Friday, March 13, 2009

Three Quick Notes and an Old-Fashioned Blog Post


Governor Sanford of South Carolina wants to take the Congressional mandate money and do what he pleases. No surprise. Some say that the causes of the Civil War began with the South Carolina Nullification Crisis of 1832 where South Carolina asserted the right to its own tariff. President Jackson received Congressional authorization to invade South Carolina. Cooler heads prevailed. Draw your own conclusions.



Governor Jindal looked so clumsy on national television that it feels like the disgraceful things he said were underreported. He basically said that the incompetence of the Republican government during Hurricane Katrina was about the best you can expect from government. Like so many Southern politicians, and their camp followers, he believes government of the people is an oxymoron. Government is somewhere apart from the people. That was not the result of the Civil War. Which is most certainly never over. Especially now. Where thanks to folks like Rush Limbaugh (not to single him out), we are learning that the Silent Majority may no longer be either.



Obama made the point, in his joint address to Congress, in his education speech, and in several other places, that in American history great, expensive projects were completed despite other crisis. However Obama uses a poor example when he says that Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad despite the Civil War. Actually, the Transcontinental Railroad had been deadlocked for years because Northern Senators and Southern Senators kept fighting over where the railroad should be built. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, one of the great topics of the Lincoln study I've been doing on this blog, and one of the causes of the Civil War, might never have been proposed, but for the fact that Stephen Douglas needed to get land use in order so that he could press forward with the idea that the Transcontinental Railroad could start in Chicago. Once the Southern Senators went away, it became much easier to get an agreement and proceed. If they had waited for the Southern Senators to get back to Washington, the railroad might never have been built.


Old Fashioned Blog Post

I am looking for feedback on the following assertion, which I think is factually correct:

No President before Barack Obama has come into office on Day One facing a crisis so different from the issues that made him a Presidential candidate in the first place.


Lincoln, for example, became President after a campaign based on slavery and on states rights in the broader sense. Few expected secession to occur between the election and the inauguration, but it was an open threat during the campaign of 1860, and a logical, if unfortunate conclusion, of the election of Lincoln.

FDR faced a financial crisis different from the financial crisis occurring during the campaign of 1932, but the Great Depression were very much the issue during the campaign.

But I can't think of another President, besides Obama, who literally came into office on Day One with the world so different than it was on Labor Day of the Election Year.


Obviously, it is possible to disagree with President Obama's proposals on the tax code, on the environment, on health care, on energy and on education. However, these are the things Obama ran for President on. So I am a bit startled by the reaction of people that he should not pursue his agenda now.

The partisan response is that George W. Bush pursued his entire agenda after 9/11, and the same people complaining now did not complain about the idea that you could fight two wars and cut taxes at the same time. Where was their talk about irresponsible spending then? Why would you want to return the financial system to the way it was when the Republicans will simply destroy it again the next time they take power?

But I think a more honest answer is this:

Obama ran for President on a theme of "change". It seems now that some people thought he meant tweaking around the margins. And had the financial crisis not occurred, maybe it would have felt that way.

However, the reason why "change" resonated with so many voters is that despite the fact that the Reagan-Clinton-Bush system created many winners, it also created many losers. And many others who felt that there was something wrong somehow. "Change" resonated with so many people that even the Republican candidate ran on a theme of "change". People gave the Democrats 54% of the vote in an election where arguably the strongest available Republican candidate ran against the weakest available Democratic candidate.

Maybe the Silent Majority is no longer either.

Maybe the people who write for newspapers and write these blogs, and even those of us who claim to represent our own constituents and our own corporate interests and sponsors, maybe we are no longer the center of gravity in America. That is not to say that we cannot maintain our power.

President Obama has a Republican Secretary of Defense, most-likely a Republican Secretary of the Treasury, and, despite what the right-wing will tell you, a Secretary of State who comes from the conservative part of the modern Democratic Party. If these people cannot figure out how to restore the status-quo, then it's gone.