The Irony of 2009
And so, another year comes to an end. The inimitable Dave Barry summarizes 2009 nicely when he writes:
It was a year of Hope -- at first in the sense of ``I feel hopeful!'' and later in the sense of ``I hope this year ends soon!''
It was also a year of Change, especially in Washington, where the tired old hacks of yesteryear finally yielded the reins of power to a group of fresh, young, idealistic, new-idea outsiders such as Nancy Pelosi. As a result Washington, rejecting ``business as usual,'' finally stopped trying to solve every problem by throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at it and instead started trying to solve every problem by throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars at it.
In my view, 2009 was a year of irony. Here are a few of the ironies of the past year noted in no partuclar order:
- It’s ironic that a MSM that was obsessed with ‘speaking truth to power’ during 2008, felt compelled to sing odes of praise to power during 2009. For the first half of the year, while the Obama administration made blunders on both the domestic and international fronts, the MSM was eerily silent. In fact, it was proactive in protecting its President from criticism. Journalistic objectivity was one of the many casualties of 2009.
- It's ironic that throughout this year, the new administration decided that the only way to reduce the debt was to spend trillions of dollars we don’t have. The argument, of course, was that Washington had to “prime the pumps.” The sad reality is that the economic collapse that President Obama inherited cannot be fixed by the government. This, of course, is anathema to many in Washington, and as a consequence, we borrow from countries that are not our friends.
- It’s ironic that an administration that promised to look forward has done so much looking backward. There has been no president in my lifetime who has criticized his predecessor so publicly. But it’s worse than that. When faced with a difficult problem, it seems that Barack Obama’s knee jerk response was to blame Bush. It’s unseemly, and worse, it’s not something that a good leader does. I suspect President Obama will not have that luxury in 2010.
- It’s ironic that a President who convinced many that “soft power” would lead to reproachement with the many bad regimes that hate us instead demonstrated the futility of empty negotiation. It’s troubling that our President was rebuffed in his attempts to mold new relationships with China and Russia. It’s laughable that those who argued that Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” was the reason that we could not come to terms with the NoKos, Venezuela, or Iran, seem unable to explain why ‘a man the world loves’ has made little or no progress with these thugs.
- It’s ironic that in order “to make history” the President and his Congress have constructed a partisan bill that will do nothing to reform health care, but will assuredly move this country ever-closer to fiscal ruin. There’s no doubt that their efforts will “make history,” but I suspect it will not be the kind of history they envision in their delusional fantasies of health care nirvana.
- It’s ironic that a President who views himself as a world leader traveled to Copenhagen and left with exactly … nothing. Is he unwilling to examine the growing body of evidence that brings many of the claims that humans are a primary cause of climate change into question? Is he such a true believer in the AGW religion that he will not entertain the notion that watchful waitng might be the best strategy? Is he really willing to support cap and trade legislation in 2010 that might make our economy weaker than it already is?
- It’s ironic that the financial “masters of the universe” at Citibank, AIG, and many others were perfectly willing to accept charity from the U.S. taxpayer (after they failed miserably to conduct business in an ethical manner), but still insisted that in order to “retain” their financial geniuses they had to pay obscene bonuses. In 2009, driving a financial business into the ground through bad judgment and greed is no reason not to profit personally.
- It’s ironic that a company like GM, chronically mismanaged for well over three decades, should receive a bailout from the very people who decided to buy their cars elsewhere. Why? Poor quality, ho-hum design, and redundant product lines. Each of those failings is the responsibility of GM management. No matter, what’s good for GM is … is it?
- It’s ironic that a motley collection of Somali pirates could terrorize major shipping lanes off Africa while the western nations appear helpless to stop them. The problem, of course, is that all western nations have fallen prey to the fiction of “proportional response” when faced with murderous (or in this case, larcenous) thugs. Even though international law gives the nations of the West the right to stop the pirates with extreme prejudice, we tip-toe around the issue, worried that we might appear … What? Forceful? It’s pathetic.
- It’s ironic that the media spent thousands of hours reporting the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, but seems oblivious to the coming problems associated with the ongoing government Ponzi scheme that we call Social Security and Medicare. It’s equally ironic that a majority of the Congress would gladly extend the Medicare Ponzi scheme to us all if they could just get a few “hold outs” to agree to the deal.
- It’s ironic that the media hyped the swine flu epidemic, but was less than vociferous when vaccine was delivered late or not at all. Could you just imagine the media response had late deliveries of vaccine occurred under the evil Bush administration.
- It’s ironic that the tragic death of Michael Jackson and the dalliances of Tiger Woods garnered 1000 times more media coverage that the Climategate scandal. After all, what’s more important, celebrity or evidence of scientific malfeasance that could have a direct and profound impact on us all? The answer, sadly, is obvious.
- It’s ironic that President Obama rushed to judgment when he condemned the Cambridge police for acting stupidly by arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in a minor incident, but was hesitant to make any judgment when an Islamist Army Major gunned down dozens of his fellow soldiers in Fort Hood. Guess the police were guilty until proved innocent and a terrorist (oh, sorry, a disturbed and isolated Moslem soldier) should not be judged until all the facts are in.
- It’s ironic that President Obama spent months pondering the right action to take in Afghanistan, only to learn this month that the war against Al Qaida has moved to Yemen.
But it’s equally ironic that with all of the idiocy, bad judgment, and political garbage, we all smile and hope for the best. Just because our leaders act like callous children most of the time, doesn’t mean that they won’t change in the coming year. Does it?
Happy New Year!