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The one who’s too light

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: August 5, 2008 7:59 p.m.
Updated: October 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

I had lunch with a very frustrated Republican the other day. The gentleman is a construction bond agent.

Intelligent, articulate, and sharp on economics and finance - it's his business to understand money, finance, risk and return - and all the detail that goes behind that.

We were at a nice sushi place that just opened up in the Valencia Gateway Commerce Center. This super Republican finance whiz is telling me that America is in a complete financial free fall.

That we're falling so far and so fast, not only don't know where the bottom is, we don't even know how to tell when we hit bottom.

He no longer believes numbers from the Fed; he no longer believes anything financial coming out of the Bush administration.

He does believe, however, that we're throwing billions upon billions at every breach and blowout in our financial system that's herniating by the day.

"How big is the deficit," he poses. "$500 billion, $700 billion? Who knows? It depends on who's quoting the numbers and what contortions are imposed on the figures."

"In any other country," he emphasizes, "we'd already have hyper-inflation, and we'd be buying our sushi with wheelbarrows full of hundred dollar bills."

I was nearly speechless. I understand things are bad. In the housing industry, most of my clients have already laid off some 85 percent of their workers.

Banks have faltered and failed. And there's all those neighborhood storefronts and business park offices we see with "For Lease" signs out in front, instead of customers.

But my bond agent represents municipalities and giant general contractors who operate largely insulated from the housing industry meltdown. And even from that angle, he feels we're freefalling. Many of his clients, he says, "are down 50 percent off on revenue this year."
Eeek.

Hijacked party

So I asked, "How do you think America solves the crises it faces?"

My Republican bond agent blows me away: "Obama," he says, "needs to inspire the entire country to look beyond immediate personal needs and gratification. Obama needs to unite us in a cause that transcends day-to-day selfish material motivations.

"Now it's time to show the world again that America can innovate, that we can unite, that we can meet our challenges head on and conquer them with intelligence, will power, and united force."

Republican Bonding Agent Man never mentioned the other electoral choices - not even as an afterthought.

He believes we are far beyond incremental fixes. With some three trillion or more in combined national debt, and some 600 billion to 700 billion more each year - more tax breaks for the rich and belated off-shore drilling combined with this or that extended war - isn't going to stop the fearful free fall. My staunch

Flintridge conservative has concluded that we, in fact, need "change we can believe in."

He says, "I'm a Goldwater Republican. I believe in fiscal prudence, civil liberties, freedom and justice - and minimal foreign adventurism.

"But my party abandoned me at that platform when the Religious Right hijacked the party train with their preemptive wars, completely nuts spending, so-called ‘values,' and End-of-Time economics. We need a big change, and I don't see it coming from my party this year."

Embarrassing

Reflecting on this conversation, I felt it was awfully nice two weeks ago, when Obama visited Germany and some 200,000 Germans came out waving American flags. Think of it: America again adored by the world.

Perhaps you, like me, can believe in this kind of change.

I understand that politics is rough and tumble. So it was expected that when Obama's "world tour" went well, the opposition camp would spin Obama's positive into a big negative.

But the way that response went down was embarrassing even for many McCain supporters.

First came the cupcake Brittney and Paris ad. They inferred that by drawing out 200,000 American flag-waving Germans fans, Obama is just a pop celebrity, akin to some teen tart.

Later that week, emboldened with Rovian piss and vinegar, the spin-meisters launched the "Chosen One" video - likening Obama to a self-contrived Moses, a mouthpiece of God.

Good grief. With the economic maelstrom consuming us, one would hope for substantive discourse over slur.

I'd hoped that the infantile characterizations would have concluded with these two doozies. But the Wall Street Journal found a way to stoop lower.

Conservative WSJ, as you recall, is owned by Rupert Murdock of Fox News fame. Murdock's global thought gang-bangers had already roughed us up with wagging tongues that Obama is too smart, too well spoken, too educated, too young, too black, too elite, too new, too popular, too international to lead as president.

In some upside down, Alice in Wonderland logic, the evidence of his intelligence and leadership disqualify him from leadership. So, stooping where no one has stupidly stooped before, the Wall Street Journal promotes the notion that Barack Obama might be too "physically fit" for the presidency.

Ripley himself wouldn't believe it, even if he read it with his own eyes:

"... In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them."

The WSJ cites its evidence: "He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones." "I won't vote for any beanpole guy." "Sometimes it's hard to tell if Barack Obama is running for president of the United States or Mr. Universe." "Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day."

God save us from ourselves. Operatives from conservative quarters are spinning cartwheel logic to convince America that our choice for president of the United States should come down to whoever doesn't particularly excel.

We should desire the least capable speaker, the least inspiring, the least attractive to our allies, the least educated - and now - even the least physically fit.

Wouldn't it be smart?

But we've had that already for the last eight years, and behold our sorry souls now. Wouldn't it be a smart thing to just once pick the best and the brightest for the most important job in the world, instead of some guy we think would share a beer with us?

So my Republican bond agent is discouraged with today's Republican choices. Can I blame him - or you - for reaching to that bright guy with that funny name and zero excess body fat for a lifeline from our nation's free fall?

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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