Conspiracy Lovers Unite!

5/17/13

CONSPIRACY LOVERS UNITE!

As one noted television pundit ventured, it looks as though this week the wheels came off the Obama wagon.

It surely does look that way. There’s still Benghazi (see last week’s post), now running in contention with the Justice Department’s unconstitutional intrusion into the Associated Press, followed almost immediately by the IRS targeting of conservative 501C4 groups that are supposed to be dedicated exclusively to improving social welfare.

What this administration has done, unwittingly we hope, is hand the right wing of the Republican Party, that wing which all along has believed that Big Government is a threat to their freedoms, the gift of their dreams: Proof they may be right.

Far worse is the confirmation in alas millions of minds that the government is out to get them, for gun confiscation, for unfair taxes, overreaching and seeming more like an ancient medieval kingdom than a democracy.

The Democrats, and the President, couldn’t have done a better job of losing control over the government, as well as losing control over whatever small amount of confidence the public still had in government.

The Right Wing’s worst dreams are being validated. This is a genii that may never again be bottled up.

Mixing our metaphors, all this demonstrates that what the country had hoped was not true is: the cat is out of the bag once and for all: President Obama may love the business of government, but he’s not so hot at running it.

Trying always to stay above political frays, to date the President has managed to seem above partisan politics and partisan agendas, focusing instead on what good can come from government by legislating thoughtfully, sincerely, and bipartisanly.

And he’s had some successes.

We doubt he will have any more.

Congress in particular, and lobbyists of all stripes, seem uninhibited about their goals, their increasing power, and the fact that the important business of America is not, and will not now, be done. With public opinion ratings for the House and Senate at their lowest levels ever, neither house has any reason to try to improve either their performance or their attitudes. They are perfectly content to bring government to a halt. Public anger and opprobrium mean nothing when you’re at the bottom of a barrel looking up.

Chances are, with these three continuing scandals being heard in chambers day after day, as surely will happen, plans for immigration reform, hopes for a better and fairer tax code, even involvement in Syria’s civil war are now ideas that are melting away.

And all this comes at a time when increasing numbers of citizens are being “furloughed” from government service due to the sequester. Which means a loss of income for hundreds of thousands of families, a decline in their ability to keep their heads above water, and millions of second and third jobs sought frantically not only to help support these families but even to keep their children in school.

And the sequester came about because Republicans and Democrats could, but wouldn’t, work with each other for the greater good.  Terrific.

Newtown has come and gone and died once more.

The unconstitutional intrusion into the Associated Press’s lines of communication are only a minor blip on the radar of newly certain citizens that their worst dreams are coming true.

The targeting of putative charitable groups by the IRS, and only those groups associated with the Republican Right Wing, has in effect handed the Republicans a huge opportunity to shout,  “See, we told you so!”

What before had been marginal groups of paranoid voters has now reached epidemic proportions. To regain the public’s trust and confidence in the workings and personnel and even-handedness of nonpartisan government is likely to become impossible.

And these wounds to the Democratic body politic, folks, are self-inflicted.

For months we have heard about how the President prefers to lead from behind, which really means using caution and circumspection before making any decision likely to affect his countrymen. In the case of Libya, that worked splendidly. A dictator was overthrown, a regime changed, and not one American boot was on the ground.

That success, of course, has been dented by the revelations, or what may be revelations, about security at Benghazi, which is also Libyan. The loss of American lives there completely erases the real accomplishment of the administration.

Which is twice too bad, because the administration, apart from the Healthcare legislation passed and approved by the Supreme Court, has little enough of which to be proud.

One reason for the empty slate, of course, is the Republican willingness to obdurately fight any idea that comes from the White House. In so doing, Congress itself has a record nearly second to none for lack of meaningful legislation or achievement. But Congress doesn’t care any more. Any more than it seems to care about the nation’s business.

Witness the results of the proposed expansion of background checks for gun owners. With most of the country saying, loudly, that it supported the idea and the legislation, the Senate killed the bill in both obedience to and fear of the National Rifle Association.

With unlimited funds now available from Supreme Court approved PACs, Congress apparently feels it can, whenever it chooses, ignore the very people who voted it in to begin with. Its members can get along fine, thank you very much, with out-of-state industrial and manufacturing donations, or with donations from Wall Street, the oil lobby, and the several chambers of Commerce.

This would be acceptable if the nation believed that Senators and Representatives ultimately vote from their hearts. But it doesn’t.

And with these three new scandals erupting almost simultaneously, attention to legislation that will ease the recession, or that will make immigrants more accountable for their presence and their paychecks, or cooperation between the government and state houses around the country to make sure Obamacare is implemented are just part of the fuzzy cloud that hangs over D.C. 24/7.

We fear that cloud is empty.

Of course, whom to blame for these misdemeanors and scandals is easy for most voters. The President.

Which completely ignores the truth.

The blame for any one of these new eruptions doesn’t belong on the state department doorstep, or on the IRS’s doorstep, or on the doorstep of a Justice Department that has overreached and is operating as it wishes rather than as it should.

The blame, to grab a quick quote, dear Brutus, lies in ourselves.

We vote. We allow our representatives unlimited time, money, and television coverage. And while we may be appalled at what is happening, we are also not ourselves doing anything to help. Most of us are not even concerned enough to speak to a neighbor about any of this, let alone email or telephone the White House or Congress itself.

We voted. And, as the saying goes, we get the government we deserve.

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