by Charles Marowitz
(Swans - February 9, 2009) It is tempting to believe that resorting to compromise can achieve the kind of magical bipartisanship that will unite sworn adversaries and eradicate dissension. It is a Voltairean myth that although "I disapprove of what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." That Old Wive's Tale was recently put to the test by President Obama in his effort to bring House Republicans around to the need for passing his economic stimulus package and, despite an assertion of political bonhomie, when it came to the crunch, the party of Lincoln & Teddy Roosevelt revealed its conservative tenacity by not registering a single vote for strapped Americans trying to claw their way out of a pit dug mainly by Republican bankers and bondsmen who helped create the horror in the first place.
Like everything that occurred barely two or three weeks ago, this is now "ancient history," but it indicates a certain tendency in our charismatic president, which, in the coming months, may undo him and sink the country into an even deeper pit of quicksand. Obama preaches reconciliation and compromise to ideologues who loathe almost everything he stands for and who are embittered by the sleight-of-hand that robbed them of their congressional powers.
The result of the recent election, and the size of Obama's victory, produced a mandate for bold measures that was undeniable. In attempting to dilute it with pussy-footing compromises with Neanderthals like Boehner, McConnell, and McCain, Obama is revealing a moral slitheriness that seems to ignore the toxicity of unreformable right-wingers who, in their tax-cutting, fear-mongering, freedom-stifling attitudes toward the Republic are using the palm of peace as a scabbard to conceal the sword with which they hope -- yet again -- to "run through" our American democracy.
Instead of demonstrating a Napoleonic decisiveness, Obama is revealing a Wilsonian timidity. The Neanderthals of the Right who kowtow to vacant idols like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and have wet dreams over Ann Coulter are precisely the kind of people whose greed and mismanagement brought about the nation's trauma. Rather than coddling their misguided ambitions, the Yes-We-Can President should be actively repairing the broken furniture of the last eight years and the Republicans' obsession with failed Reaganesque illusions. As the enablers of trickle-down capitalism go through their predictable motions to lure us into the morally bankrupt notions of the Bush years, the battle cry must now be changed to, "No We Won't!"
You don't effect meaningful change by trying to cement cozy partnerships with people who have publicly declared they would like to see you fail; people whose bitterness at losing the White House has, if anything, only intensified their hatred of what they view as socialist incursions into an unregulated free-market Shangri-La that their fatuous advocacy has brought to ruin.
It is admirable to be cooperative, bending over backwards to accommodate all points of view -- even those that subvert your own convictions and dilute the efficacy of your best measures, but in the midst of one of America's most fearful crises, it is more important to act decisively on the principles you espoused when you were running for this high office. Acting firmly and forthrightly on those ideas that, when first espoused, created a groundswell in this jaded, timorous, browbeaten nation that was still smarting from the most venal administration since Warren G. Harding.
I, like many Americans, got choked up when an intelligent, literate, left-of-center candidate became the 44th president of the United States. The promise of that historical event can only be measured by how opposite it becomes to the fetid Bush Years, and that means activating a leader who, having already diagnosed the nation's ills, needs no second-guessing from embittered politicians whose follies almost sank the Ship of State; a leader who is more concerned with pragmatism than he is consensus; a true leader who, by truly leading, creates the only consensus that ultimately counts: the will of the people -- not the warped, pipe dreams of a surly, bloated, mean-spirited gathering of obstructionists.
Now that we have had all the capitol balls, it is time to have the cajones to bring about all the specifics of that "change" that we were promised, and that requires a replacement of old ideas with new ones. It also means publicly censuring the wrongs of our predecessors -- on torture, war crimes, illegal wiretapping, and the politicization of the Justice department. It means openly condemning the motives and chicanery of those politicians who are in large measure guilty of the sins of the past that have brought down upon us the horrors of the present.
The tangle of economic, foreign and domestic imbroglios that threaten our nation are like the Gordian Knot of old. Instead of cautiously trying to disentangle all those strands, will Obama be the Alexander who decisively slices them in two?
If you appreciate the quality of Charles Marowitz's work, please consider making aMoney is spent to pay for Internet costs, maintenance and upgrade of our computer network, and development of the site.