Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Vinegar and Honey

Many of my Democratic friends are disillusioned with President Obama because he doesn't confront his Republican opponents.  Instead, he tends to placate them.  He won't tell them that he knows they are telling lies when they assert that Social Security and other entitlements have to be scaled back to reduce the deficit.  He won't tell them that, because of the way Social Security is funded it delivers a net surplus to the general fund in the Treasury.  He won't tell them that the TARP program was (a) started by their President, George Bush and (b) has been a success and will probably turn out to be a net gain for the Treasury.  And so on.

Mr. Obama has already demonstrated his style of governing.  He's not confrontational.  He recognizes that while confrontation would be very satisfying to those of us who are perpetually angered by Republican lies and misrepresentations it would not produce useful results, especially with a divided Congress.  Even when we Democrats had a majority in both houses there were enough Democrats in Name Only (DINO's?) from districts that normally elect Republicans to make progress on a progressive Democratic agenda very difficult.  We forget, especially here in California, that the United States is a deeply conservative nation.  Americans are more religious than the people of almost any other country.  Around 90 percent of our fellows attend church services at least occasionally.  No other nation has as large a percentage of nominal believers in some religion.  Religious belief naturally goes with conservatism.  Religious people of all faiths believe things written in their holy books, things that were written down thousands of years ago.  The same believers in the wisdom of ancient writings follow ancient writings and ideas about economics, about the responsibilities of government, and about self reliance rather than dependence on systematic help from society.

Our successful presidents have been those who choose honey rather than vinegar.  My mother told me that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar.  A similar principle applies to dealing with other humans.  Mr. Obama understands that bit of ancient wisdom and applies it to his job as President.


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