Sometimes, I shudder when I see the economic news these days. The wrenching monetary disaster has shattered lives, dumped dreams and tied a lead weight to so many other tasks great and small. It seems everywhere. As Neill Young sang "There's a shadow running though my life, like a beggar goin ' door to door." And this doesn't look to be over any time soon. Like the Depression or Japan's Lost Decade, this could indeed go on for ten years. For most, it's so hard and heartbreaking because as Bill Clinton used to patronizingly intone, they played by the rules. The powerful few, whether in business or government, who have abused the system, have added massive insult to the massive injury. We have been collectively kicked in the teeth. We may get new teeth, but that promises to be a long arduous process for the national body.
So, now we get Obama and his new carping campaign. The State of the Union, the Budget and the surrogates all decry how "irresponsible" we've all been. More than 90% of people with mortgages pay them on time. Yet, now, less than 10% renege on their payments and we're all to blame? Obama insisted on wagging his finger during the State of the Union as if the nation were some wayward child, not someone in need of, dare I say, hope. We all know full well the honesty and fairness of the last famous finger wagger . The phrase "I did not have sex with that woman . . ." accompanied by the thrusting index finger was effective . . . for a time. In time, though, it became a joke. The words and attitude were found not match reality. A product of the sixties, the credibility gap had arisen and the Clinton presidency was effectively over.
Now that we're hurting, we get David Axelrod, Obama's chief minion, doling out the healing salve of tough talk because "sternness is appropriate." What absolute rot. Like a cheesy ad for Ronco, there's more. In pushing the budget, Axelrod says the budget is "a candid call to return to ethics and responsibility." If this isn't the usual cheap cynical play, I've got a good place to start this return movement for ethics. Let's look no further than Barrack Obama's old Senate seat. Why not flush the liar holding Obama's seat? Roland Burris said he had no contact with the Blago camp, but he did. His son got a job from Blago. His consulting company (a politician with a consulting company-now there's a license to steal literally) got state contracts. This guy couldn't get any dirtier.
Everyday that crook occupies Obama's old seat is a day the Obama administration has zero credibility calling anyone on ethics or responsibility. If you want to return to something, why not make it what actually has worked in this country, like say, the Constitution. John Adams said "A government of laws, not men." When the laws do not apply to leaders like Roland Burris because he's a buddy of Obama, there's no incentive for the people to follow the rules. Forget about the economic turmoil, the fabric of the democracy is now threatened.
Obama seems determined to flirt with the infamous credibility gap. Besides William Clinton, that trap caught and destroyed one of the most able politicians in U.S. history: LBJ. Obama and his lackeys would be wise to avoid that trap, but, as with LBJ, hubris may prevent such action.
Who knows? Maybe the application of laws to some of the openly crooked in our political class like Roland Burris, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd etc…. might spur a return to confidence in government. Perhaps, this might even buck up the sagging confidence in the economy. Perhaps, this could happen, but then, I've always been far too much of a dreamer.