Friday, December 10, 2010

Yogi Berra was right

At first, it was a huge relief to bid farewell to Bush the warmonger.  And all us Democrats were excited to have found a leader who could win an election, finally.  Young people came out in record numbers to vote, and knowing that that's what swept our guy into office gave us a huge boost.  The worm had finally turned.  Change is really possible, we all thought.

That didn't last long, though.  The opposition to the President's agenda was united and unprecedented, whereas the Democratic members of Congress squabbled, refused to work as a team, and generally acted as though the control of Congress would be theirs forever.

The White House learned quickly that to govern, they must learn to compromise.  And so they did, which only made the Republicans' demands more outrageous, and the Democrats' complaints about the President's competence more strident. 

The Left bitched about Republicrats, and intimated that the President needed to grow a pair.   The Right accused the President of being a socialist and a degenerate.  Their list of the President's supposed crimes became absurd; their spokespeople began to seem seriously unhinged.

Not that it mattered.  Whatever trumped-up nonsense the Right put into their talking points instantly became the prevailing news story of the day, no matter how self-serving or farcical.

And then the voters swung back, and the Democrats lost the Congress.  If the Left thought that the President's agenda was compromised now, they hadn't seen anything yet.

All of this came back to me today, as I watched President Clinton in the White House briefing room, defending Obama's tax cut compromise.  So, for those of you too young to remember the Clinton presidency, YOU DON'T HAVE TO.  Take the Obama presidency, minus being African-American, add a huge dose of hound dog, and you have the Clinton presidency, right down to the Right's desperate maneuvering to define the administration by their support of gays in the military.

Watching President Clinton tack right back then was a hard lesson for me, but I only had to learn it once.  And the unhappy truth is that you cannot govern this country from the left, folks.  You cannot do it with a Democratic majority in Congress, and you sure as hell cannot do it without one.  And anyone who thinks otherwise is Nader-voting fool.

You can't do it because the President doesn't have enough power to overcome the resistance of the Americans who do not want to be governed from the left.  Our government is not structured that way.  It's checks and balances, folks.  That is our strength - that the President does not have total power over what legislation is passed. 

And something else to all you Democrats, liberals, progressives, whatevers out there.

It is stunning to me, stunning, that you so smugly snipe about the ignorance of many people on the Right, and yet you behave in many of the same ways for which you ridicule them.  I mean, look, personally, I am further left than anyone I know, but when I listen to Olbermann, or Maddow, or Maher, I am fully aware that they are trying to sell me their point of view, and they're not going to please their bosses by leading every show with a 3 minute rant about how the President is making compromises that are reasonable, given the political climate. 

Of course the professional Left is riled up and ranting about Obama's lack of backbone.  That's their job.  And we can agree with their world view in our hearts, but when they start trying to tell me that Obama could have gotten a health care bill with a public option passed in that Congress if he'd only tried hard enough, that's when I get off the train.  Because he couldn't.  He could not do that.  No one could have done that.  And if you think otherwise, then you are as gullible as the people who watch Glenn Beck and staple tea bags to the brims of their hats. 

Because politics is not what you read in Howard Zinn.  It's not what Noam Chomsky said in that documentary you saw in college.  Politics is the art of the possible, you fucking babies.   And frankly, I wish you would grow a pair.