Just Shut Up and Get to Work
I listened to the president's inaugural address. It was certainly a well-written and well-delivered speech. It was mercifully brief.
It played very well with the thousands gathered on the Mall. The president looked well rested and ready to rumble.
He should have; he has evidently been asleep for the past four years.
It is all very well to read a laundry list of liberal-approved platitudes promising to solve everything from global warming to gay marriage. It makes for pleasant listening to assure everyone that the government will take care of everything forever.
What would have been really nice, however, would have been even the slightest hint that impediments remain; that a wave of the oratorical wand is not in itself a solution to much of anything.
I'm as sick of writing this as you are of reading it, but we are on the brink of another fiscal crisis - or rather, the next phase of the same one. We are approaching the debt ceiling yet again. The president has said he will not negotiate any spending cuts to raise it, period. House Republicans are working on a bill to extend it for three months - another can-kick - which will probably die. Then what?
In addition to this most pressing problem, we already had contentious Cabinet nominations to deal with, a sudden interest in gun control, and an urge to pass immigration reform. Now the president has piled on the entire liberal agenda.
Emerging from all of this will be some of the most vitriolic language imaginable from all quarters. Its purpose will be to satisfy various constituencies upon whose votes the speakers rely. Its result will be to alienate from each other those individuals upon whom we are depending to sort it all out. The president's speech was not helpful.
In the recently immortalized word of Joe Biden: Malarkey
The president reminded me a bit of King Canute. You remember - he's the fellow who commanded the tide not to come in. The president will have about equal success with all the abstractly wonderful promises made on Monday, not because they are necessarily ill-founded or undesirable, but because they are secondary, or should be, to the incoming tide of fiscal calamity.
All Mr. Obama accomplished was to back Republicans deeper into their trenches, and whether he likes it or not, they remain in a position to thwart most of what he wants. He may get a Democratic Congress back in 2014; he may not; but the national fisc will not withstand two more years of this nonsense.
Somebody needs to get serious, and though I will gladly concede that Republicans have been most unhelpful and bear plenty of blame, the fact remains that Barack Obama is president of the entire United States, and he has a duty to behave in the national interest rather than to pander ever more extremely to the left.
There are excruciatingly obvious needs to do many things in this country, and all at once, yet all our leaders, if that is the word, seem able to do is to yell past each other. If the president wants to advance his social agenda, if the Republicans want to stave off bankruptcy, it is past time to shut up and get to work.
Congresspersons now work, perhaps I should say meet, three days a week, then rush home to deal with constituents. Perhaps it would be better if they did not. Perhaps they should just hunker down in Washington and focus on solutions. Still, they are more productive than senators, who only draw paychecks.
The president has taken to pronouncing dicta on every subject that comes up. Perhaps some contemplative silence would be worthwhile.
The time has come to be different, to step up and speak truths. That may be a radical proposition for this generation of politicians, but clearly what they are doing now is not working. All of them must surely know that reality is out there somewhere and that they will have to deal with it - soon.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at fwolferman@ sbcglobal.net.
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