Mar 20, 2011

Why everything is FUBAR contd.

"It's not that this kind of presidential adventurism is new; but the candidate who vowed to restore America's constitutional balance represents the most powerful example of the resilience of the imperial presidency to date - even after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCain's endorsement of presidential war-making would have been totally predictable. Obama's legitimation of it, after explicitly rejecting it in the campaign, is pretty solid proof that it's now an indelible part of the way this country operates." — Andrew Sullivan
To which we can add: detention without trial, bail-outs for the rich, a permanent ratification of insane tax rates, looser gun laws, and so on. That's been the real eye-opener of the Obama presidency, for me — not disappointment that he has betrayed his principles, or turned into what he once opposed, but the sure knowledge that if he, of all people, cannot change these things then no-one can, and that a set of plainly self-destructive policies have somehow become inscribed, by bipartisan agreement, as the Way America Does Business. For a few seconds it's a comforting thought, because it means I can ease up on villifying any one party but then I remember that this means that neither party can do the slightest bit of good, either.


  1. It's the Senate, man - even without the secret hold and effortless filibusters, it's a catastrophically undemocratic institution.

    In the early stages of the Republic, it wasn't a huge problem - unless you count the prolonged preservation of slavery. And in the century or so of westward expansion and new-state-making since the Mexican-American War, new territory and resources drew in all sorts of people. A balance of kinds was thus maintained.

    However, ever since the Sixties and the breakdown of Rockwellian America's homogeneity, the young, liberal, intelligent innovators have fled to the coasts, which is great for those areas, but it leaves behind entire swathes of states whose Senators are elected by tools and numbnuts. Alas, by sheer virtue of numbers, these clowns yank Congress, and by extension the country, far more rightward than their numbers would allow in an equitable system.

    And, as Cenk Uygur says, Obama's lifelong obsession is being smack-dab in the middle of whatever group he happens to be in. In the Illinois legislature, he was a moderate. In the '08 primary, he was to the left of Clinton but the right of Edwards. And now that instinct drives him to the left of McConnell but the right of... oh, dear... Boehner, who rode to House Speakership victory because Senate Republicans blocked many of Pelosi's best accomplishments. In short, we're all screwed because the Senate is FUBAR, and ever-increasing cultural migration is only going to keep worsening that very predicament.

    And here's the bad news: thanks to the impermeability of the Constitution (thanks, John Adams!), there *is no solution*... other than to hope that, in the next decade or three, we'll get a Supreme Court that isn't a *total* disaster, and we can make some modest reforms. This will, naturally, be after the next huge financial meltdown, when China has started to repossess our Hollywood starlets and large-screen TVs.

    God Bless America!