Memory Lapses

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American History, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The ever mildly annoying Ann Althouse criticizes President Obama for being on vacation in Hawaii while the nation suffered a terrorist attack. And even as you read this, I’m sure some of you are thinking of the last President, who was nearly always on vacation when anything significant happened. Well, Bush was nearly always on vacation, in Washington or out of it.

But that’s not what really inspired me to write. One of the commenters wrote,

Being President of democratic republic isn’t much fun.

Insty linked to a NY Post story citing how dissatisfying Obama finds our form of government, when tyrannies clearly make the trains run so much better.

In a similar vein, FDR’s acolytes thought wistfully of Hitler and Mussolini, at least until the bullets and ashes started to fill the sky.

The link goes to a Charles Hurt column in the New York Post titled “O Rips the American Way.” Wow, it’s hard to imagine an American president expressing a preference for a dictatorship, huh? Oh, wait …

In fact, Hurt doesn’t quote President Obama saying anything bad about our great Republic. The President was discussing the current malfunction in the Senate, which is a genuine concern outside of Wingnuttia.

But what really astonished me was the bit about “FDR’s acolytes thought wistfully of Hitler and Mussolini, at least until the bullets and ashes started to fill the sky.” Here in the Matrix of Objectively Verifiable Facts, Franklin Roosevelt’s administration did its best to oppose fascism in Europe in spite of much public sentiment to the contrary. FDR opposed Hitler from the beginning of his administration. Before Pearl Harbor he already was doing as much as he could for America’s future allies, in particular Britain. He pushed through the lend-lease program, for example.

No, it was the conservatives of the 1930s who thought Hitler and Mussolini were swell guys with whom America could do business.

Yet we are not quite done in the memory lapse department. Another blogger — I’m guessing he’s a libertarian, but his blogroll doesn’t give away a partisan orientation — defended President Obama and said it was silly to think the President’s being in Hawaii instead of DC while some guy tried to blow up a plane flying over Michigan made any difference to anything. Of course not. But then he said,

The greatest President in American history was inaugurated on August 2, 1923. He was woken up after the death of his predecessor, strolled downstairs, took the oath of office, and went back to bed. Would that we understood today how to behave as the chief bureaucrat of the central public goods administration.

To which I had two reactions — one, what the hell is the “central goods administration”? And two, — OMG, he’s talking about Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge let the country rot and prepared the way for the Great Depression.

If it’s true that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana), we’re in trouble.

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19 Comments

  1. ozonehole  •  Dec 27, 2009 @1:50 am

    Good post today, Maha. I suppose that conservatives expected Obama to be on the flight over Michigan and personally wrestle a terrorist to the floor, as Harrison Ford did in the movie “Air Force One.” After all, that’s what George W Bush would have done, right?

    However, the following statement you made shows how different you and I perceive Obama:

    Coolidge let the country rot and prepared the way for the Great Depression.

    If you substitute “Obama” for “Coolidge” in the above sentence, you’ve summed up my feelings towards the man. And yes, I voted for him (Obama that is, not Coolidge).

    Hope you’re having a nice holiday weekend,
    Robert

  2. maha  •  Dec 27, 2009 @2:12 am

    ozonehole — If you substitute “Obama” for “Coolidge” in the above sentence, you’ve summed up my feelings towards the man. And yes, I voted for him (Obama that is, not Coolidge).

    Sorry, but that’s demented. I understand frustration and disappointment, but it’s way too early to compare Obama to Coolidge.

  3. finefroghair  •  Dec 27, 2009 @3:09 am

    maha you rock! and your absolutely correct FDR had a Europe first policy and did all he could to keep it that way. Lend Lease was a totally brilliant policy that helped to win the war. The lack of historical knowledge in this country is appalling but indicative of conservative intentions dumb people are easier to control and manipulate. If you believe in Jesus you swallow any tale that comes down the pike. I love your blog read it everyday thank you!

  4. ozonehole  •  Dec 27, 2009 @8:03 am

    ozonehole — If you substitute “Obama” for “Coolidge” in the above sentence, you’ve summed up my feelings towards the man. And yes, I voted for him (Obama that is, not Coolidge).

