Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



There’s a line you’ll be familiar with from Yeats that has been repeated so many times, in so many contexts, as to have become rather hackneyed. You know, the one about the best lacking all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Its a cliche. But it’s hard to think of any recent debate to which that line might more appropriately have been applied than the push for healthcare reform currently underway in the U.S.

The eventual outcome there will be of borderline relevance on this side of the Atlantic. But there are a couple of observations that can already be made: 1. That it is now inevitable Obama will either lose this battle, or make a compromise so repugnant to a large percentage of those who helped get him elected that his authority, in the short to medium term at least, will be undermined.

2. That the passage of time will nonetheless allow Obama opportunity to make up the ground he is shortly to lose in time for him to be reelected in 2012, just it did for the Clintons at the same stage in Bill’s administration circa 1993.

3. That unabashed Philistinism in the U.S. has political traction on a scale unimaginable in almost any other developed country.

4. And that nonetheless, for an unashamed lover of America such as myself, there remains infinitely more to admire about that country than there is of which to despair. Here’s Barney Frank, the gay, left-handed, Jewish congressman from Massachusetts rebuking a protester at a town hall meeting yesterday. And here’s The Onion affectionately satirising participatory democracy back in 2007.

Below, I’ve uploaded (for the third second time, I think) a song written by the father of one of the most prominent diehard proponents of the numbskull God-guns-Bush-Cheney-whogivesafuckwhatelse-KAAABOOM!-troglodyte -bullshit school of thought. It’s perhaps the saddest, most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard and it would, if it were up to me, be the national anthem of the entire world.

I’m not entirely sure why I feel that last point is relevant here. It’s just a reminder, I suppose, that – no more than the right-wing nutjobs who think Obama is Hitler and Glenn Beck is God – we too should be careful not to ever let our first thought be our last thought.

August 20th, 2009.

8 Responses to “OBAMA = HITLER… OBVIOUSLY”

  1. Conal Says:

    True enough, well put.

  2. Paul Says:

    “…the father of one of the most prominent diehard proponents of the numbskull God-guns-Bush-Cheney-whogivesafuckwhatelse-KAAABOOM!-troglodyte -bullshit schools of thought.”

    And grandfather of anarcho-punk-country-drug-liquor-redneck-metal hero Hank III. Who, sadly, surrounds himself with some fairly repugnant Johnny Reb types these days. America is nothing if not complicated, and given that I’ve been getting depressed watching the news recently (not least with the contrast between the openly gun-toting anti-Obama types being allowed to proceed freely, as is their right, in comparison with anti-Bush t-shirt wearers who used to get arrested on sight), it’s salutary to be reminded that whatever is true of the USA, its opposite is also true.

  3. Conal Says:

    Think the Democrats dropped the ball on this one; they didn’t really take this campaign seriously at first, but then again who would? It’s unbelievably incoherent, with people shouting accusations of socialism, fascism, communism all in the same breath. It’s so confused and muddled how could you tackle anything they say other than to dismiss everything they say? Johann Hari had a good piece in yesterday’s Independent, in one bit he cites a right leaning newspaper that mused if Stephen Hawking was British he would have been allowed to die at birth. It really should be possible to get those wheelchair computers with different accents at this stage

  4. Eoin Says:

    @ Paul – absolutely agree

    @ Conal – I read that article too. Another funny extract

    “…But the ordinary Republican base believe this stuff. They are being tricked into opposing their own interests through false fears and invented demons. Last week, one of the Republicans sent to disrupt a healthcare town hall started a fight and was injured – and then complained he had no health insurance. I didn’t laugh; I wanted to weep.”

    The full article is here for anyone who missed it:


  5. Colin Says:

    Read the piece, though it is indeed funny and raises some strong arguments, it’s still incredibly biased, though this isn’t something new from Hari, a regular contributer to the Huffington Post (He even quotes Arianna in the piece).

    Nationalised Healthcare in America is as convoluted an arguement you will ever come across. There is plenty that needs to be achieved before steps towards a national system could be taken. Most of these steps have been faltered on already; medicine and hospital costs to patient, healthcare administration and agreed insurance cost cuts in light of government spending.

    With the colossal amount of money the US already spends on healthcare, coupled with growing hostile opinion and continued recession. This comendable if somewhat idealistic attempt under the Obama Administration looks less and less likely.

  6. Eoin Says:

    As far as I can tell, he’s held back on virtually every other issue and gambled everything on healthcare.

    If he fails outright, it will be pretty spectacular.

  7. Eoin Says:

    Joe Klein wrote today that the health care debate has shown that the Republican party have become nihilists. Philistinism may be a better description than Nihilism but he’s on to something when he points out:
    “The same people who rail against a government takeover of health care tried to enforce a government takeover of Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life decisions.”

    Article here – http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1917525,00.html


    […] mentioned here previously, partisan politics in America is an ugly, ugly business. Everyone compares anything they […]

Leave a Comment