A Failure of Imagination:
If nothing else, you gotta almost admire Republicans for sticking to what they know. It's almost touchingly pathetic. The budget proposal put forth by Republicans is like watching a middle-aged married couple that's long since given up on fucking because of the kids, the bills, the jobs, the mortgage, the declining retirement investments, the increasing waistline, and the drugs they take just so they can get up in the morning without killing themselves. You look at them and think, "C'mon, go crazy. Rip off your clothes and ball each other like spider monkeys on ecstasy. Sweet Jesus, give him a blow job. For fuck's sake, go down on her like her pussy's made of candy." And if it's all too, too far gone, you wanna say, "Get some fucking balls and set each other free before you just end up sneaking around and fucking the babysitter or the neighbor's husband, before you destroy yourselves." But mostly, you just gotta shake your head and think, "There but for the grace of God (or Allah or Buddha or whoever or nobody) go I."
The fact that Republican Congressman Paul Ryan can say, "Our budget does not raise taxes, and makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax laws. In fact, we cut taxes and reform the tax system" and that spending should be frozen or cut and he does it without killing himself shortly after is probably a sign that he has no soul and that we should all be very afraid. By the way, those "tax laws" used to be known as the "Bush tax cuts." As Ryan himself writes in the Wall Street Journal (motto: "Proudly enabling the destruction of civilization"), "In the recent past, the Republican Party failed to offer the nation an inspiring vision and a concrete plan to tackle our problems with innovative and principled solutions." Why not say his name? Do you think we forgot about him already? In other words, Bush fucked it up with our help, but, hey, you can trust us to fix it. What's that definition of insanity?
(Bonus points: Ryan voted for the Medicare prescription drug boondoggle. Bonuser points: In the editorial, Ryan says, "We hope the administration and Democratic leaders in Congress do not distort and preach fear about our Republican plan" just a few paragraphs after saying that Obama's plan would "debase our currency and reduce the living standards of the American people.")
There's a couple of things that Republicans (and, really, most Democrats, including the President) need to realize about the public right now. First off, we want some fuckin' blood. It's time to purge some motherfuckers, time to fuck up the lives of some rich bastards. Back when Enron crumbled, the only thing that stopped riots in the streets of Houston was the fact that Ken Lay was being chased like a plague rat. Firing the CEO of GM was a start. Now, as a condition of bailouts, there needs to be more public pantsing of other top execs (not low-level lackeys) in all the collapsing industries that are dragging us down into the big suck they've created. If we can frog walk a couple of 'em, all the better. Everyone from Joes that are real plumbers to Mary Janes that stock the shelves at Wal-Mart know that if you fuck up, you get fired. So it should be for Wall Street, so it should be for GM and Chrysler. You wanna restore some faith in the American economy? Consequences for actions are easy steps to take.
The other thing is that Americans, for the most part, are ready for something transformatively new, some new idea, some theory that tells us where we came from and where we're gonna go and how we might get there. Everything the administration is doing right now seems like so many pieces held together by scotch tape, chewing gum, and a prayer. While people trust Obama in an almost surreal way, the President's got to offer a controlling concept to his plans. If he has one beyond, "Holy fuck, we gotta do something," he has yet to articulate it.
For instance, what is to be done about Detroit, eh? At what point do we actually give up on the old paradigms and say, "Fine, you fucked one of the old manufacturing stalwarts of America. Now it's time to move on"? When do we take the billions being loaned and given away and instead invest it in job retraining, housing or housing assistance, maybe even actual jobs? That would be a moment of reckoning, of admitting that we are willing to move beyond rescuing what cannot be saved and into a new form for our economic relationship with each other and with the world. If you need to call it "socialism," then fine.
(This doesn't even get us into the opportunity on health care, the cost of which is, as you may know, one of the strongest chains holding back small businesses from fulfilling the entrepreneurial spirit Republicans seem so fucking proud of.)
There's a great line in the 1995 play Slavs! by Tony Kushner. It's when the world's oldest Bolshevik, speaking in 1985 about the coming collapse of the Soviet Union, says, "Change? Yes, we must change, only show me the Theory, and I will be at the barricades, show me the book of the next Beautiful Theory, and I promise you these blind eyes will see again, just to read it, to devour that text. Show me the word that will reorder the world, or else keep silent." The Rude Pundit quotes this not to condemn Obama's ideas (or to support the USSR), but to ask for the ideology beyond the notions of "change" that excited us and got us here.
With their budget, Republicans demonstrated that they have abandoned any hope beyond holding place until what they foresee as the inevitable collapse of the nation under Obama. The President ran on making us understand that the ground was crumbling under our feet. Now he needs to show us not how to fill in the holes, but how to create a new foundation.