The Patient President

I swore I wasn’t going to watch the State of the Union Address, but I wasn’t interested in basketball, and American Experience on the Amish led into it on PBS.

After one watches an hour on the Amish, a presidential address seems so … modern.

I just heard a weatherman refer to this Southern snow as “an historical event.” Well, first of all, that would be an event about history, such as a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting. If it were what the ninny apparently means, it would be “historic.”

Damn it. I’m a bit grumpy this morning, but only because I had to get up early and give someone a lift to work.

Nah. In truth, I’m a bit grumpy about the country.

It’s not President Barack Obama. At all. I think he’s a fine man, patient and always trying to get done what he can. Socialist? Please. For the record, I’m more liberal than he is. Man, I’m for single-payer, legal weed and getting rid of the electoral college, and those are just the high points.

I heard a story about Harry Truman. He received a delegation of black leaders at the White House in the late 1940s. They presented him with civil-rights proposals. The President told them it was a fine set of ideas and he wanted them to force him to support it.

That’s the way Obama is. He bends over backward to find common ground, but the Republicans, imprisoned by their righteous oaths, lack the courage to compromise. They live in comfortable denial that the country is changing and has shown it at the polls. Common ground involves risk. Theirs is a difficult task. They must persuade more and more people to vote directly against their best interests. They created a monstrous Tea Party they can’t control. What the Koch brothers do is understandable. What many working-class whites do is delusional, or that’s the way it seems to me.

Obama isn’t meticulously honest in the way of Jimmy Carter. He isn’t affably persuasive like Ronald Reagan. He isn’t the likable rogue, Bill Clinton, or the overbearing Lyndon Johnson, or the steadfast Gerald Ford, or the devious Richard Nixon. He lacks the blue blood of George H.W. Bush or the guileless simplicity of George W.

I watched the reactions as much as I heard the words. John Boehner, looking as if he’d thrown back a couple of shots and needed a cigarette. Joe Biden, pearly whites flashing, looking as cheerful as Boehner was dour. I envisioned Boehner as the guilty guy in the police lineup. He’s one of the Republicans who I sense knows better, but he’s also one of those reliable hacks who always rise to their levels of incompetence. The Republicans are more depressed than the rest of us, because they appear resigned to their fate. They can’t bring themselves to move on anything. They’re against everything. Can you name anything the Republicans are for other than making everything more like it used to be by tearing down anything and everything? What do they want to build? An aristocracy, apparently.

What the Republicans really want – privatizing everything from education to postage and turning it over to their filthy-rich donors – they won’t admit. Is there any Republican governor in America who didn’t misrepresent himself in order to be elected? They say all the sweet nothings, then the first day in office, they get to work bashing unions, depressing the vote and cutting anything and everything that might conceivably help the poor.

Democrats are tired and Republicans are depressed. That’s the state of the USA today.


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