August 4, 2009

May you live in interesting times America

I'm back from vacation today, blogging from the subway on my way into work. Aside from tweeting on Twitter a bit, and a couple of hasty blog posts, I didn't do much political reflection. Of course I caught the big stories (cash for clunkers apparently isn't a way to bribe Nancy Pelosi to leave Congress) and big fake stories (Palin getting divorced makes about as much sense as pushing through a Cap and Trade bill during a recession... Wait, what?)

But having not been as exposed to it all as normally I would be, I was able to do some big picture reflection on things. President Obama is now 6 months into his four year term - hopefully his only 4 year term. That is 1/8th of the way into his current tenure. Would you believe how much damage could be done in 12.5% of his run? Barring a first term lame duck status, that means there's potential to do again another 7 times the damage to the country.

Thankfully, even Obama cannot be that ambitious. Can he? Okay maybe he can be but there's always the consideration that, Presidential activity tends to be front-end loaded. Hence the whole first 100 days thing for every President.

And maybe, just maybe, Obama wants to save his powder for a second term. Think about it - if he can't pass health care reform before his term expires, it makes a great unfinished business narrative for him for 2012. If he accomplishes everything in 4 years, why run again? I know you're thinking 'to tilt the playing field even further leftward', but with what? The remotely palatable stuff to a still center-right country will have been all used up by then.

Then there's the fact that President Obama may be damaged in 2010 by Americans suffering from the sticker shock of his first two years in office. Given conservative outrage at the country's recent direction, at least a filibuster capability in the Senate has to be in the cards. There's no guarantee, but it seems quite plausible.

The point is straight-lining the damage done to America by the Democrats since January, over the next 3.5 years is pointless. Nobody knows for sure what will happen.

There's an ancient Chinese saying that's been interpreted to be a curse, for good reason: May you live in interesting times.

That curse holds true for America today. Interesting means changing. It does not mean good or bad changes, it means simply 'unsettling'. Unfortunately the results of the change can be for the bad and that certainly seems to be the case now.

One year ago who would have predicted a popular uprising in Iran? Or an anemic American response? Who would have predicted a new multi-trillion dollar debt burden for future generations of Americans? Or Mark Sanford disgraced? Or the Blagojevich-Buriss scandal? Or Government Motors? Or any one of a myriad of other events of the last year?

These are indeed interesting times, and indeed and sadly, proving to be a curse for America.

The good news is that while times are interesting, the current trajectory is not set in stone. The reactions to the problems are in your hands as Americans. Tea Parties have shown Washington you will not sit by complacently and allow your country to be co-opted by socialists. That too is interesting - and inspiring.

You are not stuck with a one way ticket to doom. You have a voice. Talk to those who are fence-sitting and explain the conservative side of the story. It's your duty as an American to protect your country. Not with arms in this case, but from bad ideas with good ideas. Get involved winning over those who are unsure.

After all, your country has so done much for so many, including you. You owe it to America to pay the country back a little (not the government, and not by your taxes, your country). And if ever there was an opportune moment in your lifetime to pay your country back, it's surely during these interesting times.

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