Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In Defense of Mr. Obama

I teach in a school for students with severe emotional needs. One time, a few years ago, my students had demonstrated positive classroom behaviors for a given period of time, and as a reward, they had asked to go eat lunch in the park. We settled on a day, I brought a bag full of chips, candy, soda and other treats. We were wrapping up the morning, and the anticipated time was upon us.

"OK, guys, I thank you for all your cooperative behavior these past few weeks, your reward time is here! Let's head to the park!"

People began gathering their stuff, when I realized there was a problem.

"I ain't going," said Tommy, a six-and-a-half-foot tall, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound  tenth grader.

The Tea Party took a great many seats in the house. Enough to dictate to the mainstream Republicans what their agenda would be. And there is not a filibuster-proof majority of Democrats in the senate. We have seen the results of this over the past couple of years, when a great deal of far-reaching legislation was stopped by a group of ogres who sat on their hands and said "no." Rule by the minority was the name of the game. The Democrats have not behaved graciously, and have been called 'spineless,' but what do you do with a great big kid who refuses to budge?

I called a few other classrooms, but there were no available adults to sit with Tommy, and we can't leave students unsupervised for any reason.

"Tommy, if you can go to Ms. J's room, you don't have to go with us, but then the rest of us can go!" I implored.

"I ain't movin'. You gonna move me?"

The debt ceiling 'negotiations' involved a group of Democrats from the house and senate, who are basically powerless to push forward their agenda. The president tried to include revenues in the 'deal,' but the Republicans said "I ain't movin'. You gonna move me?" With the power in the house, the filibuster in the senate, nothing was going to advance unless the Republicans got their way. And a further big kid sat on his hands in the Republican house telling daring the Republican leadership to move them. They, after all, had stated that they didn't care if the US defaulted. In fact many, including Michele Bachmann and others running for president told us that we should go into default.

Perhaps they have a lunatic plan of crashing the economy and then blaming Obama. And many people would probably even by that. You can't deal with the irrational.

"Well, guys, there are no other adults available to stay with Tommy, so I'm afraid we're going to have to eat lunch at school. I did get you guys some treats, and I promise I'll take all the rest of you to the park sometime, but if Tommy won't move, we can't go." Near riot ensues.

The budget/debt deal was no deal. As one on the Progressive end of things, I am as disappointed as anyone to see the debt being balanced on the back of the poor, ill and elderly, and the middle class. It would make sense to have the wealthy, and the corporations who are enjoying record profits and getting tax rebates pay their share. Orrin Hatch, however, summarized the Republican position when he pointed out the it was the duty of the poor to pay off the debt, and that they just needed to go out and get jobs and start paying taxes.

Obama is not, nor has he ever been a Progressive. He fell victim to a racist view that said "he is black, so he must be ultra-liberal," when everything he has ever said, in his campaign and also as president, has made him out to be a fiscal conservative. But he is not a radical. He has always seen the need to increase taxes for the very wealthy. He had the good sense to push, as his first act as president, for a large stimulus, which probably kept us afloat. As Paul Krugman pointed out, though, it should have been twice as large and included a bail-out for the states, that are currently teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Neither President Obama, nor anyone else will be able to force the radicals, who have a stronghold on congress, to do anything. Sometimes there simply is not a way to move a six-and-a-half-foot tall, two-hundred-and-fifty pound, stubborn tenth grader, until they are voted out, and a group of people who can negotiate rationally take their place.


  1. There is. Liberals are just going to have to elect our own Left-wing nuts to Congress who won't move either.

  2. Nice analogy. Things sure are becoming more and more (bi)polar by the minute.