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Diary of a disenfranchised Democrat

Ok, I published this a few years ago but with the pundits hopping all over themselves to write President Obama’s most recent obituary, I thought we could use a laugh.  Oh, how the 1990s were just an era of wonderful bipartisanship and hope…

 

There’s been a lot of talk about how President Obama is in trouble with his base.  The narrative goes something like this: liberals are disappointed with Barack Obama’s performance.  Maybe he has been too timid, too hands-off, too much of a law professor when what we neehttp://www.alysonchadwick.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?post_id=688&action=grunion_form_builder&TB_iframe=true&width=768&id=add_formded was a scrappy street fighter, willing to go toe-to-toe with an obstructionist Congress and the wiley John Boehner and Eric “Dr. No” Cantor.  Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton would have put up with this malarky.  No, sir.

My friend, Chris Rugaber (you know the AP business writer, if you don’t read his stuff, you should start), sent me this piece: When did liberals become so unreasonable? The idea being, that liberals are never happy with anything.  I dug through my personal papers and the following represent excerpts from my journal.

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Fall 1991:

Dear Diary,

My mom and I were talking about what Democrats will run for president next year.  Seems pointless to me.  George Bush is just so dang popular, what with that stupid Iraq war and all.  I like Paul Tsongas a lot but, seriously, another liberal, Greek from Mass?  That’s never gonna happen.  I said Bill Clinton is the only viable candidate.  She thinks his performance at the 1988 Democratic Convention will do him in, they did lower him off the stage and all, but I think he’s got a certain “je ne sais quoi.”  I cannot wait to move to France.  If Bush gets reelected, I am going to move there.

Winter 1992

Dear Diary,

Well, I don’t have to move to France.  Bill Clinton is our new president!  We have the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives!  I hear that means a lot!  There’s nothing stopping us now!  We are going to make health care available to everyone!  It’s a good time to be alive!  Diary, you had better not stop thinking about tomorrow!  I know I won’t!1

Spring 1993

Dear Diary,

This has been a sad time for Democrats.  We have a Dem in the White House and control both sides of Capitol Hill but President Clinton’s stimulus package went down in flames in the Senate, damn you filibuster! ( http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/22/us/gop-senators-prevail-sinking-clinton-s-economic-stimulus-bill.html) Weren’t they paying attention to the It’s the economy, stupid! message?  Hello! I remain hopeful that we can get healthcare reform through, Hillary Rodham, I mean Hillary Rodham Clinton (I keep forgetting she is using his name now!) is heading up the committee for that so I am sure it will go through.  She tried to soften her image with that cookie recipe and my mom swears by her turkey tips (hint: avoid basting by putting bacon on top — saves time and is delicious!) but she’s tough as nails. President Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience is pretty clear, I sure wish we’d stop the genocide in Bosnia.  Slobodan Molosovic sounds like a dick.

Fall 1993

Dear Diary,

I just cannot shake the feeling that we are fucking up big time here.   If we cannot capitalize on the promise of Bill Clinton, we are totally screwed.  Does he know the damage he is doing to our party and system?  Bosnia remains a mess.  When are we going to help these people?  I hear there’s going to be a new Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, I sure hope they look into Bosnia.  This crap is unacceptable.  None of my friends will even talk to me about it.  And now the crazy “liberal” media seems obsessed with some innocent investments the Clintons made a thousand years ago, I think they’re calling it white-water?  I don’t know why they are so anti-rafting.  Seems like a good hobby to me.

Spring 1994

Dear Diary,

Am so depressed.  Hillary Clinton’s health reform looks to be headed towards disaster!  They say she didn’t consult Congress enough, as if!  What has happened to our party?  I thought we had some guts but I guess not.  Man, Bill Clinton sucks.

Winter 1994

Well, the end of the world is here.  Officially.  The Republicans just took the House back — after about a million years.  The Speaker was the first to lose his seat since we had a speaker.  Healthcare reform died a painful death.  Damn senators act like they should be consulted on policy issues, how rude!  Don’t they know Bill Clinton is a D?  Stupid “liberal” media is still into that rafting crap.  Have they no lives?

