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Politics 2012 style: Open, obscene, and unmistakable


“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”[i] This certainly is the case with politics. That our political system needs reforming almost goes without saying – and it wouldn’t hurt to find an efficient way to identify and get rid of corrupt, lying politicians. That being said, let’s get down to business. First, I need to say that I have wasted more effort trying to defend President Obama’s policies than I care to think about. If left to my own devices, I’d spend my time pointing out that he is far too accommodating, but he’s so regularly and ridiculously vilified by the extreme right—millions of whom have even denied he’s a citizen – that I am forced to say something in his favor. One cannot help but wonder how someone so wimpy can inspire such virulent hatred!

In looking at the anti-Obama propaganda sweeping the country, one first must separate the well-funded propaganda machine financed by the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife (publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) from those inspired by a distinctly virulent generalized hatred of the man. When you listen to the Obama haters on talk radio or TV, or when you read the delightful articles written by right-wing journalists, you cannot help but notice their not-very-subliminal resentment against someone – a black man no less—who was swept into office against their will. Obama is an educated man. He went to Ivy League schools. He clearly seems to be in touch with his feminine side; not only is he black (actually, half black) but he’s married to a black, well-educated, and proud woman. I am no expert on race relations, and I am not trying to play the race card here; honesty compels me to state the obvious. Also, of course, Obama is not a Washington insider; he spent more years as a community activist in the Midwest than he did as a senator. That none of this has anything to do with his performance in office is part of the problem with our political system.

However, we have learned a few things about Obama over the last 4 years: He believes in compromise, he is invariably polite, and he works hard. He has been gracious and forgiving about any number of people who have said distinctly unpleasant things about him—House speaker John Boehner and, of course, presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. The Republicans and the special interest groups ate him alive on health reform, even when he was supported by a majority of Democrats in the House. And whenever Congress does something particularly stupid – like almost putting the country into default (and causing downgrading of the U.S. bond rating, which makes all that money we borrow even more expensive) or refusing to send aid to the flood-devastated Northeast—its response is to solemnly proclaim Obama is bankrupting the country.

Actually, he’s not. Obama’s spending record is remarkably restrained compared to Bush’s (George W, that is). The President would look a lot worse if his adversaries weren’t so colossally inept. He even let Boehner tell him he had to wait on the convenience of Republican House members to talk to Congress. Excuse me! Who is the President? If you don’t respect the man, you must respect the office!

Obama doesn’t have a clue how to play hardball. He still gives nine-tenths of the loaf just to get a slice. And he hasn’t figured out that he doesn’t have to do it. So here’s the big question for the electorate: Would he play hardball even if he knew how? Does he hold a belief for which he’s willing to do battle? He didn’t do it for healthcare reform. He didn’t do it to avoid a U.S. government default. He didn’t do it for immigration or to end the war. He certainly is not a “tax-and-spend” Democrat; he talks a lot about what he’s willing to cut (like Social Security and Medicare). No one but a Republican could take him for a liberal.

By way of a less-than-refreshing alternative, we have been “enjoying” the first Republican-only primary season in many years. And what a treat it is to see the religious right take up the cry for Gingrich, who has redeemed himself to become the “righteous” candidate. Aside from the nastiness of his rhetoric, the former (ousted) Speaker is a profoundly self-important man who has compared himself to no less than five presidents—Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, and  Reagan—as well as Margaret Thatcher and Henry Clay.[ii]  Now for the rhetoric: A reader commenting online on an article in the Economist magazine suggested Gingrich
suffers from a form of Tourette syndrome[iii]; he can’t keep himself from lashing out with astounding meanness of spirit despite his repeated insistence that he “won’t be negative” like his opponents. Although he’s a lot less entertaining when he’s restrained, he can’t stop himself, even though it incites the Republican establishment (the part of the GOP that prefers defeating Obama to electing true believers) to want to dump him. Mitt Romney seems a bit of a milquetoast as an alternative, but undoubtedly he is more moderate and makes fewer enemies.

Worse, our political process has been corrupted by– what else–money. It was bad enough before, but since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize wholesale corporate buyouts of candidates, it’s downright scary. The corruption is open, obscene, and unmistakable.