    Maha — Sorry, but that’s demented. I understand frustration and disappointment, but it’s way too early to compare Obama to Coolidge.

    Give it another year or two. I think you’ll come around to my point of view. But we’ll see. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll gladly admit it. In fact, about this I’d like to be wrong. I did vote for the guy – now I feel like a battered housewife who’s finally realized that hubby’s sweet words don’t mean a thing.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 27, 2009 @9:09 am

    If it’s true that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” we are in trouble.
    We’re not just in trouble, we’re neck deep in BS and the right keeps on shoveling. And aren’t their memory lapses charming? Every day is like “Groundhog Day,” the movie, except there’s no happy ending. And as for projection, they’re masters of the “I’m teflon, you’re glue” theory of argument.

    As for Obama v. Coolidge, I’ll pass. As those of you who read this site know, I supported and worked for the Obama campaign. And I’ve been very critical of him. But I’m starting to come around to the ‘he’s doing what he can with what he’s got in the Senate’ way of looking at things. I think he missed some major opportunities right away, when the iron was still hot, and his popularity ratings were high. But, no sense crying over what might have been. We need to focus on what might yet be…

  6. bill bush  •  Dec 27, 2009 @9:44 am

    c u n d gulag, full agreement. Of course I wanted all my liberal progressive ideas to be done the first 10 days. I’d have even waited it our for the first hundred days without too much complaining. But you go to war with the Senate you’ve got, to paraphrase the unlamented Rummy.

    As far as the ozonehole comment goes, it sounds like the people I know who have listened to too much rightwing radio, and who had none of these comments to make when the groundwork was being laid for our current situation. I told one of them that he sounded like his favorite radio station, and he was shocked to realize his parrot-like performance had such obvious roots. He got very quiet.

    If Obama is not doing all that I want, he is doing less that I don’t want. In fact, if politics is the art of the possible, then Obama is Picasso! I still have the sticker on my car, and I am willing to defend it.

  7. goatherd  •  Dec 27, 2009 @9:49 am

    I think we have to come to grips with the dysfunctional state of our political process. I won’t presume to speak for the “founding fathers” but a political system like ours can function only when its opposing parties consist of reational well intentioned people. This is no longer the case. Certain elements can gain ground simply by paralyzing the system and pointing to the subsequent “failure” of progressive policies. Look how the Republicans are fighting policies which, according to our best empirical data, are our best shot at arighting our economy and making it competitive in a changing world.

    I never expected President Obama to be a miracle man, although many devoutly wished for one. The process of poitical change is long and arduous, it is not, and never has been a quick victory and the stroke of a pen. I am grateful that the momentum of decay has been slowed. But, I think we underestimated the extent of damage that was done. We also seem to be forgetting how singlemindedly devoted the opposition is and their willingness to trash everything for the sweet smell of victory.

    If we can’t fight through our ADD and endure a few setbacks, we have already lost.

    So, enjoy this after the Christmas music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HDU757tuUY

  8. AiredaleLady  •  Dec 27, 2009 @9:57 am

    The whole tenor of the comments against the president being in Hawaii on vacation when this incident happened is best summed up in this very racist comment: “He and she feel like they are ‘moving on up” and it’s their turn at the perks…they are owed them…look for them to continue to push the envelope on this type of stuff…stated another way…no sense of obligation, class, decorum, humility…they belong back in the hood…” — how dare they? seems to be the theme running through this, and it is racist as well as wingnutish. The tone is how dare they have such a great vacation and how dare they reach above what these tacists consider their station. And this explains why the wingnuts are so fervent, angry and stupid in their reaction to everything. Great column today, Maha: thanks.

  9. joanr16  •  Dec 27, 2009 @10:15 am

    I never expected President Obama to be a miracle man, although many devoutly wished for one. The process of poitical change is long and arduous, it is not, and never has been a quick victory and the stroke of a pen. I am grateful that the momentum of decay has been slowed. But, I think we underestimated the extent of damage that was done. We also seem to be forgetting how singlemindedly devoted the opposition is and their willingness to trash everything for the sweet smell of victory.

    So spot-on, it needed to be said twice.

