I'll own up to being a yellow dog, liberal Democrat,and I generally support what President Obama is attempting to do to rescue this country from becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the People's Republic of China. After the great Christmas tax compromise/giveaway, however, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should have voted for Hillary Clinton. At least I know she's got a pair. As for the president, he's participated in more cave-ins than a Chilean miner. I understand that Bo the dog is following Barack around so he can learn how to roll over. After all 42 Republican senators signed a letter saying that they would allow no other legislation to be considered until the Bush tax cuts were extended, I just knew the president would call their bluff and force them to, literally, filibuster against jobless benefits at Christmas. Instead, he quit in his corner without throwing a punch. Obama claimed the Republicans were "holding the American people hostage," and their demands amounted to "blackmail," yet he paid the entire ransom and more that the kidnappers didn't even demand. Doesn't he ever watch crime dramas on television? Even when you've paid them off, blackmailers will continue to blackmail.
The GOP merely threatens to filibuster, and the Democrats flip like fish. But the closest resemblance to an actual filibuster was Senator Bernie Sanders' marathon speech in objection to the tax bill. Most folks' only notion of a filibuster was given by Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It would be a terrific civics lesson for the American people to see the real deal. I can't remember the last time they dragged in the cots and forced senators to attend in shifts. Perhaps the sight of Mitch "The Amphibian" McConnell reading Bible passages while attempting to block veterans' benefits might have changed a few hearts and minds. It's too late for that now. The minority party played "chicken" with Obama over the people's welfare, and Barack blinked. The president claimed this was the best deal he could get before the new Congress convenes in January and that it was a good compromise. When the playground bully pushes you to the ground and demands your lunch money and you give it to him, it is not a compromise. It's capitulation.
I understand that the tax fight is only over a 5 percent increase at the highest income levels, but the Republicans were willing to stop all government functions rather than compromise. Obama campaigned on the promise to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 annually, and though some of my best friends are rich people, does the same group that prospered the most during the past decade deserve a fresh pile of free money?
My dad had a saying: "This is a great country, but the dues are expensive." There seems to be a growing number of people who believe they should somehow be exempt. It's astounding that the Republicans would engage in a petty tax revolt when the nation is still in financial crisis and fighting two wars. In better days, paying taxes was often considered the height of patriotism. In the Senate-mafia hearings of 1952, when mob boss Frank Costello was asked by the committee to name one thing he had ever done to benefit his country, he said, "I paid my tax." Even gangsters understood how the roads get paved.
The conservatives claim tax cuts for the wealthy will help stimulate business and create jobs in the private sector, but we all know what happens to that money. It's invested in various markets, making large portfolios even larger, allowing the super-rich to live off of their dividends and interest. While the Bush tax cuts have been in place, all the action switched over to Wall Street, creating a class of obscenely wealthy money managers, while our manufacturing base hemorrhaged jobs.
Republicans have warned that unemployment compensation and welfare assistance for the poor are destroying the work ethic, but the new tax giveaway is simply welfare for the wealthy. Who needs to work hard at a stressful job when your money will work for you instead? The old Reagan, supply-side, trickle-down theory of economics functions most efficiently in single family estates where the natural instinct is to care for your own. Now that Obama has waved a white flag on any inheritance taxes up to $5 million, the money no longer trickles down; it gushes like a waterfall. The deficit hawks won't fund medical assistance for 9/11 first responders because they claim it's not paid for, yet they are practically giddy to put nearly a trillion additional dollars on the tab for this tax scam.
Ever since Obama took office, his opponents have questioned his legitimacy to be president. They have called him an illegal alien, a socialist, a Marxist, a Kenyan, and a secret Muslim. But I'm beginning to think the truth may be far more frightening. I believe that Barack did not learn "anti-colonialism" from his father, like the right-wing radio blatherers say, but instead was invested with Kansas Republican values from his mother. After all, Kansas is the home of Alf Landon and Bob Dole, and that brand of conservatism must have affected Barack's mom and grandparents. Somewhere, he was instructed to grow an Afro and assume the guise of a typical liberal. His work as a community organizer cemented his liberal street cred, and "palling around with domestic terrorist" William Ayers gave Obama a Che Guevara-like mystique.
Only now I'm beginning to see the pattern of deception in all this, and I suspect that Obama may be the most frightening type of politician of all: a stealth Republican. Dreams from his father; politics from his mother. The president promised change, yet the Bush tax cuts are about to be engraved in stone, Guantanamo is still operating, illegal wiretaps are still functioning, and bin Laden is still alive. Would an explanation be out of order, or must we read it on WikiLeaks? Obama has spent over half his life learning to "fight the power." It's past time he learned how power fights back.
Randy Haspel writes the blog "Born-Again Hippies," where a version of this column first appeared.