Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bernie Sanders: War Consigliere in the Stormy Present

Counseling Caution

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country. "

--Abraham Lincoln

There is a moment in "The Godfather" when Michael Corleone assigns various members of his organization specific tasks but  he dismisses his loyal adviser, Tom Hagen.  
Tom turns to him and asks what he has done wrong. "Michael, why am I out?"  
"You have been a good consigliere, Tom," Michael says,  "But you are not a war consigliere. Right now, I need a war consigliere."

Michael has cooly assessed the forces arrayed against him and concluded accommodation, amelioration, reaching agreements with those whom the Corleones will naturally come into conflict is not realistic.  In the more tranquil past,  the aims and interests of the Corleone family could be negotiated, but  those prudent compromises of the past will no longer serve. 

Democrats, and the nation as a whole now face much the same choice.  Reading over today's Huffington Post piece by Zach Carter, which outlines all the compromises President Obama has had to make as he faced the intemperate, determined and unyielding Tea Party Republicans who have made the term "loyal opposition" only half true, I have nearly come to the conclusion we are at a point where we need a war consigliere. 

President Obama has in fact been a very tepid liberal; he is a pragmatist concerned with solving problems and, given the choices he had, he compromised wisely, and got at least something of an improvement in health care. But in order to sustain the ungainly, jerry-rigged contraption we call Obamacare, he had to allow the health insurance industry to get what they wanted and that is not, in the long run, what the American people need.  All of the inefficiencies in the details are obvious, but  the main problem with a commercial health care system is that the ultimate mission of the health insurance industry is to generate profits for stockholders, while every other advanced country in the world defines the mission of health care to be good health care, not profits. So our system is twice as expensive as it needs to be--we spend $9000 a patient where England and Canada spend $4500. That other half goes to buoy up all the middlemen, all the hangers on, who do nothing but process claims or sell policies.

President Obama had to compromise on benefits for the elderly, on the Trans Pacific Trade Pact, which corporations love but unions hate, on the stimulus package, and he appointed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner who are hardly liberal economists, to oversee his response to the Wall Street crash of 2008. In doing all this, he saved the ship of state from going down in a maelstrom, but now we have to plot a new course for new conditions.

Recognizing the  Inevitability of Coflict

And it is hugely important that no Wall Street miscreants, whoever they may, be went to jail for their attempted homicide (or perhaps simply criminal negligence) which nearly killed the American economy and precipitated the great recession.
Keep your government hands off my Medicare!

Meeting the man who tried to assassinate his father, Michael Corleone looked across the dinner table and assessed his opponent. Be reasonable, Michael was told. Why go to war, when we can coexist and do business?  But Michael understood the nature of his adversary, who would never stop trying to kill the Godfather. That is what we are facing in the persons of McConnell and company. They will sound reasonable, but they intend to kill every Democratic/ progressive program from Social Security to Medicare to Obamacare.
Can Hillary hope to accommodate this pack of jackals?

Like Tom Hagen, Hillary Clinton has served loyally and well, but the crucial insight Bernie Sanders offers is we now need a different sort of consigliere--we need a war consigliere.  
True believers do not bend

We cannot negotiate with Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Paul Ryan or the rest of the ultra right wing which is the  Republican party we now face. They are as uncompromising and implacable as the five families arrayed against the Corleones. Simply put, these Tea Party Republicans are out for blood and there is no way of dealing with them other than war.
These two make Trump look benign

This is not a new problem for democracies peopled by citizens who abhor war:  Neville Chamberlain gave the British what they craved, when he promised "peace in our time." Winston Churchill was seen as curmudgeonly, inflexible, bull headed, but he clearly understood the nature of his opposition. And he was right. Are we not in the same position today, as we look across the aisle and see those who are arrayed against us? Can you see in the faces of the Republicans in Congress and on the Presidential stage anyone we can trust? Louie Gomhert, McConnell, Paul Ryan, any of them? 
Louie reacts to Mexican rapist invasion
Is anyone listening to Hillary?

That is the basic choice--accommodation or war.  
Zippy the Pinhead: Try negotiating with him

If we choose Ms. Clinton we will see Social Security, Medicare, health care, unions, the middle class die by a thousand cuts.  

Might it not be better  to take the risk and lose, than to slowly exsanguinate?

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