While speaking in Virginia last night, Sarah Palin’s mini-me Christine O’Donnell compared the extension of unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans to Pearl Harbor. O’Donnell said, “Tragedy comes in threes, Pearl Harbor, Elizabeth Edwards’s passing and Barack Obama’s announcement of extending the tax cuts, which is good, but also extending the unemployment benefits.”
According to The Hill, O’Donnell explained why helping the unemployed was a national tragedy comparable to the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor, and death, “The reason I say this is a tragedy is because his announcement of economic recovery was more of a potpourri of sound bytes. It’s like he took a little bit of what each party wanted and put it together. It’s not a solid plan constructed on sound economic principles.”
Laughably, she later tried to claim that she didn’t mean that extending unemployment benefits was just like Pearl Harbor at all, even though that was what she just said, “”If we’re going to extend the jobless benefits we have got to cut spending programs and that’s the flaw in his announcement. That’s the tragedy.”
The idea that it would be considered tragic for people in need to be able to afford food and shelter is mind blowing, but O’Donnell’s statements are emblematic of the political world that we all live in now. By trying to compromise, Obama has been blasted by both sides of the political extreme. Americans on both the right and left have been conditioned over the last 20 years to view politics as a zero sum game. There must be a winner and a loser on every issue. Compromise is the equivalent of a loss. This mentality exists on both sides of the political spectrum.
Christine O’Donnell’s views typify what Obama was up against on this issue. The Republicans would have been happy to cut off unemployment benefits for two million Americans. They wouldn’t have blinked. Public opinion would have quickly turned against the president cable news reported stories of Americans suffering because their unemployment benefits were cut off. Republicans were prepared to dig in for months and let millions of Americans suffer, and I have a hunch that the left wing criticism of Obama would have turned into questions about why Obama wasn’t fighting for the unemployed.
The fact is that the left can be outraged with the decision to compromise, but the White House knows that Keith Olbermann and all the rest of the rageaholics will be supporting Obama in 2012. Unlike the Republicans, their threats are empty. What is most frightening is that Christine O’Donnell is actually championed by the right as speaking for them. I sincerely believe that the left still does not comprehend how extreme the beliefs of the right are, and what is at stake here.
The right will not stop until they have dismantled almost eighty years of liberal progress. Their goals go beyond redistributing wealth upwards. They will not stop until the entire social safety has been dismantled. The left has responded to the right with extremism of their own, but the key to success rests in moving to the middle, not farther left. For Christine O’Donnell helping the unemployed was akin to Pearl Harbor, was the left willing to treat their fellow Americans the same way?