The ocean liner USS American Dream is heading for an iceberg which does not appear as if it will be affected sufficiently by global warming before we hit it. That is unless Captain Barry Obama can steer this unwieldy beast out of the way. Trouble is a lot of folk are scared of what happens if we look in the other direction, so they think we should hit the ‘berg and take our chances. But not our captain, no.
After opening his news conference with a barrage of clichés worthy of the worst American Idol music writer, the prez rather stiffly ran through a workman-like run of questions. To me he seemed like he had been interrupted from considerably more interesting meetings and I must say it’s the first time I’ve seen him look like he has better things to do. Of course he does have better things to do, but one of the things he has to do is to be the front man promoting his multifaceted program of not just fixing the economy, but doing so in a manner which puts the country in some semblance of proper footing to actually deal with the challenges of the times rather than argue points of empty political and cultural philosophy as we have been doing more or less for a generation or so.
I’ll state here flatly that the baby boomer years of rising to and having power — the 80s and 90s — were essentially a complete waste. I think that historians will look back at this period as colossal wastes of time, energy, and resources. Politically, the entire period saw no attempt to see ahead and innovate into the future with the great exception of the geek culture managing to create the internet and related technology revolution. But those folks, by their nature as geeks, were systematically shut out of activities run by the cool guys like Bill Clinton and Georgie Bush. So for now the best we have to show for that singular advance is the great speed and volume with which quality porn has become accessible to the masses. The iconic movie of the boomers will turn out to be Wall Street with Gordon Gecko’s famous declaration that “greed is good” the eternal mantra of the era. The generation generally spent its time sucking out the resources of the world, and now the post-Boomers, like Captain Barry, have to act like the cleanup crew after their lifelong fraternity party has come to its stale, beer, vomit, and used condom conclusion.
So here we are and Captain Barry said quite clearly, as he has been all along, that we now have no choice but to address the issues which have lingered for at least a generation, if not longer, if we wish to continue to be, much less to grow, as a nation. We must address health care, education, and energy, all while rebuilding our financial system, or likely we will lose the ability to ever address these issues in a comprehensive, interconnected, and sensible way.
This is about the kind of country we want to have going forward. It’s really about resetting the clock back to before Lyndon Johnson screwed everything up by focusing his political gifts on Vietnam instead of his War on Poverty. Ever since, it’s been cultural and political war; among differing versions of false conservatism and flamboyant niche nurturing. It’s been fake money and mortgaged futures. It’s been fear and quick riches. It’s been “gimme!” and “it’s mine!” (genuflecting to the ghost of George Carlin).
The president mentioned Pittsburgh in his opening remarks tonight. That city and its industrial output and work ethic used to define the American spirit and the American Dream. At some point in the past few decades that symbol became Las Vegas. Well boys and girls, it’s once again time to take a savage journey into the heart of the American Dream. If our politicians will allow us to take that journey, we may find the heart of the beast is still beating, and we’ll have the juice to steer away from the iceberg and steam ahead to a future we can still define.