Winter 1995

Dear Diary,

Have been too depressed to write.  Bill Clinton has failed us all.  First no action on Bosnia, then health care reform failure and then he was all about welfare reform.  Says that will be his big thing should he win reelection, good luck, jerk.  Thank god for Newt Gingrich.  He was so mean/whiny that he made us look good.  Shut down the government because he was pissed about his seat on AF1.  I sure wish Democrats would grow a pair.

Winter 1997

Dear Diary,

Wow. It’s been a painful few years.  When did Democrats stop being Democrats?  Sure we had a few victories but that’s all because Newt Gingrich is so stupid. And whiny.  Bill Clinton totally caved to the GOP on the last two budgets and welfare reform.  Thank goodness he won reelection, though he seems more like a Republican.  That rafting thing ended up being more of a big deal than I had thought. And now, it looks like he may have had an affair with an intern.  Question:  If you know the world is watching you, can you keep your pants on for five minutes?  No?  Work on it.

January 1998

Dear Diary,

Just got a job in the record industry (publicist for RCA Victor).  All my friends were surprised that I would pick music over politics but it has been hard to be a Dem.  Fr weeks, every day, reading the paper has been a challenge.  But then I was walking down the street and had a thought — why am I upset with Bill Clinton?  He has been a good president.  We have had a near unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.  That has been a good thing.  I am tired of being unhappy with him for stupid crap that doesn’t matter.

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Ok, those aren’t really from my journals, though I am sure I wrote similar things back then.  I remember worrying that Bill Clinton was going to squander the opportunity to do some truly spectacular things with his presidency.  I could not understand why Congress resisted working with him, did they not understand that he and they were in the same party?

It is easy to criticize President Obama for being too hands off when dealing with Congress, his absence from the conversations about the debt ceiling or the super committee’s failure only reinforces the narrative and it is easy to forget that he accomplished more in his first year in office than Bill Clinton.  He also managed to get health care reform, as imperfect as it is, passed.  I would like him to be more of a fighter, to het his hands dirty a little — politics is a dirty business — but that’s not who he is.  That’s also not the person many people voted for.  I am going to try to remind myself of how I felt during the Clinton administration whenever I am tempted to buy into the narrative that says I am supposed to be disappointed in President Obama.

In Boehner we trust

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We will not go over the “fiscal cliff.”  That’s my prediction anyway.  I don’t make predictions often.  As I often tell people, I am NOT clairvoyant.  I cannot read minds or see the future.  I do have pretty good political instincts, probably from working in or near politics for 90 percent of my life.  I am no Chuck Todd but not too far away.

In any case, I do not believe we will go over the all too arbitrary and Congress created “fiscal cliff.”  This is partly because President Obama was reelected.  It was partly because the Democrats kept the Senate.  With that in mind, our collective future rests in the hands of one man; Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Oh).  Yes, the man who refused to use the word “compromise” on national television last year will be the one who forces his caucus to do just that.

First I need to have my own “Sister Souljah moment” (she once had an office down the hall from mine at RCA Victor, true story).  The Tea Party makes for a great target as to why Washington seems incapable of getting anything done but they are a response to that inaction, not the cause of it.  Our Congressional districts are becoming more and more polarized, resulting in more and more extreme representatives — remember, Congress is very much a mirror.  If you don’t like what you see in Washington, you probably don’t like what you see when you look around you.  It’s become too easy to blame one group or another for our collective failure to pay attention and act on what happens.

So, here we are.  On the brink of yet another economic crisis.  Europe has already gone back into recession (And we think that same austerity will work here?  Are we that stupid, Joe Scarborough?).  The great menace that is China has an economy that is slowing down.  I am no economist but running a government on nothing but stop-gap continuing resolutions is not a way to run a government, when exactly was a full round of appropriations bills passed?  Yeah, if you have to scratch your head at that one it has been too damn long.  See?  I am still a bitter cynic.

