Thursday, December 22, 2011

In this Christmas Season


This is our reality
. Mr. Obama has with this law reduced the choice of President to a vote based on which of two people is the more reasonable, fair-minded person. As an historical event, this bill probably represents a famous principle of Presidency--namely, that all Presidents want as much power as they can get. So, e.g., the Republicans opened the door, and as President Mr. Obama simply isn't going to close it. Indeed, with this bill he opens it wider. It's a matter of perceived practicality versus legal theorizing. Mr. Obama thinks, no doubt, "I'm the guy that has to stop this bastard." And in this clarity Mr. Obama proves decisively that he's a better President than Bush, who saw the world through muddled glasses first day to last, and for all his blather and all the killing, stopped nothing.

But the down side is Ms. Wheeler's point--what will Newt (say) do with this power. Because the track record looking back to 1980 is very very bad for American Democracy, as an invisible hand. And perhaps this is why polls are trending now for Mr. Obama. Maybe most Americans would still rather not give the keys to a guy in a clown suit who walks down the street talking to himself.

See, here's the thing. There is going to be a guy in the White House who has to deal with stuff that no one wants to deal with. The GOP can apparently convince their boys that this problem is really not much, that all that guy has to do is just say "ok" when it really comes down to it--the rest of it gets decided by "experts," and the prez is just the legal on/off switch, and how daunting can that be. The Dems, they tend to think their guy actually has to decide stuff more like we humans decide--thinking about consequences intended and otherwise, understanding that doing nothing is a decision, trying to balance interests, or ignoring interests, staying up late, getting up early, pretty much spending his whole life on the job. And all of us just have the little choice we can make, the little vote, and we'd best remember that any choice we make, including spending a November Tuesday at the movies, or checking some Nader off the list to make a "point," that has implications too, about who ends up with this crazy job of dealing with stuff that one one wants to deal with.

There's a nice Bukowski poem on this theme--the guy in the clown suit I mean. I'll hunt up for you sometime.


  1. Newt scares me.

    OH, and I was interested to hear that you were in Bucharest in the 1970s! I imagine it has changed an awful lot since then, in many ways. But probably in many ways it has stayed the same. It felt to me like a city that is paralyzed--empty buildings that nobody could claim because they had been nationalized 50 years before and no one had paperwork on the original owners. Feral dogs roaming the streets that no one can agree what to do with.

    One person I met there said, "Romania has been invaded so many times that we are sitting here waiting for someone to come in and save us."

  2. You probably know more about Romania than I do, as that's a brilliant quote you end with. We had little time to just wander around back in '77, and a "minder" to see we didn't. Also, it seemed rather dangerous to wander--there was a sense of being watched. We flew in on Tarom, on a jet piloted by ex-Mig fighter pilots I suspect, who still flew with some elan. The airport was ringed with anti-aircraft guns, and appointed with soldiers slouching against walls and sporting bandoliers of bullets, like Mexican revolutionaries. One did not consider breaking line. Bucarest was wrecked somewhat by the earthquake, with some big buildings missing a wall--you could look in and see the fridge and the kitchen table. In the stores there was nothing but staples--bolt cloth, flour, tho I remember hearing Cher on loudspeakers in some sort of record store. Just before we landed the Romanian passengers stuffed their pockets with shot bottles of western scotch and bourbon--the only booze available for Romanian currency was cherry schnaps--more or less moonshine I guess. The pork chops were magnificent, as was the mixture of jazz/folk music we heard in a club one night--cymbalon and clarinet, wild fiddles--great stuff. We flew back to Scotland and our next gig feeling that we'd escaped, and my next real notice of Romania was a brief news clip of the execution of the Ceaucescus, which was remarkable for its pure democratic honesty--up there with Mousollini hanging under the bridge in my book, or the recent end of Quadafi. But what can follow such an event--the trains still have to run on time, more or less--people don't get issued jet packs, and nuclear electricity is still frought with a waste storage problem. Getting back to now--in my book, Romney is as flawed as Gingrich, his craven-ness makes me shudder with embarassment. We don't need a weasel for President.