Then We Came to the End (A Preemptive Eulogy for the Obama Presidency):
So it was a fun dream while it lasted, this election of the first black president, the man who would make us heal in the wake of the destruction wrought by the administration of George W. Bush, our complicity in that disaster notwithstanding. You remember those hopeful few weeks, post-2008 election, pre-inauguration? You remember how we were gearing up for greatness, for transformation of our national identity, of our politics, of ourselves? Even those of us who don't believe in divine things had an inkling of what it was like to be born again.
But we knew, those of us who were adults in the 1990s, we knew that there was also an entire industry devoted to crushing dreamers into stark realists, a machine whose sole purpose is to shred your hope and make you feel foolish for ever having believed that change was possible. That machine was ready to go the moment that Obama was elected. And too many of us were allowing our optimism to get the better of us, too many of us believed that, based on the prima facie evidence, Republicans would want to put the presidency of George W. Bush behind them and work to unify the nation. This blog maintained its steady stream of cynicism, but even as he waved his hands and said, "They're coming," the Rude Pundit allowed the soothing heat of hope to be pumped into the femoral artery of his political thinking. He thought there was a chance to evolve. He just bet on the wrong horse.
We needed someone who would lay waste to the political enemies of progress, not try to bring them into the fold. We can't say whether Hillary Clinton would have reached out her hand so much, no matter how many times it was bitten and slapped. We don't know if that would have been her approach, but we know that it was Barack Obama's, and we know that it failed and we know that he stuck to it for too long.
You feel it, don't you? This week marked the end of the Obama presidency. No, he won't be forced out of office, but he will be forced to make do with whatever he can accomplish alone, which, at this point, is extraordinarily little. The Benghazi investigation was worthless to anyone not on Rand Paul's mailing list. But the IRS's questioning of Tea Party groups is mildly disconcerting, even if it doesn't rise to full-blown "scandal" proportions, and the Justice Department's subpoena of the phone records of AP reporters is genuinely scary, perhaps because chances are that it was perfectly legal. Still, what is true, what is legal, and what is real don't matter anymore at this point.
The reason why the Rude Pundit is declaring the Obama presidency done is not merely because the IRS story confirms everything that paranoid right-wingers believe about Obama, as The Daily Show discussed last night. No, it's done because the AP story confirms everything that liberals and libertarians feared about Obama's embrace and expansion of the surveillance state established under Bush and Cheney and his immensely troubling silencing of whistleblowers. The press is gleefully, grotesquely feeding on the outrage.
One of the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats is that, no matter what, Republicans, on the whole, will stand by a Republican president. They will prevent investigations (like they tried to do with 9/11). They will dismiss any allegations. They will go down with the ship. Democrats will turn on a Democratic president, especially when that president is weak. They will demand investigations. They will be outraged. They will run away like rats (like keeping Bill Clinton sidelined during the 2000 election). Neither approach is honorable, but at least the Democratic way is a bit more, you know, democratic.
Now that Democrats are joining Republicans in demanding investigations into the AP and IRS stories, now that writers on the left are calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, just like writers on the right did during the fake Fast and Furious nonsense, we know what's going to go down: Committee hearings that play out like trials, the White House being tied in knots over testifying, demands for more and more information, showdowns with Congress over access, blah, blah, blah. And every speech, every call for compassion, everything Obama does now will be overshadowed, will be tainted, every effort will be stymied by suspicion. This is not to mention the effect of the Senate minority's traitorous war on the functioning of government.
The sad aspect is that it never had to be this way. Obama could have...well, hell, there's all kinds of things he could have done. The sadder aspect is that of course it had to be this way. Republicans were going to have their way no matter what. The saddest aspect is that Obama should have walked away from the forest Republicans created. Instead, he fell right into their trap. They won. Again.
Yes, yes, there will be many things in the next three plus years that we will support Obama on. He's still the president, after all. There will be many times when we will attack at the GOP. And when the increasingly inevitable impeachment hearings happen, we will shout and rend our garments in anger. But we know that the end is in sight.
Hope dies the death of a thousand cuts.
(Note: The Rude Pundit hopes he's wrong and that he can take this whole thing back at some point soon.)