Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Obama And Poker-- We Lose


I first met Barack Obama when he was a lowly, cigarette-puffing state legislator with a reputation for being a convivial poker player with his Republican colleagues in Springfield, Illinois. In retrospect I realize that they liked him so much because they were probably taking him to the cleaners every day. Even Obama's most dogged defenders admit he's the world's worst poker player-- even if some of them disguise that as civic republicanism (small r)-- and keeps giving away the store to the economic terrorists and predators in his opening hand.
Obama believes in civic virtue, and in the idea that in a democracy it’s the duty of responsible leaders to reason together on behalf of something they all agree to call the common good. The fancy name for this theory of government in political-philosophy circles is civic republicanism: the “civic” part refers to action taken in the public sphere, while “republican” (a small-r republican and a big-R Republican are very different animals) signals a concern with tyrannical majorities and a faith that reasoned debate will produce a balanced result.

But is he dealing with "responsible leaders?" He understood how to deal with the "leaders" of al-Qaeda and Libya but what about with the Republicans who have publicly declared that their only real priority is to fuck up America so badly that he loses his reelection bid? Are those "responsible leaders" he thinks he can reason with?

Virginia sociopath Eric Cantor has dug in his heals and declared that he doesn't care if people die on the streets, there'll be no relief funding for Hurricane Irene victims unless the GOP gets to cut some programs that benefit working families. He may want to come across as less extreme and bizarre than Ron Paul (not to mention Michele Bachmann), but they're cut from the same anti-government cloth, a cloth that idealizes a Law of the Jungle/Caveat Emptor right-wing dogma, where the least powerful in the society have no protection and no peaceful recourse from the predatory instincts of corporations-- who are decidedly NOT people, having no souls, not even a teensy weensy shriveled Republican soul.

Is Obama going to sit down and reason with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) who is pushing a tax reform package with the Ryan plan rates, the ultimate goal of which is to further cut taxes on the wealthy and on corporations by approximately 30%, while raising them on already strapped middle class families. Obama's instinct will not be to offer to raise taxes on the wealthy by 50% and negotiate from there. Of course not. It will be to offer marginally smaller tax decreases for the rich and then "settle" by giving the Republicans even more than they were asking for. That's how he rolls. That's how he always rolls. That's why it's tragic that not a single Democrat has the guts to challenge him in a primary battle.

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