Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Reading Paul Krugman's barely-contained, seething rant that Obama simply must hold inquiries into the (admittedly many) failures and outright abuses by the Bush administration, I had a couple of diametrically-opposed thoughts:
  1. Krugman is largely right. If you don't put the smackdown on administrations for pulling this crap, future ones will only get worse. A lot of people forgot that Reagan was mighty bad on the civil rights front, because Bush the Elder was even worse, and then we forgot Clinton was hands-down the worst President for civil rights since Jim Crow...only because Dubya was ten times worse than all of them put together. Sometimes you gotta shove the king under the guillotine to remind the royalty that there's a line they can't cross.
  2. Krugman may be right, but the inability to forgive and forget...mostly forget...is a big reason why war-torn countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa are so notoriously war-torn. Those are the same people who, as Mark Bowden so aptly put it in Black Hawk Down, they cry that they must have peace, they absolutely need peace...and then when informed that having peace means giving up some power to rival clans, will turn around and say "Give power to those dogs?!? I'd rather die!"
I think there's something to the idea that Americans' incredibly short memories are part of the reason why, despite making the same retarded mistakes over and over, we generally are a prosperous country. We're constantly reinventing ourselves as a nation, and letting go of the past...even to the point of foolishness. (Remember Enron?)

As a person who considers himself fairly intelligent and capable of heavy thinking...it bothers the crap out of me that Americans' stupidity might be the biggest reason why the country continues being generally better than most other countries. (recent economic issues notwithstanding) Certainly after eight years of being shoved aside by conservatives, I - as a liberal/libertarian - am not ready to just forgive and forget.

In fact, I often feel that we need eight years of hardcore liberalism (or at least serious progressiveness) just to drag everything in government back towards the center. As in, that's an indicator of just how far-right everything became under Bush. I have no idea if it really works that way...but I won't lie that I find "healing the country" bipartisanship verrrrrry hard to swallow after the last eight years.

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