In Fairness to Barack Obama

Let me try to be fair, for just a moment, then back into the trenches, snarling.  No, that sentence betrays too much, doesn’t seem fair, or balanced.  Let’s wind it back a bit, shall we, make it a little more personal?    

I voted for Barack Obama twice.  The first time I was actually optimistic that he might be the capable agent for overdue change he presented himself as.  The second time I voted for him on the theories of “fool me twice, shame on me” and the old chestnut of casting a vote for the lesser of two evils.   Evil, surprisingly, has become a relative thing in our desperately polarized society.  Mel Brooks’ genius definition of tragedy and comedy comes to mind: tragedy is when I break a fingernail, comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die.   Evil is now seen as who is doing what to whom and how does it affect me directly?  

We have been living for a while in increasingly partisan echo chambers.  In one chamber we find it absolutely sickening that obstructionist politicians can brazenly ignore their Constitutional duties when it is politically expedient and offer ‘explanations’ that sound startlingly like “we don’t have to do shit because this illegitimate Muslim non-American is a fucking ‘n-word’.”  This was the position publicly stated (sub silento, as they say, dog whistled) by Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans when Obama took office: our goal is to make him a weak one term president who can’t get anything done.  True we can’t lynch him, but we can certainly fuck him up and erase any legacy he tries to leave behind as soon as we get rid of him.

In the other echo chamber there is little question that Barack Obama was an insidious Kenyan-born Muslim intent on destroying America at all costs.   There is no doubt that he is a Negro, the son of an African from Kenya, that’s something even Hussein Obama himself cannot deny.  Many who hate Obama are undoubtedly racists, others are just, to be fair and charitable, skeptical of any Democrat who speaks well, appears thoughtful, ponders nuance, displays charisma and does not openly support the urgently needed policies they hear called for on talk radio during a time when terrorists are killing one out of every five Americans on a daily basis and violent crime plagues our once-great nation as it is overrun by hordes of threatening non-white aliens.   To be even more fair, some in this right wing echo chamber are just decent wealthy people who reasonably fear a loss of income from any policy that protects the weak at the expense of the wealthy via marginally higher tax rates.    

The divisions in our country, and the deep corruption of our pay-to-play lobbyist-driven political system, resulted in the election of a vain demagogue who seems completely unencumbered by principle, outside of increasing his own wealth, fame and power.  During the presidential campaign he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.  He promised to create a terrific health policy that would protect every single American, not including, of course, the millions at his own rallies that will be without health care once he rams through the urgent repeal of Obamacare and restores large tax cuts for the rich.  While giving no specifics, he assured the gullible that his plan would cover all Americans, cost less and deliver much better health care.  He often ended this promise, like so many honest people reflexively do, with the tagline “believe me, believe me.”

I don’t like to think we live in a stupid country.  I prefer to think we live in a cynically manipulated country.  There’s a lot of money in cynical manipulation. The genius of America, if I may modestly say so, has long been cynical manipulation.  Look, we had this great continent with vast natural resources and incredible wealth.  There were savages living on it, attacking our settlers, impeding our ability to exploit all this wealth.  Manifest Destiny, et, voila!    

I don’t like to think we live in a country that could easily return to a lynch mob mentality, even with the increased crowing of White Supremacists and the recent surge in hate crimes.  I prefer to think we live in a country where, during desperate times, the homo sapiens fear and rage-driven instinct to mass violence sometimes understandably occurs.  Americans are no better, or worse, as a group, than the far away brown people we kill by remote controlled drones.  Americans are fair people, to the extent anyone can be fair in a world like ours.  

The plan the Republicans have slapped on the table to replace the conservative, corporation-friendly health care compromise that critics called Obamacare and vowed to repeal over and over while our nation was ruled by that tyrant, should not pass the sniff test.  It includes billions of dollars in ‘tax relief’ to the wealthiest 2% while cutting millions of low income Americans off health insurance, or making it completely unaffordable for those who had no option before Obamacare.  

In a better world somebody would just buy some TV time, invite Paul Ryan into a pay-per-view boxing ring, and simply whip the snot out of that snotty intellectual, settling the matter once and for all.  Ryan is an intellectual in the same way that a four foot tall man is a giant in Lilliput.  He read at least one very long book, a novel he bases his political philosophy on.  That he is driven by principle is reflected in his ongoing refusal to cooperate with Mr. Trump, the candidate he thoroughly repudiated during the campaign. 

I began this piece in fairness to Obama.  Here is that fairness, the PPACA is better than what existed before.  The PPACA is a deeply flawed compromise that left greedy corporations in charge of most of health care, sure.  But in fairness, it contained a few good and long-overdue things; eliminating the obscene ‘pre-existing condition’ insurance loophole, extending affordable health insurance to millions, focusing on cost-saving incentives based on preventative care, saving the lives of some of the thousands of Americans who still die every year for lack of affordable medical care.  The big flaw was that it left the gorged, rabid foxes in charge of the henhouse, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the demonstrably better than complete shit, can we?    

Americans like the ACA, particularly those who were uninsured before the law took effect, even if many raise their torches and pitchforks and scream for the overdue repeal of tyrannical Obamacare.  That’s OK, at Tea Party rallies Americans angrily held signs telling the government to keep their evil hands off Medicare.  

I don’t like to think badly of my fellow Americans.  I am counting on the stink of this bill, hastily prepared and designed to give money back to the richest Americans who the Kenyan Muslim simply mugged like the common criminal they always said he was, to ensure it does not get out of the House of Representatives.  There are political maneuvers available to a party that did not hesitate to shut down the government when that Negro president insisted on trying to be the president, but the backlash should be too much to allow their use.  

On the other hand, the spineless opposition party is mostly blowing bubbles of saliva so far, and making those humming sounds you sometimes hear in a Special Ed class.  Don’t forget, they depend on the same billionaires who supported Trump for their reelection campaigns.   I guess the odds are 50/50 this big winner gets to win again.  Who among us will be surprised if a few million losers lose again?

 

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