The Nerf President

There is no question now what brand of president Americans
chose in 2008. Of course, it is a special kind of Nerf, utterly safe
for the rich, the war-mongers, Republicans—highly toxic to all 
other Americans.
I will start with this disclosure. I never liked Barack Obama. I thought he was weak, not really up to the job of fighting for truth, justice and the American way. Obama demanded, for example, that Americans believe in the utter nonsense that brutal, nasty, political combat in the USA was just a generational thing. Obama said that his election announced to the nation, and the world, that a new day of bipartisanship, and mutual respect had dawned on the American political landscape.

Hell, the Norwegians were so taken with that idea, they gave Obama the Nobel Peace Prize just for getting elected. And OK, getting elected was a big deal. I was as happy as any other American that it seemed we had made some progress on the racial and racist front. But, that's about us, the American people, or the perceptions of the world. It isn't about Barack Obama, and what he brought to the job as president.

I suppose the fact that he could articulate better than George W. Bush made him seem "brilliant" to a lot of Americans. It was nice to listen to a fellow who, for a change, wasn't baffled by the contents of Mr. Dictionary. But right away Obama's notion that he was going to redefine the terms of engagement with Republicans came into conflict with a simple reality—the Republicans weren't having any of it. They declared war on him. And before they were through bullying him, marginalizing him, redefining him as the biggest threat to the United States since Osama [jeez—what ironic bad luck on the name, huh?] bin Laden, Obama was pulled—not really dragging and kicking either—deep into the mire of the right.

Of course 99% of what Republicans had to say in criticism of Barack Obama was utter bullshit—much of it rooted in the Republican awareness of how much racism still fuels the passions of their own base. In addition, they and their Tea Party wing of stormtroopers, exploited the looney, conspiratorial nature of these same people, many of whom believe a cult of master-controllers called the Illuminati, the New World Order, or whatever the name is this week, pulls the strings—as Bela Lugosi so nuttily put it years ago.

The Republicans and their talking-point-peddlers worked assiduously to craft the meme and the myth that Barack Obama was not a real American. Seldom did they just say what they implicitly intended—hey, he's BLACK!!, he can't be the POTUS!! Instead, they explicitly attacked the idea that Obama was born in the USA. They claimed Obama was a marxist, a Muslim, born in Kenya, educated in Indonesian madrassas to hate the United States and to want to subvert it through an insidious plan to have him grow up SEEMING like an American, and managing to get himself elected to the highest office in the land—so—so—the Marxist-Muslim worldwide conspiracy can destroy freedom!!

Yep, that's how deeply into psychosis the right-wing in America has sunk. Even its own members ruefully describe the Tea-Party nuts in the Republican Party as "hobbits"—i.e., quixotic simpletons imagining they are on a great quest or crusade to save America from everyone not like them. 

It would be funny except for the recent reminder of how it really isn't—i.e., Anders Behring Breivik. And the thing is, there are thousands of Breviks in the USA, just working up the courage to see the mania manifested in the murder and mayhem they demand as the sacrifice to their their brand of liberty.

So, yeah, Barack Obama has had to deal with a lot of crazy nincompoops. No doubt. But that comes with the job. And, while we're feeling sorry for him, let us recall that millions of Americans are suffering terribly in this economic environment, and our sympathies should be reserved for them first, and not some guy whose family is getting to live in a huge, white, mansion, where the amenities aren't too bad either (from what I hear).

As I write this, the House of Representatives has just passed the great, lousy, Obama "compromise" with the Republicans, the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was Obama's capitulation to the right, or maybe his final declaration that the right was right where he always belonged. Now, of course, Barack Obama couldn't get a job washing dishes in the Republican Party kitchen (in spite of everything, I am sure they consider him too uppity). But is his obvious envy over that fact any reason for him to try to outdo Republicans trying to smash the poor and blow the rich?

Obama has told the left-wing of his party, the people who who are ideologically the traditional base of the Democratic Party that they need to grow up, and learn that governing is about compromise, and oh yeah, you can't always get what you want. Thanks Barry, but I learned that from Mick Jagger a long time ago. 

Problem is, a Democratic president might not always get what we want, but he's supposed to defend and protect what we need, and especially what the most vulnerable citizens in the USA need—and Barack Obama, the Nerf President, has failed Democrats, and the American people on that count.

I guess he expects Democrats, liberals, the left will support him, figuring they have no choice. But the next few months may deconstruct that premise, and reveal more options than we ever thought we had.