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Poll: What is Obama’s most notable accomplishment to date?

Let me rephrase that: what action of Obama’s presidency will have the greatest positive impact on the largest number of Americans?

Just curious.


Tuesday: OY! Canada

Last night, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper in Canada won a majority of seats.  We send our condolences to our more reasonable neighbors to the north who will have to suffer until October 2015 to get rid of them.  Don’t screw it up like we did.

It wasn’t all bad though.  Jack Layton’s New Democrat Party (NDP) picked up a whopping number of seats while Michael Ignatieff brought the Liberals to an ignominious defeat.  I am unfamiliar with the geographical representation of the two parties, with the exception of the Bloc Quebequois, so I will leave the pithier explanations to Ian Welsh.  But I would note that Fox News didn’t get a stronghold in Canada until 2003-2004.  Harper was elected in 2006.  Coincidence?  Dunno, it looks like a good study for a poli sci major.

What’s more interesting is the composition of the left in Canada after this election. The Liberals, who are analogous to the American Democrats here, were decimated.  Their conciliatory leader of the Liberals, Michael Ignatieff, lost his own seat.  That’s like Harry Reid losing his Senate seat.  The political landscape is now split between the Conservatives and the much leftier NDP party.  The centrist Liberals have all but vanished.  pfwishhh!  Gone like the wind.

If I were to guess, I would say that Canadians wanted an opposition and the Liberals were not providing one.  So, they brought in a new regime.  It could also be the case that the conservative win wasn’t so much an ideological shift but the result of Liberal voters staying home.  And we have no idea what the Bloc Quebequois was really up to but it seems to play the role of the Oppositional/Defiant party who will deliberately misbehave until it gets attention.

We also can not rule out the Osama bin Laden effect.  Our media markets cross over and yesterday was all about Osama.  We know from studies of such things that the more voters are reminded of their own mortality, the more they gravitate towards conservative politicians.  We worship the people who promise to protect us from the unknowable evil of the outside world.

So, was the death of Osama bin Laden a triumph of American intelligence and ability or was it an opportunistic propaganda opportunity for Obama or was it part of the messaging directed at Canadians going to the polls?  Or a little of all of these things?  I’d like to know about the timing because that seems very conveeeenient, doesn’t it?  We couldn’t have waited one extra day to take bin Laden out?  It’s not like he knew what was coming.

But one thing seems clear: Canadians are sick to death of wishy washy democrats who call themselves Liberals who pretend to defend them and then capitulate over and over again to the Tories.  That does not bode well for Obama and the American Democrats.  A similar thing could very well happen here.  If American Democrats are given no choice next year but to vote for another term of Obama, a lot of them will desert the Democratic party and defect to more lefty parties.  I will be one of them.  I predict that the Democrats will lose seats and Republicans will pick some up, not because they are particularly well loved but because they are filling a vacuum left by all those disgusted voters.  It only seems like Obama and the Democrats are the only game in town right now and that may be true at this moment.  But I wouldn’t want to stake my political strategy on the idea that the rest of us true liberals are going to vote for the Democrats just because the alternative would be sooooo much worse.

That’s not MY fault.  That’s the fault of the party that doesn’t offer me anything I want.  I’d rather give my vote to a different entity and help that party become a legitimate force to be reckoned with.  It might take a couple election cycles but to give in to the guilt trips and the peer pressure only gives the bad guys and the weak collaborators a free pass to do what they please and I refuse to cooperate in the destruction of my political system.  I want to put my efforts into building up a new alternative. It appears that this is what the Canadians have chosen to do as well.  Good luck to them.  I hope they survive the next 4 years of conservative lunacy.  And the first thing they should do when the NDP finally does score a majority government is boot Fox News to the curb.  ASAP.

The writing is on the wall for 2012.  It doesn’t have to be a Republican victory but with Obama and the current crop of Democrats in place, it’s hard to see how any other outcome is possible.  The Centrist schtick is getting old.

Look, North, Oh, American Democrats.  This is your future in 18 months if you don’t get your act together and make some really hard choices.  Better do it now while you have time to recover.  Next year will be too late.

Update:  Count this as day two of my “Osama is dead? Meh.” reaction.  His death, to me, is anticlimactic.  I also don’t think Obama should be accepting all of the praise and taking a victory lap over it.  It sounds like our intelligence machinery and well trained specialists were responsible for this final chapter in Osama’s life.  If he’s dead, well, alright then.  I’m a liberal but I still eat meat, medium rare.  You will not get hand wringing and  “Oh, what is to become of us now that we have tasted blood?  We are truly barbaric.”  F$%@ that S^&*.  I refuse to take part in the collective guit the left is feeling over the death of Osama.  Oh, Please.  There is a time for turning the other cheek and there is a time to knock the teeth out of the person who just tried to kill you.  I can do the whole Keith Carradine Kung Fu thing when the opponent can more easily be taken down by using their own force against them.  But lefties shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that if we all just “use our words” all the time, we can live in peace and harmony and rainbow ponies.  The practice of power requires that you meet aggression with aggression.  Just make sure your side is bigger and better so that the duration of the conflict is swift and complete. That’s where the Bushies went wrong (or did they just have a different agenda).  I particularly liked Hillary’s comments about how Al Qaeda cannot win. They can only postpone the inevitable.

Let’s not confuse and conflate the erosion of our civil liberties with taking out dangerous attackers.  They don’t have to go together.  Osama, the authoritarian egotist in Pakistan is not a poster child for the authoritarian egotists in Washington, DC.  Osama bin Laden was an unrepentant, bad, malicious man but he was just an excuse for what our own bad guys wanted to implement. Osama was responsible for his own fate when he decided to murder 3000 innocent people and then ran and hid like a coward.  You don’t need to suspend habeas corpus to deliver the coup de grace.  Neither is the blow necessarily an unjust result of that crack down on civil liberties.  The two things should be seen as separate tethered loosely by one pivotal event.  Cheney and Bush were looking for a reason.  Osama handed it to them.  But it was us, the American people, who let the Bushies get away with it.

I would have preferred to have Osama captured and tried in the US and then deep sixed in some Supermax prison, never to be seen or heard from again, his name and face erased from the history books ala ancient cultures obliterating unpopular political figures.  There was very little chance that Osama bin Laden would ever achieve a state of sophrosyne while he waited and regretted his life sentence in a western jail.  But that wouldn’t have been the point.  The point would have been to reduce the man from his status as a leader of a fanatical fundamentalist organization to that of   a mere mortal, subject to the higher powers of a just state.

No paradise, no 72 virgins, no glory.  Just oblivion in the hands of his enemies.

Al Qaeda would have hated that.

But let’s not rejoice or get carried away.  The blood lust that sang in my ears 10 years ago has subsided to an annoying tinitis.  I’m glad he can’t do anymore mischief but his legacy survives.  It would be foolish to think we are safe and even more foolish to ever think we were before he attacked us.  We are no less vulnerable to attack than we were before 9/11.  We just have to learn to live with that, like learning to live with the knowledge of our own deaths.  Death will come.  We can take steps to avoid having it catch up to us too soon but it will happen eventually.  It’s silly to think we can make friends with it or escape it if we choose to be above all that stinky grave stuff, it’s so barbaric and uncouth.

We are never safe, we are not immortal, we cannot appease the zealous.  All we can do is the right thing, as frequently as possible, and hope that the ties we make are stronger than the ones we break.

Let’s let Osama sink to the bottom of a watery deep and let the waves swallow him  and his memory up.  Good riddance.