Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Company We Keep

None of this should have surprised anyone, particularly those who could not bring themselves to vote, or otherwise support candidates whose election would have gotten in their way. The handwriting was on the wall, plain for everyone to see or, perhaps, to read. But either the President disappointed, or did something with which the voter disagreed and they got elected.

So now, in those offices about which nobody seems to care until its too late, Governors are moving against labor unions, and public employees, tearing down murals which celebrate labor in a Department of Labor. They are providing tax benefits for the wealthy, then complaining of a budget crisis that has to be resolved by cutting aid to those who need it the most.

What, may a screaming lunatic ask, did anyone expect?

We no longer have politics in this country, let alone government. We have replaced all of that with screaming. If you say red, I say blue. If you then say, well, maybe blue, now I am for red.

The silly back flips from by Former Speaker Newt Gingrich were much ballyhooed this week, but they were not an outlier: some notably absurd refusal to take any position that mirrors the President's. His comments were the most broadcast, but hardly the only instance of a Republican simply refusing to agree with anything that comes from the mouth or pen of President Obama.

Here is what the President said on Monday about why the United States, when asked to do so, had to be part of whatever international response there would be to what was happening in Libya:

In this particular country -– Libya -- at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Who, particularly those who, wrongly and grossly so, saw a war in Iraq as being a justifiable response to the the attacks of September 11, or those who believe, incorrectly but plausibly, that the United States could have done more to prevent the wanton murders in Germany during World War II, cannot see the force of those words?

Had either President Bush or the fabled President Reagan said any of this, as well they might have, though only one of them had the ability to do so, there would have been suggestions that these words should be engraved into the facing of every federal building in the land. But it was President Obama who explained who we are, and why we are obligated to assist in these efforts, even if the outcome (or "the endgame" as they call it) is uncertain.

Hence, Mayor Giuliani, Sort of Governor Palin Sen McConnell and Other Similar Deep Thinkers have to explain how wrong he is, wildly misrepresenting what the President said while doing so. (Senator: the President made clear that the policy of the United States is to support "regime change" in Libya, but not by military force---or military force alone. Which part of this do you truly not understand, and which are you pretending not to follow?).

The topper, to date, was this beauty from the always pitch perfect Louie Goemert of Texas:

The other day, Bill Maher made the point that others have cautiously put forward before, such as here. There are other factors at work, of course. President Clinton was not black, even half black, and They hated him enough to impeach him. President Roosevelt was as blue blood as possible and, as he revelled in it, they hated him, too. President Kennedy was Catholic and they hated him as well, some because he was Catholic, to be sure.

This is of another type, though. Without taking Donald Trump more seriously than is reasonable, acknowledging that even Bill O'Reilly finds this nonsense to be unworthy of discussion, but noting that Lou Dobbs could not let it go a year or so ago, the suggestion that the President is from Somewhere Else (and Trump's beyond the beyond claim that nobody in Hawaii has any recollection of him, meaning that David Remnick must be in an the scam, can only be seen through the prism of our centuries long struggle with race.

Just listen to this, from someone who claims to be a religiously pious man:

"I do think he [Obama] has a different world view and I think it is, in part, molded out of a very different experience...Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas."

And, the "correction" to the effect that the President "grew up" in Indonesia not Kenya (he grew up, for the most part, in Hawaii), did not touch his essential point. It made me recall the several dozen times when, as a child and young man, a Jewish boy, introduced to gentile adults (usually the parents of some schoolmate or other acquaintance) would quickly come to discuss Israel assuming that we Jews think of nothing else. Since these conversations generally took place in the New York metropolitan area, the instinct to talk baseball would not improve the situation since the Jew was from New England and his team was not all that interesting to the Mets, Yankees, Dodger and Giant fans who would keep talking about Israel.

The point, understood then and now is that Some People are Different Than We Are and, y'know, should be watched carefully.

So you wonder about the company we keep. They include some hate filled so-called pastor whose "trial" of Islam ended with burning of a book treasured by millions, who retaliated by murdering people who work for the United Nations and threatens others. This piece of garbage, using the First Amendment to jeopardize others in the name of hate, believes he has been wronged and is entitled to call on the government to serve his disgusting ends.

So, yes, we are different.

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