Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was thirteen years old when that horror stopped the nation dead in its tracks–but I remember it like it was yesterday. A lot of time has passed, but conservative hatred masquerading as legitimate faith confused by hiding behind patriotism still remains strong. Lots of religious Hippocrates were delighted at the death of JFK never giving a second thought to his being a husband, father and leader of the free world. People pride themselves on stupidity, and that is their right so long as words don’t morph into actions we all live to regret. But this anniversary is merely the preface to my recounting observations of human beings at their most disappointing.
In today’s world, the Senate has finally invoked the nuclear option, and Mitch McConnell pitched a fit now that majority rule has been restored. He doesn’t want to see the reinstatement of Senatorial nuclear math–(majority rule)–but nuclear option or not, you don’t have to wait for the fallout. The fallout began well before the day Barack Obama took office. While Mitch McConnell is a very clever and politically astute man, he is an incredibly stupid person who sees no further than the end of his turtle-like beak. For McConnell and so many neocons, it’s not about what’s best for the American people–it’s about what is best for Mitch McConnell’s perverse worldview–and so much of conservative America– many of whom have lost their way.
Colorado congressman, Doug Lamborn thought it was “OK” to equate President Obama to a “tar baby.” Dick Durban sticks by his claim that an anonymous high ranking member of the GOP allegedly told Barack Obama to his face: “I cannot stand even looking at you.” Addle-brained, Rep. Addison “Joe” Wilson, Sr., felt a moment of turrets come on–and went with it, inappropriately shouting “you lie!” during Obama’s first State of the Union Address—and so the disrespect and abuse just keeps coming on…
…I was feeling lazy the other night and didn’t want to be bothered with cooking dinner, so I stopped by a local bar and restaurant for a sandwich and a beer. There was loud music playing, but I found myself watching the closed-caption evening news on one of the multitude of TV screens placed all around the room. Barack Obama appeared on television coinciding with a pause in the loud music. From behind me I heard a man say: “Somebody should assassinate that man.” I wasn’t prepared to hear anything that ugly and inappropriate rekindling horrible memories, so I wasn’t at my cleverest–I turned to face him, and with a booming voice said: “Go to hell.” The man didn’t utter another word because I come across as imposing when provoked. I sized up the offending, pathetic sad-sack–with his ridiculous mullet haircut, surprised to see someone who looked like he belonged in the back woods of Alabama transplanted to urban Philadelphia. The mullet itself told me everything anyone needed to know: He was too pathetic and stupid to express an informed opinion. His opinions were clearly based on undiluted hatred–not on facts, nor accurate information–nor life experience. He was only capable of parroting the sentiments he’s heard on toxic talk radio and emboldened by the bar-lowering brats currently infesting both Houses of Congress.
Those sentiments are part of an echo chamber between right wing politicians and the media mouthpieces devoted to spreading hate and stupidity for the sake of self-serving media ratings and/or votes.
As a matter of course our nation’s elected officials waste more time languishing in gridlock than they ever do attending to the country’s business. We have elected officials who revel in creating suspended animation, specializing in roadblocks while ignoring infrastructure. Almost no one in Congress has any appetite for getting anything done–especially on the “R” side of the aisle–and believe it or not, Congress has about one more “work” week left in 2013. Washington, DC has been reduced to a never ending state of stagnation and pointless finger pointing. Congress’ popularity rating is polling somewhere between Ebola and head-lice with most of the credit due to incompetent congressional freshmen who were elected during the 2010 midterms while a drowsy national electorate slept.
When nothing constructive gets done, morons like Mr. Mullet blame the president for all manner of things that can all be traced back to misinformation campaigns that took hold inside his tiny little mind. Mr. Mullet is a prime example of the kind of person easily manipulated by both the Tea Party and neocons–capitalizing on low-information voters and their inherent failure to understand how anything in this world actually works.
Everyone has seized on the embarrassing healthcare website that stumbled out of the gate in October. No one remembers what they had for lunch, let alone important historical comparisons like: Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Part D and Social Security–ALL of which began with shaky starts, but over time became popular programs that transformed people’s lives. The healthcare roll-out is merely the first time a national entitlement program of such a massive scale has been almost entirely introduced to the public by way of an online presence, and the twenty-four hour news cycle has had a field day fixating on its flaws.
The prototype for the Affordable Healthcare Act was first implemented in Massachusetts by former Republican governor, Mitt Romney–with most of it’s foundations based largely on ideas designed by the conservative Heritage Foundation’s think tank. Nevertheless the GOP’s very own ideas have become the primary focus of conservative ire over the audacity of someone actually doing something to implement them. Perhaps conservatives didn’t want those ideas available to everyone and would have preferred to keep affordable healthcare reserved for people exactly like themselves. Staunch conservatives don’t ascribe to the idea of everyone being created equal. They don’t factor in the rights of women or minorities. I strongly suspect staunch right wingers view everyone other than heterosexual white males as something short of human. Obviously that makes no sense but we’re talking about a conservative worldview here–it isn’t supposed to make sense.
Our founding fathers initially wanted citizens from all walks of life to run for elected office–serve out their civic duty only to return to their original professions when the next citizen successor was sworn in. Nice idea in theory–but theory is where it ends. Forget about the citizen senator who puts down his farmer’s plow to spend time serving his country in the nation’s capitol. The Teapublicans have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt how naïve that concept really is–so much so that Tea Party freshmen have demonstrated themselves to be considerably worse than self-serving career politicians. (If that’s not frightening, then I don’t know what is…)
The main source of our inability to move the nation forward boils down to one core issue: An irrational hatred of our president–or more accurately his race. Obama’s detractors may deny that race is what motivates their hatred, but it’s too transparent for them to convincingly deny. I maintain that were a white male elected president in 2008–who in turn handled his political agenda precisely the same way as Barack Obama–we’d never have seen the same degree of political gridlock. So the problem is not the president nor is it his message–it’s the perception of the president by those who hate him that’s at the core of our national stagnation.
