As we embark upon Lent, I think it important to give both President Obama and the GOP's tin-eared "savior" a message gleaned from 5,000-plus years of recorded human history.
"No, we can't."
No, Mr. President, we can't come back from this mess we've made for ourselves stronger than ever. Not if we remain a country still given over to a colossal moral and ethical meltdown. Not if we remain a nation devoted to global hegemony in an age of dwindling natural resources. Not if we remain a country powered by consumption, not creation.
And not if we remain a country forced to spend untold trillions to stave off le deluge now, only to ensure le deluge at some future date. The United States of America is in the same boat as the insolvent banks . . . too big to fail, but insolvent nevertheless. We're also in the same boat as "toxic" homeowners -- a swamped boat.
We ain't going to be paying off that national debt.
AS FOR BOBBY BRADY -- er . . . Jindal -- the good gub'na (and sometime exorcist) of Louisiana needs to exorcise some of his own demons, and those of his political party.
(OK, that was a cheap shot. But the one thing we never learn -- and this is a particular "moral hazard" for those of Jindal's religious and political proclivities -- is that Satan's favorite hideout happens to be in our own hearts.)
Ironically, Jindal's response to Obama was wholly based on the same kind of misplaced American exceptionalism -- an exceptionalism unhinged from human history (particularly the history of empires), geopolitical realities and the basic fallenness of humanity.
In other words, no, Americans can't do just anything. If the last eight Republican-governed years haven't made that clear to the "smart man" of the GOP, the poor fellow must be twice as blind and three times as deaf as Helen Keller.
Really, Jindal doesn't have to go far to utterly disprove such a silly notion, this prideful, faux patriotic notion of "Americans can do anything."
For example, Louisiana has been in the Union since 1803 and a state since 1812. If Americans truly can do anything, why, then, is Jindal's state still such a mess?
Why is the next election there for U.S. Senate shaping up to be a battle between a sex worker and a john? Why is Louisiana's educational system such a disaster area? Why can't he balance the state's budget without making education exponentially worse?
If Americans can do anything, how come the Dutch can keep their below-sea-level country safe and dry while we can-doers can't even do the same for one lousy city?
"When we pull together," Jindal said, "there is no challenge we cannot overcome."
AH, BUT THE RUB is that "pull together" part. And, I'm sorry, but if there's one thing Bobby Jindal's Republican Party is not about, it's pulling together.
To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything. That is why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families ... cutting taxes for small businesses ... strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for home-buyers. These plans would cost less and create more jobs.ISN'T THAT WHAT had been going on for the last eight years? What . . . if at first you don't succeed. . . ?
Under Jindal, Louisiana did a fair amount of that itself last year. This year it has a $2 billion deficit. Oops.
No, you can't.
You can't give fallen human beings -- lousy, rotten sinners all -- more and more leeway to build some sort of laissez-faire utopia, then be utterly surprised when they tear down half of what's already there and sneak it out in their lunchbox. Or briefcase.
The trouble with Obama, and Jindal, is the trouble with America. The America that thinks it can do anything, but only occasionally worries about whether the anything it has chosen is anything right.
We've had the pride. I worry now that we're taking the fall.
I wish our political "saviors" would worry about that, too.
Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.