Monday, August 15, 2011

Arab Spring, American Fall

The overthrow of despotic Middle East governments is followed by an insurrection in the U.S., not against decades of tyranny but to destroy centuries of democracy that have served the national well.

Today’s “hyper-connected world” cuts both ways, empowering both the oppressed in the Arab world and the over-entitled and ignorant here.

As Barack Obama’s approval ratings fall to a new low, the GOP gives us potential replacements who would put the nation into default (Michele Bachmann), gut government completely (Ron Paul) and denounce Social Security as unconstitutional (Rick Perry).

Those who rail against “elitist” politicians are demonstrating what pseudo-populist demagogues can do to stir up misinformation and class hatred in the age of the Internet and 24/7 cable TV.

When FDR fought “the unscrupulous money changers” of Big Business and Wall Street during the Great Depression, there was no Rupert Murdoch to undermine him with wall-to-wall Fox News sniping and Wall Street Journal denunciations of a sitting President as “an anti-American leftist.”

Americans hear more from corporate lobbyists than the sanity of Warren Buffet who declares bluntly, “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks...My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

Even a former Karl Rove White House deputy now writes: “If taxes cannot be raised under any circumstances, then we have veered from economic policy to religious catechism...There is something amiss when the political pressure in a party, any party, is so intense that it prevents a serious intellectual conversation from even taking place.”

As the President embarks on a tour to educate voters about the economy, he will encounter fewer such supporters than those who want to ride into office next year to run the country into Third World ground.

Update: Confronted in Iowa by a Tea Party member protesting Joe Biden’s description of his heroes as “terrorists” during the debt ceiling debate, Barack Obama tells him:

"Now, in fairness, since I've been called a socialist who wasn't born in this country, who is destroying America and taking away its freedoms because I passed a health care bill, I'm all for lowering the rhetoric."

The President talked to the protester privately afterward, but he is going to have to do better than reasoning with such people one at a time.

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