Yet, because Boehner is the speaker of the House and not someone like, I dunno, Eric “Dr. No” Cantor or Paul “I ran the marathon in under a minute” Ryan.  Take home message:  he is reasonable.  Now, I would like to have a second “moment.” I believe that everyone who gets into public life is a patriot.  Maybe a power hungry, egomaniac but also a patriot.  I do not think Cantor or Ryan want to see the country fail, I just don’t think they are seasoned enough to understand the value of compromise.

Who is this John Boehner?  His upbringing is nothing like Mitt Romney‘s.  He has 11 siblings.  He grew up in a two bedroom house.  Yes, that’s right 14 people lived in a house with two bedrooms and one bathroom.  He started working in his father’s bar when he was eight.  If anyone gets the hardship brought on by recession, it’s John Boehner.  He currently rents a basement apartment on Capitol Hill (really, his favorite restaurant is my favorite Italian place on the Hill).

Now I am no fan.  In 2007, I worked a communications director for a Democratic member of Congress.  One night there was a vote at about 1:00 am (we were still in the office, eyes glued to C-Span.  The Democrats still had the House then and the man in the Chair was a D.  He called the vote wrong — some members had not voted when he thought they had.  It was bad.  Steny Hoyer called for the vote to be held a second time and it was but the Republicans stormed out.  The bill they disliked passed.  The next day Hoyer asked Boehner to hold off on going to the Ethics Committee until they had looked into it.  Boehner agreed (this was on the floor) but had actually already submitted a complaint with that committee.  For years, that just got my craw (is that a real phrase?).  Seriously, I thought that was crazily underhanded.  Now, I have forgiven him.

What else do you need to know about John Boehner?  He tried to lead a “coup” against Newt Gingrich.  He smokes enough that you can smell him from a block away.  He is a really conservative guy, though religious conservatives complain he is motivated more by small government conservatism than the issues that matter to them.  I am not sure how he could be more conservative on same sex marriage, abortion and other things but I am not a social, fiscal or any kind of conservative so I am not the one to judge that.  The conservative Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote this about him. The Plain Dealer says Boehner can “disagree without being disagreeable.” We need more of that in the world but even that is not going to save us from fiscal armageddon.

We will avoid the “cliff” because John Boehner is reasonable.  We will lose the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year or more.  We will lower corporate tax rates but raise the top two rates to what they were under President Bill Clinton (you remember those horrible recession years, oh right, we had a great economy then) to 36 and 39 percent.  We will make a pledge to deal with entitlements, though the actual changes won’t happen right away (sorry young people, the retirement age will go up, if not this year, sometime before you retire. Seriously, it has to.).

Don’t worry family, I am still the bitter cynic you know and love.  Don’t believe it?  I still wear only black.

Newt, Newt, Newt, you really need to stop believing your own press releases

Newt Gingrich’s second 15 minutes seems to be coming to a close.  The self-proclaimed ‘ideas’ person who offered to debate Mitt Romney anytime, anywhere, seemed strangely out of place at tonight’s Florida debate. (My prediction about his candidacy can be found here.)   Newt’s problem has always been that he really believes his own press releases.  He doesn’t need to really prepare for debates or interviews because he is just that smart.  He is always going to be the smartest person in the room, except he really isn’t.  He also doesn’t seem to understand that while our attention spans are short, some of us remember what he was like when he had actual power.

Newt’s resurgence as the GOP frontrunner says more about how the party faithful feel about Mitt Romney than anything else.  Truthfully, I would welcome a Gingrich-Obama matchup because Newt just cannot help himself — his affinity for self destruction is legendary. He would have everyone believe that he is a Ronald Reagan clone who single handedly balanced the budget and is responsible for every GOP achievement since he was born.  Funny, I don’t think Speaker John Boehner feels the same way.

Oh, thanks for a giant fuck you to the residents of Washington, DC.  You want to send people to the moon and let them become a state but don’t want us to have a vote in Congress?  Nice, Newt, nice.

