The gleeful din in the dingy outposts of leftish television has been deafening. Obama lives! Days of triumph! Democratic legislation passes! Don't ask, don't tell repealed! Benefits approved for for 9-11 first responders! Nineteen new judges confirmed! Unemployment benefits extended!
Give a starving man a loaf of stale bread and he'll consume it with relish and gratitude.
Alas, democracies cannot and do not thrive on stale bread.
The ecstasy of getting a few watered-down paps to the liberal conscience signed into law is supposed to compensate us for the agony of two years of extension of the worst Bush policies on abuse of executive privilege, human rights, civil liberties, government secrecy, war, corporatocracy and social justice -- all of it crowned by the most criminal sell-out of an entire people since Peter Stuyvesant "bought" Manhattan island., the so-called tax "compromise."
The devil, as always, is in the details. The first responder benefits, for example, passed only after the funding was reduced to such a pittance than even the most misanthropic of right-wing Republicans could accept it.
The judges who were confirmed, when put under a microscope, are closer in judicial philosophy to John Roberts than Louis Brandeis. Those whose histories disclose even the slightest hint of progressive understanding of the profundity of our Constitution are deemed "controversial" by the lemming media and held hostage by the neanderthal Senate, even though most of them were unanimously recommended for confirmation by the Senate judiciary committee. (After two years, 59 Obama judicial nominees have been confirmed, the lowest number in almost a century.)
Pre-passage tinkering by the corporate-owned right-wingers who control the Senate created modifications and amendments -- those old devil details -- that made milksops of what Dr. Kidglove so ornately signed into law. As one savvy Senate-watcher remarked the other day, "Before the days when every routine bit of legislation required 60 votes to even be considered, this entire lame duck docket could've been taken care of in one random week of the regular legislative session."
How right he is! The 60-vote canard is the great ugly duckling behind which Dr. Kidglove has hidden his worst shortcomings, deceptions and surrenders. "Tsk, tsk, it's too bad that I couldn't even suggest true health care reform -- single-payer -- because those nasty people would threaten to filibuster and I don't have the 60 votes required io. . ."
"Well, I had to give up the public option because there weren't 60 . . ."
"The stimulus bill isn't perfect, but since we didn't have 60 . . ."
Bovine excrement Doc, Rachel, Keith, Larry, Harry, Nancy. . . . It still requires 51, not 60, votes to enact legislation in the Senate. Dr. Kidglove's party controlled that many votes, and more than enough votes in the House, to pass truly progressive legislation on matters of enormous importance to all Americans.
I applaud the extension of civil liberties to a small minority of members of the military. I applaud the provision of assistance, however minimal, to first responders in the terrorist attacks. I applaud efforts to improve the safety of our food -- although the details of the actual legislation don't make me feel any safer.
But despite all the happy, happy happy talk on lefty TV these days, these facts remain:
The DREAM Act is a pipe dream; Dodd-Frank financial regulation cannot be enforced; we have no climate bill, no immigration reform, no budget, and no hope of improving, rather than dismantling, the health care law.
And unless Julian Assange turns up some documents with the devil details in them, we have no way of knowing what secret sell-outs Dr. Kidglove and his gutless henchmen made on future votes, just to get the pablum people have been cheering this week.
How green is my mold? Never mind! Bread is bread when you're starving.