Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Sunday, January 24, 2010

FALLING OFF A CLIFF

The loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat and the subsequent manifest disarray of the White House and the Democratic Party have left me massively depressed. I feel as though I have fallen off a cliff, and I can scarcely bear to read the Op Ed pages of the NY TIMES or watch the various news shows that had become my staple diet.

This is a puzzling reaction, especially because I have been saying in this blog, and believe, that the sixty vote super majority was inevitably fragile and was unlikely to stand beyond the next election cycle. Nor am I one of those left-wing types who had exaggerated hopes for Obama's presidency and thought that some secular version of the Second Coming was at hand. I have, I like to think, been patient, mature, wise, and reserved in my expectations, as all of you who read this blog can attest.

So why do I hide under the covers each morning, hesitant to get out of bed until my cats pester me for their morning meal? Why have I taken to re-reading the books I wrote, comforted by the familiarity of my own words, rather like an infant playing happily with his feces?

I brood about things like this during my hour-long morning walk, and I think I have arrived at some idea of the root source of my distress. The reason, to put it simply, is this: Obama put all of his chips on a massive drive for as major health care reform bill, in his first year. The Republicans openly stated that they would oppose anything he put forward in an attempt to make his presidency a failure, regardless of the substantive content of the proposals or the objective need for reform.

Obama has lost control of the public discourse, with the result that if the House Democrats do not pass the Senate version of the bill, the country will see him as having failed, and the Republicans as having won. And I simply cannot abide that. As a Marxist sop far to the left that I must always guard against falling off the edge of the earth, I should, I know, take a superior view that they are all swine, and it makes no difference which pack of them is on top at any moment.l But I really do not believe that. It makes a huge difference to the people who, unlike myself, are at risk in this fragile economy. It matters deeply to everyone with a pre-existing condition, or whose medical insurance is about to be cancelled, or whose mortgage is under water, or whose job is evaporating.

There is, however, a possible up side to all of this [I simply cannot remain totally depressed forever]. If the House gets its act together and passes the damn bill, Obama's first year will have been a success, the Republicans will have lost their gamble, and the public discourse will instantaneously be transformed, REGARDLESS OF WHAT IS ACTUALLY IN THE BILL.

I just hope the Democrats in the House can get over themselves long enough to recognize that fact.

2 comments:

matthew said...

Dr. Wolff, with the loss of Kennedy's seat and the healthcare reform bill sitting on the razor's edge; would it not be wiser and productive for the President to focus on fixing whatever stands in the way of healthcare reform instead going on the war-path against the banks? Far-be-it from me to not get a half-cocked grin thinking about the banks getting their comeuppance, but the timing seems very political and I fear it will only further derail Obama's vision.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

If by "fix whatever stands in the way of healthcare reform" you mean, for example, pushing to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate, I would be all for that, though I suspect they could not get the fifty votes [plus Biden] needed. Apparently, he is going to focus on jobs in the State of the Union spech, which is great. There is so much wrong that I do not know where he ought to start.