Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thirty Days in the Hole

By Scott Cavanagh
Welcome to Washington Mr. Obama... now its time to save the world.

That is pretty much the sentiment from coast to coast and from pole to pole--leaving our 44th president with more pressure on him to succeed than anyone since Superman spun the planet backwards to save Lois Lane.

Last evening's pseudo state-of-the-union address ended a tumultuous first month in office--one filled with a bunch of early successes and more than one or two unfortunate setbacks. So what have we and our new president learned about our government and its players since the 20th of January?

We learned that Bill Richardson is just as sleazy as we always thought he was (and by the way, Governor Bill--if you're facing a Grand Jury investigation, what in the Hell are you doing running for president?); Tom Daschle deserved his early retirement from the Senate all along; Roland "Tomb of the Pharaohs" Burris is the silliest little liar on the planet; and Republicans still believe every problem can be solved by tax cuts and church attendance.

We also learned some good things however. We learned that Obama is going to shut the unconstitutional PR disaster that is Guantanamo Bay--just like he said he would. We also learned that the $11 billion cut from the SCHIP health insurance program for underprivileged kids would be restored, the true costs of the Iraq-Afghanistan wars will now actually appear on the nation's balance sheet and Helen Thomas is back in the front row for presidential news conferences.

Then there is the stimulus package. Three Republicans. That's all the GOP support the new president could muster, despite presenting a plan that included about .40 cents in tax cuts for every .60 cents of stimulus. So much for bipartisanship.

Obama's bipartisan tone continued for most of last night's address, but as the speech progressed, the president left no doubt that times have changed in Washington--at least as far as the sacred cows of modern conservatism are concerned. You name it, he targeted it: overblown defense budgets, no-bid contracts, tax cuts for the wealthy, unfunded school mandates, war in Iraq, torture--they were all in the crosshairs.

Now things start in earnest. The people have heard the president's plans, along with the comically cartoonish "response" of the newest GOP fresh face with very old and tired ideas--Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Obama could be in trouble if people choose tax cuts and prayer over targeted stimulus and a new course. They won't. Only a small minority of supply-siders still believe that mantra--if they ever even did--and the average American just has to look at his or her own bank account or 401k to know who is on the correct side of this argument.

Odds and Ends--
The selection of Jindal to give the GOP response to the president's address is one of the funniest pieces of political Jujitsu I have ever witnessed. Only three months ago, the entire conservative case against Obama revolved around his lack of experience, his rise from the sewer of Chicago politics, his childhood conversion from Islam to Christianity and his funny name. Now 90 days later, Republicans are all-a-flutter over the prospects of a 37-year-old-governor that was a Hindu until his 20's, took his American name from the Brady Bunch (think the GOP will be referring to him as "Piyush Jindal"--ala Barack Hussein Obama--any time soon?) and hails from the squeaky-clean state of Louisiana. Its almost as ridiculous as them crying about the size of the stimulus bill after doubling the national debt in less than a decade. You just can't make this stuff up.

Speaking of hypocrisy, did anyone catch John McCain's infamous "helicopter question" at Obama's open Q&A the other day? The Arizona senator grilled the president about the costs of a new presidential chopper to be unveiled next year. While the outrageous price tag on the vehicle does raise eyebrows, it seems a tad disingenuous for a man (McCain) that has wrecked not one, not two, but five multi-million dollar fighter jets through his own negligence and hubris (his words, not mine) to complain about the costs of the vehicle that carries the leader of the free world.
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