I have written before that the "Beltway" around Washington D.C. is a unique and rather bizarre place that should not serve as an example for how anything else in the country should run. I was reflecting on Watergate. Young writers at the time looked up to "Woodward and Bernstein." Fine, but once again, don't think the Beltway operates like anywhere else. Old white men with personal baggage and failings go there to wield power.
Watergate was a ridiculous ordeal with so many players, so many people protecting their own narrow agendas, a series of trading cards could have been issued. Now we're seeing the same kind of thing. Amazingly the U.S. chose Donald Trump as its president. We chose a man with no experience in government or the military. We elected a total clown. So once again we are reminded of what an unusual place the Beltway is.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough: the Beltway is not to be viewed as a template for anything outside of its boundaries. Outside of its boundaries, institutions are run in a sensible way by reasonable and qualified people. We rub shoulders with them every day. But in Washington D.C.? There are sensible people there like our Senator Amy Klobuchar. But there's this big clown car populated by Republicans. It is becoming childish how they always cry out to "repeal Obamacare."
This was a nice little dog whistle proclamation for a long time, for as long as Republicans lacked real power to enact stuff. We are now seeing Republicans confront the reality of the power they have. They are dealing with a president who at least nominally is like them. But Trump is an inscrutable, dangerous mystery in so many ways. He never asserted himself to try to sell any sort of Republican-shaped package for health care. A responsible president would have given a nationally-televised speech on something so important.
Maybe subconsciously the Republicans know their ideas will never gain traction. They know that their "repeal Obamacare" cries were really rooted in racism, a desire to stigmatize our president of eight years as "the other." It's rather amusing now because Obama is out of power. There's no need to focus on him so much, but Trump flails away still trying to blame him for whatever. Does anyone think this is not child-like?
Rand Paul absolutely rants. But he's drifting in a far-off universe of ideas that are not rooted in reality. They simply appeal to a base of tea party-like zealots who also are not rooted in reality. They are an annoying peanut gallery. And it's becoming less and less funny.
Rand Paul is fine as an unusual personality or curiosity, but we don't want him impacting the kind of health care we receive. The common folk would get abused. Trump said in front of Australia's leader that Australia has superior health care. Australia has universal coverage.
David Brooks observed that Obama had "civility" of the kind that would be missed once he gave way to his successor. Many Trump supporters assumed that their guy would learn to be presidential and put aside a lot of the nonsense. What an incredible gamble that was. Trump is as silly as ever. But we have seen this before in that mysterious "Beltway," that "Alice Through the Looking Glass" kind of place.
We saw Nixon degenerate so badly, he was not even allowed to be commander in chief at the end. Bob Schieffer wrote about that. Had Nixon attempted some sort of direct order to the military, it would have had to get relayed through other parties. I wonder if the same type of arrangement is now in place for Trump, lest he try to launch nuclear weapons. And yet the American people elect these guys, through a long and wearisome process.
Remember all the Republican debates? They seemed endless. Weren't there something like 17 candidates? The irony is that all Republicans stand for the same things. No need for such endless discussion on "issues." Republicans want to slash regulations and cut taxes, period. Everything else is for show. Republicans pretend to bond with so-called social conservatives. They'll parrot the pro-life (anti-abortion) line. But as Thom Hartman has pointed out, Republicans "don't give a rat's patootie" about those issues. Republicans just want those votes in their back pocket - it's all expedience.
I have a friend who was right in line with the tea party movement and still forwards me emails reflecting that. I warned him once that his crowd underestimated the popularity of Obama in the broad public. I pointed out to him that there was a good barometer for understanding this. I told him to consider the frequency of Michelle Obama on the cover of women's magazines at the supermarket checkout. (I suppose it's sexist to say "women's magazines" but you know what I'm talking about.)
Americans knew the Obamas were working on their behalf. Our current president certainly is not. The current administration is devolving into a sinkhole very much like what we saw with Nixon. It's the "Beltway blues" once again. "Alice Through the Looking Glass." It would be nice to at least see a Cheshire Cat grin.
I have written a song in tribute to Barack Obama, simply called "Barack Obama." The chorus is sort of stretched out so I only have three verse sections. Most of the significant music about Obama is hip-hopish. My song is the standard style. I don't know if I'll have it recorded. Here are the lyrics:
by Brian Williams
They said he was the "other"
Who came from who knows where
He could not be our leader
If he came from out there
But in his soul was greatness
In his mind a plan
With his vision he was the man
Barack Obama, Barack Obama
A man with the will to go and get Osama
Barack Obama, Barack Obama
A man with a style to get him called "No Drama"
Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Barack Obama
He came from warm Hawaii
A paradise on Earth
He conquered all the mainland
With his inspiring words
He moved into the White House
With his spouse Michelle
And their girls who sparkled so well
It was his inspiration
To help the common folk
No matter what their color
No matter what their vote
He felt it in his bosom
Lifting up our lot
With that chicken in every pot
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org