Sunday, December 27, 2009

A nod to the cast of 2009

WELL, THE GOOD NEWS is that we've managed to get through 2009 without South Carolina, Texas and Alaska seceding. The bad news is that 2010 will give them another whole year to think about it. So may we assume that Ft. Sumter and Myrtle Beach vacations are safe for another year? The outlook for these states, particularly Texas, is hazy at best. As George Bush proved not long ago, we are never that safe from Lone Star politicians. Sorry, but I never know what to think of Alaska.

There are other matters working in behalf of national sanity. The political scene in South Carolina is in such disarray that its leaders won't have much time to think about checking out. Sen. Lindsey Graham has his hands full with the Republicans in his county who censured him after accusing him of being too "relevant". Gov. Sanford will be too busy trying to figure how many of his shadowy trips to Argentina can be converted into tax write-offs as official therapeutic business. And Rep. Joe Wilson must be so self-satisfied that he has already seceded on his own. By adding "You lie!" to Bartlett's Quotations he has at least matched Socrates' "Know thyself" for profound brevity.

Meantime, secession-leaning Gov. Rick Perry of Texas may have to revive the spirit of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston to head off a serious challenge to his day job by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary. Both candidates are tightly identified with prayerful guidance, so Perry may have to depend on troops on the ground for this one.

The year nearly succeeded in ending without Sen. Joe Lieberman charging up to Fox News to declare his impatience with Yemen. But on the last Sunday of the year - what perfect timing! - he virtually declared war on Yemen without consulting President Obama or Congress. The befuddled Connecticut senator, who never served a day in military service, is one of Capitol Hill's super-chickenhawks with a sliding-scale identity depending on the moment.

The year produced something new in political slang - tea parties, which had little to do with tea nor partying. Polls told us that a majority of Republicans believed (1)Palin should be president (2)climate change was a liberal red herring and (3) that Obama could very well have been born in an African tree. They wanted the rest of us to believe that socialism was at our front door when in fact, if they had been paying any attention, they would have known that there have been many "socialistic" programs around for nearly a century. It has been with certain irony that one of the biggest but not brightest congresswomen, Michele Bachmann, has received more than $250,000 in farm subsidy handouts while she has been bad-mouthing socialism and various federal excesses.

Fortunately we saw less and less of the losers: Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, (who has declared that he isn't running for anything this year) and Mike Huckabee, who still manages to front for Sheriff Andy Griffith. On the other hand, Newt Gingrich continues to rise from the ashes and has even threatened us with running for president in 2012. It was a good year for Rush Limbaugh, who became familiarly known as the head of the Republican Party, and Glenn Beck, who is so wacky that he is more to be pitied than censured.

And the Republicans in Congress continued to play the role of the Petrified Forest, anchored to their waist in their opposition to health care reform whle supporting death panels, death taxes and death notices for their opponents, as did Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Curiously, they scored an approval rating of 23 pct. in the latest public survey. They, more than anything else, could save the Democratic Party in 2010 from self-destructing.

It was a tough year for Obama, who spent too much time trying to be neighborly to the R's, and an enomously profitable year for Wall Street, which spent the entire year being generous to its bonus-enriched self.

On the more diversionary side there was the emergence of new terms and words such as the Balloon Boy, Octomom and Twitter, which I still haven't figured out and probably won't.

Lastly, our "Persons of the Year" award goes to the upbeat hard-working Washington lobbyists whose numbers represented a growth industry despite lousy national employment figures for the year. According to the Harper's Index, drug company lobbyists outnumbered congressmen, 2-1. Health-care companies spent an average of $1.5 million daily to influence congressmen. What other group so generously contributed more to the economy?

No comments: