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Politics will make your face hurt

November 20, 2011|By Stephen Markley, For RedEye

After attending the infamous "Oops" Republican debate in Michigan, I've come to two conclusions: First, President Obama will win a second term, and second, I'm going to need a left eyebrow transplant after raising it so many times in what I call "confusiohorror."

As I watched from the media filing center in an auxiliary basketball court, I was struck by just how divorced the rhetoric espoused by that collection of losers and half-wits was from the reality of the challenges we face—those still screamed in the streets by the evicted Occupy movement.

On stage, Mitt Romney's platitude and sound-bite-generating software appeared to be without bugs. Newt Gingrich told the Occupiers they're stupid and don't understand history. Herman Cain appeared to not know what "Italy" is. And, of course, Rick Perry couldn't remember which federal agencies he would eliminate. Oops.

Yet one of those clowns is on his way to the nomination.

Lost amid all the jockeying to face Obama is the dirty secret that he's been the most effective president of the past 50 years. Unfortunately for him, many of his successes are based on what didn't happen. For instance, any fair economist will tell you that his administration's (imperfect) actions—including the stimulus and restructuring of the automakers that single-handedly saved the industrial Midwest—are the only reason we're not facing down the Great Depression II.

Whatever its insufficiencies, Obamacare is the largest program to combat poverty and inequality in 50 years. He championed the Consumer Protection Agency, which for some reason Tea Party acolytes want to repeal (so banks can go back to screwing people, I guess).

While his action on the greatest unfolding disaster of our time has been utterly insufficient, he's still made unprecedented efforts to curb global-warming emissions. He got us out of Iraq as promised and led an international coalition in Libya in what became the most successful humanitarian intervention ever, ultimately leading to the death of a tyrant just as brutal as the guy we spent a decade, more than 4,000 lives and a trillion dollars to oust.

Oh yeah, and he put one in bin Laden's dome.

You can bet that if in his eight years Bush had accrued the war record that Obama has managed in just three, they'd be dynamiting faces off Mount Rushmore to get his dim-bulb smirk up there.

I readily admit, it hasn't been enough, but that's probably as much our fault as Obama's. We need a sustained and unrelenting movement calling for the major changes to our ossified political, economic and energy systems that are so obvious and urgent.

Yet we've reached a place where we're told the First Amendment allows wealthy special interests to use a massive financial advantage to maintain an economic and political order that benefits them at the expense of everyone else while aggrieved citizens of a democracy cannot use non-violent protests to draw attention to the outsized and destructive influence of that elite.

My left eyebrow grows weary.

REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR STEPHEN MARKLEY IS THE AUTHOR OF "PUBLISH THIS BOOK." REDEYECHICAGO.COM/MARKLEY

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