The risk partisan Republicans pose.

Thursday, December 11th, 2008 @ 2:18 pm | Uncategorized

Over the past eight years, Republicans have pulled every dirty trick in the book to try compensating for the fact that they sold us a lemon in 2000, doing so with such gusto and volume that they convinced the country to give it a second chance in 2004.

With the defeat of John McCain and the election of Barack Obama, the reflex of some Republicans has been, “Now we’re going to do to them what they did to us!” but generally Obama is winning the public confidence that after eight long years we will actually have a competent and perhaps exceptionally able leadership. Even more dramatically, that leadership is confronted with an economic crisis bigger than most Americans will have seen in their lifetimes. If Obama is able to negotiate us through the next four to eight years successfully, he will be fit to join the ranks of great presidents. Those who do not believe anything modern can be great must remember that U.S. presidents today oversee far more people with far greater repercussions, with more impact on the entire globe than the days of Washington and Jefferson. The failure of George W. Bush was compounded by the importance of 9/11 and our reaction to it, elevating his incompetent mendacity above the mere unremarkableness of most weak presidents.

Given that, we are now presented with the risk of diehard partisan Republicans who have given themselves their own Herculean task: taint, tarnish, smear or blemish the Obama presidency with anything and everything that they can fit into a subject-verb format. As Mike noted, within hours Republicans were trying to rub Blagojevich’s crimes onto Obama, even though every scrap of information so far reveals that Obama and his team had nothing to do with Blago’s schemes. How do you put a guy who says, “Fuck Obama!” in cahoots with Obama? Eh, easy. “I’m not saying Obama was directly involved, but he did come from Chicago!”

You know, Chicago. That’s where he served on a board with evil terrorist William Ayers, who barely knew Obama. And he chummed with Tony Rezko, in whose shady dealings Obama was never involved. And where he went to Trinity church, whose fiery pastor didn’t tailor his sermons for the delicate ears of frightened white America, who Obama had the gall to see as a good person. We have a new standard of evidence from our untrustworthy friends on the right: You don’t necessarily have to be involved with anything dirty now…if you’re thought of as “clean,” it’s enough to just know people or somehow work with people who are dirty, or who at some time in their lives did something that was less than perfect. Anything, anything that can rob us of this terrible idea that we elected a good man to the office.

The risk partisan Republicans pose is that they fear a successful and ethical presidency. While they’ll gladly defend a failed criminal presidency as being “not that bad,” they’ll eagerly turn any imperfection of Obama or those near him, or those who were once near him, into a grand condemnation of normalcy. For Obama to be even an ordinary politician, in their mind, balances George W. Bush being a catastrophic failure. The media, once afraid to point out the obvious about Bush, will gladly return to an era of pushing insinuations and inferences from nothing about a Democratic president.

It is incumbent on the public to note the difference, and understand the luxury of complaining that Obama isn’t Christ, or the irony that Christ was noted for his scurrilous associations.

The risk is that all of this noise will have nothing to do with Obama’s policies, yet these partisan Republicans will do everything they can to build a cloud around Obama in hope of being able to derail some of them, to put a straight face on while filibustering things America needs to return to prosperity. While Bush stands poised to get away with crimes related to how he actually governed, these Republicans are ready and willing to spend eight years talking about everything except how Obama will govern. Oh, they may disagree, but in the end they know they can’t win elections on disagreements when the public is against them.

The public simply needs to remember is that these are the same people who brought us Bush, who are still trying to feel better about having done so, who are trying to redeem their own terrible record by hoping to be right ONCE about Obama in the next eight years, so that they may usher in through that window all their transgressions.

Fortunately, I return in my thinking to Obama’s fundamental competence. While the fringes will never relent, the mainstream consensus will generally be informed by what Obama can get done, and how well he does it. The Mark Halperins will be there to make sure the media doesn’t get carried away reporting on Obama’s successes, citing his Limbaugh, but I do believe that in the end Obama will be able to get results and that those results will matter.

-jb

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