Why I like Jon Huntsman

I am a liberal Democrat and always have been.  I want President Obama to win re-election.  So why on earth am I pulling for Jon Huntsman to win today in New Hampshire?  He has the best chance of beating the president.  And yet, here I am, hoping he pulls it out.  Intellectually, it makes so sense.

Even if Huntsman didn’t have the best chance of beating the president, I shouldn’t like him. He is really a conservative guy — ‘pro-life,’ supports the horrible Paul Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare, is all about the Second Amendment, you know, my type of person.  So what the hell am I thinking?

Running for president is serious business.  It’s a serious job.  I write political satire so the whole circus that has been the GOP presidential nomination process has been like a gift from God.  Come on, I was all about the Cain Train.  But as a citizen, the idea of a President Cain, Santorum, Gingrich or Bachmann scares the crap out of me. Whenever I want to bring up Ronald Reagan as a positive an angel loses its wings but one thing he had in his arsenal when negotiating with the Soviets was intelligence. (Oh, and hell just froze over a little bit.)  Can you imagine a Herman Cain in that kind of situation?  No?  That’s because we all probably wouldn’t be here now to think about it.

When did we go from picking the best candidate to picking the least insane?

That is why I like Jon Huntsman.  I like that he is sane and reasonable.  I like that Pew called Utah the best run state in the country when he was governor.  And to me, it is a plus that he served in the Obama administration.  What happened to politics ending at the coasts?  When I travel overseas, I am am American first and a Democrat second.  That is what I like about Jon Huntsman.

The inexplicable Donald Trump

…or “Then they were down to two.”

Even Larry King was intrigued by the Donald's do.

First Newt Gingrich sais he would happily participate in the debate Donald Trump is hosting with NewsMax on December 27. Then the Donald did a round of interviews proclaiming himself the ultimate king-maker and representative of millions (Millions! Check his web sites if you don’t believe him!Note to Mr. Trump, oer your standards the cast of Jersey Shore is qualified to pick the nominee for a major party for the most important job in the country.) before things began to unravel. Rick Santorum agreed to take part but then, one by one, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and the also inexplicable Michele Bachmann declined the invite. Reince Priebus, perhaps the first adult to emerge in a while, said that his support of this train wreck would amount to “malpractice” on his part. Well put, sir.

And for the record, Jon Huntsman was the first to decline and for someone with as much experience dealing with criticism and being in the public eye, the Donald has an amazingly thin skin. Trump called Huntsman’s comments that he “will not kiss his ring or any part of his anatomy” “offensive.” Yeah, Donald, your circus is offensive. That you are still harping on President Obama’s birth certificate — after you said you would drop it once you saw the ‘long form’ version — is offensive. What’s really shameful (and I am part of the problem here but watching him crash and burn twice is truly delicious) is the attention you continue to get and the fact that you are using the job interview to be leader of the free world just another way to get publicity for your reality show. Even the Situation has more class (not much).

All of this leaves me a little perplexed.  Why do we care what the Donald thinks about anything?  We know he likes himself a lot.  A lot more than anyone should.  His official bio describes him this way:

“Donald J. Trump has become the most recognized businessman in the world, and the Trump brand is readily acknowledged as representing the gold standard around the globe. As the pre-eminent developer of quality real estate, his acumen is unrivaled, and the diversity of his interests has set a new paradigm in the world of business. His commitment to excellence is legendary, and his work as a philanthropist is an integral part of his ethos. He is the archetypal businessman, and an icon of New York.”  You can read more of this brilliant rewriting of history here.

I don’t dislike the Donald but when I was growing up in NY, his life was a sideshow for the bulk of the time I was there.  First of all, he didn’t start his business, he inherited a successful one from his family.  He has a remarkable talent for self-aggrandizement but inflates his net worth an downplays his failures (to his credit, a Trump bankrupcy looks very different from most other people’s).  He is great at self-promotion but does that make him qualified to do anything but promote his reality show?