Gong Show, writ large

January 20, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

Amazing. Simply amazing. In one swell foop, the Democrats and Martha Coakley yesterday ceded Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat to the Republicans. Cosmo's Scott Brown triumphed in the special election in Massachusetts.

Now the rabble is into full frontal dithering, as one might expect.

The blame game is on, Big Time. Obama’s fault. Martha Coakley’s fault. Obama’s fault. Rahm Emanuel’s fault. DSCC’s fault. Obama’s fault. The Clintons’ fault. Obama’s fault. The liberal bloggers’ fault. The conservative Twitterers' fault. Massachusetts’ voters fault. Teddy Kennedy’s fault. Obama’s fault. Wall Street’s fault. (Its little subset, the corporatists’ fault.) Fox “News’” fault. Obama’s fault. Sarah Palin’s fault. Brangelina's fault. (Okay, I made that up.)

Full disclosure: I am not, nor have I ever pretended to be, a sagacious political analyst. I don’t have the wherewithal, including a sufficiency of smarts, to delve into the bowels of political machinations and make meaning of it. (Now there’s a thoroughly disgusting metaphor.) But like everyone else who blogs, I do have opinions. Sometimes I form opinions after the fact. Kind of retro forward motion (five yards, automatic first down). And btw (in case you haven’t noticed), I am crazy about parenthetical cross-talk. Also, it takes me a while to warm up and get to the point.

My point is this. There is a kind of systemic rot in what used to be called the political party of liberals. Of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Of Teddy Kennedy.

There’s nothing woo-woo about it. Exorcism is not called for. But it is time to take out the Sorting Hat and reassign the peeps. Read on.

UPDATE: Please catch this Robert Reich piece about the significance of the Scott "Cosmo" Brown victory. (h/t LeftyMN)

The very visible Rahm Emanuel and his less visible acolytes need to go. Now. Harry Reid, out. Nancy Pelosi, out. (Their small victories are insufficient for the task, which is really nothing less than keeping America from being flushed down the loo whilst Grover Norquist salivates and cackles. Okay, maybe exorcism IS called for.) Tim Geithner, out. You name names. There are others, no doubt.

Then Barack Obama needs time in the wilderness. He needs to get back in touch with what was arguably his core beliefs and values, expressed in his stunningly articulate way while campaigning.

He needs to look at himself and be painfully honest about where he falls on the left/right continuum. He needs to listen to others than inner circle sycophants about what it is that the American people truly want and need. Or, at the very least, what the liberals who elected him want.

That’s complicated, of course, because both liberals and moderates stepped up for him in a very big way. But he needs to speak his truth and defend it and make it real. He needs to reclaim his integrity (I believe it was truly there, the political cesspool notwithstanding) and operate all day, every day in light of it. He needs to focus less on pomp and more on circumstance.

He needs to surround himself with a fresh, new cadre of wise women and men whose deep belief in the America that shines brightly will help to inform his decisions. He needs to fully embrace liberal core values, coupled with the Constitution he vowed to uphold, and operate from that place.

Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But wait, there’s more.

The citizens (and particularly the liberals) of this fine nation are complicit in the meltdown as well. Yes, we are. Yes, we did.

We are, by and large, a nation of ambivalents and, at best, armchair activists (guilty!). We entertain ourselves by watching MSNBC (or its evil twin, FOX “News”). Some of us read (and write) the incredibly vast amount of angst-fueled prose that clutters the cosmos. It is so easy to whine, blame, pitch a fit from the keyboard. No one understands that better than I do.

But here's the thing. What do we truly believe, as liberals? What is core for us? What is the bottom, bottom line that ties us together? And yeah, why not? What are we prepared to die for? These are real questions that beg real answers. In the penultimate analysis, that’s what’s missing, I believe. We are all (you, too, PBO) on auto-pilot with respect to our shared values. And I’m not talking here about a recitative of mealy-mouthed talking points. That’s bullshit. (barbara apologizes, albeit not very sincerely, for her potty-mouth).

What is it that is bedrock for us? Can you articulate that? I’m not going to do the work for you (partly because I’m on auto-pilot, too). But I think we need to get off our numb butts and talk about this, in clusters small and large. Oh, and did I say sooner than later?

In spite of all the vilification, some of this falls on us, as noted. Some, not all. I've quoted Anna Quindlen before, but a few months ago, she said, “If we want Barack Obama to be the president we elected, we need to be the people who elected him.” Amen, sister.

Posted in


Deborah L Quinn (not verified) | January 20, 2010 - 12:33pm

Am loving your post and the Quindlen comment that concludes it. Barack has been too measured, too nuanced, too invested in trying to do Big Things without pissing off any particular constituency. That may be the only good that could come from this election: that Barack gets pissed and gets his game on.


barbara | January 22, 2010 - 7:20pm

I'm with you on this. And here's what I've been thinking the past three days. The Republicans have handed PBO the "excuse" (if such be needed) to stiffen his long spine and say (whilst looking into the camera) some variation of:

"You know, we really tried to do this in an altogether civil fashion. But you (Radical Republicans and Radical Democrats as well) have illustrated that that simply Is. Not. Possible. I am, at heart, a nice guy who knows how to play the game. I have given bi-partisanship my best and last shot. From this point forward, my administration is playing hardball, eye for an eye, f**k you all, every obstructionist out there. The country matters more than your inflated egos and investment accounts. So brace yourselves. Because there's a new day dawning."

It is time.


Anonymous (not verified) | January 22, 2010 - 4:45pm

You go, sister!
I am so completely disgusted with Harry Reid that I wrote both of our senators requesting he be ousted. We need somebody with cajones(balls), either male or female, to stand up to these Bill Nelsons, Max Baucus, etc. who hold everyone hostage and pout until they get their way.
Do away with career politicians!!
They've forgotten about US, and only care about getting enough money to get re-elected.


barbara | January 22, 2010 - 7:23pm

Amen and amen. WTF? And absolute yes to doing away with career politicians. Campaign reform, election reform, term limits. Harry Reid is a cipher, and I don't get his game. Nor do I get how he achieved his elevated status. But the elevator is going down, sir (channeling Keith Olbermann), and you're on it. Grrrrr! indeed.