Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No More New Car Smell?

The recent dismaying turn of events with the Daschle nomination seemed to me like the first ding you get on the side of your new car. It doesn’t really damage anything, and you’ll probably forget about it pretty quickly, but the little ding does take the sheen off the whole new car thing. Alternatively, it could be like spilling some ketchup inside your new car. To extend this stupid metaphor, Geithner’s nomination turbulence was like the first time someone bumps into your new car’s bumper as they are trying to parallel park in front of you. No damage done, but your previously pristine new baby has been violated.

At lunch today, I walked past an empty loft on Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, and past L.A. Times dispensers displaying today’s dispiriting headline: “Obama frustrated by stumbles”. For some reason, I thought back to the building excitement of late September of last year, when I rode my bike down Colorado Avenue in Pasadena with a big Obama bumper sticker pasted across the bike frame. At that point, an Obama presidency seemed a thing of unbounded promise, limitless potential – a beautiful dream.

We’re two weeks into the Obama presidency. We’re not seeing “failure” or the collapse of Obama’s mandate to make sweeping changes in the federal government. Rather, we’re just seeing that beautiful dream in the grimy February light of Washington. The Daschle nomination was a fuck-up, and it’s to Obama’s credit that he was quick to say so – though that doesn’t quite make it all better. How could he and his staff have missed this, knowing Daschle as well as they do, and why was Obama backing a known loser like Daschle for this spot in the first place?

I was a little troubled to hear yesterday that Obama said he felt “surprisingly comfortable” as President. I don’t want him to feel “surprisingly comfortable.” Tom Daschle’s stupid glasses were probably “surprisingly comfortable.” I want Obama to be desperate to get shit done, and to get it done right. Half-ass hacks like Daschle – and maybe Geithner (though I’m withholding judgment for the time being) – will not get this done. Two weeks, and it looks like the honeymoon may be over sooner than we thought. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

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