Success can be spelled with a W

My addiction to newspapers has been made legitimate just in time for the supply to collapse: Every morning when I prep for my radio show, I go through two or three of them in search of good news.

The news overall, of course, is bad:

• The perfidious Republicans, through their refusal to own any part of a stimulus bill nearly every economist agrees we need—and every GOP governor recognizes as his or her last hope—have guaranteed us another couple of years in a spiral.

• A recent global forecast says 50 million people will lose their jobs before things turn around; in the United States, double-digit unemployment seems almost a certainty. We’re screwed worse than any segment of Americans since the Great Depression, and that gap is closing.

• John McCain is out in public again, bringing to his post-election commentary the same level of honesty and comprehension that characterized his campaign. He’s raving like some 1950s lunatic Bircher, seeing socialists under every bed. Imagine Mitch McConnell, only without the tempering influence of concern for his future. Has any admirable figure in American history done so much to destroy himself?

• Perhaps worst of all, the GOP so far has been able to define the debate. People who ought to know better are talking about the evils of “spending,” as though spending money were the equivalent of flushing it down the toilet. Only in the last few days has President Obama gone directly to the voters, emphasizing that spending is the whole point.

And yet, it occurred to me the other day, aren’t we making through necessity some of the changes I’ve argued for years we should make voluntarily?

Damn straight. As Grandpa used to say, the pendulum has done swung.

It is the nature of pendulums to swing back, and this one will. But if the pain is severe enough and lasts long enough, maybe it won’t come back all the way. Meanwhile:

SUVs are deader than Nixon.

Freedom of choice, room for the family, bogus ideas about safety? Forget them. Those wasteful, resource-guzzling dinosaurs will never return to the pinnacle of image-based jackassery they occupied five years ago.

We’re getting semi-serious about “alternative” energy.

After decades of neglect from both parties, and eight years of stupefying indifference from the Bush administration, reality has set in: We’ve used oil with profligate inefficiency for a century, and we’re running low.

Housing prices are edging toward reasonable.

This one’s a little nebulous. A lot of people will be hung out to dry, and it’s hard to cheer that. But the boom was bound to bust someday, people should face the consequences of their bad decisions and I’m not much affected by it. And don’t you feel better, on some level, about getting a loan for $230,000 rather than $400,000?

The pace of construction has slowed.

Many people, especially those who make their livings from development and real estate, don’t see this as a happy occurrence. From the standpoint of conservation, habitat preservation, pollution reduction and maintaining quality of life in the declining number of places that haven’t been paved over yet, though, it’s a plus.

And best of all:

The Bush train has derailed.

Jeb is still worrisome, I’ll admit. He’s supposedly the smart one, the one they were grooming when George somehow popped up. With the party desperate enough to be thinking of Sarah Palin for 2012, you can’t rule out a Jeb-based hat trick.

More than likely, though, W. has queered the deal. Never let it be said his presidency achieved nothing.