Unfortunately many critics of the president and Democrats in general, Progressives they often call themselves, are so semantically and ideologically vulnerable they can't disentangle themselves from positions that fail to react reasonably to the current flux of foreign and domestic policies - - proof that it isn't only the rabid right that clings to immutable formulas to transform our world.
Liberals can slip into a comfortable mindset too. But if our leaders are held up to ridicule not only by opposition 'analysts' in the media and in Congress but by a healthy slice of 'constituents' we will forever be held in "no exit" zones. Name calling from former presumed supporters is no more appealing than the raucous voices of division on the right. It may be a bridge too far to expect that factions in our democracy will ever step back and see how destructive their interventions into the popular culture are.
If for some reason social issues are seen by a portion of the electorate as legitimate topics for exploration there will never be a coming together about matters that are far more important to the larger community and the world at large. Watching the far right's unyielding devotion to "the sanctity of marriage", no grounds ever for abortion and a take-no-prisoners approach to spending reductions in budgets that must serve a broad population is a disheartening descent into the worst kind of partisan politics. Nothing could be more mindless than "across-the-board" reductions in spending that fail to consider the consequences of one-size-fits-all strategies.
Smaller government, less spending, lower taxes are the stuff of Republican dreams, but what do they actually mean? Already Paul Ryan's budget is getting roughed up at town meeting around the country, a sign that there's a yawning gap between campaigning and governing and that the Tea Party has neglected some interim steps in its rush to control our national culture from every angle. No question "entitlements" take a big bite out of the federal budget, but is the best answer to our troubles scrapping the basic premise of these programs by so twisting their original intent as to make them all but meaningless.
On a recent Washington Journal Arizona Republican Schweikert spent considerable time explaining how certain spending reductions favored by Democrats would provide but a few "hours" of budgetary relief in the big picture. But as he excoriated such measures as rescinding oil subsidies to show how little they would reduce our national indebtedness he didn't offer possible solutions that would address the matter of such subsidies or raising the social security cap on wages or a host of other relatively small but meaningful efforts at spending reductions. For Schweikert and others there is just one answer to our fiscal dilemma and it always relies on cutting the heart out of social programs, they would have us believe, to preserve them in perpetuity.
As segments of the Tea Party agenda unravel, members of the movement are hard at refining their Ayn Rand talking points. Andrew Breitbart, a stalwart in the Tea Party movement explained how it took him some time to get past the liberal bent of the mainstream media and its talking heads. With his discovery of AM radio and the likes of Rush Limbaugh, however, his world was transformed into a conservative wonderland. Really, Rush Limbaugh, a bigoted, ill-informed windbag? That's who Breitbart finds to celebrate enlightened conservative thinking? No wonder true conservative thought has almost ceased to exist in our political process so fractured has its original meaning been distorted by lunatic right-wing demons.
There is no letup on the right of attempts to demean the efforts of President Obama in battling terrorist influences or for that matter, the economic consequences of the Bush policies
To those of us on the outside the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound seemed a sudden decisive stroke in the 'war on terror.' In truth, it was the culmination of a long, carefully considered undertaking that relied on detailed intelligence reports and personnel surveillance. Even as a candidate the president had made it clear that if he were assured he had accurate intel he would authorize a mission into Pakistan to take down Bin Laden - a position for which he was criticized at the time.
For all those who patronized him and took up daily rhetorical arms against him, events at Bin Laden's safe-house proved the mettle of the Commander-in-Chief and forced his adversaries to re-examine their angry diatribes in the light of a brilliant tactical outcome. Furthermore, it showed that not only could he walk and chew gum at the same time, he could deliver humorous remarks at the press correspondents' dinner while engaged in the late planning stages of a critical military mission.
Amazingly, even the likes of Glenn Back and Rush Limbaugh praised the president for his audacity and cunning in the completion of the task he had set. And in fact most players on whatever partisan side they occupied supported the role American Special Forces had played in the stunning defeat of our 'most wanted' terrorist. There were a few worrisome sour notes when a Republican congressman warned that we shouldn't be overly encouraged by what had just occurred because the war in Afghanistan was far from over and we should all be resigned to that fact.
There were also those who credited the day's success with the "resolve" of President Bush although he most certainly took his eye off the ball when he began a disastrous side war in Iraq instead of concentrating on finding Bin Laden "dead or alive." Towards the end of his presidency he made the rather petulant claim that he was no longer all that concerned with the whereabouts of Bin Laden and really didn't spend a lot of time thinking about him. One rather thought he had grown tired of being questioned about Al Qaeda's figurehead because he had met with so little success in tracking him down and had in fact stumbled in pursuit of his stated goal.
And there were those who questioned whether the mission had been a success after all or just some phony campaign stunt. Like the birther contingent some portions of the electorate will never come to grips with the stranger in the White House who had just managed to undertake, according to White House Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, "one of the guttiest" endeavors ever.
As members of the White House staff held their collective breath the mission proceeded without US loss of life and without unnecessary casualties on the other side. There will no doubt be repercussions driven by Al Qaeda supporters, but at least for now the president and his team can claim a victory of sorts, executing a dangerous mission as near perfectly as possible, and ending one chapter in the long saga of terrorist onslaughts.
Interestingly, while most commentators and politicians commended the president for the secrecy and skill with which the mission was undertaken, Fox News spent far more time celebrating the Bush administration for its part in the decline and fall of Bin Laden. We are left to ponder how things would have gone if Bush had stayed out of Iraq and kept closer watch on what was happening in Afghanistan.
Without question this is a time for bi-partisan efforts on behalf of our country and hopefully for a better world. But we should not forget how we got where we are today. And if we are to continue on our path we should at least be willing to pay for our military postures not borrow to finance them and increase the deficit so many in Congress say they are committed to reduce.