Rachel Maddow’s blog crowed, “Under pressure from the business community and with President Obama holding firm, House GOP leaders caved on Friday, announcing they would let the hostage go for practically nothing. And today, Republicans suspended the debt ceiling in exchange for no spending cuts at all.”
Obama’s firmness suggests that there are to be no spending cuts in May or any other time. His Second Inaugural Address gave short shrift to the economic crisis, most likely because he has wished it away. To wit, “An economic recovery has begun.”
Obama continued, “America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it—so long as we seize it together.”
The President’s supporters have doubtless characterized the above as “soaring rhetoric.” It is more accurately described as sonorous tosh. More to the point, it demonstrates that the American elite has taken its final leave of the “reality-based community,” that it has abandoned considerations of leadership for magical thinking, for the warm, toasty feeling engendered by incantations—youth, drive, diversity, openness.
Cognitive dissonance has been embraced as an organizing principle. Obama’s token nod to limited government, “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone” is followed by an affirmation of government without limit, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.”
The fish rots from the head. Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy had Robert Frost deliver the first Inaugural Poem. In 1993, President Clinton trotted out Maya Angelou. Obama’s choice was Richard Blanco. It won’t do to describe Blanco’s effort as drivel. Angelou’s was drivel, too, but it did manifest a basic technical facility. Blanco cannot even claim that.
From the first two stanzas:
One light, waking up rooftops….
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow schoolbuses, the rhythm of traffic lights
Three questions. 1. How does one wake up a rooftop? 2. How do faces crescendo? 3. “Pencil-yellow schoolbuses”? Why not schoolbus-yellow schoolbuses?
This isn’t poetry; this is devolution. Here are three stanzas from a real poem:
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind….
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Marc Faber would agree with Kipling. He confessed in Helsinki Tuesday, “Sometimes I’m so concerned about the world I want to jump out of the window.” After Robert Shiller questioned the utility of gold, he replied, “I’m prepared to make a bet. You keep your US dollars, and I’ll keep my gold; we’ll see which one goes to zero first.”