We Get What We Deserve

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This is a collection of random (but thematically related) thoughts, so it’s likely to ramble on for a while.

We get what we deserve! This sounds harsh, especially given that sometimes bad things happen to good people, but it’s still true, even if we can’t understand why those things happen. It’s even more true collectively, to groups of people (including entire societies) than it is to individuals (even though it’s still true there as well).

This is a distant cousin to the old adage: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it! They’re not identical, because we always get what we deserve, even when we didn’t wish for anything, or got the opposite of our wish…

The point of this post is to explain why Barack Obama will definitely be our next President, and why we all deserve that to be the case, like it or not.

So, without further ado, here are some things that some prominent politicians have gotten (or are about to get), that they fully deserve(d), and that we as citizens, have gotten and deserved.

Nixon deserved to be thrown out (perhaps my least controversial comment).

The country was appalled, and over-reacted, selecting a complete Washington outsider, in electing Jimmy Carter. We got exactly what we deserved, namely the worst President in modern history (for me, that even includes George W. Bush, though at least grant me that aside from Bush, there’s no close second!). Could no one see it coming? Did we need a candidate who lusted in his heart? Really? How quaint and revelatory…

In my opinion, he’s also by far the worst ex-President that we’ve had in recent memory. I would forgive his behavior, if I thought he had Alzheimer’s, but unfortunately, he’s just continuing to show his true colors. And no, it doesn’t matter that he personally does “good works” by building houses (though I applaud that mightily). You simply can’t trade a good deed against an evil one and hope to be even. It just doesn’t work that way.

George H.W. Bush was pretty popular after the first Gulf War. As the economy started to deteriorate in the last year of his Presidency, he thought he could ignore it and coast on his past laurels. He got exactly what he deserved, and lost.

We got Bill Clinton (with the added bonus of Hillary), and fully deserved that too! No signs (neon or otherwise!) of his indiscretions. It was all lies and swift boating (even though that term hadn’t been coined yet). If you read this column regularly, then you know that I actually think Clinton was a very effective President (which makes him a good one), but that was through no fault of his own.

Largely because of the mess of a co-President in Hillary (Health Care-Gate), Republicans swept Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years! The Clintons deserved that. Only because Bill Clinton is at heart a pragmatist (which I give him enormous credit for) and he had other distractions to amuse himself with (which I give him no credit for), did he end up being an effective President, by accomplishing a fair amount in conjunction with Congressional Republicans.

Given that, you’d think that Al Gore would have been a shoe-in to win the Presidency in 2000. Unfortunately, because of Clinton’s dalliances, enough people in the country wanted a change, any change (sound eerily familiar to the current situation?). Worse, Gore decided to distance himself from Clinton, trying to win over some of those change-wanters, but in the process, probably lost just enough staunch Clinton supporters to lose the election (there are an absolutely astonishing number of people who still pine for the good old Clinton days, but that’s a topic for another post).

Gore deserved to lose and the country deserved to get George W. Bush.

Bush inherited a post-Internet-bubble recession, then got socked with 9/11. Did we deserve to get attacked on 9/11? Many people say so, even here in the US. Did Bush reverse his entire No Nation Building rhetoric from that moment on? Absolutely. Does he deserve his current popularity ratings as a result? Absolutely.

So, why did he win re-election in 2004? Because so many Democrats were so sick of Bush, that they just had to pick the most opposite candidate that they possibly could. I’m not sure there was a worse candidate available at the time than John Kerry. Even he barely lost, and should have won. Still, when you over-react, and don’t behave rationally, you get what you deserve. All of the Bush-bashing liberals, got exactly what they deserved, another Bush term.

I believe that any of the other top primary candidates in 2004 (other than perhaps Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich) would have easily beaten Bush had they been the nominee of their party. Personally, I was surprised that the Democrats didn’t go more heartily for Gephardt. He would have crushed Bush in my opinion.

Did Bush understand the serendipity of his re-election? Did he understand the magnitude of the hatred many had for him (even people who voted for him!)? No. He made some cosmetic changes (anyone still remember Rumsfeld?) but basically stayed the same course. The result? A sweeping reversal in Congress in 2006. Did Bush deserve that? Sure! Did the Republican Congress deserve to be kicked in the butt? Sure!

Did we deserve to get a do-nothing Congress, with a lower approval rating than the President (can you even believe that?!?)? Yes! We allowed Bush to stay the course, by putting in a bunch of Bush-haters, who wasted more time arguing about impeachment, than putting together hard-nosed bills that the President would have had a hard time vetoing. Even if he did, if they were well-thought-out bills, enough Republicans would have been forced to vote with the Democrats to over-ride any veto.

