Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Defective Decade

If there were factory recalls for ages, the first product of the 21st century would be sent back for retooling. Politically, socially, morally, esthetically, the decade has been a disaster.

Economically, Paul Krugman grades it as "The Big Zero," but that may be too generous for a time when almost everything in American life has slid below previous standards in an orgy of what Pat Moynihan called defining deviancy down.

The decade gave us our first needlessly preemptive war, the degradation of individual privacy, the most painful depression in almost a century, and perhaps worst of all, a coarsening of sensibilities toward everything from torture to political discourse.

In the late 1990s, a time of budget surpluses and no foreign wars, Hillary Clinton called the impeachment of her husband "a vast right-wing conspiracy." It was neither vast nor a conspiracy, but it was the opening wedge in the politics of personal destruction that is now bedeviling one of the few accomplishments of the decade, the election of America's first African-American president, who is trying to govern despite a mindlessly monolithic opposition party.

Bill Clinton invited such chaos with incredible self-indulgence in the White House, but his behavior was no worse than JFK's, which did not lead to an impeachment that, among other things, may have inhibited attacks on Osama bin Laden for fear of having them called "Wag the Dog" diversions.

Al Gore started the new decade by distancing himself from Clinton, leading to Clarence Thomas' awarding of the presidency to George W. Bush and his self-selected vice president Dick Cheney.

The rest, unfortunately, is history, which offers no do-overs or replacement decades but from which it may be possible to learn and avoid repeating.

3 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Oh dear, this isn't quite as stark as "Take Two," but given your apparently peeved state, I'm almost loathe to point out to you (yes, again) that the dems don't need the reps at all. Don't worry about our opposition and obstruction (I'm guessing this is what you mean when you mention "mindlessly monolithic opposition party"--I love this because other libs are saying that the republican party is breaking apart, being destroyed from within by "purity tests" and the like. But that's what I love about your dems, you can have it both ways: we're mindlessly monolithic AND splintered, divided, on the verge of collapse. Good times.). All that obstruction and wrangling (so much nicer than "bribing") are all taking place in the democratic party; they should have had this locked up and done in early summer, right? They're doing it without a single republican, so why's it so difficult? Hmmmmm, could it be that the bill stinks to high heaven? And that even dems understand that?

Anyway, it'll pass, no worries, your decade isn't over yet (if I know dems, they'll start a new calendar with BO's inauguration as Day One, Year One). The Party of Know will be around to pick up the congressional seats that become empty next year (gee, how many dems are "retiring"? And was that one or two who decided to become a republican?) and to roll back what we can of this travesty while we bide our time to take back the White House in 2012.

I admit, though, that I giggle every time Hillary's "vast right wing conspiracy" theory comes up. It's soooooo '60's. So Alinsky. You'd think that she'd know that conservatives are only NOW catching on to the rules for radicals that made she and her hubby such powerhouses (well, sort of, they were swept aside and stabbed in the back by BO and his own take on--let's just say it--better execution of Alinsky's rules, but no matter.).

BO may be a worse disaster for this country than Carter, but something's changing, and the ground is fertile for another Reagan-style conservative to step up to the plate and get us back on the right track (pun intended, of course). That's assuming, of course, BO doesn't get us all killed in a nuclear world war. *sigh* that seems all too likely these days, doesn't it? Maybe he should have baked more cookies and hugged, bowed down to, and licked the boots of more of our enemies? That surely would have stopped Iran. Ahmadinejad is just "acting out" because he didn't get a big bear hug, he's not really being disrespectful. His feelings are just hurt, I guess. It's not that he sees BO as an impotent leader who can be toyed with and made a laughingstock (you know, like Carter was in dealing with Iran.) Gosh, I'm on a roll today, sorry, it's been a tough year for me. I'm sure you can understand. :)

Jocelyn said...

But, will we learn from this "Defective Decade"? From my humble point of view, it does not look good.

Holte Ender said...

With the majority of the republicans wishing it was the 1700s "we want our country back" the next ten years are not looking too promising.