Monday, January 2, 2012

The Adams Conundrum

“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I’ve been thinking of that quote for a while now, gentle reader. It does a fairly good job of distilling the central problem with the office of the President of the United States ever since Saint Ronny of Ray-Gun cleaned the old peanut farmer’s clock in 1980. It is hard to take a political process seriously when a grade B movie star, and professional political crank, manages to grab the brass ring.

But it has been even more depressing this election cycle because of the clown car primary process the Republicans have inflicted on a weary republic. I watch these proceedings with an ever rising sense of panic and melancholy. Is this really the best we can do as a nation? Is this really the top tier of political professionals? I would not trust this lot of politicians to run a McDonald’s, never mind the Hyper-power that is the USA.

Granted, it has been darkly humorous to watch the Conservative base swoon over one white knight after another; only to have them self-immolate before even doing battle with the hated dragon of Multiple Choice Mitt Romney. From Bachmann, to Perry, to Cain, to Gingrich, and now to Mr. Man-on-Dog-Sex Santorum, it has been an exercise in flail and fail. Each of these prospect proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they “should on no account be allowed to do the job.”  You would do better with a trained monkey.

Not that the Donkey Party is doing much better. They have their own issues to deal with, most under the heading of Barack Hussein Obama. The rank ambition of the man, linked with absolutely no moral compass, has been disastrous for the Democratic Party.  Obama’s “lets make a deal” transactional style of “leadership” has perverted everything the Party of FDR stood for.

The J’ accuse against the Obama lead, and feckless, Democratic Party is long and depressing. The “Progressive” wing of that party has been especially inept. Faced with a President who is essentially doing Richard Nixon in black-face, the Democrats in Congress have caved on every center-right talking point their leader has ever uttered. Spineless leaders, Pelosi in the House, Reid in the Senate, have followed the President in a Bataan Death March further and further to the right. Like their President they have followed the corporate money, and kowtowed to the wishes of the New Robber Barons. The special interests of big pharma, big business, and the Insurance Industry were coddled. The masses were toss the odd stale crumb to feast on, but only after reproductive health rights were trampled on by the usual gang of sex-phobes and religious reactionaries.

That even a stalwart leftist and self-proclaimed “Socialist” like Bernie Sanders begged off a legitimate challenge to Obama’s rightward lurch tells you everything you need to know about the Democratic Party. The Republicans are right; the Donkeys are, “surrender monkeys.” The Democrats keep folding to the power of the Corporations, to Wall Street, to the rich and connected, to their donors. They cannot even be bothered to go through the motions of fighting Corporate power.

Thus Obama gets to rest up and keep his powder dry, waiting for Mitt the inevitable to emerge from the toxic swamps of the Republican Primary process. Is anyone else having a severe case of acid reflux over this result? Is anyone else utterly disheartened that the final results of this process, which looks like two political hacks with no core beliefs fighting an epically dirty campaign from May to November? I know I don’t want to watch this unravel. I would rather dig my eyes out with rusty spoons.

Yet that is what we as a nation are up against. It is the end result of an utterly corrupt system melting down into absurdity.  Team Obama is shooting for a one billion dollar war chest. Romney will likely meet or exceed that amount. It is an open auction for the Unitary Executive, and you are not invited. In this bidding war, ordinary citizens do not have a prayer of having any influence.

And what of the contenders? What type of person is willing to whore themselves out for a billion dollar price tag? What type of person is willing to dial for dollars, to beg and wheedle for filthy lucre? What kind of promises, subtle or not, will they have to make? How is someone willing to grovel in such a shameless way qualified to hold any kind of office, never mind the Presidency?

Mark Twain once observed that history does not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes. I’m seeing that. I’m seeing a rhyme with the “Bearded Nonentities” of the late 19th Century. Starting with Bush Sr. It has been a sorry lot. None of the post Reagan Presidents rose above the low bar of mediocrity, and one fell far below it. We are living in a contradiction not seen often; an executive that has almost limitless powers institutionally, run by men who’s effective power is weak. Maybe it’s because they should never had gotten the job in first place. “[A]nyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” Sad, but ever so true.
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