decided to channel his inner Democrat. At this critical juncture in our history, the last thing we need is a Lear or a Hamlet roaming the White House corridors. What the country needs, and deserves, is a generous helping of the spirit of FDR and Truman in our president.


Barbara Rubin said...

Thank you for this excellent collection of expansions upon the news for another jaded, second-class (female) citizen like myself. I'm curious about your position on the 'new' congress, given the fact that the 'old' congress never used its majority status productively.

How do you view the possibility that Blue Dogs (now replaced with Rabid Dogs) were largely an incursion of Republicans ensuring that a majority of actual Dems would never be in power? After all, super-majority voting could have been outlawed at any time if legislators had been serious about it.

Barbara Rubin

Carlos said...

Thanks for the kind words.

My take on the Blue Dogs, and the historic Democratic defeat that followed, is that it all started with what I call the Rham Emanuelization of the Democratic Party. Remember who laid the foundation for Democratic electoral victories after 2004? Howard Dean, a true liberal Democrat. If it ain't broke, why change it? Instead, the chief DLC/Clinton triangulator was given the task of recruiting these Blue Dogs. Anyone with half a political brain (which does not include Chris Matthews and the Beltway Idiot Punditocracy) could see this coming. The old maxim stated by one of the Titans of the Democratic Party, Harry Truman is, given the choice, people will not vote for a PHONY Democrat when they can vote for a REAL Republican. Forget all the other Tea Party nonsense. At its core, that's what we saw play itself out in these elections. A cowed Democratic Party (except for its most outspoken liberal and progressive members), afraid of its own shadow/principles, afraid to campaign on its accomplishments (healthcare and financial reform, saving the auto industry, saving/creating millions of jobs with the stimulus, averting a Great Depression) while sounding like mealy-mouthed Republicans. Whether or not they could have retained the House is hard to say, because leadership from the WH was totally lacking the entire year leading up to this. But I firmly believe the losses would not be so severe.

So, after demolishing the Democratic Party, Rhambo hightailed it out of town, to Chicago, I suppose to do to the city what he did to his putative party.

All is not lost. But if I were advising the party leadership, I'd tell them to install Howard Dean back in his old DNC chair, like, yesterday.