Friday, November 21, 2008

Try Things, Barack

In the immortal words of Gerald Ford: “Our long national nightmare is over.”

Unfortunately, a new one is beginning.

What an ordeal. I should have been blogging about the election all year (actually for the past two years) like all the other pundits who have no lives and who think the world is hanging on their every observation. However, even with the addition of a thyroid medication to my daily regimen (“Speed!” a friend enthused approvingly) I could not muster the energy. The news cycles with their ups and downs, low blows and high drama were exhausting.

One of my greatest satisfactions was seeing Rudy Giuliani fizzle. Better yet was being able to vote for Hillary in the primary, knowing I could also vote for Barack in the general election. Hey, if I’m going to triangulate, it seems only appropriate to do so for a Clinton!

The highest satisfaction will come, of course, when the most incompetent and delusional president ever to mislead the country steps down in January.

Obama is inheriting a mess that is likely to be much worse by next year. I’m an unapologetic Franklin D. Roosevelt Democrat who hopes that Rahm Emanuel, presumably speaking on behalf of his boss, will follow through in the determination not to see a crisis like this pass without instituting far-reaching change. Everybody hates government until they need it, especially the rich, who milk it in good times and bad more than a billion “welfare mothers” ever could. Despite preliminary fear-mongering from the right, socialism will never come to this country. But given how selfish and reactionary we’ve become, the farther to the left they can move us is OK by me.

The economic collapse is an utterly predictable (and bipartisan) result of capitalism run amok, our policy of what Gore Vidal calls “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” an equally predictable result of imperialist overreach and blind jingoism. (“USA! USA!” the young, male GOP thugs roar. Yeah, right.) If Barbara Tuchman were alive, she’d have enough material for a second volume of “The March of Folly.”

FDR’s first inaugural speech in which he castigated the “unscrupulous money changers” and declared “This nation is asking for action, and action now” is as stirring and relevant now as it was in 1933. Obama certainly has the rhetorical chops and the historical understanding to emulate FDR. Time even put him on its cover in FDR’s jaunty pose.

Go for it, Barack. Like FDR, try things. If they don’t work, try other things. Put people to work. Invest heavily in education, infrastructure and the new green economy. Make health care a right, not a privilege. Exert some of that vaunted executive power for the public good instead of crony capitalism and warmongering. Congress, please friggin’ cooperate.

Defending the New Deal in 1936, FDR said: “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”

The New Deal was not an immediate panacea. It had fits and starts, flaws galore, and continually bucked up against constitutional restraints. But it’s looking pretty good to a lot of folks right now.