For all of their anti-Bush rhetoric, whenever it counted most, Congress voted with him, including on this current Bailout bill. We deserve them, and they deserved to have Bush as their leader!

Many Republicans were sick of Bush as well. Not in the same way that Democrats are, but sick is sick, and they over-reacted in their way, and overwhelmingly nominated the most unlikely of the group of candidates, John McCain. They deserve what they got, as the Democrats deserved what they got in Kerry in 2004.

What happened to the front-runners? Let’s pick on one only, Rudy Guiliani. He ran possibly the most arrogant campaign in the history of Presidential politics, sitting on the sidelines until he was anointed in Florida. Oops, it didn’t work out that way, and he deserved exactly what he got.

On the other side, Hillary had analogous (but differently manifested) hubris to Rudy. She too thought that she was the chosen one, and didn’t have to worry about caucus states and grass roots efforts. Yet, without those efforts, she blew through one of the largest war chests in history. What was she spending all that money on? She was blind-sided by the coming Obama storm, and deserved to be.

Rather than rehashing all of the ins and outs of the Democratic primary battles, and the various accusations of racial politics, I’ll simply say that both Obama and Clinton deserved what they got in their bitter battle. He couldn’t put her away, time and time again. She couldn’t sustain her comeback enough to overcome his early lead, but couldn’t put the good of their party ahead of her personal ambitions (like Mitt Romney did, even though he was crushing Huckabee for second at the time he bowed out).

Largely because of Clinton fighting to the bitter end, McCain resurged in the polls. He didn’t need to attack Obama, Clinton and her supporters were doing a fine job. McCain got to spend very little money, and continued to gather momentum.

Obama could have chosen Clinton as his running mate, and this race would likely have been over a long time ago. No, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, for many reasons. He got exactly what he deserved as a result, a much tougher, uglier battle than he expected. Still, by the Democratic Convention, it appeared that all would be forgiven (mostly) within the party itself, and Obama would be fully supported.

McCain decided that he had to gamble on his VP pick (did he really need to? probably not given Obama’s pick in Biden, but he decided he should!). If he wins the election (still an extremely remote possibility), his pick will have been brilliant, whether you like Sarah Palin or not. However, since it seems extremely likely that McCain will lose, and possibly by a very large margin, he will have gotten exactly what he deserved for choosing Palin.

For two candidates who both claimed to be different, reformers, wanting to shake up Washington, set a bi-partisan tone, this is every bit the nasty, disgusting, hate-filled campaign on both sides that every other Presidential election devolves into. It’s not working for either side, and both candidates deserve to be unmasked for the hypocrites that they are. For one of them, it won’t matter (unless you consider losing a Presidential election as mattering), 😉 but for the other one, he will be damaged (in terms of credibility) as the new President, already having been seen for what he really is, rather than for his lofty rhetoric…

So, why is the gap widening between Obama and McCain? Not because of the ads. McCain is shooting himself in the heart (rather than just the foot), in showing zero leadership nor consistency on the critical issues of our time. He’s in full-blown panic, throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Obama is being what he always is. Cagey, shifty, uncommitted, not responsible for any of his past actions or our current problems. Still promising change, for the sake of change. When your opponent is disintegrating all on his own, you need not do any more than be patient.

Our next President will be Barack Obama, and we will deserve him, exactly as we have deserved every President we got at the time we elected him (in this case, to me, another Jimmy Carter). I pray that his Presidency will be less disastrous, but I’m not hopeful of that. He too will have both houses of Congress to splash around in the pool with. As I discussed in an ancient post, he will be the puppet of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

I will be voting for John McCain, even though I have little respect for his current campaign. For me, it will at least be a tiny check-and-balance against a growing Democratic Congressional majority. He will be like Bill Clinton, as he has proven time and time again that he can compromise with the Democrats (more so than practically any other Republican in recent history!). So, if Congress sends him reasonable bills, he will be sure to sign them into law (as Clinton did in the second half of the 90’s). But, if they send him ridiculous bills, I am equally sure that he will veto them.

The Democrats (led by Reid, Pelosi, and soon Obama), badly want to finish off the class warfare that they can’t seem to get away from. If they implement their plans (which perhaps they will be slowed down in doing because of the current financial meltdown), they will destroy this economy beyond repair. They claim to not want job growth (like Bush delivered for six years until Democrats took hold of Congress!). They want high paying, high quality job growth only. Good for them, we all want that. But, taxing corporations and rich people (who create these types of jobs) is not the way to go. Unfortunately, we’re all about learn that lesson together…

Welcome our new President. We will (unfortunately) most richly deserve him.