The Words of the Kaufmann Family

Stimulus Package - Not a Victory

Frank Kaufmann
February 15, 2009

Only by partisan and non-progressive standards can the preliminary passing of this week's stimulus package be called a "victory" for the new Obama administration.

Both the political process and its analysis and commentary in the media were a feast for the demons of politics as usual.

Since 1992, (save the forces and advantages of incumbency), Americans have lurched to and fro voting through a fog of desperation and disgust. The 1994 Gingrich, congressional "revolution" resulted from embarrassment at dog-in-heat-concupiscence and raw ambition in the people's house. By 2000 enough Americans longed for the return of dignity to the White House, the return of meaning to words, and return of the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. This longing for "ground" (moral, semantic, and juridical) created a "reaction-vote," a "bring me the opposite" vote. The 2000 election reflected the nation's desperate longing for a "straight-shooter."

No sooner were foundations "restored" (truth - what the meaning of is is), decency (fewer teenage orgies in the White House), than our other foundations promptly were attacked, goodness (the torture problem), and rights (the domestic spying problem).

Again the nation lurched in desperation, desperate for the return of foundations. This time we longed not for the meaning of is but for the ability to use the word correctly in a sentence, we longed not for a black and white world full of those not with us but against us, but a black and white person who IS us.

For all the historical beauty of the tearful and miraculous milestone full of sweetness and light, the governing since has failed to reflect the promise. There are the horrifying parallels in W's opening times and Obama's. Last week a legislative majority bullied the opposition. And again "emergency" was used to rush and ramrod through massive decisions with long term consequences.

Typically the political right is considered "strong on national security." From a cynical and political standpoint, W was "handed" the "Republican's dream"at the start of his presidency, a "security emergency" of consuming magnitude and a Republican legislative majority. Democrats were all but forced (politically) to violate the ideological impulses of their party, eventually voting to authorize the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation.

Conversely the political "left" is typically considered strong on domestic social welfare. Eerily this Democrat president was "handed" his own 9-11, a domestic "emergency" of parallel magnitude (global, economic collapse, job loss, education, health care, and welfare under threat). Eight years ago a Republican was "given" an "attack on America." Today s Democrat was given a trillion dollars to spend on domestic programs and a country teetering on such full blown socialism as the possibility of nationalizing banks! As if this perfect political "gift" were not enough, the Obama administration even tried to exploit the convenient "national security" fear tool in the service of governing heavy-handedly

The most immediate threat to U.S. security interests is the festering global economic crisis, the nation's top intelligence official told Congress on Thursday... Blair's remarks reflect both the depth of the unfolding recession and the Obama administration's more expansive definition of national security.

Every president comes into office promising a "new era of bipartisanship."

George W. Bush also insisted on uniting Americans. He wants "to serve one Nation" and not only his Republican supporters... Bush has the best abilities to be able to reunite America because of his Texas record where he successfully dealt with a Democratic legislative majority. [Says W]... the bitter divide in American politics which has marked the entire Clinton presidency... should come to an end for the sake of America's future...

Bush as president is the best outcome of this election in the sense that he is a Washington outsider and not implicated in the intrigues and unfair battling which took place in the capital. [Sound familiar?] Moreover, after eight years of Democrats in power, the time for a change has come. Austria, France and Germany are examples of the 1990s which show what happens if one party dominates the executive for too long: its leaders are burned out, collusion, corruption and abuse of power become dangerous."

"I am a uniter not a divider."

Similarly Candidate Obama campaigned for president as a different kind of politician. Candidate Obama was all about change, about shaking up Washington and the political establishment. He appealed to the young and the politically disenchanted with calls for bipartisan solutions to the nation's most vexing challenges, energy, health care and getting the economy going again."

"We are not red states and blue states, but the United states of America." We have not seen this in the approach to the passing the stimulus package. We have seen governing as did W leading up to the invasion of Iraq. We still see bullying by the manipulation of fear and "emergency." Fort Myers is the new USS Abraham Lincoln, Julio the broadcaster is our latest Joe the Plumber, enough in the minority party once again vote in violation of their traditional strengths, and ideologies, and fear and haste continue to infect what should be managed with extreme care and deliberate decision making.

The president must engage respectfully leading ideologues and veterans in the legislature, especially those from across the aisle. He must stop campaigning. We have already suffered and paid dearly from the Rove version of that same addiction.

Frank Kaufmann is the director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace. These opinions are his own. 

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