I don’t begrudge America for its over-the-top bliss-fest yesterday after eight hideous years of degradation any more than I’d begrudge a Gitmo survivor a vacation on a tropical isle. But after several pina coladas, even the most exultant celebrant will get a headache. And though I risk sounding like a crab, at best, and a traitor, at worst, allow me to declare here and now that I am not wondering how to cop an inaugural coffee mug. I am wondering about whether now that the confetti is being swept up and the balloons have puckered out, people will begin to look at the issues.
There were a lot of phrases and references in BO’s speech yesterday that word-for-word echoed Bush’s own inaugural address. Most of his fans will dismiss this by pointing out that these speeches are generic; that Obama was compelled by the oratory form to include those wince-inducing bits about America having a role to play in policing the globe and keeping it safe from evil, etc. Some of the progressives who’d expected to hear something new in that speech may be mildly disappointed at the same-old-same-oldness they heard yesterday. But I have no doubt that millions of other Obama-idealizers will be able to keep the helium balloons aloft for months.
Neptune is at work on the American Moon (for details see the Feb Skywatch on this site). When the planet of supernatural visions transits an emotional planet like Venus or the Moon, we fall in love (as opposed to loving). As I said in my post of 11/5/08, this kind of ecstatic, undiscriminating joy is our Earth-bound counterpart to heaven: it is the universe’s way of opening us up completely on a heart level. Awash in this state we are freed, temporarily, from the limitations of the drab old human condition. What’s not to love about a transit like this? But Neptune refers to a state of mind, not a state of worldly conditions. Like every planet in the sky, it is meant to be tempered by all the other planets.
As balloons lose their helium they begin to drift downward. Has not this country learned over the past year that what comes up must come down? America is a youth-centered tribe, charmingly devoid of foresight. We’re the 24-hour party people. Consider the weirdly counter-intuitive mass expectation that, even at its most grotesque, the dot-com boom would go on forever; that even when the housing market was so inflated the numbers didn’t make any sense, people suspended disbelief and bet the farm on it.
Will we do that now with our infatuation for this fabulous new president, and suffer the dreadful disappointment of preposterously over-inflated expectations? Human nature suggests that before this deflation occurs, denial will step in for millions of his supporters. This is the more worrisome of the two scenarios.
Last week the San Francisco Chronicle was so packed with full-page ads for commemorative china plates (suitable for hanging) that I doubt many people saw, buried in the back pages, the news that Obama’s new Attorney General is considering renewing the Bush requirement that libraries share their records with government spies. What is especially telling about Holder’s move is that it would require an act of explicit agency: if he didn’t put it back on the books, the odious law would die a natural death, expiring on its own.
Remember the tsunami of popular and Congressional outrage a couple of years ago when Bush first came out with this stunt? And does anybody remember during the campaign when Obama said “no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens”? (That was then: 2007; this is now: 2009. Lifetimes ago in the political arena.) But the only group responding with alarm now to this un-dead secret program is the librarians. Bless the librarians, ever on the front lines of the First Amendment wars.
I have written elsewhere about Obama’s astoundingly retrograde economic plan (see February’s Skywatch next week). What is noteworthy here is the absence of curiosity among his supporters about just how the big O expects the very men who got us into this mess to lead us out of it. Equally disturbing is the fact that Obama has backed off his pledge to repeal tax cuts for the wealthy (those who make more than $250, 000 a year) before the bill expires in 2010. On this issue he is taking a more Bushian position than even Nancy Pelosi, hardly the working-man’s friend. What are we to make of hearing our elegant new president go on and on about the dire financial penury we are in as a country– all absolutely true, from the astrological evidence — and then turn around and greenlight the biggest kleptocratic acts in American history: the banker bailouts and tax cuts for the rich during a proto-Depression?
Love-drugged progressives must start to watch more carefully and listen less selectively to what is going down here. If this country is to get through the period ahead, we need to temper our emotional identification with the sublime Monsieur Obama, and get back to our primary identification — with the People.