In many and varied ways, Americans are tapping out the international distress signal to each other since Washington, D.C. isn't listening.
To all except the most zealous supporters of the Democratic Party, the intentions of the party in power have become clear in less than a year. It's also clear that there's not much we citizens can do about it until the 2010 elections. For now, we hunker down and watch the train wreck in slow motion. This is not defeatism. For now, it's reality.
Meanwhile, the noise surrounding the decline of the U.S. economy has taken on a contradictory surrealism of sorts.
In the Globe And Mail, economist Nouriel Roubini writes,
The story of the U.S. is, indeed, one of two economies. There is a smaller one that is slowly recovering and a larger one that is still in a deep and persistent downturn ... So, while the United States may technically be close to the end of a severe recession, most of America is facing a near-depression. Little wonder, then, that few Americans believe that what walks like a duck and quacks like a duck is actually the phoenix of recovery.
On the flip side, Law & Order actor Sam Waterston, a certified liberal, narrates a financial firm's TV ad wherein he suggests that the recession is showing signs of being over. He mentions "green shoots" and hints that now's the time to jump back into the market. Of course, it's all qualified with maybes and could bes. Most of us are not seeing short shoots by a long shot.
The president has recently declared himself concerned about the federal deficit. It rings as hollow as if Willie Sutton had said, "I've stopped robbing banks, even though I know that's where the money is and I still like saying 'stick em' up.'" The national debt will climb boldly through the foreseeable future. It's no longer the elephant in the room. It is the room.
Meanwhile, to divert our attention, NYC will pitch the big tent that'll host a three-ring international show trial. The media circus will keep people entertained for months while the dollar shrinks and inflation stirs. It will be a perversion of Bob Hope's honorable gift to the U.S. military across many holidays and continents: Use a show to take their minds off the war.
Those Americans who align themselves with the GOP have watched their elected officials awaken to the warning signs many of us saw back during the election. Now Senator Lindsey Graham offers sound-bite criticism in his questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder, a man he once voted to confirm. Graham thinks the NYC terrorist trial is a bad idea. Like Detective John McClane, who in the movie Die Hard finally manages to alert the police to a hostage situation by dropping a terrorist's body on a patrol car from several stories up, our message to Graham is "Welcome to the party, pal." His friend John McCain, who wouldn't use candidate Obama's middle name during the campaign, is now so bold as to say the s-word: socialism. Welcome to the party, John.
In many and varied voices, Americans tapped out their S.O.S. to Democrat politicians at town hall meetings during the summer recess. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) is the poster-boy for the overall discounting of constituents' opinions. We've written letters, waved homemade signs, phoned congressional offices, and gathered in large groups. But the train slows not.
Fact is, all that remains for the wreck to begin is for Democrats to make peace with each other, since they've had all the votes they need for a year. It's just a matter of lining them up with the proper promises, threats, and payoffs. Persuasion, Chicago-style.
Most of us probably have a friend or two who explained his or her pending vote for Obama by offering assurances that Obama would move to the center if elected and govern in bipartisan cooperation with a Republican Congress. That analysis looks silly and naïve in retrospect .