  10. joanr16  •  Dec 27, 2009 @10:21 am

    “He and she feel like they are ‘moving on up” and it’s their turn at the perks… they belong back in the hood…”

    Can’t you just hear Wanda Sykes replying to that commenter: “Wooo, honey, sounds like you belong back in your hood!” With a photo of some besheeted Grand Dragon(ette) on the screen behind her.

  11. Doug Hughes  •  Dec 27, 2009 @10:31 am

    I came to the conclusion 5 months ago that we won’t see radical change until the second term. And then only if we give Obama a Congress that will pass liberal bills. I don’t guarantee we WILL see it then, but I fervently believe we won’t see liberal policy from the administration BEFORE the second term. Hot-button issues like gay rights and women’s reproductive rights and even human rights (along the lines of Greenwald’s legitimate criticism) are off the table because they will be the centerpiece of the conservative attack in 2012. But I haven’t seen Obama veto any legislation for being too liberal – have you?

    That said, it’s up to us to ‘appoint’ the most liberal Congress we can. We need to keep the pressure on progressive issues, but keep in mind, we REALLY don’t need a return to conservative rule. It’s uncomfortable to think about a president worse than Bush, but it’s being proposed and if progressives boycott Obama progressives could create the era of President Palin.

  12. Dave S  •  Dec 27, 2009 @11:55 am

    I’m guessing that Obama had the good sense at least to put down the children’s book he had been reading when he heard about the attempted attack.

    I’m sorry, but I’m losing the capacity to care about what one wingnut or another is upset about regarding Obama. If he’d been at the original departure point in Yeman, I think it was, personally screening passengers, and had caught this guy and kept him from flying, they would have found something in that to howl at the wind about.

    Remember, we had a three-day cycle of outrage about the use of Dijon mustard manufactured in the US by Kraft. The fact that Althouse is concerned about a fizzled terror attack is a significant improvement in the discourse.

  13. jugheadjack  •  Dec 27, 2009 @12:23 pm

    Oh, wait….Indeed. I can remember Georgre Bush saying this on t.v. I wouldnt mind living in dictatorship as long as i am the dictator. Can anyone else remember that?

  14. s  •  Dec 27, 2009 @12:48 pm

    Doesn’t everyone who can go home around the holidays? I seem to remember bush sitting there reading a kiddie book (and kept on reading) when he heard about the attacks… despite numerous warnings ahead of time that there was a danger.

    For those upset with our current President, what would you have him do? I doubt many have done so much with so little left to work with. I think of bush as letting the country rot, but I think Obama is working with what is left and doing as much as possible as fast as he can. Isn’t that the complaint from the right? He is doing too much.

  15. maha  •  Dec 27, 2009 @1:24 pm

    jugheadjack — it’s in the video.

  16. Our Lady of Perpetual Vacation  •  Dec 27, 2009 @2:47 pm

    Funny how selective memory can be.

    Didn’t Dubya’s 8 year vacation start on 1/20/01?

    487 Days at Camp David / 490 Days @ Crawford Ranch

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2…..8085.shtml

  17. jugheadjack  •  Dec 27, 2009 @3:07 pm

    Sorry ms,maha but my computer is slow and that wasnt on ther when i made my comment.

  18. erinyes  •  Dec 27, 2009 @6:56 pm

    Ozonehole, as I said before, I get frustrated at times by what appears to be work in progress in slow motion, but then I realize that two jack-asses with a sledge hammer worked on our nation for 8 years, and it will take a heard of craftsmen at least 6 years to undo the damage.
    I’m very angry about the continuation of the wars, and really pissed that the credit card companies continue to rape the consumers. If these issues don’t change by the next election cycle, I may look elsewhere to vote, and perhaps to live.
    I’m willing to wait, but like Popeye said ” ain’t a doctor, but I’m loosinks me patience”

  19. Russell Belding  •  Dec 28, 2009 @1:58 pm

    If only because we were born in the same state, I must defend my fellow Vermonter Calvin Coolidge. He may have allowed bad things to fester, resulting in worse things happening after his departure, but at least he wasn’t proactively bad like so many others. He was still better than Bush the Younger and James Buchanan (and maybe a few others).

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