These United States of America are much more than a teapot, but the tempest storming across the land cannot be ignored. Political extremists on either side are doing everything possible to block President Barack Obama's agenda or, conversely, have become disenchanted with Obama because he has not bounded into the sky, a brown Superman ready to establish universal justice.
In The Nation, Melissa Harris-Perry (who last spring gave the grandstanding Cornel West one of the finest public whippings he has endured thus far) has written a cutting piece called "Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama."
Here, she takes off the intellectual heads of white liberals now abandoning the president because the separation of powers does not allow him to throttle members of Congress under the tea party's spell.
What we're missing is a middle ground for all the people beyond the influences from the far right or left -- that is, from those who claim to want no government interference or those who want unlimited governmental power.
That does not happen in the United States -- it was not intended to happen. The Founding Fathers did not want anything close to a monarchy and did their very best to prevent someone with the powers of a king from ever sitting on a throne in Washington. That is a history lesson one should know by the third grade.
Many have been frustrated by that design through the years, but they have not been able to rearrange things to suit themselves. They have had to learn to compromise as shrewdly as possible, or do battle with the federal government. They have always lost, whether right-wing loons in the mold of Timothy McVeigh or "revolutionaries" like Huey Newton, a founder of the Black Panthers. This handsome gangster claimed to be "the supreme servant of the people," but was no more than a thug who ended up murdered by a crack dealer tired of being threatened into supplying Newton with free dope.
What disturbs Harris-Perry is that Obama is being criticized in ways that Bill Clinton escaped. "Many argue that Obama is an ineffective leader, but the legislative record for his first two years outpaces Clinton's first two years," she writes. She feels that this is another example of double standards instigated by a demand that a black president be superior to a degree that is literally impossible.
Harris-Perry has been called wrong by some leftists, who bristle at her accusations. But all she is asking is that they curb their disappointment -- and accept the federal balance of power.
Too often in this country, assumptions on any side are asserted without any proof whatsoever. The truth is too easily overshadowed by advertising techniques and manipulative or empty-headed loudmouths.
Our ongoing hope is that people like Harris-Perry will demand that this nation look at itself honestly. We will then -- as we are now beginning to do -- pull ourselves up out of the water and walk in a cold wind until we dry off and are, once again, ready for the ongoing complexities of democratic life.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.