America didn't commit national suicide in the presidential election. Rogue readers are well aware of my frustrations with President Obama. But there was no choice but to support him against a crazy Republican Party. Wealthy Republican financier Willard Milton "Mitt" Romney may have been the most dangerous candidate fielded by a major party in modern American history. Never before would we have had to wait until after the election to find out what he really stood for, besides his own ambition. He couldn't even be forthcoming about his faith, the most important thing in his life. The refusal to release tax returns was only the tip of a Titanic-sinking iceberg. What was clear: He had spent recent years wooing the Tea Party extremists, theocrats, Randians, racists and homophobes. And unlike with Reagan, they would bring their "revolution" to "take their country back," and with Paul Ryan and others had a very specific agenda. As I say, it would have been suicide.
Now we will see if the president can finally steel himself to the battles that face us. The "fiscal cliff" will be an early marker. He was elected by people who want to see tax rates on the rich revert to Clinton-era levels, if not higher. They do not want to see the safety net further shredded to fix the dreaded deficit — not when we've been spending about a trillion a year on all the facets of the national security state and big companies pay no taxes even as they ship jobs overseas. If Obama caves to a "compromise" framed by the right, this will be another four years of weakness and slow erosion of the commons, the middle class, and American competitiveness.
Watch also to see whom he names as Treasury Secretary to replace Tim Geithner. If he chooses the odious Erskine Bowles, he of the sell-out Bowles-Simpson Commission, we will see more power flow to the oligarchs. Bowles is a corporate shill and member in good standing of the Rubin wing of the Democratic Party, which has been panting to "reform entitlements." Translation: Betray Social Security and Medicare for the middle class. Also, watch out for Peter Orszag, former Obama budget director and now at, natch, Citigroup.