Saturday, September 29, 2012

Out-Holying One Another

As we ease toward November 6, the flame-wars between liberals and those on the Left over voting for Pres. Obama is heating up.  Before it was Tbogg who was telling us that we're living in fairy land looking for ponies.  Now, it's the folks at Crooked Timber.  There are two posts, but the comment section on this one is a goldmine.  All of them create fantasy interlocutors over whose corpses they gleefully dance.  At the end, all of them come out looking kind of silly.

My favorite "comeback" boils down to, "What have you done to make the world better?!?  Huh?!?  HUH?!!?"

It's really simple.  I've been trying, without any success whatsoever, to make it clear our whole political dialogue is so out of whack with what's actually going on in the world, sitting around playing which candidate is better or worse in our current state of affairs is worse than meaningless.  Quite apart from the many, already named flaws in Obama's record, there's the fact that he didn't begin his term not only trying to pass an undersized stimulus, but he also refused to go after the folks who brought about the catastrophe in which we were living.  After the previous Congress gave them billions of dollars in "bailout" money they turned around and used in the dog races on Wall Street.

Rahm Emmanuel was his first Chief of Staff.  Most folks who've followed his career know that's all that needs to be said.

The counter-argument - we're stuck with the terms of debate as they stand - kinda sorta misses the point if the previous question and answer are accepted.  Since the current terms of debate ignore overwhelming realities that are at the heart of so many of our troubles, does it matter is Barack Obama might be slightly less bad than Mitt Romney on the economy?  Does it matter that Mitt Romney might try to have the Affordable Care Act repealed?

From the never-ending wars in Asia to the threat of new war with Iran to the economy, we are in these messes because we have been pretending for far too long that none of them have anything to do with one another.  We've acted as if we are a country at peace while tens of thousands of our service personnel are in harms way.  We have been, in the words of David Halbertam's book title, like  there is War in a Time of Peace.

Since 2001, we have been at war.  Congress was too afraid to pass a formal resolution.  Pres. Bush was too cowardly to ask for one.  All the same, hundreds of thousands of Americans have seen combat over the past decade.  All the while, we've carried on with our lives as if this were not the case.  When Pres. Obama was elected, the Nobel Committee gave him the Peace Prize and for what, exactly?  Promising to end our wars at some point?

Other than on Facebook, where some folks list the names of the dead and wounded, do we hear and read the names of our casualties in our invisible wars?  Have we heard any member of either party in a position of authority say it might be a good idea to make fighting and winning these wars a national priority?  Have we heard any candidate say anything about what it might take to "win" in Afghanistan?  In Pakistan?  Yemen?

Of course not.  We haven't heard these things because for ten years we've thought it possible to act as if "fighting over there so we're not fighting them here" meant something.  We've thought it possible to keep trillion-dollar wars off the books, as if the personnel and materiel didn't cost any money or emotional or political energy.  We've thought it possible to continue the unConstitutional charade that Presidents have this magic power to send troops wherever they want to send them, whenever, under whatever pretext.  We've thought it possible we could have tens of thousands of physically and psychically scarred veterans just re-enter society and it wasn't our problem.

So, yeah, I've been doing something.  And no one listens.  Instead, people say we're privileged utopians who want flying unicorns for lunch instead of the meat-and-potatoes in front of us.  I'm told that because Romney is so obviously bad for the country, it is necessary to vote for Obama.  I'm told that these aren't important issues because that's not how most people vote.  Worst of all, I'm told these are straw arguments that don't deal with the real world.

Meanwhile, our troops are dying, our Treasury bleeding, the economy faltering because no one anywhere in a position of authority, or running for such a position, has the balls to stand up and say, "It's about time we acted like we were a nation at war."  To act as if these are things that can be taken care of . . . someday . . . by a bunch of people working real hard is almost as likely as seeing Dick Cheney shipped off to The Hague where he belongs.

Thank you if I'm unimpressed with people arguing about how awful Mitt Romney is.  As if, somehow, I missed that.  Thank you if I'm unimpressed with "ZOMG!!!11!! The Supreme COURT!!! ABORTION!!!111!!1" because the Court already has an acting conservative majority, thanks in no small part to Senate Democrats during the Bush years, who decided to get all bi-partisan and vote for Sam Alito.

Finally, forgive me for thinking you might not be all right in the head if the constant badgering about how horrible our country and world would be if Mitt Romney were elected were news.  Will things be bad in a purported Romney Administration?  Judging by his campaign, it would be so inept it probably would spend most of its time trying to explain to the world why it only looks inept.  Things will continue to be slightly less bad as they have been under Pres. Obama.  Admitting that, somehow, makes so many folks feel superior, as if it weren't beside the point.

I have no interest in being a moral purist; that has nothing to do with the position I'm taking.  Rather, it might be nice if we could back up a few paces and talk about the way things really are and what our politicians can and could do to change them for the better.  Instead, we have airplane windows and Muslim Marxists, neither of which has anything to do with the current major party candidates.

Excuse me, in other words, for thinking that electing the next President of the United States actually involved important stuff.

Virtual Tin Cup

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