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We have met the enemy and he is us

Two interesting columns that point out that the problem isn’t our politicians, the problem is us:

Robert Samuelson writes in Real Clear Politics about how politicians are instantly punished if they dare to mention any real issues. For example, he discusses our aging population and increasing immigration, and the resulting ballooning demands on social services. But the candidates don’t dare talk about them:

What we do, or don’t do, about these issues will profoundly affect the character of the country in 10, 20 and 50 years. Doing nothing is a policy — a bad one. That’s what Obama and McCain essentially offer. It’s easy to explain why. To discuss these issues candidly might be political suicide. It could alienate crucial blocs of voters: retirees, Hispanics. Blunt talk would expose a candidate to charges of being mean-spirited (against retirees) or racist (against Hispanics). What political consultant advises such a course?

People complain about governmental gridlock. But what often obstructs constructive change is public opinion.

Ironically, we voters claim we want politicians who will deal with big issues, but we refuse to vote for them. Meanwhile, a recent poll says that only 9% of Americans think Congress is doing a good job, despite the fact that we are the people who elected them.

In the New York Times, Gail Collins writes about how the current meme that Obama is shifting right to move the political center is just silly. Obama has gladly told us since day one that he is all about eliminating partisan differences, building consensus, and compromise. If we only heard what we wanted to hear, and didn’t think that compromise also applies to federal wiretapping legislation, then that is not Obama’s fault.

Obama is not about any particular ideology. If you listen to his words and look at the political fights he has picked in his political career, it is that he hates stupidity. When he spoke out against the war in 2002, he clearly said that he was not against war, but that he was against a “dumb” war.

Sometimes, the progressives like his “anti-dumb” positions, as when he opposed McCain’s gas tax holiday. Other times, they hate them, like when he backtracked on his former anti-NAFTA rhetoric.

But if you have suddenly found yourself wondering if Obama is the same person you fell in love with, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Incidentally, Walt Kelly first used his famous Pogo quote for a poster for Earth Day in 1970.