It was the summer of 1957. Dad drives our family for a week at Yellowstone. First sights of geysers and thermal features are unforgettable. And we feed the bears from the windows of our ’55 Mercury. “Better than Disneyland,” we reflect.
The high altitude of the Yellowstone caldera guarantees cool nights even in summer. Logs in the fireplace are necessary to break the chill. Dad and Uncle Harvey gather firewood during the day before sundown when mosquitos swarm. We are all set in a cozy cabin at Old Faithful Village.
Dad’s coworkers from Idaho arrive late, not in enough time to gather their own firewood. Dad so wants to impress them, he offers them ours, then goes the second mile by hauling the wood to their cabin. Surely, his kindness will curry favor at work in succeeding weeks. Sort of an “investment.”
We endure a cold night while strangers next door are warmed thanks to Dad’s generosity.
Naturally, Mom is furious. In fact, she remembers and recites the incident to her dying day at age 96 ½ in 2012. No, it isn’t just Yellowstone, but their whole married life where Dad attempts to impress casual acquaintances at the expense of losing his own family. And wife. She sticks with him, incredibly, for another 40 years, 60 total. Religion is so ingrained in her that divorce doesn’t register a remote thought.
The Yellowstone experience is an image of Obama’s political relationship with his “wife,” the progressive base. He courts her, pampers her with eloquent, loving words, then hauls the family’s logs over to strangers who could care less about the guy.
Dad was a handsome guy. Intelligent too. Obama has that same appeal.
Yet, when given the opportunity to court the other side, he gives away the family’s hard-fought provisions to win opponents dedicated to his (and our) destruction.
His speeches declare Social Security not on-the-table. He promises to personally march with labor if collective bargaining is ever challenged. He set the $250,000 tax threshold in stone. What happened to the closure of GITMO? Bush’s policies that he so denounced?
When negotiating with the oppon
ents, he melts swiftly – offering concession after concession unilaterally, sacrificing key provisions sacred to the democratic family. It’s as if Dad (Obama) could care less about his family freezing in the cold when weighed with the opportunity to impress [and possibly curry favor] with adversaries. “Foes before family”: That’s the refrain.
And now the Postal Service faces extinction because of a Bush bill passed in 2006 during lameduck before Pelosi’s ascension. Over $5 billion is charged the service every year to pay benefits for postal workers 75 years in advance, not even born. It was the poison pill meant to kill the Postal Service so privateers could scoop up the remains. Republican privateers. U.S. Constitution and Ben Franklin be damned.
But what has Obama done about it? Did he replace Bush appointees on the USPS Board of Governors? No. Did he appoint progressives to the board who would have worked for solutions? No. Did he use the bully pulpit to pressure Congress to repeal the 2006 “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”? No.
His words are romantic but rhetorical.
The Second Inaugural brought hope to the family that he’d finally return the firewood intended to warm our cabin. His articulateness forces spontaneous tears from our eyes. We love him, yet despise his liberality to strangers – considering his offerings are ours, not his.
The US and world sit on the brink. Either Obama caves and the economy caves with him, or he stands firm and the economy recovers. The austerity pushed by Republicans is nothing but a Greek tragedy, and they know it. But does he?
Power is their sole purpose, not America’s best interests. The seeds of civil unrest lie in a Grand Old Party fertilized by bigots, religious kooks and greed-mongers.
It’s up to Obama to correlate his words with actions. This Progressive Momma isn’t going to wait much longer. She doesn’t have religion to hold the marriage together like my Mom did. If Obama sells her out again – especially on Social Security, Medicare and education – she’ll leave and take the kids with her.
I wish Obama’s performance matched his charm.