Tag Archives: super committee

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.

Make. It. Stop.

Oh. My. God.  Did you read the news?  The Congressional “Super Committee” failed.  I cannot speak for you, but I was shocked that anyone — including the expert media — believed anything would be accomplished here.  Especially after the House took up and passed such groundbreaking legislation as the determination that pizza is a vegetable.  How can you expect anyone to work after that?  I mean, they’re only human.

Normally, blaming the media feels like a cop-out.  We love to hate the news media when they use their ink and air time covering the Karashians or Snooki and conveniently forget their story selections are based on what we buy.  Don’t care who Brad Pitt is screwing?  Don’t read the tabloids.  In this instance, however they seem to be more than mere spectators.  Andrea Mitchell didn’t see this coming?  If I saw this coming, she should have.  And thus the political media, who build up these paper tigers, feel more complicit.  The coverage of this debacle — as was the deficit ceiling fiasco before it — borders on media malpractice.  Real conversations about serious problems become showdowns at the OK corral, great for ratings but not so much for anything else.

But blaming the media remains a cop-out.  As does blaming the Tea Party.  The Tea Party didn’t cause this problem, they may not be helping but we aren’t here because of them.  Remember they only came on the scene a few years ago.  Even Grover Norquist didn’t cause this.

So, if we cannot blame the media and we cannot blame the right wing (or the left wing) — who caused this?   We did.

President Obama got into trouble when a clip of him calling Americans lazy (ironic given how many GOP presidential candidates have called #OWS protesters lazy and dirty).  I don’t think we are lazy but we are whiny.  We want everything without paying for anything.  Most of us agree that we need a good military, decent education and a host of other programs but we don’t want to pay for them.  The disparity of what we want and what we want to pay for extends beyond taxes and spending: We tell ourselves — and the world — that the US represents the pinacle of exceptionalism and socioeconomic fluidity but we trail most of our peer countries.  Think taxes destroy freedom and rob citizens of happiness?  Don’t tell that to Norway.  Taxes are much higher there — especially when the Value Added Tax (VAT) is included — yet they have the highest standard of living on the planet.

Back to our Congressional conundrum.  We have the Congress we settled for.  Each member is elected to represent their district, their part of the country, their special interests.  By special interests, I do not mean lobbyists but constituents.  Through gerrymandering, a word I learned in junior high school social studies but never thought about until moving to Washington, Congressional districts have been distilled to the point where extreme views are common place.  Our Congresspeople don’t compromise because we don’t want them to.

The Congressional “super committee” was never supposed to succeed; it was set up to do exactly what it did — give the impression of action while doing nothing to accomplish anything.