By Alan Caruba
I’ve noticed that the closer we all draw toward Inauguration Day, January 20th, my attitude toward life grows worse. I have been depressed in the past over the usual vicissitudes and I suppose that as one grows older there is a tendency to look back and think one’s life was better in earlier times, but the fact is that life was better.
The second half of the last century, despite wars in Korea and Vietnam, despite assassinations that took the lives of a President, a civil rights leader, and even a Beatle, were also filled with what historians will surely note as the most innovative times in modern history. The U.S. put men on the Moon. Television went from a giant box offering a half dozen channels in black and white to the modern flat-screens with over a hundred channels. Air conditioning made life in the summer an easy escape from the heat. Et cetera.
There was prosperity. Lots of it. There were lots of jobs and most paid well enough for an entire new middle class to emerge, to buy homes, to drive not one, but two cars. And to go on vacations anywhere in the world.
There was patience, too. The United States by dint of its prosperity and innovation could wait out the menace of the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991 until it collapsed of its own dead weight.
Something else, however, collapsed. It was our education system, traditionally the reserve and concern of States and local communities. As the teachers unions gained in political power, allying themselves with the Democrat Party, the curriculum was pared back from the essentials of reading, writing, arithmetic, and elements such as civics.
They were replaced with allegedly improved teaching programs, but the result has been high school graduates without the basic skills to continue into college without taking “remedial” programs. Further corrupting the schools was a politically correct curriculum that emphasized diversity instead of individual achievement. Add in a bunch of environmental garbage and you have people who think they know something about the world, but are clueless.
Traditionally, youth looked to adults for instruction and insight. Family, teachers, clergy, passed along tested values, but in the present world, youth are so connected with one another that they take their “knowledge” from one another. Relationships are as much “electronic” as personal.
This has left the last two generations and present one extraordinarily vulnerable to the emergence of a cult figure like Barack Obama. He straddles the world of black and white. He is articulate in controlled circumstances. He is young by comparison—as was Bill Clinton—with the gray-headed older folk that had been running the nation for a long time.
Youth has much to say for it, but judgment is not one of the attributes that springs instantly to mind.
The nation went about its business during eight years of Bill Clinton’s feckless management. Despite attacks on embassies and warships, Clinton’s administration remained blind to the growing Islamist threat. Voters, in 1994, turned the Congress over to Republicans for the first time in forty years in order to insure the values of fiscal prudence, a strong military, and smaller government.
Unfortunately, GOP values fell by the wayside along with school scores, a growing population of illegal aliens, and, with the advent of George W. Bush, a debt that could find no ceiling in Congress. The only accomplishment defenders of the Bush administration can cite is that, following 9/11, the United States has not been attacked again. That’s not good enough.
So, I am in a bad mood with an increasingly bad attitude as I contemplate America under the aegis of Barack Obama and the clown-car load of loonies he has put into office with him. Energy Secretaries that hate coal. A Homeland Security Secretary who comes to the job having recently been the Governor of Arizona. A Science Advisor who has been more wrong in the past than right on major issues. An EPA Director who is likely to continue that agency’s draconian attacks on things like pesticides that protect our health and property. And the list just goes on and on.
Meanwhile, Congress is led by two of the greatest ignoramuses I have ever witnessed in seven decades of life.
Here’s a prediction. Congress and the White House will not get us out of this Recession, the debt level of the U.S. will rise astronomically and eventually the value of the U.S. dollar will drop like a stone as other nations lose confidence in our ability to address the simple reality that you cannot get out of debt by borrowing and spending more money.
Just short of half of the voters did not want Barack Obama in office and, of those registered to vote, 37 million Republicans stayed home, probably out of a sense of despair.
There will be more cause for despair in the months and the years ahead. But, hey, we can probably look forward to having Senator Al Franken to keep us laughing.