Sunday January 13, 2013

RICHMOND

Bill Clinton became an icon of mine in the 1980s when I first heard him give a speech on the radio to a governor’s association. In such manner did Barack Obama engage me when he first decided to seek the presidency of the United States. There was such fervor in his voice and he seemed ready to take on the world in behalf of the so-called common man.

Clinton had his high points and low points during his consecutive years as president, but you always had the feeling that he was concerned about the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of the average citizen. Since he left the presidency, he has reached new heights as a proponent of democracy and the attempt to make the life of the ordinary citizen in both our country and abroad better in every aspect.

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In 2008 I decided to cast my lot with Obama rather than Hillary Clinton because I thought it would be exciting to see how a man of mixed heritage would co-exist as president in a mostly Caucasian nation. And I also believed his campaign speeches about what he would do for the nation as a whole.

But after being sworn in, he modified his approach to the closing of the Guantanamo prison base, to who had the right to marry whom, to restoring our cherished legal rights and to closing down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan quickly if not sooner.

It seemed to me that he had a lot more ego than we were shown during the campaign.


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He seemed to fancy himself as a conciliator, a compromiser who could show the Republicans the error of their ways and have them contribute in solving the nation’s problems rather than bulwarking them.

How could he have so misunderstood the ferocity of the tea party segment of the Republican Party? This small group has taken over the GOP lock, stock and barrel stave. If they can’t have their way, then there will be no way.

They don’t care what principles are involved, what tradition stands for, what is the right thing to do. They don’t care what is being destroyed as long as it doesn’t interfere with what they believe is the only thing to do.

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And they also want it done their way. They do not care what their leaders think is the best thing to do or what centrist politicians might be willing to give up in order to further the public good.

They have only one hero in government and that is the Department of Defense. They insist on allotting more funds than are requested no matter what anybody says. Consequently, they can afford a third more generals than we really need and give them more perks than those of a GE vice chairman.

President Obama signed the budget bill without blinking at the amount, or such a baleful addition as the right to arrest and detain any American citizen without due process of law. How far is that from all those dictatorships we continually deplore? Congress also made it practically impossible for Guantanamo to be closed down. Never mind the injustices that are being laid on; it costs the taxpayers $800,000 a year per prisoner.

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And now we have the debt limit problem setting its talons into our throats. The GOP hardliners are already staking out their claims to cuts in such small things as Medicare, Social Security and education because they are essentials for small people rather than billionaires and millionaires.

They are saying up front that they will not allow one extra penny unless their demands are met. Obama has stated forcefully that he won’t be blackmailed into such a proposition. He says he won’t let the millions of people who count on such things be deprived of their sustenance so that the rich can be further enriched.

Will he or won’t he? He was shoved around a bit in the 2011 imbroglio, and it took Vice President Joe Biden to make some points in the most recent standoff. I still admire Barack Obama because I feel that in his heart he wants to do right for the average citizen. But you can’t drink tea with these people; their beverage is made from dregs.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle
contributor.