Thursday, December 9, 2010

Petty Men

With the Senate's refusal to repeal the anti-homosexual "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule covering the U.S. armed forces I think it's about time to seriously consider whether it's time to stick a fork in the Obama Presidency.

You may remember that I never bought the whole "change" rhetoric. Obama was and is a product of the same politics that has brought us to this, the most egregious imbalance in wealth since the Great Depression, the accelerating erosion of whatever remained of the perilous cease-fire between Wealth and the rest of the nation that held from 1932 to about 1966 but has now failed, is failing, and shows no vital signs whatsoever.

Adding this to the ridiculous "compromise" on the Bush tax giveaway, in which Obama's people gave away 200 billion in tax breaks for the two-yacht family in return for 25 billion in unemployment benefits (and set the stage for making the iniquitous Bush budget-breaking scheme permanent) and I think it has become obvious that, far from representing any sort of "change", the former junior Senator from Illinois is virtually captive to the oligarchy that has reestablished its firm control over the legislative and executive process within the Beltway.

But Christ Jesus! How simple was this? To end the nonsensical prejudice against honest men and women who simply want to risk their lives in their nation's service, consider the contrast between Obama's pusillanimous actions and the hard graft of Truman sixty-two years earlier.

The U.S. in 1948 was a violently, openly racist nation. Most states had de jure segregation, all had some form of de facto discrimination against blacks and other minorities. The white majority largely hated and feared their fellow black Americans where they didn't simply hold them in contempt. As recently at 1946 six black men had been lynched by white mobs. The laws forbidding blacks and whites to marry would remain in place for another twenty years. My father can remember going to Dodger games in the Fifties where white men would throw shoe polish tins at Jackie Robinson and scream "Shine!" and "Nigger!" until their voices broke.

And yet Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in July of 1948.

Truman knew perfectly well that the racist bastards in his Congress would have prevented any legal attempt to end segregation, because they already had. And the people he had to fear were in his own party, the Dixiecrats, remnants of the Klan Era of Counterreconstruction. But he understood that prejudice and bias are despicable in person, anathema in governing. So he went ahead and ended the wrong.

Obama, by contrast, would have the support of a majority of the nation, and of the armed forces themselves. He would be acting in accordance with the will of the People. An executive order ending the official prohibition against homosexuals serving openly would be far easier to enact, far easier to enforce, than Truman's was. A black man cannot be anything but black; he cannot simple stand there and be anything else. You cannot tell from an arm's length away which gender the man or woman beside you finds desirable. And his enemies are the damn Republicans, who no longer even pretend to be anything but the Party of God, Guns, Tax Breaks, and Hatin' Us Some Ragheads; intellectually bankrupt, still fellating the shrivelled corpse of Ronald Reagan in hopes of one last magic moment, the Party of Tom DeLay, Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh - bloated, complacent, sneering, toadying, fiscally insane and socially medieval. The Congressional Repubs are hated by more people in the U.S. than hate crab lice, tax audits, cold floors, and raw beets combined.

And yet, here we are. Still clinging to this ridiculous and childish official prejudice, like a grade schooler who finds kissing yuckky. With a Chief Executive who appears to have Johnson & Johnson cotton balls; 100% sterile. Who is utterly in thrall to the banksters and wealthy and influential.

And yet...what else have we?

The GOP is worse. Awfully, moronically, terrifyingly, appallingly worse. If Obama is a house servant to the Malefactors of Great Wealth, the GOP is the leather slave, complete with ball gag and ballet boots. Those Republicans who aren't complete idiots are either lying - they know the truth of their economic policies but are unwilling to clue the rubes - or self-deluding fools who believe that they can sup with the oligarchs and not end up an oligarchy.

The United States has always been a place where some men are more equal than others. But the failure of Obama to even pretend to hold to any sort of liberal principles shows that we have failed to retain what equality we gained after the plutocrats last screwed the pooch back in 1929. The pendulum has swung back, and I see no one, nothing, in the American political scene that shows any promise of reclaiming any measure of that power for the working and lower middle classes.

So while Obama's failure is despicable in its reflection on the man himself, it is also a judgment on us. We have given up on the promise of the United States. We have become little better than a Russia or a Zimbabwe, run by and for the oligarchs for their own benefit; we are content with the crumbs that fall from their tables. As has our President, we have chosen the easy lies of borrowed wealth over the hard truths of fiscal responsibility, the conservative falsehoods of conventional prejudice and frivolous entertainment over the hard work of integration and sacrificing for the public weal, the slothful ease of vicarious democracy over the chastening vigor of active republicanism, and now little remains but to find ourselves dishonorable graves.

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