It was November 5, just fourteen hours after America had elected its first African-American President. There were a few morons cutting eyeholes in their pillow cases and lamenting the certain befouling of what was left of the last few megaliters of pure white blood left in this great country after the man in the Black House ordered the conscription of their Prussian Blue daughters to make babies for the HNIC. But by and large, the country was trying to catch its breath, having a post-coital smoke, or running out of scratch paper trying to write down all the new Democrats who had won office the night before.
So, just for the hell of it, I posted my status on one of my Internet pages that “Bill is…fed up with the do-nothing Obama Administration.” You could presume, if I were a smarter man, that I was making a comment, Jonathan Swift-style, on the perils of irrational expectations. Yes, we’d elected the new President on his promises of hope and change, but…where the hell was it anyway? Huh? We’re waiting!
I made no pretense that I might be articulating a grander statement. I was just having fun.
But Jesus. I got a handful of comments along the lines of, “Yeah! Big fucking talk!!! I just HOPE I don’t get ass-raped, but I’m not counting on it. Fucked by The Man again!” That flurry was amusing and passed soon enough. But…
We’re not even a month off of the most historic election and still another 50 days before Barack Obama even takes office. He’s done more in four weeks than his soon-to-be-predecessor has done since the last mid-term elections. Unlike the last Democratic president-elect, he’s actually using the runup to his inauguration to recruit his staff rather than cashing in his electoral goodwill on donor’s wives and discrete stewardesses and legislative aides who don’t mind finding their way to his hotel via the backseat floor of an anonymous Crown Victoria and the Marriott’s laundry room entrance.
As much as I respect Rachel Maddow, though, it’s all I can do not to flip the station over to Hannity or Boortz when she starts her good-natured lament that Barack Obama is already handing the New United States he just won back to the American Right because he has been handing the plum assignments of his Administration over to the less-reprehensible members of Team Bush and the triangulate foot-soldiers of the Clinton era.
Rachel Maddow, for all her liberal bonafides, was one of four people who weren’t Steve Schmidt, Tucker Bounds, or Fred Barnes who weren’t predicting a Barack Obama victory. I’m not sure if that and her current railing against Obama’s isn’t part of some superstitious reverse-psychology hoping that Obama, Biden, Bush, Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd, Condoleeza Rice, Henry Paulson, Hillary Clinton, and Eric Holder, all get assassinated this month and the government is left to a power struggle that’s going to roil for months in the U.S. courts while Michael Mukasey and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne go hammer-and-tong over the rights to the White House.
I don’t know that I didn’t see this coming. The left-wing grumpiness, I mean. And most of them will concede that in not packing the Administration with the left-wing he isn’t exactly loading his team up on the right and betraying his campaign promises. But the corpse of John McCain’s candidacy isn’t even cold yet–hell, Sarah Palin is still getting press daily and Joe The Plumber just released a book he allegedly oversaw the writing of (even if the only writing he oversaw was his ghostwriter signing his name to the Joe Wurtzelbacher book he would take care of himself without any interference from the plumber-in-Carhartts-only grabbing far-too-large-a-share for lending his name to the book and sitting around drinking beers and bitching about Big Government (they left out the parts that came out when he got drunker the more he railed against the Palestinian and Iranian Jew-killers and paraphrasing Grover Norquist’s analogy about murdering Big Government in the bathroom, but in Joe’s example he’s bludgeoning it to death himself with an 18″ Stillson wrench instead of drowning it in the bathtub).
Anyway, everyone wringing their hands and digging the torches out of the garage that they put away at 8:01 PM November 4th needs copious and repeated doses of oxygen. If our President-in-waiting had nominated Phil Gramm as his Treasury Secretary, then I’d be digging out my pitchfork and joining you, but he didn’t. If you’re looking to fill your cherry baskets on January 20, bear in mind that all of those cherry trees have been hacked down with impunity over the last several years. We’ve got a lot of greenskeeping and landscaping ahead of us before there’s any fat of the land to live off of again. If you don’t believe me, head down to the bank tomorrow with your 796 credit score and try and get a used futon financed and tell me how that works out for you.
Relax, inasmuch as that’s possible with the axe of our economic reality ready to come down on our collective necks. We’re going to have to spend money that our unborn grandchildren don’t have to get out of this mess, and every indication is that the new tenant at that rickety old barn on Pennsylvania Avenue apprehends that reality only all too well. We’re not anywhere near “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Remember everyone pledging suicide or pan-galactic emigration just five weeks ago when there was even the tiniest shred of a possibility that Sarah Palin would be darkening Washington’s doorstep come third Tuesday in January. A little perspective is a healthy thing: The Governor hasn’t gone away, but she won’t be a fading heartbeat away from the highest office in the land either, and the grumpy Batman to her rogue Robin is slinking back to the Senate he ignored for most of 2008 and accepting his future as a senior member of the minority party.
I never thought that the most pie-eyed among us were expecting an instant liberal utopia. Those solar panels may well, and probably will, return to the White House, but even though we may not be a center-right nation as John Meacham suggested in a recent Newsweek cover story, Barack Obama appears to know his history well enough that he isn’t going to let himself get beaten with the cudgel of the wide-eyed idealism of Jimmy Carter or the victory-drunk caprice of Bill Clinton. God knows they meant very well, and neither of them had to jump into the White House with a government on life support, but even without economic Armageddon, it’s already apparent the incoming President has studied his history well enough to know why and how he intends to not remind the American people why a Democrat has in recent history had a better chance at winning the White House than the Buffalo Bills winning a Super Bowl.
“Pragmatism” isn’t a word that the outgoing Chief Executive would utter in front of his children, but it’s not going to earn anyone an FCC fine either. Given our current circumstances, there’s a measure of sobriety and practicality that are going to have to carry the day before happy days are here again.
Put another way, I’m all for the day when we can look over the pastel paint chips and have a spirited debate over what color we’re going to paint our new country, but it might be prudent to at least give the new landlord the chance to put out the house fire first.
There’s no way anyone can do anything about Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Alberto Gonzalez, John Bolton, et. al. pulling a paycheck somewhere over the next few years–this is America, after all; everyone deserves the right to work. But rest assured they probably won’t be drawing their dime from the U.S. government.
Draw a breath, give your new man at least a shred of the benefit of the doubt, and let him try and do his job when it’s officially his, and there’s a better chance than not that you won’t be inviting your friends to celebrate your daughter’s wedding under a freeway overpass somewhere.