The picture and the accompanying quote on the cover of this week's Arkansas Times — a distraught woman crying “I want my America back” — are vivid and curious. Her America is still right here, with one exception.
Yes, the new president of the United States is dark-skinned, the first such person to hold the office. Otherwise, we're still living in George Bush's America. To the great disappointment of those of us who voted for change — a majority of voters, incidentally — the Obama administration has continued the policies of its predecessor. Barack Obama's one great effort so far to make the difference that he promised, reform of a miserably inadequate health-care system, has been successfully blocked by over-excited opponents. Why is this woman weeping?
We'll wager there's no crying among the cynical officeholders, Republicans and Blue Dogs and Joe Lieberman, who mislead and manipulate the plain people that show up at town hall meetings to shout against their own best interests. The politicians know they're winning, and that they'll be handsomely compensated by the insurance companies for betraying their constituents. Sen. Mark Pryor is probably smiling too. The ostensible Democrat helped keep Lieberman in the Senate even after Lieberman had been defeated in a Democratic primary. He explained that he liked Lieberman. The gifted cartoonist, Tom Tomorrow, has said that today's weak-willed Democrats in Washington are less interested in helping the American people than in achieving bipartisan consensus. That's always been Pryor's goal.
As for Mike Ross, elevated to celebrity status for doing what's bad for South Arkansas, and loving every minute of it, he's beneath embarrassment. There seems nothing left to be said that could possibly shame him into good conduct. Except maybe this: He's now on the side of Asa Hutchinson.
Once a contender for the title of Meanest Man in Washington, Hutchinson hasn't lost his malevolent edge. The former congressman and “drug warrior” has been leaving messages on Arkansans' phones, urging them to attend rallies in opposition to health-care reform, inducing panic at the behest of a phony grass-roots organization that purports to represent patients and in fact advances the right-wing corporate agenda. Koch Industries, an oil company, is a leading financier of the group. Koch also bankrolls front groups against environmental regulation, against a fair shake for labor unions, against progressive legislation of all sorts. The Koch family has been in reactionary politics for a long time. Fred Koch, the founder of Koch Industries' predecessor, was also a founder of the fanatical John Birch Society. We'd thought the Birchers well repulsed. Now they're back. Dry your eyes, ma'am. Your America is so here.