#943 – Dick Bernard: Three weeks before the 2014 Election. The Obama Presidency, near six years out; and the Tea Party movement tries to re-incarnate itself.

I’m liberal, but very moderate, and passionate about the need for people to understand each other and to find common ground. Three weeks before the 2014 election, some thoughts, the main one: VOTE, AND VOTE WELL INFORMED.
First, this week, Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman wrote a long commentary about his view of the reality of the Obama presidency so far. You can read it here. This is an important commentary, whether or not you like the President.
Another e-mail brought a column by Joan Walsh on how anti-government intervention in matters of public medicine complicates the current fight against Ebola. You can read it here.
This time of year, Mid-September and October in 2008, was the moment the harsh truth hit the George W. Bush presidency, and all of us. That month and a half was a very anxious time for me.
We were all watching the American economy nearing collapse, and in October 2008 I took personal steps to hopefully insure some kind of floor on my 401(k) hoping that some of it might possibly be left as the economy careened towards a fiscal cliff. There was the residue of a Iraq war we were fighting, unsuccessfully, on the national credit card, and essentially zero national fiscal discipline. This was a very Republican time. We Americans tend to forget that up till near the end of 2008, the fantasy of “let the good times roll” prevailed in America. We couldn’t see bad times ahead, and “winning” a losing battle in Iraq remained the priority of the Bush administration. To be against a disastrous war was unpatriotic.
Remember, 2001-2009 was Republican time, not Democrat.
Then came President Obama.
The President had not even been inaugurated in 2009, when direct and very public messages went out from the Republican leadership that their objective was to see the Obama presidency fail.
Most famously, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh were very publicly on record. Ever since the Republican party has done its damnedest in every way possible to sabotage everything President Obama proposed to do.
The very word “Obama” became a mantra of derision (as “Obamacare”, being repeatedly and symbolically repealed by the Congress). A key strategy for elections (2010 and 2012 and now, 2014) has been to make them referendums against President Obama.
Even though President Obama is not running for anything this year, and in any event cannot run for President again, he is again, cynically and dishonestly, being portrayed as the primary issue in this election.
After a brief time of Democrat control, as you recall, in 2010, the Tea Party raged into control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and picked up folks like Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate, and it went to work for failure – failure for which it hold Obama accountable and with him, the Democrats.
For the once proud “Grand Old Party”, political success came to mean achieving failure.
So, what actually happened in the Obama years thus far?
Paul Krugmans commentary, referred to above, is not the only such commentary. Those who know, know that President Obama, with support from Democrats, has made progress against all odds. It was one-sided progress, largely because the Republicans largely refused to work together to resolve issues on matters of substance .
What might have happened if, as normally might be reasonably expected, had our government legislators worked together to do the best they could for those they represented?
In the second paragraph of his commentary, Krugman says the president was “naive” in his first term, facing “scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One.”
Everyone, of course, can have his or her own opinion.
In my opinion, with my own life experiences dealing with fervent opposition, it is reasonable that President Obama and his advisers knew exactly what they were doing from even before taking office. They knew what they were up against.
There’s an old saying about giving someone “enough rope to hang themselves”. Obama was much criticized for attempting to compromise with his enemies from the very beginning. He was, I would suggest, “dumb like a fox”. He tried to work together – to fashion compromise – and I think he was sincere. I doubt he expected he’d get cooperation, but he did try…. This was not an act without consequences. People to his left accused him of selling out. People I know well, and respect, who are far to the left of me, think Obama is too moderate, even conservative. Far too many protested by not voting at all in the 2010 election. So be it.
This brings to mind the Party of Tea:
It was in the wake President Obama’s election that the outraged folks of Tea Party fame went on the attack, with huge success in the election of 2010, with the biggest issue, it appeared to me on the sidelines, as Affordable Care. How dare he propose that more people could have affordable medical coverage.
His race was a big player as well.
I tend to be engaged in politics, so over the last five years I’ve been to many public events where Tea Party types made their presence offensively known.
It is an accurate generalization, I feel, to label Tea Party leaders as disrespectful bullies, most often loud and large and dominating white men, out to drown out any opposing voices. They were intimidating to take on. Over and over, they exposed themselves as fact challenged, but this seemed to make no difference to them. Facts were irrelevant. A descriptor I first saw in print regarding 1974 campaigns, “disrupt, confuse, display anger“, fit these folks like a glove. Their interest was power, period.
Fast forward to today. The Tea Party image has been tarnished – after a while even bullies lose their ability to intimidate – and it has become obvious that those loud and large folks I describe above have moved into the background, to be replaced by people with the exact same anti-government philosophy, but seemingly kind and gentle looking types with good hair and smiles and cuddly and cute kinds of ads. We have one of these running for a local legislative seat, another for Governor, and many others. They are, all of them, simply, stealth candidates.
Make no mistake, the same people as in the early 200os, just wearing a different costume.
So be it, that Obama is the issue in 2014. Against great odds, President Obama has accomplished very good things with Democrats help. His is a record to be proud of.
As for the Republican right, if your program is fear, loathing and failure, how can you possibly switch gears to a program of optimism, inclusion and success if you win? And you’ll be faced, now, with the same problem that you modeled for the Democrats in the last four years, if you end up in the majority?
As the saying goes, two can play this game.
We all lose.
Vote with your eyes wide open on November 4. By all means, vote.

POSTNOTE: While preparing the above, an e-mail came from our dear friend, who immigrated to the U.S. after WWII:
I am disturbed by the attitude of supposedly successful, intelligent people.
One question someone asked me:
“What do you think of America today compared to the America when you came,— or 1960??”
Good question, I thought.
Answer: the America I found when I came was loved and almost revered by at least most countries.
Our soldiers who came home could get an almost free college education to better their and their families lives.
We are aware today is sadly not comparable to then.
If you have a child in college — the cost of higher education for most families almost takes what they have saved for their retirement. The young people have to postpone purchasing a home, start a family. Inflation — cost of nursing home care — down grading of education— I could go on, but I think you see what I use for examples.
Another man:
“What do you say to the people on food stamps, they should go and work, not rely on the government handouts.”
Looking at the $7.55 minimum wage, I don’t call food stamps a hand out.
Technically, we are all dependent in one way or another on the government — lets call them subsidies — our roads, schools, farming —- I could go on —- but I think you understand.
I am amazed at the questions I get.
To one very bright 8th grader with an I Pad.
“My question is do you own your IPad?”
“Oh, no the school got it for me.”
“You like it”
“Yes, now when I need to solve a problem in English or math I go to the Ipad, it has all the answers and I don’t have to think anymore.”
Believe me,. If I still were a teacher, the iPad would NOT ever be used for school work.

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