Of all the right wing columnists I read to entertain me with their perspectives on the left, Cal Thomas is perhaps the least vitriolic. More frequently than his associates Ann Coulter and Walter Williams, he often talks on subjects that are less political and often agreeable for public consumption. His most recent one entitled “I Got the Horse Right” is a pleasant piece that attempts to placate his followers who are surely in the doldrums with Democrats in power, a reversal of the situation only 4 short years ago.
His comments are meant to lift the spirits of those people who find the current conditions depressing but he equates the upbeat Presidency of one of the most vibrant elected officials in decades with the perceived “gloomy” days of the Carter Presidency. Carter’s message was found offensive by wealthy capitalist for pointing out things like our dependency on oil was going to hurt us deeply in the years to come. He has since been proven right but Cal Thomas and friends remain in denial.
But the despair that many conservatives were feeling then was lifted to some degree by the bright and cheery musical of the time, “Annie”. To console them today and find hope for tomorrow, Mr. Thomas is encouraging his gloom and doom crowd to seek comfort once again from the big screen and oft-belittled Hollywood crowd in the current film “Secretariat”.
Mr. Thomas’ critique of the film attempts to wear the hat of both film critic and Norman Vincent Peale. In his attempt to display his movie cred he brags about the cinematic acoustics and filming of the movie as well as the performance of its lead female actress and its Director. The film is no doubt an up-lifting one where the little guy rises to the top, beyond everyone’s expectations; who couldn’t love such a story. But the malaise we find ourselves in today is nothing of the kind that we found ourselves in during the late seventies following the Watergate hearings and the first President forced to resign for trying to fix his re-election and then lie about it.
The austere policies of Carter may have been unpopular with the country club set and gas guzzler SUV crowd but unemployment never rose above 7.1% which was a lower rate than both Ford who preceded him (8.5% in 1975) and Reagan (9.7% in 1982) who followed him encountered during their terms in office. “Big” and more of it was what conservatives wanted and were saddened that the man in the oval office had suggested that such habits were wasteful and ultimately destructive to our economy. So bitter were wealthy conservatives about the negative blow their oil investments were taking at the suggestion that alternative renewable fuels should be sought after that as soon as Carter was out of office, Ronald Reagan dismantled and junked the solar panels Carter had installed at the White House to promote energy conservation and lead the way in the nascent green technology industry.
The movie Annie was not only a cheerful uplifting movie but for conservatives as well it was a reminder that wealth trumped poverty and it was good to see the figure of Big Daddy War Bucks flash his wealth around, never mind that he used it to improve the plight of one poverty stricken wretch. This was a bonus for them as if to display they could improve the lives of at least one of the miserable social outcasts whose survivability depended on lessening their vaults piled high with more than they would ever need. Food stamps and unemployment benefits are detractors to the trickle-down elite who will have to postpone their million dollar addition to their over-sized home or that month-long Safari in Africa because the “deadbeats” can’t take care of themselves in these tough times.
But I digress and perhaps exaggerate, though just a bit. One of the underlying messages of Cal Thomas’ column is that a positive attitude is essential to see people through when times are tough and tomorrow doesn’t look very bright. President Obama, unlike the stern warnings of President Carter, has been the epitome of positive attitudes. His campaign theme of “Hope” was belittled by Republicans as a weak substitute for experience, an experience that led us into the worst depression we’ve faced as a nation in 80 years. His attempts to bring both political parties together through bi-partisan efforts while working to bring us out of our economic nightmare has met one Republican obstruction after another.
If Cal Thomas really wants to help lift the spirits of a people whose future is uncertain during these tough times he could at least quit beating up on the man and his efforts that would strive to keep people from losing their jobs, home and life savings through efforts that Republicans in general and wealthy conservatives specifically find threatening to their own personal fortunes. We are all in this derailed train together through no fault of the people who are suffering most. To put one barrier up after another for someone who has taken a different tact to right the wrongs of a self-serving status quo is not only depressing, it is morally corrupt.
You can’t pull people out of their misery by suggesting they go to an uplifting movie only to knock them back down by telling them that the efforts to create jobs, punish greed and create a level playing field for all is misguided by a set of people that make no bones about supporting the very policies that put us in this depressed state in the first place.