I admit to not watching a whole lot of TV the last six months, working your ass off and having a family doesn’t allow much time for flipping stations on the remote.  Hence, you must forgive me for just now seeing the “China 2030” ad, the one staged at a fictitious university in Beijing, the professor talking about failed superpowers, and at the end, laughing at how Americans are now working to serve China by virtue of them buying our debt.  It’s one of those political commercials you see every decade or so that cuts through the crap and gets to the very heart of the matter. 

I don’t deny the power the ad has, I wouldn’t preface an article with it if it didn’t have real bite to it.  My big question about it is, why now?  Why has it been over the last few years that political bands like the Tea Party have taken hold in America?  Why is it now, after decades of reckless deficit spending that now enters fourteen figures, is this being taken seriously? 

I have to say it.  The only reason is because Barack Obama is president. 

I’m not going to kid myself on this.  Our national debt has been the 400 lb. gorilla that has been only given lip service over the last thirty years.  Every since Ronald Reagan replaced the tax-and-spend philosophy in Washington with his borrow-and-spend agenda, the debt has accelerated to monstrous proportions.  In those thirty years, we can count perhaps three where the deficit went down and we were able to pay down the debt; that, of course, was during Bill Clinton’s second term.  When George W. Bush initiated his tax cuts for the wealthy, again, the deficit was ignored. 

The first so-called “Tea Party”, according to Wikipedia, was organized on January 24, 2009, FOUR DAYS AFTER OBAMA’S INAUGURATION, in protest of New York Governor David Paterson’s new tax proposals.  It was organized by Trevor Leach, chairman for the Young Americans for Liberty, and it begs the question, why at this point did he decide enough was enough?  Why didn’t he organize this protest three months before, when the Bush Administration used $700 billion in federal money—OUR money—to bail out the banking industry?  Where was his concern when our debt level broke five trillion, six trillion, seven trillion dollars? 

The answer, to be blunt, is that they didn’t care, so long as a Republican was in the White House. 

Barack Obama chose to run for president at a very precarious moment in America’s history, and for that, he chose to take over responsibility for correcting this massive recession and solving our budget problems.  It must be made clear, however, that he has inherited economic problems no president has had to walk in cold and address since Franklin Roosevelt.  The only president this country ever had that was able to balance the ledger once and for all was Andrew Jackson, which means debt has been amassing since the 1820’s, slowly but surely, and in more recent times, only Bill Clinton has been able to get us in a position to pay down the debt.  This history has to be calculated into the context of the new Obama Administration, taking over this overwhelming task. 

Of course, it’s a lot simpler to eliminate context if you believe it undercuts your political mission.  

During his campaign, Obama never made the mistake Walter Mondale made in 1984.  It was political suicide, but it was the most honest thing I’ve ever heard a presidential nominee say.  Standing before the venerable Reagan, he said before the audience, “He’s going to raise taxes, I’m going to raise taxes.  He’s not going to tell you, I just did.”  For his honesty, he won one electoral state, his home state of Minnesota.  He was a long shot to win in the first place, Reagan was a popular president that every Republican and a good many Democrats were ga-ga over, and the country was rising out of the stagflation and unemployment of the 1970’s.  Those in the know started talking about how future generations would have to pay for the excesses of the times, but with people making money, few with power gave it much thought. 

Obama is like the janitor who has to clean up after a weekend-long frat party. 

As such, his stimulus spending was, in my estimation, no better or worse than Dubya’s stimulus spending.  It’s just that he had a much deeper hole to dig out of than Dubya did in 2001. 

Criticizing Obama at all for his economic policies is one thing, and we can pick them apart as we like.  Forgetting the previous three decades of fiscal recklessness and ignoring the context upon which Obama took office, that’s the blind evil of American partisanship. 

Anyone who has the gall to berate Obama, but ignored the debts racked up under previous Republican administrations, ought to be ignored as the partisan hacks they are. 

By no means does that let Obama off the hook.  Yes, he has to work with a generation of Republicans who said even before he was elected that they were going to reject anything and everything the Democrats put on the table in order to make them look bad politically.  Yes, he has these Tea Party politicians in Washington that are fueled entirely on ideology and have no room to spare for context or reality.  Yes, he’s tried to be the better man and reach a hand out to those who would sooner cut it off than shake it.  But this was his choice, to take on this burden, knowing the opposition would turn into sharks smelling blood in the water.  Should he get the economy back to some semblance of normal, should any jobs at all appear out of the ether, he’ll be considered a hero by many and win a second term; should he fail, despite the mutinies and sabotages he’s had to tangle with, who knows. 

It’s hero or goat time.  He could end up being Franklin Roosevelt or Jimmy Carter. 

I’m trying to fathom the other side of the “China 2030” ad.  I’m trying to picture the America that has turned into a vassal state for the new Chinese economic empire.  I can’t imagine it being much different than it is today.  The working folks will be scrounging to make a living, working one bad job after another, barely staying above the poverty line.  Those who could outsource their labor have finally left the country for good.  Pundits from the left and the right will still be pointing fingers at one another, continuing to blame and demonize instead of starting to solve the problem, even as more of our wealth ends up in Chinese banks.  And you’ll have a professor from some university in Washington, having to explain to his student body why they should not expect the lifestyle their grandparents, who got rich and fat during the so-called Conservative Era, both enjoyed and refused to take responsibility for. 

That professor of America 2030 will be far more honest than any partisan hack today.