I realize most Americans, even here in Newburyport, aren't paying much attention to politics yet this year.
The 2010 election season, after all, won't really get going until after Labor Day.
But there is a lot going on right now to which people should be paying attention. Nothing exemplifies that reality more than the ruckus the Right has been raising since President Obama and Russian President Dimitri Medvedev signed the draft of a treaty in early April that will reduce America and Russia's nuclear arsenals by more than thirty percent.
This new agreement is critically important because the START Treaty negotiated by Ronald Reagan expired in December.
But the Right, as it has since the day President Obama was inaugurated, seems more interested in giving President Obama a political black eye than it does in advancing the causes of nuclear arms reduction and non-proliferation throughout the world.
The same week Presidents Medvedev and Obama signed the draft of the new treaty, President Obama released his Nuclear Posture Review. In that document he redefined and limited the criteria pertaining to when the US would use nuclear weapons in response to a threat or actual attack.
A signatory nation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that was foolsih enough to launch a chemical or biological attack against the United States might not be subject to US nuclear retaliation under the new Nuclear Posture Review, but the new policy makes clear that nation would be on the receiving end of a devastating conventional response that would leave it in ruins.
He made clear the exceptions to this new nuclear policy were North Korea and Iran, two states that have so thumbed their noses at international nuclear conventions that President Obama would have been foolish to let them think for one minute the US would not use nuclear weapons against them if they crossed that threshold first or appeared poised to do so.
But people on the Right, most notably Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney, are slamming our president's leadership role in trying to bring the world back from the nuclear abyss.
Mrs. Palin has said President Obama is the equivalent of the wimpy kid in a school yard who says to a bully, "... punch me in the face and I won't retaliate."
Ms. Cheney's comments at the recent GOP gathering in New Orleans, in my opinion, came perilously close to treasonous.
Rush Limbaugh has said President Obama has done "... a great job in undermining our national defense".
Glenn Beck says what Obama has said in relation to non-proliferation and how the US will determine when it might use nuclear weapons is the "....most dangerous thing I think I've ever heard a president say."
Now, I'm sure Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and Cheney would also dismiss these words, "I believe we've come to the point that we must go at the matter of realistically reducing... if not totally eliminating nuclear weapons - the threat to the world", as the ranting of a liberal, socialistic, Obama-maniac begging to get punched in "the face" and too wimpy to "retaliate".
The irony is those are the words of the man the likes of Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, and Cheney lionize as a great American leader of immeasurable courage and patriotism - Ronald Wilson Reagan. He made those comments on March, 28, 1982.
In response to the latest attacks on President Obama's efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world by right wing extremists like Palin and company; George Schultz, Reagan's Secretary of State and former CEO of the Bechtel Corporation, recently had this to say; " President Obama has picked up on the notion that we can seek a world free of nuclear weapons, and that was very strongly felt by President Reagan".
Schultz went on to describe what Obama is doing in relation to the treaty with Moscow and the Nuclear Posture Review as a "constructive step" that Ronald Wilson Reagan would likely have embraced and supported if he were still alive.
George Schultz is no bleeding heart liberal or socialist. He is an intelligent, genuine conservative, and a champion of international capitalism who has more foreign policy experience and knowledge than Sarah Palin could ever hope to have or acquire.
But the extremist, xenophobic, racist, Tea Party wing that now dominates the once great party of people like Abe Lincoln, Margaret Chase-Smith, and Dwight Eisenhower is more interested in seeing President Obama take a political hit than it is in maintaining the country's security and standing in the world.
The mid-term elections are still almost seven months away, but events in early April, especially on the global stage, made me realize how important it is that people start paying attention NOW.
The Newburyport Democratic City Committee, in concert with other progressive groups and individuals, has a duty to make sure liberal and progressive Newburyporters, along with intelligent independents, are accurately informed about and engaged in discussions of the many issues on the nation's plate today; from nuclear proliferation and arms control, to financial and immigration reform, and, of course, climate change.
During the first year of the Obama administration, the Democratic party; from the upper echelons of the White House right down to the grassroots level in communities like Newburyport, allowed the loud and bullying Right to set the tenor and tone of public debate.
To say that debate grew ugly is an understatement of epic proportions.
As the the 2010 election cycle heats up, it is imperative that Democrats and intelligent independents set the the tenor and tone of the discussion and that the discussion be based on facts, not the ideological fantasies and paranoid conspiracy theories politicians like Palin, in concert with their right wing allies in the media, have so successfully promulgated and promoted in the recent past.
It's time for, as Detective Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, Ma'am" just the facts".
There's been enough fiction, paranoia, and fear mongering in the last sixteen months to last a lifetime.
Horton Street, Nbpt
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