Math was never my best subject, but this is one calculation that's not difficult to understand: If George W. Bush dug us into an eight-year hole, how is Barack Obama supposed to dig us out in two? To expand the equation, Obama would have to dig at a 75 percent faster pace than Bush, just to get us back to level. And nobody could shovel it like Dubya. Lest we forget, the Toxic Asset Relief Program, which the Republicans now refer to as a "government bailout," originated with Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, and a majority of nonpartisan economists agree that had it not been for swift governmental stimuli during the recent financial nuclear winter, the country would have slipped into a second Great Depression. The conservatives scream no more government spending, when that is exactly what saved the economy from the abyss. It's said that when the U.S. sneezes, the world catches cold, but during this cataclysmic close call, it was more like almost infecting the globe with Ebola. If Obama did nothing else in his first two years, he brought us back from the brink of financial collapse. The GOP accuses the Dems of blaming it all on Bush, but if you believe the times are difficult now, be grateful they aren't horrible. One more basic mathematical formula applies to the previous administration from which they cannot escape accountability: (Two Wars) + (Massive Tax Cuts) = Economic Catastrophe.
I've written that it would take most of Obama's first term to unravel Bush's political dingleberries, but I underestimated the vehemence of the opposition. I imagined that Obama had the mandate to govern like FDR in crisis mode with a Brand New Deal that included public works initiatives and employment projects. The fact that Obama first chose to tackle health-care reform dispersed much of his political capital — only he got it done. He accomplished what no previous president could, faced with a unanimous resistance from the opposition. What's disturbing is that the divisiveness of the issue created a network of disinformation to abet the Republican Party's strategy of refusing to cooperate with this president on anything whatsoever.
While justifiably disillusioned working people drift toward the Tea Party to express their frustration, their counterparts in Congress stonewall everything from financial reform to extending unemployment benefits. In their lust to recapture political power, the Republicans made the conscious decision to sacrifice the common good and delay the nation's economic recovery. And for this they expect to be rewarded?
On Sunday, 9/12, there were more Tea Party rallies all over the country. What was initially billed as a time of reflection over 9/11 turned into a pep rally for the right, as angry white people marched from Sacramento to St. Louis. Thousands marched in Washington, D.C., but the main event was in Anchorage, featuring America's sweetheart, Glenn Beck, and the quitter governor Sarah Palin, proving there is nothing — from her family to 9/11 — that she will not exploit for political gain. The poster children for insurrection were going to discuss how unified the nation felt after the New York attacks, but the best tickets went for 200 bucks a pop. Throughout the entire Bush era, 9/11 was a day reserved for national remembrance, devoid of the usual political acrimony. Not anymore. The obstructionist Republicans smell victory, and if the attacks on this country can be recast to suit their cause, they'll wave the bloody flag again.
Now every pundit on every news network is talking about a "Republican tsunami" in November that will wash away the Obama reforms in a wave of righteous anger. The pundits have not gotten anything right since they declared the presidency for Al Gore, so since I'm not easily propagandized, let me clue you in: It ain't gonna happen. And these Tea Party rallies all over the country? No big deal. The GOP is doing everything but publicly salivating over the thought of regaining Congress, and they actually believe the Tea Party represents the American voter. They do so at the risk of forgetting that everybody hates Congress, but no one really objects to their congressman.
The election is still seven weeks away, and the more the public sees of the fringe-right candidates, the less they seem to want them in office. Harry Reid must be one of the most despised men in Nevada, but every time Sharron Angle opens her mouth, his poll numbers go up. I'm aware that the Democrats are fools and cowards, but the Republicans are liars and whores — and that's just the men. It's beyond question that the reactionary wing of the Republican Party is angry and motivated to vote against something, but some of these Tea Party candidates remind me of Jack Nicholson as the Joker, saying, "Wait 'til they get a load of me."
The thought of Speaker John Boehner and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell should be enough to snap anyone away from the hum of the right-wing fog and obfuscation machine. But they always seem to come up with that wedge issue, like gay marriage, that drives conservative voters. I can just see some young operative doing opposition research and discovering with delight that a long-planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan was just two blocks from the site of the Twin Towers, and thus was born "the Ground-Zero Mosque."
The president is bound by oath to defend the Constitution and thus protect the freedom of all religions, even Islam. It was a brilliant tactic and it worked, but it's a bogus issue and harmful to the country. The example of Pastor Steve Stone, of Cordova's Heartsong Church, in not just welcoming the neighboring Islamic center but offering the church's facilities to the Muslim community for prayer during Ramadan, is reverberating across the nation simply because it was an act of love rather than one of hate. Which gives me cause to believe that people may be growing weary of the manufactured rage of the right. When you spend two years blocking the schoolhouse door and only offer more of the same, it equates to another mathematical certainty, which happens to be the words of a Billy Preston song:"Nothing from nothing leaves nothing."