Okay, so it didn't ruin my holiday (best described by my Poor Wife a couple days ago: "It's Saturday night and I'm watching The Weather Channel."); my neighbors' (the Garrisons, owners and operators of Parker Garrison, the five-year-old who used to stalk me until he found out we didn't have a laptop he could play with) biennial home maintenance spasm took care of that, shortly after 9 AM of a peaceable Sunday morning yesterday, when Garrison pere started banging on the fascia of his attached garage. I say "he", but in truth it was "whatever family member or friend he'd roped into doing the actual work", since he does almost none of it himself. In fact they seem to be some undiscovered cult of Reverse Menonites.
It's the first Sunday in September. Fun haah-sunt got time for zuh vaiting game, bub. There's the little matter of drying herbs and taking cuttings and turning out compost and preparing potted plants to be hardened off and everything else to be bedded down, plus all the stuff that went undone in August because you're basically sick of gardening by August. And Sunday is the day when--not by acclamation, since the neighborhood yobbos would be up shooting off firecrackers if they weren't still passed out from the previous night's dedicated research into the effects of corn beer, corn liquor, and Taco Bell's late menu on the juvenile mind, and if they could afford to husband the ordnance--mornings are generally quiet until the first lawnmower goes off around 11. So I'm stuck with the job, but the peace and quiet I'd anticipated two more hours of has now become a guy next door banging on lumber while said lumber's owner handles the standing around and watching part.
And do not mistake me, here--the Garrisons are nearly perfect neighbors, nice people who rarely, if ever, go outside and whose two well-mannered children are apparently allowed to play video games to their heart's content. Their indifference to suburban standards of grounds maintenance is especially refreshing given the excesses of the shirtless lawn Nazi opposite and his annual eight-month regimen of Agent Orange applications, and since it makes my own studied indifference look merely quirky. And I have considered that he might have some sort of physical infirmity, or a fear of heights, or--and this one is not entirely dismissed yet--some mental incapacity for the jobs at hand, but he's seen atop his roof each autumn, using a leaf blower to clear his gutters (said leaf blower is never used for any other purpose, as, say, removing accumulated leaves from his lawn before that percentage of them which don't wind up in my yard turn to duff). And he jogs. Any suburbanite who jogs while visible can at least be considered fit enough to get with the program, in both the Physical and Willing to Swallow the Zeitgeist Whole senses.
So it was just the petty, skull-splitting frustration of my expectations of an AM's pacific horticulture which had informed the cosmic irritation of the never-ending festival of lies, cowardice, and pre-natal exposure to heavy metals which is domestic American politics.
The history and velocity and modus operandi of conservative attacks on elected Democrats are out there in the screaming daylight open and yet time and again they find themselves in a passive, stationary, unprepared position, getting pounded into mush, going down in--well, it's too early and wimpy to talk about defeat. But stale defeatism is definitely loose in the air.
I just don't understand how an informed middle-aged American of reasonable mien and perceptive politics writes that sentence. What possible expectation do we have of Democrats behaving any other way? Why in the world should the Democratic party be given the sort of consideration we give battered women? They aren't trapped by circumstances beyond their control; they have chosen, since 1972, to cringe and cower, even when they're handed the reins of power and asked to drive us out of Republican messes. Is there some point at which we begin to suspect that maybe this really is the Democratic party, that maybe they want it this way? After all, the current Democratic power structure seems as much a product of the Reaganaut "America is a center-right country" mindset as Jonah Goldberg is a product of Fluoridation is a Commie Plot routine. And equally facile in overcoming it.
It was one thing to be lectured about electoral politics by a bunch of twenty-five-year-old political geniuses whose claim to insight was that they hated the Bush administration; it's another to have an entire political party still throwing rocks at a cartoon version of George McGovern. Many of the people who now howl, or hoot, about being called "socialist" are yet convinced that some time before their own births the Democratic party, possibly while high on 'shrooms, nominated the Trotsky of the Prairie for President, and thus are happy to accord "their" party's leadership the right to placate a cartoon version of Ronald Reagan's America, biennially, in order to get elected and return to doing the bidding of their corporate masters and the slightly more moderate wing of their own class. Anyone who objects is referred to how much worse the alternative is. Why is that? How many "progressive" bloggers were seen masturbating in public at the thought of a "filibuster-proof" Senate majority? How many disciples of Markos Moulitsas spent last year accusing Hillary Clinton of racism, in the fantastical belief that this would get the Centrist Democrat they preferred elected? And where are they today? Banging keyboards in their outrage over Teabaggers? They're the voters you were just telling me were so vital to a Democratic party victory over the tattered remnants of a Republican party.
Did you really need to learn this lesson again? You had the opportunity to hold the "antiwar candidate"'s feet to the fire, and you didn't, and now you want to blame the Neanderthal wing of the other party. This in contradistinction to blaming the reelection of a canny, polarizing criminal psychopath in 1972 on "The Left", and blaming Ronald Reagan--once he was safely off in the corner, blowing spit bubbles--for Democratic majorities facilitating his radical wealth redistribution programs. The same pile of toxic moronity that kept Dick Cheney from being the first national political figure to record negative approval numbers is still driving the public debate. Congratulations on that big electoral sweep.
Part of the crazy cognitive dissonance of this summer is the rabid conviction the tea baggers and conservative bloggers possess that Obama is a suave-talking, solid-core radical socialist who practices Chicago-thug hardball, when in fact if Team Obama was the steamroller they claim, they never would have acquired the momentum they've mustered this summer--a true Lenin would have squashed them out of the gate and hardly would have allowed this much slippage this fast.
I'm sorry, but aren't we talking about the guy who was running, a year ago, on his admiration for Ronald Reagan? Oh, right; he later explained he didn't mean Reagan's policies, he meant Reagan's efficaciousness. So which one is he emulating now?
This is not to say that the Obama administration, or national health care in particular, is doomed to failure, though certainly in the latter case we are now forced to ask how it avoids it; it's simply to ask how we managed to get here so fucking fast, and what concessions to the Right the geniuses who led us to this point propose will get us out of it. The Republicans turned their once-in-a-generation opportunity into twenty-five years on top, though not of accomplishment; the Democrats now look like they'll be lucky to make twenty-five months. The President may in the end get us a decent health-care system by dint of personal will, but he's going to have to float there on the backbones of jellyfish. Maybe it's all an elaborate Rope-a-Dope routine, but why? If you don't wanna be a bully, why'd you buy the pulpit?