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Welcome Back, Mr. Prez!

Tom Degan: there he was the other day out in the Rose Garden, saying what was screaming to be said; that this nation's economic burden shall no longer be placed solely on the backs of the poor.
obama cafe

President Barack Obama greets patrons at Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate in Washington, D.C.

Yeah we tease him a lot

'Cause we've got him on the spot

Welcome back

Welcome back! Welcome back! Welcome back!
--John Sebastian

I'm almost embarrassed to use those lyrics as the opener to this piece. With the monumental exception of Three's Company, Welcome Back Kotter was absolutely the worst "successful" sit-com of the seventies. It had some of the lamest "comedy" writers in the history of literature ("Up your nose with a rubber hose!") Just awful stuff. But the show's theme song wasn't too bad, and it works here. Welcome back, President Obama. We've missed you. Your dreams were your ticket out.

I had started to wonder what happened to that fellow I had voted for three years ago. I had expected a progressive-on-fire, and all I got was this Casper Milquetoast -- moderate, sound asleep in the middle of the road - not a good place to be. But there he was the other day out in the Rose Garden, saying what was screaming to be said; that this nation's economic burden shall no longer be placed solely on the backs of the poor and the vanishing middle class, and that the miniscule class of people who are hoarding most of the nation's wealth shall be forced to pay more - A helluva lot more, baby! - in order to save America's desperately crumbling infrastructure.

The president has placed himself in the most enviable political position of any politician that I can remember. The tone of next year's campaign has been set: that the middle class must be saved. Watch in glee while the Republicans try to find a way to defend the utterly indefensible; while they draw a smiley face on the morally reprehensible. This is gonna be funny!

Here's a little something you can bet the farm on. The next 13 months will see the right wing beside themselves as they scramble - like sadistic little mice - to change the topic of discussion from that of economic fairness, to the subject of that BIG, BLACK, BOLSHEVIK BOOGIEMAN in the Oval Office. They won't be able to take back the Senate and the White House - nor will they be able to retain control of the House of Reprehensibles - without exploiting the worst racist tendencies deep within America's tormented soul. That is their biggest hope. That is their only hope. 2012 might very well turn out to be a most interesting political year. Talk about understatement!

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In addition to playing the race card it's a fairly easy guess that they'll drag out their moth-eaten bag of "family values" for good measure, as hard as that argument is for many of us to swallow these days. The Republicans don't give a shit about American families - or the families who gross somewhere under a million per. This is a party that cares about one thing only: that the obscenely rich get obscenely richer. To hell with the rest of you.

What they're doing in Wahing-TON?
They're just looking out for Number One
And Number One ain't you
You ain't even Number Two!
--Frank Zappa

Wake up! The only way these people can survive is via the old, tried-and-true route of division and distraction. Their ideological antecedents tried the same thing exactly a century-and-a-half ago. Do you remember how that ended? It wasn't very pretty as we all know. I am not saying that we've arrived at that same place I'm not even vaguely implying it. Not at all, dear reader! It's just that Rick Perry has twice hinted at Texas secession. Not that there would be anything wrong with that mind you.

This new-and-improved, revamped Barack Obama gives me a rush of "hope". Remember that word? Less than a week ago, I was toying with the depressing possibility of a Rick Perry victory next year. All bets are now off. It is apparent that the President has been reminded that his party is (or at least it's supposed to be) the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.

For over 50 years those programs did many good things for this country. In the early 80s when Ronald Reagan began the process of destroying the New Deal, America's infrastructure began to fall apart - not to mention the American middle class. The genius of the Conservative movement is that they have been successful at placing the blame for this destruction on the Left. As the late Lenny Bruce once said, "How's that for moxie???"

This may sound astonishing but it's true. There are a number of reasonable and intelligent people out there who are registered to vote in GOP primaries. In fact I personally know a lot of them! They're a bit more numerous here in the northeast than they are in the Deep South or deep in the Midwest. The hope of these poor souls - that the "party of Abraham Lincoln" will wise-up and nominate a comparative moderate like Mitt Romney - is dwindling by the day. And when the candidacies of MichelLe Bachmann, Ron Paul and Herman Cain die on the vine, it will be Rick Perry who will gather the putrid fruit. Romney can only hope for Jon Huntsman's support in the end. That's about it.

Did you notice that I didn't even bother to mention the names Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in that assessment? Honestly, are there two human beings in politics today more hopelessly pathetic than Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich? I ask you.

The argument being made against Barack Obama - from the right and the left - is that he's had over two-and-a-half years to clean up the mess he inherited and he has failed horribly. It's a valid one, to be sure. What must not be forgotten however is the fact that for the first two years of this administration's existence, the President was being obstructed at every turn by a confederacy of reactionary Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. When the GOP took back the House last January, that obstruction became total and overwhelming.

Given all invective that has been hurled at him ("YOU LIE!") it is a testimony to the man's fortitude that he has been able to get anything done at all. This president will only be successful in his second term if both houses on congress are in the hands of progressive Democrats - and good ol' Bernie Sanders. Otherwise all we can expect is four more years of right wing gridlock. Have you had enough of the quagmire? I have, that's for damned sure!