I imagine, were I to wrangle up a fluxed-out DeLorean and travel back to 1995, I would have a difficult time convincing my sixteen-year-old self that the actor then portraying Stuart Smalley would go on to be the United States Senator from Minnesota. Smalley, if you do not immediately recall, was Al Franken’s signature character on Saturday Night Live, a self-professed self-help guru with a show on cable access television.
Franken’s shtick played off the irony that Smalley so obviously needed help himself. Each sketch would start with him gazing vacantly into a full-length mirror, reciting the then familiar affirmation.
I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me.
It was comedy of the absurd. Smalley was a clown. No one in their right mind would turn to him for advice.
Fifteen years later, much as it once seemed incredible, Franken holds a seat in the Senate. Could he go further? Might Franken challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 Democratic primary?
But there is a real way to save the Obama presidency: by challenging him in the 2012 presidential primaries with a candidate who would unambiguously commit to a well-defined progressive agenda and contrast it with the Obama administration’s policies. Such a candidacy would be pooh-poohed by the media, but if it gathered enough popular support – as is likely given the level of alienation among many who were the backbone of Obama’s 2008 success – this campaign would pressure Obama toward much more progressive positions and make him a more viable 2012 candidate. Far from weakening his chances for reelection, this kind of progressive primary challenge could save Obama if he moves in the desired direction. And if he holds firm to his current track, he’s a goner anyway.
This piece offers a clear view into the spotless mind of a bubble-dweller. Lerner apparently believes that the election results from a mere month ago reflect the apathy of a “progressive” majority dissatisfied with the rate at which Obama has steered the country toward socialism. Consider the platform Lerner’s dream candidate – potentially Franken – would run on.
The basic platform for such a candidate is clear: Unequivocally call for an immediate end to the presence of U.S. troops, advisers and private U.S.-based security firms in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and replace the “war on terror” with a Global Marshall Plan that roots homeland security in a strategy of generosity and concern for the well-being of everyone on the planet. Domestically, call for a massive jobs program; a freeze on mortgage foreclosures; a national bank that would offer interest-free loans to those seeking to create or expand small businesses; immediate implementation of the parts of the Obama health-care plan that would benefit ordinary citizens and build support for a health plan for all citizens; dramatically lower prices for drugs that treat critical diseases such as AIDS and cancer; a strong tax on carbon emissions; and immediate prosecution of those government employees involved in torture or coverups to justify the invasion of Iraq. This candidate should push for the media to provide free and equal time to all major candidates for national office as well as for constitutional amendments requiring only public financing in elections and, separately, for corporations to prove every five years to a jury of ordinary citizens that they have a satisfactory history of environmental responsibility (as is sought by the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment, or ESRA, advocated by the Network of Spiritual Progressives).
The facepalm was conceived for such moments.