Thursday, March 17, 2005

These Guys Have Some 'Splainin' To Do

Somewhere there are about 65,000 people in Ohio who have some 'splainin' to do.

We've witnessed a flurry of unwise and unpopular policy moves in just the last few days. We've decided that drilling in the acrtic wildlife preserves really is a good idea after all. We've decided that Amtrak is a useless drain on the taxpayers' resources and should be cut off. We've decided to saddle the UN with a US ambassador who is openly hostile to the UN's mission. We've decided that the World Bank should be led by a senior defense department official who'se judgment about foreign affairs has been startlingly bad for decades, and who has never shown the slightest interest in helping poor people around the world. We've decided that Americans who face financial ruin should be punished more, not less, except of course if they were previously very rich. We've decided that the rights of America's corporations are too important to leave to state-by-state experimentation when it comes to potential class liability for their screw-ups. We've found out that those injured by the negligence of America's corporations and wealthy individuals have been getting a free-ride and must stop. We've also discovered that the best source of judicial nominees is the pool of already-rejected nominees.

And that's just in the last week or two.

Now, almost all of this stuff is wildly unpopular. And, almost all of this stuff is what the losers of the 2004 election said would happen if they lost. And yet, some 65,000 people in Ohio (and, oh, many millions more elsewhere) voted for this any way. Maybe they thought it was like voting on American Idol, where it didn't really matter. Or viting for a favorite flavor of ice cream. Or student council president. Or something else where the vote was disconnected from real world consequences.

Who knows what millions of voters "thought." What I know is that our country has been betrayed by nothing so much as its own citizens giving themselves permission to ignore reality.

Before too long, the Social Security debate will devolve into something about tax fairness, and then Bush will drop the other bomb, as he promised he would in the election. He will propose a tax overhaul that will place more of the burden of paying for government on those that can least afford it, while giving those with the most means even more wealth and even less responsibility for taking care of their fellow citizens. And it will be deeply unpopular. Just like Social Security Benefit Cuts has been.

And the press will all scratch their heads wondering why so many people voted for the president and then are diappointed when he acts as he said he would. Is it their desire for "split government" (a fabled cunard that we had to deal with while the Dems held the WH). Is it they trust him on the big issues, and don't really object all that much to these policy choices? Is it that they are really conservative in name only? Oh, Timmy R. and company will really scratch their heads. But the answer seems to me quite simple: too many Americans are uninterested and self-deceiving about what's happened to this country, and are unwilling to admit that the political leadership of this country is deeply corrosive and serves only the interests of the very rich.

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