Saturday June 19 represents an end to a week of head-scratchers. Logic has taken a pummeling in recent times, and the way our nation has handled The Big Spill and our recovery from the Great Recession is par for that course. It is the very notion of a two-party system, a notion not enshrined in any of our founding documents or subsequent laws, that continues to distort our discourse and derail our problem-solving.
To wit; our response to the disaster in the Gulf. By definition, the failure of the blowout preventer valve and the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon are engineering failures. They are the result of poor industrial process, misdirected corporate culture, and individual failure. Much like a plane crash, disasters like those in the Gulf and the Upper Big Branch Mine are the result of a series of small failures, often encouraged or allowed to happen by a failure of public and private regulatory regimes. The failure chains themselves are apolitical; regulators could vote Republican, and oil-workers could vote Democrat; it makes no difference to the chain. But in our two party system, the assignment of blame takes precedence over all else.
I have, over the past months, outlined areas of President Obama’s performance that I felt warranted severe criticism. His virtual censure of the single-payer option in the health care reform battle, his deal-making with the pharmaceutical industry during the same process, his choice to steer clear of financial reform last spring, his stance on Afghanistan (which seems to be a vanilla option between liberal and conservative rather than a real strategy), and his inability to clearly define U.S. policy as it relates to the nation of Israel; all of these warrant criticism.
But Mr. Obama’s critics on the right need no real issue to complain about; they are content to find fault with the President’s very act of breathing. For liberals, there is a very different dynamic at work; falling directly into the very stereotype that U.S. conservatives label them with. Liberals, it seems, just want it all now without having to do any dirty work. The Big Spill, its aftermath, and the President’s speech on the issue are but a microcosm of the way lazy, petulant liberals treat their champion. Without choosing to see the big picture, and eschewing the work that the President told our nation would be necessary on the campaign trail, liberals are proving that they actually believed what conservatives were telling them about Barack Obama.
At this moment in America, the United States Chamber of Commerce is fighting regulations on the handling of lead in older buildings. Once an umbrella group for millions of small businesses in our nation, the Chamber has become a magnet of irresponsibility and heavy industry excess. What is worse, for the Chamber, is that they are no longer on the leading edge of anything. They don’t fight for Mom and Pop businesses, nor do they represent anything resembling a coherent strategy for national business success. The Chamber of Commerce waits in the wings until their leadership hears what their masters in the conservative movement tell them to do.
Currently the message is simple; a vast majority of conservative outlets, from Fox to the Chamber, are all determined to saddle President Obama and liberals with responsibility for the Gulf Spill and its effects. Almost unbelievably, they are trying to saddle the federal government with the responsibility to fix this mess. The Rational Middle has no qualms with liberal anger against the Obama Administration concerning the Spill; liberals, after all, want government to take steps to prevent and/or mitigate market failures. But conservatives?