It's the Tuesday after Super Bowl Sunday and everyone here in New York is gaga over the Giants.
There was, of course, no guarantee that the Giants would actually win, and at game time they were a slight underdog. Nevertheless, between New England fans and New York fans, the bounds of arrogance were more or less limitless. Hence, the utter certainty with which each set of loyalists confidently anticipated a favorable outcome.
Regardless of the fact that both could not -- logically -- be right, and one, therefore, was destined to be demonstrably wrong.
It is in fact amazing how sport can generate so much irrationality. It appears to be the consequence of its not unique but nevertheless potent ability to combine utter contempt with sheer hatred. A number of years ago, I was leaving Yankee Stadium with my son after a Yankee-Red Sox game. We were at the old Yankee Stadium where one exited for the most part by gradually walking down a dozen or so ramps, and this naturally took a bit of time.
As we did so, the crescendo of expletives was deafening. A native New Yorker, I pride myself on the fact that there probably are not any forms of the f-word I have not heard at one time or another in my 55 years. Nor have the grammatical or syntactical constructions surrounding its use been limited. It has come packaged as a noun, verb, adjective and gerund. As a stand alone sentence... or in an expletive laced string. But leaving Yankee Stadium that day was an education in the hatred behind this linguistic creativity.
One, in fact, that I had forgotten.
Until I started following this year's Republican presidential primary campaign.
Somewhere between the comical and the incredulous, the GOP has simply channeled its inner hatred. There is, literally, nothing they will give Obama credit for and a whole host of fictive evils the responsibility for which they regularly lay at his feet. If, as the saying goes, a lie rounds the world before truth can even get its boots on, the Republican onslaught this year has been multi-orbital by an order of magnitude.
Obama is not a socialist, a Kenyan, or a foreigner. But he has been tagged as all three at one time or another in the current campaign. The Health Care Reform Act, which took some tentative steps in the direction of regulating insurance companies (so as to insure that they actually pay for medical care rather than invent new exclusions), creating competition (via state-based exchanges that, it hopes, will end the monopolies or oligopolies which now describe the 50 state insurance markets), and eliminating free riders (by mandating that everyone have insurance, as is already the case for anyone who wants to operate a motor vehicle), is neither a job killer nor some sort of European-style seed designed to replace our rugged individualism with their wussy communitarianism.
But Obamacare has been called all that as well. Even in the face of the fact that it adopts as its central tenet the mandate that Romney passed in Massachusetts and Gingrich proposed as Speaker.
On the economy, their mendacity knows no bounds. On the one hand, they abhor TARP and the later stimulus, ignoring that the GOP itself was a party to the first (in the last months of W's Administration) and claiming, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that the second was an utter failure. (In fact, the only problem with the stimulus is that it was too small, as smart economists -- in particular, Paul Krugman -- presciently warned at the time; given its modest size, it made things significantly better than they otherwise would have been and in any case was not remotely the failure the GOP makes it out to be.)
On the other, they claim that more tax cuts for the wealthy and repeal of our recent anemic regulatory reforms (Dodd-Frank last year and Sarbanes-Oxley a few years back) will magically restore economic growth when, in fact, it was the absence (or, in the case of Glass-Steagall, repeal) of regulation that allowed Wall Street to create the 2008 financial downturn that nearly destroyed us in the first place, and the only thing now standing between us, and the full throttled recovery that Keynesian spending could provide, is lack of demand.
Not a socialist president.
In a rational world, these sorts of charges would be roundly derided. In fact, there wouldn't be a nickel (let alone millions) spent advertising and repeating them. But, as my walk down those old Yankee Stadium ramps a few years ago, and the hype of tuesday's football extravaganza, reminds me...
We do not necessarily live in a rational world.
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