21 July 2009

The Summer of Our Discontent

The NewsHour's Jim Lehrer discusses health care and the economy with President Obama...

That the President's job approval rating has remained as high as it has for as long as it has is nothing short of amazing. Americans are an impatient people and want quick fixes for everything, no matter the size and scope of the problem. Mr. Obama has said time and again that the shit pile left behind by the Bush administration will take a year or two to clean up (my hunch is it will take longer than two years). But the 24-hour news cycle, in their quest for ratings, always presents a confrontational approach to government...as if the duty of running our country was a WWF wrestling match or an episode of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."

We're in the middle of the summer of our discontent. Americans, either without jobs or scared shitless of losing them, are scaling back summer vacation plans in massive numbers, leaving them plenty of time to stew about the state of our nation. And with George W. Bush long gone, blame begins to shift to the current president.

What Americans don't understand is that there are no quick fixes to a recession as deep as the current one. You can't turn a 9.5% unemployment rate into a 5% unemployment rate on a dime. You can't clean up a mountain of shit with a shovel in just six months.

It would do us all well to remember that President Obama and his team have tried their best to put solid measures in place to fix the problem. In fact, I give them huge credit for pulling us back from the abyss. Could they have done more? Perhaps. Should they do more still? Yes, and they will. But whatever additional steps they take to repair the damage of the Bush years, this is going to take a while. The rest of us just need to come to grips with the fact that our only choice at the moment is to ride this out. (Imagine how bumpy the current ride with be with the bumbling, flailing McCain/Palin team in the White House!)

Quick fixes will only make matters worse, thus the President is working on a multi-year timetable. I've said it before but it bears repeating: While the rest of us are playing checkers, President Obama is in this for the long haul...he's playing chess.