The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful

A few days ago, my dear friend Ellen sent me Maureen Dowd’s column from the New York Times.  She says so much that the topic of the column rather defies description, but her vision of where this nation is today is spot on.  She also gives us hope in a more positive, yet realistic assessment of President Biden’s policies and actions than we’re used to hearing these days.

Drowning Our Future in the Past

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist

It isn’t a pretty picture.

One coast is burning. The other is under water. In between, anti-abortion vigilantes may soon rampage across gunslinging territory.

What has happened to this country?

America is reeling backward, strangled by the past, nasty and uncaring, with everyone at one another’s throats.

Post-Trump, we let ourselves hope that the new president could heal and soothe, restore a sense of rationality, decency and sanity. But the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be just a firefly.

We feel the return of dread: We’re rattled by the catastrophic exit from Afghanistan; the coming abortion war sparked by Texas; the Trumpian Supreme Court dragging us into the past; the confounding nature of this plague; the way Mother Nature is throttling us, leaving New Yorkers to drown in their basements. And now comes Donald Trump, tromping toward another presidential run.

It feels as if nothing can be overcome. Everything is being relitigated.

We’re choking on enlightened climate proposals but the disparity between the disasters we see, and what’s being done in Washington, makes it feel as though nothing is happening except climate change. We’re so far from getting a handle on the problem, the discussions around it seem almost theoretical.

Joe Manchin, tied to the energy industry, balks at climate change provisions in the reconciliation bill. He should be looking for ways to get West Virginia in touch with reality rather than living in the past.

“Manchin’s claim that climate pollution would be worsened by the elimination of fossil fuels — or by the resolution’s actual, more incremental climate provisions — is highly dubious, if not outright false,” The Intercept reported, noting that the truth is that Manchin’s personal wealth would “be impacted.” Since he joined the Senate, The Intercept said, he has grossed some $4.5 million from coal companies he founded.

With its new abortion law, sending women back to the back alley and encouraging Stasi-like participation from the citizenry, Texas now becomes the capital of American unreason. The law “essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

There were medieval fiefs more enlightened than the Lone Star G.O.P.

Between putting women in danger by pushing that law and putting children in danger by imposing his anti-mask mania on school districts that want to mask up, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has become a scourge of the first rank.

A cynical slice of the Republican Party — and this includes Trump — privately denigrates anti-abortion activists as wackos, but publicly moves in lock-step with them in order to cling to that base and keep power.

But the anti-abortion forces were somehow clever enough to hijack the Supreme Court and Republicans will have to contend with the backlash when the court tosses Roe v. Wade aside.

As botched as the withdrawal from Afghanistan was, at least Joe Biden was trying to move into the future and do triage on one of America’s worst mistakes.

And unlike other presidents — J.F.K. with the Bay of Pigs, L.B.J. with the Vietnam War and Barack Obama with the Afghanistan surge — Biden did not allow himself to be suckered by the generals, the overweening Ivy Leaguers and the Blob, the expense account monsters who keep this town whirring and always have a seat at the table, no matter how wrong they were, and are.

The Afghanistan tragedy, as James Risen wrote in The Intercept, was just two decades of Americans lying to one another, and it “brought out in Americans the same imperial arrogance that doomed the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.”

Unlike his three predecessors, Biden risked Saudi ire by directing the Justice Department and other agencies on Friday to review and declassify documents related to the F.B.I.’s investigation into 9/11. Families of 9/11 victims had been pushing for the release of the secret files to learn more about the role the Saudis played in the attacks.

The enablers of our misbegotten occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shrieking like banshees at Biden, trying to manacle him to their own past mistakes as he attempts to lift off.

With peerless chutzpah, Tony Blair called Biden’s decision to depart cynical and driven by an “imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”

But Biden knew enough not to spend more lives and treasure to prop up a kleptocracy. He oversaw some bad weeks in Afghanistan but George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should be blamed for 20 bad years.

Remarkably, as Jon Allsop pointed out in The Columbia Journalism Review, the word “Bush” was not mentioned once on any of the Sunday news shows the weekend Kabul was falling.

“He looks like the Babe Ruth of presidents when you compare him to Trump,” Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, for a story this past week on Bush nostalgia.

With a memory like a goldfish, America circles its bowl, returning to where we have been, unable to move forward, condemned to repeat a past we should escape.

9 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful

  1. I have heard that wisdom is based on experience, knowledge and ultimately good judgement. Maureen Dowd’s own brand of wisdom definitely shines through this column. As I was reading this column last Saturday and reached the parts written in support of President Biden, I thought of something that the late David Brinkley wrote. If memory serves me correctly it was in the posthumous memoir of 2003 “Brinkley’s Beat : People, Places and Events That Shaped My Time”. Do not be too impressed with my remembering the book’s full title, I copied it from the spine without pulling it off the shelf. It is possible that the quote’s origin is from the earlier mid-90’s book “Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion” as it is also on the shelf, but to me that seems less likely. The quote : “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” Given the amount of bricks being thrown at Biden, the foundation should be solid! WHAK! Thank-you!


  2. Hello Jill. I am really getting tired of people calling the leaving of Afghanistan botched, or any of the dozens of terms that imply the exit was done wrong or incorrectly. I think given the circumstances that the Biden team had to work with the Military did an exceptional job of getting more than 120,000 people out of a very tense dangerous situation. Yes we suffered 13 dead and many more wounded, but an attack was going to be tried by some group, one or the other no matter how we structured the departure. What is amazing is the fact the Taliban did everything they could to protect our people while they were leaving and to honor their pledge to let their fellow Afghani leave. The armchair quarterbacks think we should have remained at an air base that was 90 minutes from the city on a bad stretch of road that we did not have any way to protect a mass exodus from the city to the base. Anyway best wishes. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Point taken, Scottie, but a lot more needed to be done, not just by the Amercan military, but by every government ever illegally involved in Afghanisran, including Canada. Everyone botched it, no matter how much was accomplished. This is one time America does not deserve the full blame, even though the Repuglycans want to pin it all on Biden. That half of America is just being ridiculous!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A good column and I like the mention of Tony Blair’s chutzpah even as I hated the mention of his name. While she painted Biden in glowing terms she allowed for battles to come on abortions and problems with the Stinkweed Supreme Court. But for me she failed to mention the problem that could sink the Democrats for years to come, the inability to gain a majority at the polls because of disenfranchisement aimed at creating just such a problem. I want to hear that there’s hope for the future and that maybe Moscow Mitch will be found dead one morning with the filibuster wrapped round his neck.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, good piece. I encourage folks to read Miriam Horn’s “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman.” While the coasts are in trouble, so is the middle portion of the country. There is a water crisis that is hitting the farmers and ranchers and the coastal flooding from sea water in the gulf is hurting the fishing and shrimping trades. The farmers and ranchers have learned not to use the words “climate change” when dealing with Republican legislators in those states, and speak of water concerns. Using climate change shuts them down, as they cannot be seen discussing the topic which shows how controlling the fossil fuel industry is.

    With that said, a quiet secret needs to be told. Wind energy is growing rapidly across the plains states, with Texas being the 5th most prolific geography on wind energy in the world. And, Iowa gets 40% of its electricity from wind energy. This fact would stun the average Republican and even Democrats likely do not know of this success. Keith

    Liked by 5 people

  5. That’s a great final line: “With a memory like a goldfish, America circles its bowl, returning to where we have been, unable to move forward, condemned to repeat a past we should escape.” Hope you’re doing better. Cheers and hugs, M

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

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