Saturday, April 24, 2021

Falling In Love

Friday evening, as introduction to a "New Rules" segment celebrating old people and condemning young people, Bill Maher remarked

We were expecting a font of comedy gold about a senile geezer showing up to work in his pajama bottoms and plowing his motorcade into a farmer's market. Forget the dog, he was gonna bite someone on the South Lawn.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the old age home. Biden slayed the orange dragon and is now spearheading the most transformative administration since FDR with an approval rating of fifty-nine percent.

A funny thing happened on the way to Bill Maher's erection of a statue to President Biden.  Although Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package is very good legislation, the vast majority of the President's program still is, as expected only three months into a first term, aspirational rather than accomplished. But if Maher want a transformative administration, he should consider that, as The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty wrote in a 2014 retrospective about President Lyndon B. Johnson, the

Great Society did not just seek to redistribute wealth.

Johnson also set out to shift power in America — from states to Washington, from the legislative branch to the executive, from corporations to federal regulators, from big-city political machines to community groups.

That latter concept of “community action” — funding residents of poor communities so they could organize and mobilize — was one of the Great Society’s most controversial ideas. The concept was to put the poor in a position to help themselves, but it frequently played out in tense and even violent confrontations with the existing local power structure.

It also created a new generation of up-and-coming leaders, rising from the ranks of those who had previously been disenfranchised.

“My mother was clearly the person Lyndon Johnson had in mind with civic action, and she took full advantage of that,” said Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas who served as U.S. trade representative in the Obama administration.

Willie Mae Kirk, who died in September, became a renowned community organizer whose victories included stopping the city of Austin from shutting down its only library branch in a black neighborhood. (One there now is named for her.)

“Part of President Johnson’s absolute genius was putting in place a mechanism that said: ‘You know what? You’re not going to have to be dependent on these, in many cases, biased political bodies,’ ” her son said. “They wouldn’t pay you lip service, give you an audience, much less put power in the hands of the people.”

Maher is impressed, 43 months prior to the next presidential election, by President Biden's approval rating of 59%.  At this stage of his first term, President George W.Bush had an approval rating of 61%. He left office at 34%. His father, George the First, once had an approval rating of 89%- and later was defeated for re-election.  More to the point: despite President Bush the Younger at one point being very popular, then being re-elected, and at the present time having a high approval rating, Maher himself concedes Bush was a "s_ _ _ President.

Approval, like disapproval, is transient.  Joe Biden may prove to be a very good President and is off to an excellent start- after 3+ months.   However, a moment later in the New Rules piece, Maher slams Americans for "not using old people as a resource; not taking advantage of their accumulated knowledge."  No arguments here. Similarly, Maher needs to have a little regard, or at least recollection, of the transformative valaue of another post-World War II President.


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