Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grumpy Old Man

Oh dear, was I being grumpy again?  I promise you, I didn't mean to be, I was trying to be upbeat for a change.  The other day, a liberal friend on Facebook (not the law professor; this one's a local commercial artist) remarked that I must be on vacation, because I wasn't in "the grumpy chair" about one of his posts.  But that very same day he approved of my being "grumpy" about a right-wing GOP meme.  So it's only risible grumpiness to criticize right-wing Democrats; got it.

But what I meant to write about was my Right Wing Acquaintance Number One's return to the political fray; apparently he's begun to recover from the devastating trauma of Obama's reelection.

Or maybe not.  He posted a couple of links about the "looming fiscal cliff crisis," one of which claimed that the real danger comes from the "looming debt crisis."  On this one RWA1 remarked "There is the real crisis, and the Democrats pretend it that it's all taken care of."  Of course the Fiscal Cliff is largely manufactured by the corporate media and their allies in Washington, including Obama himself.  I'm ready to blame the Democrats for their role in our economic troubles, but that role mostly consists of collaborating with the Republicans.  I pointed out that as far the debt goes, the Republicans raised the debt ceiling for Bush and Reagan, so their present concern about the debt is as deceitful as their concern about the future of Social Security and Medicare.  RWA1 ignored this, mumbling something about what will happen when "the Chinese stop buying our debt."  But it's all the Democrats' fault, even though the Chinese bought a lot of our debt from the Bush crime family.  That's a benefit of being on the losing side in a major election: you can blame everything on the other guys, though as the past four years show, even when you win you can blame everything on the other guys.  It's no substitute for thought, of course.

The other link, to an op-ed, called for the GOP to "force Obama's hand," with no comment from RWA1.  I remarked that I'm all for the GOP continuing to self-destruct, since it would leave the Democrats no excuse for screwing things up.  RWA1 replied, "I foresee a mess, as there is a paucity of courage on all [!] sides."  That was nice and vacuous, but also willfully irrelevant.  (Though "foresee" also means "I hope I hope I hope."  Apocalypse is a typical right-wing fantasy; it never seems to occur to them that a catastrophe could affect them too.)

As with principles, courage doesn't mean anything in itself if you don't exercise it in a good cause.  It's no recommendation to have the courage to destroy the economy; the deficit hawks of both parties have shown numerous times that they do have that courage.  The weird thing is that like so many people on both major parties, RWA1 overlooks the fundamental agreement between Obama and the Republicans: cut government spending, including on social programs; don't raise taxes on the wealthy too much; lower the deficit at all costs.  The main difference between them is that Obama is more willing to raises taxes on the rich.  He has already lowered spending (a disastrous policy in a troubled economy) more than any recent president; he has put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block; he appointed a bipartisan commission to make recommendations on cutting the deficit, packing with deficit hawks -- and when it failed, even so, to reach conclusions, he accepted the report of the two chairmen.

I don't know what RWA1 thinks would be the courageous thing for "all sides" to do.  But it's clear that Obama is ready to do most of what the Republicans say they want done, and to defy his base in doing so.  It won't matter to him, since he doesn't have to appease voters to be re-elected again.  If the Democrats do badly in 2014 because of Obama's policies, the damage will have been done to the economy and it will be hard, nearly impossible, to repair.  I'd suspect that RWA1 still hasn't recovered from the elections, but he's consistently attacked a fantasy Obama for the past four years, so that can't be the explanation.

I confess, I didn't read either article he linked to; what interested me was what RWA1 was saying.  It's the same old swill.

The same day, my liberal law-professor friend linked to this Paul Krugman column, where he frets and whimpers about rumors that President Obama may already have sold the farm.
So this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give away two years of Medicare? How’s that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?
I also hope the rumors turn out to be false, but I'm not betting anything on it; Obama has such a long record of selling out his base to his right-wing allies and donors that the rumors seem entirely too plausible.  And what does Obama care about future attempts to get out the vote?  That is not his problem anymore.  The only question is what can be done to block him, or to punish him afterward if he does it.  "Disillusionment on the Democratic side" and a dollar will get you on the bus, and if Obama does queer the deal, I fully expect all the Obama cultists out there to fall into line behind their guy, as they always have before: If Barack says it, it must be right.

I asked my friend why Krugman was undermining POTUS, though.  Even his timid and reserved criticism of President Obama could hurt the Democrats in 2014.  Nothing less than total devotion will do, or the Republicans will take over, and where will we be then?