As a part of President Obama’s “base,” I am as righteously indignant as anyone over his “betrayal” of core liberal principles. I want him to fight those dastardly Republicans, to “stand toe to toe, trade blow for blow” … etc.
But this is not a movie like “Carmen Jones.”
This is real life.
And in real life, right is not always might and the guys in the white hats do not always win.
In the current “debt ceiling” drama, for example, the cost of “victory” could be too high for the president to accept.
He is concerned with the human cost, the soldiers and their families without paychecks, risking their lives for their country and getting an IOU in return. He is worried about pensioners and other investors who trusted in the full faith and credit of the United States Government and about codgers like me who don’t know what we would do if that Social Security deposit doesn’t get made next month.
And that’s just a small part of the nightmare that will ensue if Congress does not agree to raise the nation’s “debt ceiling.”
If the president makes “unacceptable” concessions to avert a stand-off, “progressive” pundits like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz will raise their denunciations to a fever pitch. He knows that.
And people like me will be sick at our stomachs, devastated by the defeat.
But I personally won’t be nearly as devastated as I would be if the president stood on principle, told the Republicans where to go, and let my Social Security checks dry up.
To President Obama, the prospect of so much human misery is not worth the ideological victory.
He knows Medicare and Social Security are “sacred cows” to us liberals. They represent generations of political struggle. But even if they are compromised in a debt ceiling deal, he probably figures someone in the future will be able to repair the social safety net – if the voters wake up and realize what’s going on. And today, there will be bread on the table for a lot of people who would otherwise go hungry.
To Republican leaders the human suffering they are threatening to cause is no nightmare. This is just one more move in a political chess game.
You see, they live in a different world from the president.
He cares about people. He learned at his mother’s death bed to care about the sick who have no health insurance, and he learned as a social worker on Chicago’s mean streets to feel the pain of the downtrodden, the abused, the helpless and the hopeless.
To Republican leaders – such as Eric Cantor, who has always been wealthy, who has never had dirt under his fingernails or hunger pangs in his belly – if the poor have no bread, why, let them eat cake.
Cantor will never have to care about losing Medicare or Social Security. He has money in the bank, and there will always be more going into his account – regardless. His father was a real estate developer and his wife is a banking executive.
Actually, if there is no deal to avert the debt ceiling catastrophe, Cantor stands to gain financially.
He has investments that will appreciate if United States Treasury bonds fall in value. Click here for details.
But that’s a small matter. I think that what really drives him is personal ambition.
It’s becoming obvious to me that he wants to see his most powerful rival in the Republican Party – House Speaker John Boehner – diminished. If Boehner is discredited, Cantor is likely to become Speaker and perhaps – down the road – even president of the United States of America.
Considering all this, it’s not surprising that Cantor would be a driving force in the battle to block a debt ceiling deal. And according to TIME.com, “it was Cantor who made every effort in recent days to stake out the anti-tax ground.”
Of course, I can’t prove that Cantor’s motives are tainted, but when I look at the photos above, I know in my gut which one of those two men has my best interests at heart.