If all the money spent on political campaigns were applied to our national debt, perhaps we might be able to pay it off. Certainly it would be put to better use! I’ll vote for the candidate who makes that his slogan – and I don’t care which party nominates him!

[i]    The proverb is of French origin and was used by the French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). It also appears in George Bernard Shaw’s Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion (1903). Listed in the MacMillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases (1946) by Burton Stevenson and A Dictionary of American Proverbs (1992) by Wolfgang Mieder et al. From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman.

[ii]    Jena McGregor. A debate between self-confidence and self-glorification. Washington Post. December 16, 2011. www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-leadership/post/newt-gingrich-a-debate-between-self-confidence-and-self-glorification/2011/04/01/gIQALjNhyO_blog.html

[iii]    The Palmetto primary. January 19, 2012. Reader’s comment on article. www.economist.com/users/rsnyc1337/comments


10 Comments. Leave new

  • Louise Moondancer
    February 2, 2012 11:24 pm

    The only way our political system can function as it was intended is to have intelligent discourse. Leah Curtin offers that discourse from a wise and knowlegable position. If we care we must insist on this kind of discussion and compromise from our elected officials and they must do their job rather than worry about the next election. The blustering must stop!

  • One of the privileges of a “democratic society” is free speach. In the course of current human events it has become an object of vilification. I am delighted to read the most recent postings and see that there are a some educated persons who can see the humor and the truth of Dr. Curtin’s blog. She is verifying her reputation for generating thought among her readers. It has long been the policy for “true blievers” (see Eric Hopper) to vilify those who disagree. Nurses MUST speak up!

  • I think Dr. Curtin is expressing the frustration we all feel about politicians of all patients (I am including the Tea Party). Certainly she doesn’t let Obama off the hook! I wonder what she thinks the leading candidates – and the Supreme Court — will do with the health reform legislation? I’m not sure that most Americans (me included) understand what is at issue.

  • @Crikey: It is appropriate because politics and healthcare in America are inextricably linked. DUH! How about that for a professional response to your PERSONAL attack on the author. @Edie…Crikey doesn’t WANT to learn anything…she is too threatened (as are many of the people who throw around the word “liberal” like it is dirty)
    The point is…you don’t HAVE to agree with Dr. Curtin…it is an OPINION…. an editorial …a blog!

  • It seems to me that Dr. Curtin addresses issues that we are all thinking about during this election year. Of particular interest of course is how this election impacts healthcare, and it surely does.
    I found Dr. Curtin’s honest remarks refreshing, and some made me laugh out loud. She points out truth through humor and satire. Thanks, Dr. C.

  • I don’t know whar crikey’s problem is, but politics is everybody’s business — and it’s about time nurses’ put on their ‘big girl’ pants and got into the fray! I don’t agree with averything Dr. Curtin said, but I for one am glad she said it! Too bad Crikey won’t come back: God forbid that she might learn something!

  • Why in holy hell would you think that a political rant is appropriate for a nursing magazine? Don’t we have enough raving, ranting liberal pap shoved down our throats by the msm without tuning into a supposedly professional journal to be attacked with more of the same? As usual, your first few sentences is about all I can stomach of your socialist pap, and know that you’re a primary example of the dumbing down of Americans. Save your response ~ I’ll never again return to any page you write.

  • Ms. Curtin wants to “find an efficient way to identify and get rid of corrupt, lying politicians. It’s called voting, and it doesn’t take a lot of money to go to the polls. The rest of her embarrassing rant was beneath the dignity of a professional journal.

  • Dear Commentator,
    I think it would be fair to say that I am, like most Americans, very unhappy with politicians in the USA today…especially with the control of politicos by PACs, and by ‘image makers’…It would be wonderful to actually know what the candidate himself/herself thinks rather than what somebody else tells them to say…and I also think the Supreme Court was just plain WRONG to open the door to the moneyed intersts buying candidates!

  • Are you happy with anyone Ms. Curtin? You don’t want a ‘wimp’ or a milquetoast or some with Tourette’s syndrome as president? Do you have an alternative, or are you just venting? …though I must admis that I got a laugh out of your statement that no one but a Republican could take Obama for a liberal! And I do think the money in politics is corrupting.


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