A WEEK IN HELL

6/7/13

A WEEK IN HELL

What a week! It’s difficult to know where and at whom to fire one’s first arrows.

Chronologically, we should perhaps begin with the President himself who, to many people’s amazement, selected Susan Rice as a national security advisor. This is like throwing sand in the eye of an angry tiger.

The appointment is a direct affront to those in the Senate, in particular, who railed at her as the messenger of the Benghazi confusion, and who wanted to be certain there was no way on earth Ms. Rice could profit thereby, i.e., becoming Secretary of State.

Naturally, those head-hunters on the Hill who wanted nothing to with Ms. Rice have now decided they could probably work with her after all. McCain, Ayotte, and Graham – just as they did before when she was knocked out of the running for the top job at the State Department – adjusted their opposition, in this case because there was nothing else to do. Ms. Rice’s position is non-confirmational, which is to say the Senate can fuss and fume, but do little else.

The startling challenge to Rice’s critics came as a complete surprise also to most Democrats around the country. Mr. Obama wants what he wants when he wants it, and if he cannot get it, he’ll wait a little while and try again. Rather like the fabled Chinese, whose patience is reputed to be beyond the reach of time.

But importantly, what his appointment demonstrates is that the President may have finally decided to be the president, which is to say, having tried sugar on the Senate opposition, he has decided to forget it entirely and douse them in vinegar. If they want a challenge, he’s up for it, the welfare of the country be damned.

We have no idea how talented and capable Ms. Rice may be. But she seems a slim enough reed on which to hang a presidential legacy.

It wasn’t only Obama who seemed to have had enough of carping and critics. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey issued his ukase, saying in regards to a special election now called for October to replace a newly deceased Senator that he doesn’t know or care how much this effort will cost his state. Again, the public be damned.

Commentators have railed at the transparency of Christie’s politics, fearing that to run two elections simultaneously – which would, of course, save millions of dollars — could put a popular New Jersey mayor in the spotlight at the wrong time and minimize Christie’s own numbers in his run for re-election.

What strikes us immediately is how much the two men, both popular in their own ways and both running on a combination platform of telling-it-like-it-is and ignoring public opinion at the same time – now suffer a sea-change: Obama seems to be gaining weight even as Christie is reducing. Soon enough they may be twins.

Briefly, to stand one’s ground and declare one’s ideas and choices right no matter what their constituents feel, is often the mark of a man, or woman, whose emotions have overtaken their common sense. Not a happy occasion in the area of representative democracy.

And speaking of democracy, did you hear the shouts of approval for the President’s Ms. Rice from Democrats, or the shouts of approval from the Republicans in Christie’s home state after his decision? In the Rice affair, total silence from rank and file members of Obama’s party who were, in seems, uninformed. Mr. Christie came under immediate fire from his home team, and he couldn’t have cared less, as he said.

What we fear this indicates is that politicians of all stripes are leaving their parties behind (which may not be all bad) for personal achievement and glory, setting up little fiefdoms that owe allegiance to no one but their creators. And how easy this is to do in light of the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ decision.

Politicians no longer need to woo voters and solicit contributions for their campaigns, or even make their views palatable to their base, because they have money showered on them by big business enterprises: Wall Street, chambers of Commerce, lobbyist of all stripes. Who needs $5, $10, and $20 bucks when a hundred thousand can be had with just one telephone call?

The Supreme Court in fact disenfranchised the common voters of this nation to give candidates what they most wanted: unaccountable contributions and total freedom from the electorate.

More about those phone calls. The week ended with revelations that standard issue everyday Americans were having their telephones, emails, web travel logged, sorted, and sorted through by the National Security Administration with a little help from their corporate friends…all big nine communications companies, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, etc.

This in aid of ostensibly fighting exterior and interior terrorism.

No matter how one feels about the Patriot Act and the opportunities it gives a government to overreach and create havoc in the realm of constitutional freedoms, this latest news comes not only from a domestic news organization (The Washington Post) but primarily from a foreign one, Britain’s Guardian newspaper. That fact alone means that Congressional investigations and subpoenas may have to come to a screeching halt and that the source of this particular leak may never be uncovered.

Some commentators have surmised that the government is now being run by the leakers among us, and this may very well be true. When an administration promises transparency and honesty in its public statements and dealings and then does not deliver, men and women of deep concern and high moral standards are left with no other line of attack than the leak. Having presumably tried debate and reason within an administration and having arrived nowhere for their efforts, clear-sighted public  servants’ frustration level raises hour by hour until, finally, in desperation, they “let slip” to a foreign source the causes of their concerns. It is they, people of presumably good will, who may well be directing our vision and our learning about government chicanery, and by going to foreign sources, they remain safe from domestic prosecution.

Not every whistle-blower, of course, is a man or woman guided solely by moralistic concerns or fears for the Republic. But many are.

It appears that the nation is now being run by one man and his staff, without congressional inclusion, and most definitely without information presented to the voting public that would make whatever decisions this tiny group makes comprehensible and reasonable for our own safety and well-being. And to counter this smog of subterfuge we have people willing and able to leak information to the press of the world.

This sets up a tension between the press and the government which is only now reaching its zenith. The tension may no doubt escalate, and choices will have to be made on both sides.

Which mirrors effectively the situation in Congress itself, where no important business can get done because its members are afraid to make the choices that would reunify a great nation in terms of purpose, direction, and value.

The whole week has been, with fires, floods, and tornadoes, in plain language, a downer.

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