Doug Thompson

Advice and dissent
By Doug Thompson
The Free Weekly got a letter to the editor last week. It began:
“Doug Thompson must still be mad that Obama didn’t pick Hillary for VP, so he’s trashing Obama.”
Obviously, the reader missed my June 6 column in the Morning News.
I’m a professional smart aleck who gets column space in two papers. Other people don’t get that, so I try not to bully. I’m so glad anybody reads my stuff I usually not critical, either.
However, this isn’t the only Obama fan who assumes that people who aren’t on board — especially if they come from Arkansas — must be sour grape-mashing Hillary lovers. This worshipful blindness annoys me. As aggravation, it’s right up there with the assumption that anybody who doesn’t vote for this rookie senator with no outstanding qualification to be president must be a bigot.
Therefore, please allow me to quote my Morning News column of four months ago at length:
“Uniting the Democratic Party” by nominating Hillary Clinton as vice-president “would be nice. I think there are ways to unite it, however, without making a benchwarmer out of a powerful and experienced Democratic senator from New York and arguably the most powerful woman in American politics.
“I keep seeing shades of Lyndon Johnson every time somebody mentions the possibility of an Obama-Hillary ticket, although I don’t think Clinton can even get the Senate Majority Leader’s position now. Johnson was more than just a well-known senator. He is considered by some historians to have been the most successful Senate Majority Leader in U.S. history. He gave it all up to be vice president.
“The Kennedy administration resented and ignored him. They needed Johnson before the election to unify the party and pick up some Southern states. That’s all they got from him because that’s all they wanted.
“A Barack-Hillary ticket doesn’t look all that good even from an election-only perspective. A lot of independents don’t like Clinton. Some don’t like Obama. Democratic unity is nice, but independents decide elections. You should avoid alienating droves of them if possible.
“The only reason to pick Clinton is to absolve her from any blame if Obama loses.
“Suppose Obama loses anyway. After all, there will be no caucuses in the general election.
“The last thing Obama’s fan club will do is blame themselves or their candidate.”
No, folks, some of us who don’t get a thrill from Obama aren’t malcontents or bigots. Even if we were, malcontents and bigots still get to vote — or stay home from the election, which can hurt Obama just as badly.
The letter goes on to talk about how weak Sarah Palin is. I repeat my original point: Palin is so weak she would have no impact if Obama weren’t weak too.
After the great financial bailout of 2008, however, even I’m willing to admit that none of this really matters in the presidential election. A Democratic cinder block should be able to win this one, and GOP nominee John McCain knows it.
I’ve read many desperate attempts to hang the meltdown and resultant bailout on somebody — anybody — besides the Republican Party, capitalism or both. People from Ralph Nader to the most craven Wall Street apologists blamed Democratic initiatives to get home loans to the poor for this mess. The best of the lot was a column in Bloomberg business news. It blamed everything on the policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
All of these detailed analyses and rationales, however, get their backs broken by one irrefutable fact: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
Put another way, Democrats can open the window but only Wall Street can climb out on the ledge and jump off.
The Democrats definitely opened the window. For instance, Big Bill Clinton himself signed the 1999 law allowing investment banks to get in the mortgage business.
Nobody held a gun to the lenders’ heads, however.
Does anybody out there want to seriously argue that the second Bush administration — the Reign of W — forced Wall Street to make loans to poor people against Wall Street’s better judgment?
Does anybody out there want to argue that business couldn’t have gone to Congress — with either Democrats or Republicans in charge — and not gotten relief against such a president who was that militant but misguided in his uncompromising crusade for social justice?
You know my address.

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