Saturday, February 7, 2009

The joy of miserable statecraft

WHEN PRESIDENT Obama offered to extend his hand to America's enemies if they unclenched their fists, he may also have been preparing to encounter an army of Republican clenched fists in Congress. And that's exactly what he has faced in trying sell the stimulus bill to the minority Republicans still locked in a failed pre-election mode.  The most militant  voices emerging from their gated community is Obama's old nemesis, John McCain, who was fond of saying in measured avuncular tones how he could accommodate Democrats on Capitol Hill.  But without the aid of a full moon, he has since morphed as  a textbook example of bipolarity in assuming his party's leadership role in his frenetic attempt to scuttle the bill. 

McCain's idea of a progressive, economically sound America is hardly a newly assembled work-in-progress.  In fact, it's not even original with him but is lifted in its entirety from George Bush's playbook.  He wants an extension of Bush's tax cuts plus a lot more added on.  To a fellow like me, who still has penny wrappers in my office cabinet,  I don't know how it would help much to extend the tax cuts that only made matters worse under Bush.  If you think otherwise, just one figure should discourage you: 598,000 jobs lost in January alone.  

Still, there was Maverick McCain rising to the Senate rostrum to declare: "This bill has become nothing more than a massive spending bill. To portray it as  stimulus flies in the face of reality."   If he had said he was sore because the president had endorsed the Steelers against McCain's home state Cardinals, I could understand that.  In professional football, there are never any hands to extend across the aisle.  Trash talk is socially acceptable.  Now that's the face of reality.

But McCain was denying the obvious in the stimulus bill, and Obama felt it  necessary to correct the senator about the goal of the bill.  Of course, the president said, it was a spending bill.  Always has been  and always will be. 

McCain hasn't fought the battle alone. South Carolina  Sen. Lindsey Graham, who tagged along with McCain throughout the campaign and was probably responsible  for making  sure that the shirts got to the laundry on time, was ungentlemanly graphic. "This bill stinks," he barked.   He also accused Obama of being "AWOL on this bill,"  which must have deep roots in a southern dialect because nobody's sure what the senator meant.  

Asked why he plays so many grim operatic roles, Placido Domingo said, "I like being miserable on stage."

That may also  explain where we are with McCain-Graham these days.  


John said...

With the economy in more fits than starts,
the nation is saddled with old farts
the collective pain
of Graham-McCain
Oh just keep funding for the Arts

Jack the Guitarist said...

I do not understand why people are having diffculty understanding. The number of unemployed people (11.6 million) and the unemployment rate (7.6 percent) rose in January. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 4.1 million. The Department of Labor reported today that nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007, .... most of this mess happening only in past three months! And some wonder Obama is pushing so hard for a stimulus package. Is the Herbert Hoover approach, do nothing, all we need, leading us to a twelve year depression ??

PJJinOregon said...

The current crop of congressional Republicans clearly demonstrates Darwinian evolution. The moderate Republicans, who can sometimes be mistaken for Democrats, have been voted out of office leaving a surviving group that in no way can sound Democratic. Intelligent design notwithstanding, the survivors are downright nasty and brutish. But isn't that what the GOP has always been?