July 31, 2011

"The Piping Days of Peace"

I forgot who wrote, “War shall endless war still breed.” (Coleridge?)

Watching President Obama since his election, alternately thrilled by it, and disgusted by his warmaking, and by his concessions to conservative Republicans, and by his patronizing, uninspiring speeches, I find myself still liking him, but detesting his lukewarm domestic, and incendiary foreign policies. How many times, during the last two months, have we heard, “the middle class?” One would think that the middle class is of more importance to politicians than their own families. Many of them came from the middle class, but are of that class no more, and are the owners of property, businesses, “perks,” status, and power. Of course, they are aware that it was this class, which elected them, and which they need to elect them again, if they will continue their lucrative careers in politics.

Another thing that comes too often from his mouth--for they are the magic words politicians must utter at least once daily, to convince us that everything they do is for "the American people." For a better understanding of what I mean by this, please Google Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. He said it better than I ever can.

I remember the 60s very well, because I was in my prime, and a small part of it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was my hero, though I am a white southerner, and, even today, his simplest words make me teary. What a loss. What a terrible loss. Imagine, if this committed and passionate man, this moral and courageous man, assassinated at 39, had been elected to Congress.

Additionally, I remember Bobby Kennedy, a very rich man, who tramped through the shantytowns of the South, the poor white towns of Appalachia, the squalid migrant labor camps of the West, and the ghettos of the North, and sat in smelly rooms with the poor, the aging and hopeless poor, on sagging chairs, with cockroaches all about, and no electricity, and little or no food in the cupboard. Kennedy was not bashful about pointing to the plight of the poor, black or white, and insisting aggressively, but with grace, that it was the nation’s duty to pay them attention, and provide care. I cannot help but compare President Obama to Robert Kennedy. But there is no comparison.

If King and Kennedy were here yet, and still in their lovely prime, they would not be saying, “the middle class.” They would be saying, “the poor.” It is the poorest who must be attended to before all others; before the wealthy, before the military, before the students, and before the middle class. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Republicans and members of FDR’s own wealthy class, called him, and still refer to him in private, as “a traitor to his class.”

FDR, in effect, created the middle class, when he put money in the hands of the poor, who spent it, helping business to prosper and grow, and for new business and enterprise to become. How quickly we forgot this, in our too-comfortable, complacent, and materialistic lives.

Now I’m reminded of another quote, by John Wilmot, in reference to King Charles II:

“We have a pretty witty King,

Whose word no one relies on.

He never said a foolish thing,

And never did a wise one.”

But the clever King Charles, hearing of it, replied, “That’s true, for my words are my own. But my actions are those of my ministers.”

If President Obama has such wit, we have not seen it, and wit is a sign of high intelligence, as the wit of Presidents Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and John Kennedy and his brothers, and lately, of Senator Al Franken, proves.

President Obama may be intelligent; but he is not witty. He has never made me laugh, and is about to make me cry. Who will follow his likely one-term presidency, which promised so much, and delivered so little? What a loss. What a tragedy. But, if he doesn't light a fire in his belly, and start speaking out for the poor, I won't be sorry to see him gone, no matter who follows him. The "lesser of two evils" is only "the evil of two lessers."

It is like Representative John Conyers (D-SC), a toughened veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, said recently: "President Obama went to Harvard."

And, considering the middle class, I’m reminded of yet-another quote, which, again, I think came from Coleridge:

“Mid thy herds and thy cornfields secure

Thou hast stood,

And joined the wild yelling of famine and blood.”

This is a copy of a blog I've begun at firedoglake.com ("The Piping Days of Peace")

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