Monday, August 1, 2011

"We don't care. We don't have to, (snort) We're the Phone Company!"

As the saying goes, “It’s been a tough week here in Lake Wobegon.” The Rockies traded Ubaldo to Cleveland and Obama traded the middle class to the Tea Party. Each has gone off to their respective fates with barely a whimper. The difference is that a baseball player knows a trade is a part of what they signed on for. Promises are never made to a ballplayer. The terms of their contracts provide no assurances or a long term relationship. When will we learn that candidates are no different? When does the hope run out?
We liberals (or “progressives” as those who prefer to market themselves as not really liberals might say) need to learn from baseball that our usefulness to people like Barack Obama has a shelf life. For a while the President actually had us believing things could change in America. He persuaded us that the historic election of the first person of color to the White House would be a game changer. We didn’t know all the while he and his staff were busy stocking the Oval Office with white flags.
The morning after the Tea Party got everything they wanted and a few extras through their willingness to expose us all to the nuclear fallout that would have followed a default, I awoke remembering the immortal words of Lily Tomlin who reminded us to “Remember…we are all in this alone.”
Tomlin was made famous by playing “Ernestine” the phone company operator in the early days of Saturday Night Live. Remember the skit? The phone rang, someone answered and the abuse began.
"A gracious good morning to you...Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?" Younger readers need to know in those days the “phone company” was a monopoly. Customers had no alternative and so the joke was then apparent as Ernestine abused her phone customers, intermittently laughing like a pig (snort! snort!).

"Here at the Phone Company we handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to scum of the earth. (snort) We realize that every so often you can't get an operator, for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order [snatches plug out of switchboard], or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn't make. We don't care. But that's your problem, isn't it? Next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string. We don't care. We don't have to. (snort) We're the Phone Company!"
The President and his advisers believe we have no alternative. They think they have a monopoly on our votes. They think they can make and break promises and in the end we will all be so fearful of a Perry, Bachman, Cain, Pawlenty, Romney presidency that we’ll forgive and fall in line.
But I am left wondering how we would know the difference. It’s hard to even imagine how the President will distinguish himself from them in a 2012 campaign. He can hardly continue campaigning against the “Bush tax cuts.” Protecting social security and Medicare are not high on his list. Closing Guantanamo? Pleeez! Exchanging one war in Iraq for another in Libya?
Instead of speaking to our friends and defending this guy, we should instead use Ernestine’s alternative. In the next election, let’s “try using two Dixie cups with a string.” Instead of sending money to the campaign, send it to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. At least then we know it’ll be used to feed the hungry and actually clean up the messes others have made.


  1. Let not forget the Comea Shelter and other organizations that help the homeless.

  2. I, too, am troubled about the choices made by the President. But then I wonder if we are to tie our representative to our position on issues, or trust him to negotiate the best way he can. I realize this is light jumping out of an airplane without a chute, but I remember the year the WY Democratic Party's convention platform was a single statement designed to free candidates from any issue positions (evidently a statement of delegate ideas were felt guaranteed to be unpopular with the majority of WY voters). I remember my anger and feeling of betrayal, not only because of the leadership's proposal but because we, as delegates, let it happen. In hindsight, did the refusal to clearly state our more "liberal" position on the issues help any of the Democratic candidates get elected? I don't know. It seems we may be at the same point on the national level.

    I voted for President Obama for many reasons. One of the most important was the belief that he is an intelligent, thoughtful person who would help our government evolve into something beyond the partisan stalemate that is crippling this country. Witnessing the Congressional childish, waspish, self-serving, destructive grandstanding of the past month I truly wonder if that's possible. I don't know if President Obama's leadership will hurt or help the programs I hold dear. I suppose I won't know until a few years down the road. I do know I wouldn't trade my vote for him for any of the opposing candidates of the last election. And, looking at the horizon, I predict this may be the same for the next election. All I do is continue to vocalize what I believe is important...and pray that choices remain for improvement.