“Obama is the worst thing to ever happen to this country,” declares the wealthy, rakish, silver-haired Newport Beach white guy to his small group of perfectly tanned 50-something females sitting just a few feet away from us at a stunning restaurant patio overlooking the sun-kissed California coastline, just off of Highway 1, as he sipped his pinot and adjusted his wraparound Ray Bans, flush from the economy’s spectacular recovery that has benefitted his exact demographic most of all, stroking his purebred dog and taking various selfies with their $500 phones, oblivious to the furious swirls of irony and hypocrisy fluttering just above their heads.
I laughed out loud. Couldn’t help it; I had just overheard Mr. Newport Beach say something about how Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster (despite how, of course, it’s not), and if America were to somehow actually develop a health care system similar to, say, Canada’s, that would be the end of America for certain; we’d never recover from such a devastating blow. Or something. And then came the “worst thing to ever happen” quip, and I couldn’t hold back.
They didn’t hear me, of course; the orgasmic thrum of their perfect lives drowned out my chuckle, and as I turned and looked at this beautifully entitled, happy crew from my vantage point only a few feet away but a million light years in perspective, we all shared one of the most spectacular, envied locales in the world and all of us sipped superb regional grape and not a single one of us suffered the slightest personal, social or economic indignity, every first-world need instantly met, every crab cake perfectly formed, the sunshine as flawless as Jesus on toast and no lines at the restroom and lots of free parking for his Lexus SUV.
A few thoughts struck me, all at once. The first was how nice this group all seemed – and of course they probably were – and I imagine if we had all had met under different circumstances and been chatting about, say, the weather or the soul-exploding coastline, I’m sure we would have been fast, easy friends – noting that, if we wanted to remain that way, we’d never talk about politics. Or religion.
Even so, I desperately wanted to ask Mr. Newport Beach what his stock portfolio looked like a mere six or seven years ago, when Bush & Co. ravaged the country and led us into one of the deepest, most brutal social and economic pits in modern history. Did he lose half his net worth? More? Was he worried he couldn’t feed his family or pay his mortgage? Did he lose his house? His job? Did he blame Bush? Clinton? Islam? The gays?
And by the way, how does he like the recovery so far? Which of his three perfect, multimillion-dollar homes was he on his way to, right now?
I also wanted to know, when Bush/Cheney lied to the world, openly violated the tragedy of 9/11 and invaded Iraq, killing tens of thousands, was he furious? What about now, when even Fox News is calling out Cheney and declaring Iraq invasion a colossal mistake, a lie from which we’re still unable to extricate ourselves?
Nevertheless, Obama ended Bush’s disastrous war, just like he said he would, on time and under budget. Does it matter?
And what of Newport’s female companions? I wonder if he knows that upwards of 99 percent of sexually active women have used some form of contraception. Is he in line with the GOP’s recent spate of nasty misogyny and anti-abortion spew? What about the awful SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, further bashing women, and Obama’s immediate moves to defend women’s rights? Is he aware? I bet those women are. Or surely, their daughters.
And really, what about the stock market? The Dow dances around record highs, Wall Street snorts rails of finely chopped gold every day, the income gap between the 1% and everyone else is more demeaning than ever and the banks haven’t fundamentally changed in the slightest. Why isn’t Mr. Newport Beach positively orgasmic about the Obama Administration’s generally wealth-favoring policies that made it all happen? Say what you like, but Obama managed to do what nearly all economists and pundits thought impossible back in 2008: reverse the ugliest, GOP-led social and economic tailspin in modern history, and make guys like Mr. Newport richer than ever.
My new friend looked good. Healthy. Fit. Good teeth, thick head of silver hair, that prostate cancer scare a couple years back easily nipped by a few wildly expensive treatments he never paid a dime for. Who did pay for his insurance? His company? Medicare? Did he have any idea what it was like not to be able to afford it, or be offered any in the first place?
I sipped my rosé, took a deep breath, enjoyed the magnificent landscape as one final, predominant thought swam into view: how? How can there be such a radical disconnect between Mr. Newport’s engorged portfolio, his fantastic insurance plan, low mortgage rate and grotesque corporate privilege – most of it born of the past six years – and Obama’s overall policy successes? Does he consider it all just a fluke? Dumb luck? Is he drunk on Limbaugh and Fox News, unable to see actual facts?
Look here, Newport: Since Obama took office, corporate profits are way up. So is business investment, job growth (moderately), retail sales, manufacturing (well, barely). Want to buy another house? Interest rates are fantastic. The housing crisis has largely subsided, and home foreclosures are way down. Also, people are buying lots of new cars, and there’s a fully recovered auto industry ready to meet all demand.
Did he know federal discretionary spending is well below average? Or that the poverty rate has stabilized? And the stock market is, as mentioned, breaking records, benefitting rich white dudes more than ever?
Of course, it’s all pretty shaky. Flawed and imbalanced and could give out at any second – but that’s just the nature of the excruciatingly complex, unstable world economy these days. And while corporations are raking it in, workers are seeing less and less of their fair share. There are still myriad problems, and Obama’s policies are far from perfect. No party’s ever are. Regardless, given the impossible economic hell-pit Obama was left with, it’s unlikely any president could have possibly done better.
Clearly I’m missing something, a huge bed of terrifying data to prove all these respectable charts and graphs wrong. But where is it? I’ve heard Mr. Newport Beach’s bizarre lament a thousand times, but I’ve yet to see a solid batch of evidence that proves Obama’s outright failure, or the nation’s savage decline. I see a blip about food stamps, I see a few weak economic signs here and there, but mostly, since 2009, it all’s been somewhere between timidly and shockingly positive. Did God smite us for gay marriage? Did the abortion factories, death panels and Nazi Kenyan socialist brain-washing farms steal my very soul? Hard to tell with all this perfect sunshine in my eyes.
The bottom line seems obvious: Much to the GOP’s bitter revulsion, it turns out a calm, intellectual black man really can run an entire country – certainly far better than an inarticulate Texas bumbler, and even in the face of what is easily the most obstructionist, hateful, acidic and often downright racist Congress in modern memory. Quite an achievement, really.
It’s curious, no? The unmitigated hate for Obama comes from the right, but the real disappointment comes from the left. It’s we liberals who seem to have the most legitimate gripes with a man we all thought would be far more radical and revolutionary. From the NSA to drone warfare to a shocking lack of transparency, a shameless kowtowing to Wall Street, a lack of serious education reform and barely a blip about the environment (until very recently) – Obama has been a far more mixed bag for the left than anyone wants to admit.
But right now, that seems like quibbling. To hear Mr. Newport Beach tell it, my president is a downright monster. Who cares if he ended the war, saved the economy, restored America’s stature in the world, nailed Osama bin Laden, invested billions in clean energy, partially reformed what is still the most expensive, least effective health care system in the industrialized world, or made the rich even richer? The guy’s the worst thing to ever happen to America. I mean, obviously. Now who wants more wine?" [Source]