Paul Andersen: Fair Game
August 24, 2009
Condemning Obama has become a popular national pastime. It’s all the rage to ridicule an administration whose mandate for change is barely six months old. The howling hyenas of talk radio are hungry for the flesh of liberals and thirsty for the blood of reformers. They lost the election, so they clamber for revenge against the entire nation.
There is a hue and cry from the dissolute Right, whose spew of vitriol issues from the sewers of hatred. Their cynicism is a disease far more insidious than swine flu or HIV because there is neither cure nor quarantine for entrenched, irrational bias.
These demoralized obstructionists smugly disparage efforts to correct the damaging legacy that began with Reagan fundamentalism and culminated with born-again Bush. The reform agenda is easy game for poachers with telescopic sights whose vision is narrowed to pinpoints as they squeeze off rounds with glee.
I once met a man in the remote wilds of Arizona who was lying prone on a blanket spread on the ground near his pickup, his eye on the scope of his high-powered rifle. He said he was spending his vacation vaporizing ground squirrels at 250 yards. When asked how many he had killed, he said he never went out to look. He just fired from his position, removed and remorseless.
And so the naysayers take aim at Obama in a long-distance character assassination with hollow points and hollow hearts. The noise of their fire drowns out intelligent debate while their concussive rage fills the air with smoke and noise.
We’re witness to the serial tantrums of those who feel inadequate to do anything other than wail and moan. Their audience is the culturally marginalized, the sore losers of the last election, the conspiratorial paranoids armed to the teeth and eager for war.
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Obama’s shrill critics deny the culpability of those who they themselves elected, the concubines to American hegemony and corporate domination. They ignore with the agency of collective ignorance the twisted chain of command that has led to the quagmire we’re in today.
The outcry isn’t about Obama, really, but rather about a continuum of political and economic malfeasance that has consistently plundered the land and the people. Rising reactionary anger is a sign of cultural collapse marked by the loss of civility and the failure of moral reasoning.
Our ship of state is a vast, unwieldy supertanker bobbing on a great ocean, dodging this hurricane and that typhoon, taking on water and spewing out toxic bilge. The ship’s rudder is jammed and its engines are laboring under bucking seas. The ship lurches forward without a charts or compass while hijacking pirates snipe from their Zodiacs.
The war in Afghanistan is forming a huge whirlpool that could suck the ship into the murky depths. The economic downturn has left a hole in the bulkhead that is lowering the waterline. Health care is a sea anchor dragging in the wake and causing the ship to list, first to the right, then to the left.
Obama has stepped to the helm and has grasped the wheel, but the windscreen is foggy and the ship is threatening to founder on the reefs of indecision and the shoals of lost consensus. The inertia of the vessel is unyielding as Obama turns the wheel, hoping to bring the behemoth around.
The captain asks for help in turning ship, but his words are drowned out by the squawking invective of libertarian seagulls that swarm the trash flowing from the scuppers. These ravenous birds feast on the leavings of the final Bacchanalian banquet in the ship’s gluttonous mess room.
Here comes the wreck of the Hesperus, with only a few hands on deck to witness the perfect storm. The klaxon shrieks, the radio buzzes with static, and bleating cries of bombast drown out hope for the change that few can now believe in.