Bob Franken


Whatever. Pronounced “WUT-‘EVAH!!”. However you say it, the thought pretty much captures the surly mind set of most Americans a year after Barack Obama inspired a glimmer of hope in “Change You Can Believe In”.

No matter who is to blame, what most have seen since then is “change” all right, the nation’s problems, staring with the economy got much worse. And as country tries to claw out of collapse, the only ones who are really benefiting so far are the super-rich, the ones who got us into this mess to begin with.

And what do we see from our esteemed leaders? Whether they’re dealing with the economy, or desperately needed health care reform, we are treated the same old silly political games, or so it seems—the same old cheap shot sound bites, the same old money-buys-influence lawmaking— same circus, same clowns.

Is it any wonder, then that the polls show that less than a quarter of us have any fundamental trust in government to effectively tackle problems? The rest—three quarters—have concluded our public institutions are basically a waste. They also probably wonder what those who still believe are smoking.

It’s not just those who hold office in Washington. As the rest of the country looks from outside the Beltway they can heap their disgust onto not just the politicians but the lawyers, lobbyists, consultants, all of those who get rich and powerful running this big machine into the ground. And yes, we in the media deservedly take a bit hit for being so easily manipulated into delivering a constant presentation of news by and for simpletons.

The problem is the people are not simpletons, and don’t like to be taken for fools. Nor do they appreciate being dragged further and further into the pits by those they view as blithering idiots. And they certainly aren’t happy with the growing feeling they’re helpless to do anything about it. The system is supposed to be fueled by a belief in it. As that dries up, the machinery grinds to a halt. That’s the “Whatever” that faces us all.

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