This Is Where We Are

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This is a fascinating speech from today’s rally at the World War II veterans’ memorial. It’s fascinating because it’s a riveting, candid insight into the forces that are behind the government shut-down and the debt-ceiling blackmail of the country and the world. They do not believe this president is a legitimate president. It is beyond their understanding that he was re-elected handily, or that he commands, even during this assault on our system of government, far more support than the Tea Party. Let’s not be mealy-mouthed. This speaker, Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, accuses the president of treason in this speech, of deliberately pursuing policies to kill members of the armed services, because he is an Islamist, and allegedly “bows to Allah”. What he is saying is the president is a deliberate mole of foreign agents determined to destroy the American way of life. And there is no pushback from the crowd and no pushback from GOP leaders.

This is what we’re dealing with. This is not an alternative budget; it is not another way of insuring millions and cutting healthcare costs; it is not a contribution to anything but to the logic of nullification of an election. It is yet another declaration of cold civil war – a call for a nonviolent refusal to be governed by a re-elected president because he is pursuing policies with which an electorally defeated minority disagree. Simply pursuing those policies has rendered Obama a “monarch” who is arguing “his way or the highway.” But all Obama is doing is implementing a campaign promise and settled law, while governing under a continuing resolution that reflects the sequester’s level of spending, a level agreed to by the Republicans. He wants a budget agreement between the House and Senate in a conference that the Republican House has long resisted entering. He has said that he is happy to negotiate with anyone on anything as long as the blackmail of a government shut-down and of a threatened global depression are ended. And his record shows that he has compromised again and again – as his own most fervent supporters look on in dismay.

I’m not privy to the negotiations now going on in the Senate and can only glean from outsiders what the meetings with legislators have been like. But I’m not distorting the raw facts of the situation here, or trying to distract from them. And I’d love a much more expansive Grand Bargain on taxes and entitlements, that could ease our long-term debt (but it would have to be a bargain, not merely a set of Republican demands). But the rank threats of unimaginably radical consequences if a re-elected president doesn’t junk what he was re-elected to do are so foul in their lack of concern about the common good, so poisonous in their slander of a president, and so contemptuous of our orderly system of government, that it is vital the threats do not work and are not accommodated. No president of any party has any right to legitimize such an attack on the American system of government and the way it conducts business – by elections, debates, compromises and budgets, not threats of total government shut-down and the collapse of the dollar if our global credit rating is effectively destroyed overnight.

I hoped we’d be nearing some kind of deal at this point, rather than witnessing this upping of the ante from the forces that truly live on the fringes of the far right, but which, without any resistance, have now defined the Republican party. It is no accident that among those addressing this rally to blackmail the country and the world were Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz. I can see a very powerful populist electoral ticket with both of those on it – either of a third Tea Party or of an even more  radicalized GOP. And perhaps that is the only way to expunge this nihilist extremism from our system. Except that it may succeed in expunging the system and the economy before we can test it where in a democracy we are accustomed to test it: in elections, not in the chaos of economic blackmail.