Monday, January 18, 2010

The Wrong Kind of U-Turn

I've had this nagging political anxiety brewing inside me for several weeks and it's getting worse by the day. I can hardly believe a year ago I was in an ethereal state as I watched Barack Obama take the reins. It was a moment of awe as well as one of hope and the excitement to come as we turned our backs on eight years of W.

In my subconscious I already knew trouble was brewing. It was apparent in the vote count back in November 2008 in places like Arkansas which bucked the trend and went even more heavily Republican in many counties -- including counties which in normal circumstances might have been toss ups. But this was not a normal circumstance.

For months I watched in dismay as the ultra-right went apeshit with their hats adorned with tea bags, their worship of Sarah Palin, their overtly racist commentary, and their emails spewing hate and ignorance. Unfortunately, this has not passed; it has been a steady constant.

Obama has only been in office a year. Granted, I am not at all satisfied with the changes thus far, or lack thereof. But there is still time. Obama has 3 years left in his first term. However, time seems to be all he has. I am not full of hope and dreams as I was a year ago. The Health Care Reform process left me feeling withered. And just as I was thinking we might be on the verge of getting something enacted, imperfect as it is, here comes the first of what will probably be a number of monkey wrenches this year.
President Obama came to Massachusetts on Sunday in hopes of rescuing the flailing candidacy of Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate in an election on Tuesday that will determine whether the party preserves a 60-vote majority in the Senate needed to keep alive health care legislation and the rest of the president’s agenda.

“Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts,” Mr. Obama said, imploring those who supported him to take heed of the magnitude of the race to fill the seat of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. “It’s whether we’re going forwards or backwards.”

I could literally be sick to my stomach trying to absorb the enormity of Obama's statement. After 8 years of Bush, we get a one year breathing spell before possibly doing a big U-turn and heading in the general direction of Crawford, Texas. Even more utterly astounding is the fact that it could be at the hands of voters in Massachusetts of all places, and voting to fill the seat held by Edward M. Kennedy, of all people!

Now, if you aren't already emotionally shredded by those facts, there's more.
Democratic leaders in Congress and at the White House were bracing for what they said was a real possibility that Ms. Coakley could lose the race. The most alarming fact in polls and internal research, several party advisers said, was that Ms. Coakley was still falling behind Mr. Brown among voters who had a favorable view of the president.

I have a simple question for those voters who have a favorable view of Obama, and still plan to vote in a manner which could make him a lame-duck effective Wednesday morning. What are you thinking? (I'm trying to be nice here, but I'd prefer to be asking, "What the fuck's your problem?")

Coakley clearly isn't the best candidate the Democrats could have fielded. She has made a few blunders. She's not on her game as well as Scott Brown. But must we vote for the best messenger while completely disregarding the message? Are we so shallow that we put image over substance? That seems to be what is happening in Massachusetts.
While most national Republicans have publicly steered clear of the race to avoid interfering with Mr. Brown’s image as a pickup-driving fellow next door, the efforts behind the scenes intensified Sunday. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and Mr. Obama’s rival in the 2008 election, was among those who asked his supporters to make calls on Mr. Brown’s behalf.

The "pickup-driving fellow next door." Haven't we been down that road rather recently with disastrous results?

I have a hunch my political anxiety isn't going anywhere soon, and certainly not my disgust. Massachusetts, the "liberal" state who gave themselves Governor Mitt Romney, is on the verge of catastrophic mistake which will fuel additional negativity at a time when we need it the least. We'll know for sure in about 48 hours.

Regarding U-turns, they are fine if you use them to go back a few miles, say early 2009, to get on the road we should have been on all along, not a U-turn back to 2002.

Crossposted at B3

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