Republicans, Democrats, and the Gym

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

After having a reporter's shoes hurled at him during a press conference this past weekend, President Bush made it clear to reporters he didn't care. When told of the intended additional insult of being targeted by a shoe as opposed to a cream pie or the reporter's notebook, President Bush's reply was "So what?"

This could well be the credo of this administration over the last eight years. President Bush repeated the phrase to ABC's Martha Raddatz when she pointed out that there was no Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the US invasion, and therefore taking credit for having the foresight to send troops into what he's dubbed the central front in the war on terror is tantamount to firemen kicking your front door in, hosing down everything you own, accidentally knocking over a candle, then praising themselves for being there to fight the fire started by said candle.

"So what?"

For eight years, President Bush has shown no interest in understanding the world outside our borders--or much of the world inside our borders for that matter. Anyone he wouldn't meet at church, a state dinner, or in his own living room really didn't pique this president's interest. In many ways, it was a willful ignorance, not just being oblivious to a world where families struggle to pay all the bills each month and aren't helped by cuts to capital gains taxes, where gays are moral members of the community, or where black people exist, but going out of his way not to be exposed to information that might alter his perceptions.

As our president, he has represented us to the world. He has destroyed international favor for the United States, squandered the post-9/11 support pledged from every corner of the globe, and left the world thinking all Americans are ignorant, lazy, self-important slobs.

And at least for that he might be our greatest president ever.

The buzzword for the last election was "change." The victory of Barack Obama was as much a loss for Bush and what he's stood for as it was for McCain. But as we reach the final gasps of arguably the worst presidency in history, we should spend less time patting ourselves on the back for our historic election of Obama and remember that we elected Bush twice.

The difference over the past decades has become pretty clear. Democrats represent what we aspire to be; Republicans represent what we are. In this way, we can look at presidential administrations like going to the gym.

When you are fat and out of shape, you convince yourself you have to do something about it. So you join a gym, workout, get yourself into shape, but after awhile it becomes a grind. You reach a plateau. You're in decent shape and the only way you're going to improve much more is to become obsessive like those dudes who spend six hours a day lifting and drinking power shakes and posing in front of the mirrors. It become easier to skip a work out or three to go drinking with some friends or catch up on some paperwork at the office. As long as you still look okay when you get out of the shower, that's what really matters.

And slowly you find you don't go to the gym any more. When friends point out your gut, you blame it on the holidays. Besides, you can still suck that in when you get out of the shower and look okay, and that's what really matters. It's not until you can't fit in any of your pants and you notice you look pregnant when you stand before the mirror in profile that you finally recommit to working out and getting back in shape and the cycle starts over.

As a nation, we know we'd like to clothe the poor, heal the infirm, and provide good educations for all our children... but we're more likely to stuff a fistful of barbcue chips in our mouths while seeing what the Real Housewives of Detroit are up to. They're such bitches!

So we elect a Democrat who convinces us to make sacrifices and to set goals. We'll go to the moon! We don't know how, but we'll find a way because we're Americans! We'll end racism! Sure, it's been ingrained in us for hundreds of years, but we all know it's bad, so let's stop it!

Sure enough, we see results. We're on the moon! Segregation is abolished! But what the hell are we going to do on the moon? And just because blacks can use the same drinking fountains as whites doesn't mean everything is solved racially. Just like the guy who sees that he's been bench pressing the same weight for two months and can't seem to improve or would like to run an extra mile or two every day but just doesn't have the time, the country tires of aspiring to be something better and gets comfortable with who we really are.

We elect a Republican who reassures us America is great and always has been great. We sit back and enjoy life as it is rather than as it could be. Sure, sometimes Cambodia gets bombed, or American troops have to flee Vietnam in defeat, or both the president and vice president have to resign in disgrace, but things are still pretty much okay, right?

But instead of joining a gym and fully committing to a new workout regiment, we buy a Bowflex or a Total Gym or elect Jimmy Carter. We're promised big changes, but none of them really come about and it doesn't take long before we give up and banish it/him to the garage.

And with that failure still fresh in our mouths, we find someone who will tell us how awesome we are regardless of how poor, stupid, or lazy we are. We elect a Republican who reassures us that we're not poor, stupid, nor lazy as long as there's someone out there poorer, stupider, or lazier.

We let the public schools rot, allow the ranks of homeless to swell, turn our backs on veterans, ignore AIDS, destroy organized labor, secretly fund both terrorism and the drug trade, turn mental patients out into the streets, arm and train men who will declare war upon us in the years to come, turn a blind eye to swindlers on Wall Street and in the savings-and-loans, pay farmers not to grow anything, send kids to bed hungry, and make a hero of Donald Trump.

Finally, like the man so fat the fire department has to cut the wall off his house to get him out, we admit we've let things get out of hand and commit to change. So we elect a Democrat who promises economic growth, universal health care, better education, and a departure from Washington business as usual.

Before long, we see an economic boom unlike any before. Schools are improving, our standing on the world stage is respected, and the national budget is operating with a surpus instead of a deficit... but as good as things are, we still don't have universal health care and won't any time soon. And we've gotten involved in a couple of skirmishes we probably didn't need to, even though we feel bad about all those people dying to Koboso and Somaliland or wherever it was... geography is hard! Plus the president did something that made Dan Rather have to describe what a Donkey Punch was to our kids on the nightly news!

The point is, things were really good and there was no real reason to keep going to the gym when our buddy George--who is a total party dude--was telling us to just kick back and hang with him. He gave us all some money for beer and we all went out and bought trucks and SUVs that were bigger than we'd ever really need. Then when some dudes tried to pick a fight, we were all ready to throw down, but George was like, "No, man, just kick back and go to Disneyland. I'm totally gonna handle this." So we kicked back and let him do his thing. And some guys got tortured and a couple hundred thousand Iraqis got killed and a ton of American phone got tapped and the swindlers on Wall Street got even ballsier and took millions of people's houses and the separation of church and state got narrower and millions of people lost their jobs and gas got so expensive people couldn't go to Disneyland.

And for most of that time, we said a collective, "So what?"

Sure, we've seen that we need to get back to the gym and last November we paid for a four year membership, but we can't blame George Bush for our getting fat, stupid, and lazy. We are fat, stupid, and lazy by nature and we'll be fat, stupid, and lazy after four or eight years of Obama.

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