Waiting for a shoe to drop

When things seem to be going well, it’s time to worry about what you’ve missed.

Got a few dollars left at the end of the month? You probably forgot to pay NVEnergy (and aren’t those checks easier to write now that Sierra Pacific has a new name?).

Finally made that last car payment? It’s practically a cliché that your next bill will come from the transmission shop. If a stranger on the street hands you a dozen $100 bills, you can count on a blown dishwasher gasket doing $1,187 worth of damage to your kitchen floor.

And so on. Which is why I’m beginning to fret about the presidency of Barack Obama.

I know there will be disappointments. I expect disillusionment as the new president moves to the center. The letdown has already begun, with rumors that he’ll leave Bush’s fat-cat tax cuts in place. That stings, I’ll admit it. One of the reasons I voted for him was to end a plainly counterproductive approach to taxation.

But he hasn’t done much else wrong, has he? His cabinet picks, his advisors, the other people with whom he’s surrounded himself: Could they be better? His promise to eliminate unspecified “waste” has a familiarly futile ring. But the plan to truss up the ruptured economy by changing the policies that dug the hole, and to put Americans to work by actually creating jobs, have brought a comment rarely heard in reference to the White House lately: “That makes sense.”

Oh, conservatives are whining. As the sun rises in the east, conservatives will whine.

“This is change?” they puled when Rahm Emanuel was named chief of staff.

“Another Washington bureaucrat,” the Washington bureaucrats wailed when Tom Daschle and then Bill Richardson were tabbed for jobs seemingly made for them. If Hillary Clinton becomes secretary of state, they’ll fall down thrashing and gnashing: Why, the woman’s intelligent, knowledgeable, articulate, all the things they hate in a Democrat. Worst of all, she’s a Clinton, and even worse than that, she might do a good job. The possibility drives them to panic.

Which is why I’m fighting panic myself: Things are going so right that something has to be wrong.

Well, not really wrong. There just needs to be something the Republicans can say is wrong. You can bet they have platoons of sympathizers looking for a hook to hang their futures on.

People being people, and politicians above all being politicians, they’re almost certain to find something big enough to fabricate an Issue around. Something microscopic would do it; their outrage threshold is low.

I doubt it will involve Obama himself, or the new first lady. During the campaign, conservatives floated every form of racist and religionist fantasy they could concoct to discredit the pair, and the American people—atypically, I have to say—didn’t bite. Remember this, Rovians: McCain was ahead until his campaign crossed the ROFLMAO barrier.

Similarly, they’ve already gone as far as they can with both Clintons. Some people hate them and some don’t, but what could change anybody’s mind now?

So what does that leave? Warning us that Obama might be black didn’t work. Warning us that Michelle was smart and ambitious didn’t work. The first daughters are too young and too cute for a reprise of the Amy Carter/Chelsea Clinton Ridicule Treatment, though I expect Limbaugh will try it.

Hard to predict what they’ll do. But I like the idea, at least, of them savaging Richardson, the New Mexico governor Obama has tapped as Secretary of Commerce.

After all, can America be sure—really sure—of his Hispanicity?