Last year on this date, the people of the United States elected their 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, by a popular vote margin of 7.2 percent – only half a point lower than George H.W. Bush’s margin over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The following 12 months were a time of lies, rancor, fear and desperation, as the new majority coalition has been faced with a frenzied onslaught from Rightist Jacobins and status quo corporatists who hope to derail the consensus agenda before the promise of change can become practice.
Today’s newspapers, cable talk networks and politics websites have been awash with assessments of the president, and the nation, 365 days after Obama’s historic victory. The National Razor wants to take a different tack, by discussing exactly what is happening and has happened today aside from these critiques. Here is TNR’s barometer of the nation, and take from it whatever lessons you will about the state of the Republic and its chief executive.
– The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9,802 points, up 30
– NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued Intel Corp. for suspected antitrust violations
– The top Google search suggestions for “Barack Obama” were “biography,” “birth certificate,” “quotes,” “website,” “health care”
– The top Google search suggestions for “percentage of” were “black people in America,” “Americans with college degrees,” “obese Americans,” “a number,” and “left handed people.”
– New Jersey and Virginia got official word that their new governors are Republicans Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell, respectively. These were probably the smart decisions.
– The people of New York’s 23rd Congressional district awoke to discover that they had elected a Democratic representative for the first time since the South was its own country. Another smart decision.
– Same-sex couples are no longer allowed to marry in Maine. Congrats to the happy newlyweds who squeezed their nuptials in between May and yesterday.
– President Obama announced $4 billion in education funds that states will be allowed to compete for. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continues to school policy makers on how to be innovative… and own Stephen Colbert in the paint.
– Family members of the eight U.S. soldiers killed at the Battle of Kamdesh realized it has been a month since the Taliban, and a lack of adequate troop levels in Afghanistan, destroyed their lives.
– The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) hinted that it will probably support the President’s health plan, with the public option included. This traditionally center-right organization stands to the left of some Senate Democrats, who today hinted they will probably oppose the President’s health plan, if the public option is included.
– The reporters and staffers of the East Valley Tribune, which has been in operation for 118 years and won a Pulitzer Prize this past April for its local coverage, began the sad task of preparing for the paper’s closure on December 31. Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Mesa, AZ-based paper, announced late Monday that, in the absence of a buyer and with Freedom going through Chapter 11 proceedings, all operations would cease at the EVT by year’s end.
This is a good opportunity for a screed about the way corporatist practices have destroyed local news, horribly botched the transition from print to online publication, left thousands of quality journalists out of work, tied the reputation of journalists to the diminishing fortunes of the corporate entities that write their checks, and paid executives vast sums for the service. However, this much more balanced and thoughtful piece by Matt Bunk, managing editor of the Arizona Capitol Times and a former Tribune editor, will serve better.
That is a brief glimpse of where the nation stands today, November 4, 2009. In some ways, such as our war with extremists half a world away, we are no better now than we were a year ago. In others, such as the pursuit of a humane and rational health policy and a better way to educate our children, we have seen improvement. And in some ways, such as the control corporate boards and lobbying groups hold over our government and media, and the factional strife among the citizenry, we are only further down the same evil road we’ve been traveling for years.
However, a higher percentage of Americans approve of the President than voted for him, and a lot of the problems that have been festering for the better part of a decade are now being addressed. It is not quite Morning in America, but to the east there is light on the horizon.
Sadly, because of kamikaze corporate policies and the triumph of “views” over “news,” wherever we are as a nation next year, we won’t be reading about it in the East Valley Tribune.