Charles P. Pierce is on the road to Tampa - and he has some trenchant thoughts about the disaster threatening the country. No, not Isaac.
Even as crews are moving down the Eisenhower Interstates to be ready to respond to hurricane damage, even as the National Weather Service continually updates the storm track, even as government prepares emergency measures and gets out warnings, there's one trouble spot promising to wreak havoc on the entire country.
The influential conservatives in this country are now dedicated to nothing less than the ultimate delegitimization of the concept of a national self-government. Some of them are in it for the bucks; state governments are more easily bought and controlled. Some of them are in it out of pure ideology, and out of tired ideas that already have caused far too much historical mischief. Some of them are in it because, frankly, they don't know any better. But the overriding goal of the modern conservative movement, which its adherents will make obvious no matter how truncated their convention is this week, has been to make something alien out of something that is essentially ours and, historically, the best vehicle through which to exercise our better selves, as a people and a country.Normally, I'd put a few selections in bold to emphasize points. With Pierce today, it's ALL worth emphasizing. Over at Talking Points Memo, there's a story that President Obama expects Republicans will be more willing to deal after the election:
In an interview with the Associated Press published Saturday, Obama says Republicans hell-bent on shutting down his agenda will be more willing to play ball if he’s re-elected.Discussion at TPM suggests Obama is making these statements now in order to portray the Democrats as being the party of reasonable people, while the Republicans - who will be in full cry in Tampa - are hard line ideologues. Digby is less sanguine over what Obama's statements really mean.
He said two changes — the facts that “the American people will have voted,” and that Republicans will no longer need to be focused on beating him — could lead to better conditions for deal-making.
If Republicans are willing, Obama said, “I’m prepared to make a whole range of compromises” that could even rankle his own party. But he did not get specific.
Obama painted a picture of the GOP that’s very different from the party in control of the House today. On the campaign trail, Obama has made Republican intransigence a central theme, especially after House Budget Committee leader Paul Ryan joined Mitt Romney’s ticket.
If you wonder what the Democratic party has been reluctant to support him on, he talked a little bit a week or so ago about how they don't get enough credit for caving on their most important priorities:SNIP
He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit.
Now one could chalk all this up to election year rhetoric, in which he's just trying to position Romney as a nut and himself in the middle, except for the history of the past three and a half years in which he has said over and over again that he really wants to do this. In fact, he's been saying it since before he was inaugurated.
This is why we need a strong progressive bloc in congress. We simply cannot count on the Tea Party to continue to be stupid enough keep centrist Democratic presidents from using their own base as a bargaining chip in phony debt negotiations. Some day these conservatives are going to wake up and realize that working with them is a great way to advance their agenda. (The president seems convinced that will happen right after the election...)Pierce sums up why we'd better hope the centrists do not prevail, going back to those utility crews heading down the highways to get ready for the worst.
But sadly, we probably won't have a strong progressive bloc in November. The Party is seeing to it that far more New Democrat/Blue Dog style conserva-Dems will be elected to the congress than progressives. And we know they won't stop any of this. So keep your fingers crossed that these congressional wingnuts stay insane enough to keep the "centrists" from doing their worst. It appears that it's all we've got.
...Certainly, the companies they work for sent them off, and, certainly, those companies will turn a tidy profit, not enough of which may filter down to the people driving the trucks. Hurrah for free enterprise. But they were driving on our highways, on information from our scientists, to try and help our fellow citizens. Competent, intelligent self-government is the finest product of a free people. It provides the context within which our highflown ideas become real. It illustrates the manuscripts of our founding documents. It lays out the detailed maps for the pursuit of happiness. We are all invested in it because we all are, or damned well ought to be, invested in the work of creating it. It cannot go rogue. If our self-government fails us, it is because we have listened to the fundamental heresy that our national government is something alien to us. The people in those trucks, pulling off the highway to grab a burger or a nap, were not moving through the American night as Indianans or Pennsylvanians or New Yorkers. They were Americans, come south to help other Americans. I was proud to share our highway with them.That the President and so many others still believe it is possible to reach a compromise with fanatics who have embraced a fundamentally destructive ideology is a clear demonstration of the dangers of unthinking centrism for centrism's sake. It gives a legitimacy to parties who should instead be denounced and driven from the public sphere back to the fringes where they belong. It is enablement of the worst impulses among us - and one need only listen to the blatant appeals to racism and outright lies coming from the G.O.P. to realize it.
If you haven't been reading Pierce on a regular basis, it's time to add a bookmark to your regular reading list on the web. His meditation at Gettysburg should be a pointed reminder that the idea of what America should and can be, is one that we've fought over and shed blood over in the past. And the fight is not over.