Lately I’ve felt that things were going pretty well. I was reading a bit of international news and looking at the international reaction to our presence at the G20 summit, for example. Of course not everyone in the world loves us, but I couldn’t help but feel that our presence was a little different than last time. Our President helped get disagreeing parties to agree, and in general seems to have the world eager to work with us. (I don’t really mean this as a condemnation of Bush, nor is it my intention to heap praise on Obama.)
And then I read what conservatives are saying, and it almost seems like we’re looking at two vastly divergent realities. I see a statesman, they see a closet Muslim who was all too eager to bow to an Arab leader and who went out of his way to apologize for being American. I see a fiscal plan inspired by John Maynard Keynes, they see someone deliberately wasting money for his own gain. I see the first black President, they see the first illegal immigrant President. I see a President who came in after Bush’s first round of financial bailouts and pretty much continued the policy, they see a President who nationalized the banks because he’s a Socialist. Oh, and he wants to take everyone’s guns away, and destroy Christianity.
I’d gone a while without reading the “wingnut propaganda,” and in that time period, I’d come to think that things were pretty good. Obama’s approval rating is something like 70%, and the two parties have been known to work with each other a bit lately, even if it’s been far less than I’d like. (And even if it’s been largely Democrat-led, which doesn’t really make for impressive bipartisanship…) And then I realized that there’s a lunatic fringe that seriously believes he’s a Muslim or a Socialist, and became truly worried. Fiscal conservatives and social conservatives may dislike Obama, and I respect their different views. Divergent views, discussed and brought to compromise, truly leave us better off. But there are thousands, if not millions, of Americans who have literally lost touch with reality. They’re like the MIHOPs of the Democrats.
I also want to caution that when I use terms like “neocon” and “wingnut,” I mean them more literally, not as terms to refer to all Republicans. Similarly, I respect Republicans and hate the artifically-created divide between the parties. What I’m complaining about is the wingnut Republicans who use utter lies to advance their own causes. There are Democrats who do the same, surely, but with Democrats leading Congress and the White House, those people aren’t noteworthy right now.
Anyway, two things have interested me lately. Besides the thousands of dead Americans, one thing that always bothered me about the Iraq War was the exorbitant cost. If the money were spent domestically, it could have gone an amazing distance. The military takes up something like 50% of our spending. So I’m waiting to see what the wing-nut faction of Republicans says. They’ve spent weeks protesting Obama’s Socialist spending. But the Democrats have long complained that the Iraq War is too expensive, and Republicans have argued that not giving the military a blank check amounts of waving the white flag of surrender. So I’m curious where this will go, because it could leave Republicans in an awkward state either way. Hopefully it will just be passed and nasty politics will be left out of it.
But then I was reading this article about how Obama may be looking to get the ball rolling on immigration reform. And the general description of his plan seems to amount to increasing border patrol and cracking down on illegal immigration. During the campaign trail one of the things he discussed was a path to citizenship, but with a pretty steep burden: you’d have to learn English, pay back taxes for as long as you’ve been in the country, pay a fine, and only then would you “get in line, behind everyone who came here legally” to become a citizen. Of course, that was something discussed during the campaign trail. The “official” Administration hasn’t even released a plan yet, but has merely made mention of strengthening border control, and the article is little more than speculation.
Yet some Republican activists have already denounced Obama’s (currently non-existent) plan as “dangerous” and “amnesty.” Seriously.