It’s bewildering to watch a principled man smeared with lies, hatred and convoluted half truths. What’s particularly frustrating is the taint that lingers where lies are concerned–because there will always be people who prefer to believe a lie over the truth–especially when it dovetails with the “hater’s” own preconceived notions. If logic and common sense are inconvenient to an accuser’s objectives, liars merely talk louder and become more self-righteous. Take for example: Ted Cruz, Darrel Issa or Mitch McConnell–ad nauseum. The only redemption for anyone victimized by deceitful detractors is to remain dignified–keep a level head–and wait for the truth to win out while a fickle and easily confused public flip-flops around like a flounder on a dry dock. Barack Obama is a patient man who adheres to a higher set of principles, but don’t expect either blatant or subliminal racists to ever concede to that point.
The very moment Obama took the oath of office, people on the hard right began a relentless campaign to continually smear and disrespect him. I’ve witnessed members of Congress withdrawing their hand when the president extended his (literally speaking)–and in the next breath you hear political pundits accuse Obama of being distant and unapproachable. Whether it’s birthers or neocon pundits fabricating all sorts of psychobabble, Obama rises above it all with an otherworldly air of dignity and calm. I couldn’t maintain my composure the way the president has–and there are few people among us who could.
The noisy faction purposefully craft lies into faux-truths employing constant repetition. There’s a receptive audience out there either unwilling or unable to think for themselves and therefore gullible enough to believe anything. I have an acquaintance who despises Barack Obama. He’s incapable of coherently expressing why he hates the president, only that he hates him. When I ask if he’s ever listened to the president speak on policy matters or if he’s tuned-in to any of the State of the Union addresses, he replies: “I can’t even bear to hear Obama’s voice.” In other words, he has no idea what Barack Obama stands for but he’s heard things through “select” media outlets and prefers to drink the Kool-Aid.
If I bring-up the fact that a great many of Obama’s policies (including healthcare reform) have their origins in ideas Republicans embraced up until Obama implemented them–my friend claims I’m “making it up.” It’s curious how those same Republican ideas become “toxic” when people have preconceived notions about the messenger while completely missing the message. If Americans were colorblind, they’d likely embrace the majority of the Obama Administration’s agenda. Those same goals were, after all the GOP’s very own platform not so very long ago.
I once asked the same aforementioned acquaintance: “Do you really hate Obama, or are you allowing racism to govern your opinions?” That set off a firestorm. He ranted and raved about how he is NOT a racist. Although he doesn’t even hear himself use racial slurs during his own routine use of language–all the while blaming the world’s problems on Obama. He’s against ObamaCare but curiously enough, has considerably less trouble with The Affordable Health Care Act–blithely unaware that they’re one in the same thing. He blames corporate bank bailouts on Obama–again unaware that it’s a matter of historical record that those bailouts began under Bush 43–and that the economy tanked before Obama was elected president.
For those who maintain a purposefully limited worldview, all that has gone wrong in America became Barack Obama’s fault the minute the man took the oath of office. If I point out how all the massive problems that confront the nation were growing like a silent tumor for decades starting with “Saint Ronald,” but coming to a head during the excesses of the Bush/Cheney years he says: “When are you typical bleeding heart liberals going to stop blaming Bush?” Regarding certain events and issues (from incomprehensibly costly losses of blood and treasure, to incompetent responses to natural disasters) my answer is: “Never.” And for a very good reason. It’s patently stupid to think that problems start and stop with each successive administration. History is a linear continuum, and the course of the nation (as well as its budget) are set in stone by the preceding president leaving his successor stuck with those preexisting factors for the first three or more years in office. In the case of Barack Obama, the hand he was dealt by George W. Bush was so bad–so toxic–and in such disarray that no one in the world could neutralize our collective catastrophes in two terms. All Obama can do is set us on the right course, and hope that his successors continue to guide us along a productive path. Obama’s presidency has been perpetually kneecapped by a House full of obstructionists whose primary goal is nothing more than a “game” to regain control of the White House in 2016. In GOP tea-speak, the job of governing is secondary to playing chess with all of our lives and fortunes (such as they are) merely to regain political power.
Obama is a populist in spite of criticisms that he’s too professorial. He is a very cerebral man, and I’ll take a thoughtful leader over a monosyllabic reactionary any day. He’s displayed a cool, levelheaded grace in spite of near impossible odds. His presidency has been stalled by obstructionism, prejudice, fear-mongering, heart-rending gun violence, layered on top of unforeseen international, industrial and natural disasters–yet he has managed to neutralize many of our worst international enemies and accomplish things the Bush Administration couldn’t begin to address. The stock market has soared to new heights and more than recovered from the days when Bush left office. (Albeit a jobless recovery–but you can largely blame that on Congressional inaction.) However, you’ll never convince my reactionary acquaintance–or Mr. Mullet–they’re both too busy following football. And they’re only colorblind when it comes to the players on the sports teams they follow. Getting people to pay attention to the issues that really matter is like jogging through Jello. It can be done, but it’s slippery going. Everyone has a right to their opinion–even when it’s patently stupid. My own gut instincts tell me that Barack Obama learned early in life that there’s a lot less traffic on the high road and eventually we will follow his lead. Sadly, the rest of Washington, DC prefers to stumble over what lies behind them in an endless effort to march blindfolded, backward toward the past. History exists as a road map to the future so that we may reflect on the past to guide us forward–not backward.
May our president and his family be safe and well on this sad anniversary–and continue in good health in all the days that follow.
Disassociated Press – 11/15/2013