Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, drumming through the air like an exotic drumbeat last week and if I thought they were intensifying the investigation to find the guilty parties, then it would be a welcome piece of percussion, but it is just another attempt to tarnish my very bruised and battered, and already sort of banged-up heroes, the Democrats. This time I am very worried that it might stick although Rachel Maddow did a very humorous clip of the numerous times the GOP has threatened to impeach Obama which gave the faithful a chance to laugh.
But there is no escaping that last week was a very bad week for someone like me who skews left, who thinks the Democrats have the best path forward, who backs Obama as a Democrat and who wants to see our first African American President leave a lasting legacy. Of course it is clear we live in an age when everything seems to be falling apart and when the way forward will not resemble the way we traveled to get here. This is already scary and exciting at the same time and the most scared among us are our friends on the right who want to get the old America back; as if that were a possibility.
Obama inherited an economy that fell into serious disarray even as he was being inaugurated. He has been hounded by criticism. He is not, they say, a leader; he does not know the schmooze rules; he acts like he is afraid to fight, and on and on and on. Our first African American President happened to win office just as the Tea Party was being born to its parents, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
It was also Obama’s and America’s bad fortune to have a House of Representatives with a Republican majority, and a Senate that could mount one filibuster after another. It has been a difficult slog and what I thought might be a moment when Democrats would try to stimulate the economy and rebuild infrastructure and make real progress towards clean energy, has actually resulted in an unequal tug of war that is pulling us closer and closer to small government, the demise of social programs, and great inequality and misery for whoever ends up at the bottom; which looks like it may be most of us.
We have been making progress toward a nation that respects the civil rights of all groups. We have been making some progress towards bringing the differences that are tearing America and our government apart into the forefront. We have certainly achieved quite a bit of clarity about what the issues are and where the lines are drawn and where the two sides stand. We may even be making some very slight progress towards cleaner energy. We have not made much progress with anti-American sentiments abroad. We haven’t made progress on Guantanamo. I am not seeing much progress in the job market or in education or in infrastructure. We have made a good dent in our debt because this is the only area where Congress has allowed progress. Many social issues show areas of serious regression in red states and we are generally losing ground on issues such as women’s health, voter’s rights, and worker’s rights. Our gains have been slight and hotly contested. It has not been a time of peace and good will and growth and consensus. I have not blamed these shortcomings on Obama, as you know, but on an extreme version of Republicanism which has coalesced out of je ne sais quoi (change does cause backlash) and I also blame it on the dialectic which says that you must experience the extremes before finding the middle way.
I have been quite hopeful that we would be able to start closing the distance between us, and making some progress on the areas where change is needed, and I have also been hopeful that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would relocate itself to my backyard (just about as likely as my first hopes). So last week when the word Benghazi was coupled with the word “impeachment my hopefulness took a giant dive. The charges seem to be escalating and it sounds as if some congressional representatives are suggesting that Obama and Clinton withheld military support that could have saved Chris Stevens and his staff. They are at the very least suggesting that if Obama hadn’t interfered in what the “talking points” said in order to put a spin on the description of events in Benghazi, we would have already found the perpetrators. I don’t think that there is any proof that either of these things is true. An awful lot of what was said sounded like speculation. I don’t think that the changes made in the 12, infamous emails, which also seemed full of theory and speculation, can be laid at Obama’s feet, although Republicans seem to feel that they have traced some of these changes to the administration in the White House. It has not been a week that made either of our key Democrats look good.
Then we “lefties” supposedly had the IRS holding onto tax exempt paperwork for groups that support the Tea Party. Somehow there is, once again, the implication of campaign chicanery which has not been backed up by any actual data so far available, but they are working on it. The fact that I can’t write Benghazi off entirely as conspiracy theory is a real bummer and I am hoping that next week will turn things around. The media are already inciting the “second term curse” and I would really like to see the kibosh put on that piece of nonsense. Benghazi, Benghazi – I hope that you get your ancient mojo back and that sometime in the near future you are able to round up a band of murderers who practiced terror in the night. As for the IRS, read David Foster Wallace on the subject in The Pale King. Now that is a quirky culture. Sorry, IRS, just kidding.