I'm doing my best to be open-mindedly bi-partisan as I follow the debate over the stimulus bill, just as my man, President Obama, is asking of the country.
But it's tough. Real tough. I listen to Senate Republicans talk about how they see the economy getting back on track and I can't help but think ... that's so freaking weird!
They don't seem to live in the real world.
Today I heard Sen. John Thune holding forth on cable news about his utterly wacky plan to scrap the entire $936 billion Senate stimulus bill and replace it with an equal amount of tax rebates for 182 million Americans.
Thune said that individuals could spend the money better that government could.
When his interviewer pointed out that previous tax rebates intended to stimulate the economy didn't do very much, because people saved much of the windfall rather than spending it, Thune said that saving it would be fine also, since banks need to be recapitalized -- lacking money for loans.
That's not true, of course. Banks are sitting on lots of money. They're reluctant to make loans for other reasons.
The biggest Republican weirdness, though, is the overall view conservatives have of our society.
Like Thune, they only see individuals merrily spending their way along, buying whatever they like -- big screen TV! a new car! golf clubs! -- without any connection to a larger community.
It's ridiculous to think that individuals always can spend money more wisely than government.
People buy lots of useless crap. I do it all the time. When my taxes go into state or federal coffers, there's a greater chance that something valuable will be bought that benefits everybody.
Like improved roads that we all travel on. Like better schools that our children are educated in. Like medical research that will enable all of us to live longer, healthier lives. Like green energy technologies that will help the country be much more independent of foreign oil.
There's no "us" in the conservative Republican view of the U.S. It's all about me, me, me -- letting individuals spend money however they want to, while the infrastructure fabric that binds our culture together becomes more and more threadbare.
I don't want to live in a Me FIrst society. Most Americans don't. They recognize that we all sink or swim together, which is why Obama was elected so handily last November.
Yes, we can.
We can pass a stimulus bill that will help everybody in this country, not just a favored few. We can remember -- after eight long years of Bush era forgetting -- that every individual is part of a societal whole.
Yes, we can.