Most Americans, riveted by reports about the manufactured crisis surrounding the debt ceiling, assumed that we “dodged the bullet” when Congress finally authorized the U.S. Treasury to pay its bills.

The sad, tragic truth for our nation’s economy and political institutions is that this wasn’t a single bullet.

It was part of a fusillade still aimed straight at us. As soon as President Barack Obama solves one sticky problem, even tougher ones crop up. Fans of the classic 1952 western High Noon have seen this scenario before. The morality play pitted Marshal Will Kane, played impeccably by Gary Cooper, against a band of ruthless outlaws. Unable to marshal support from his neighbors, Kane courageously faces the gang by himself. Like the cowardly townspeople, Republican lawmakers quiver at the threats of tea party activists, a tiny sliver of the population, and leave Obama by himself to save the nation’s economy from ruin. After the debt ceiling drama ended, a line of others are ready to take potshots at Marshal Obama.

Gary Cooper in High Noon (oscarnow2009 / Flickr)

Gary Cooper in High Noon (oscarnow2009 / Flickr)

The Obama haters showed themselves willing to go to any length in their attempt to destabilize his administration. Because economic malaise hurts his re-election prospects, Obama’s detractors recklessly imperiled the nation’s economic future to hurt him. The debt ceiling has been raised hundreds of times over the decades. If concern over government debt were an article of faith to conservatives, why were they willing to turn the Clinton surplus into the Bush deficit when they had the power to prevent that? Why did they support two wars costing trillions of dollars without funding them? Why did they hand the richest Americans huge temporary tax cuts that ballooned the deficit and federal debt and then refuse to let them expire?

In other words, government debt is just an excuse to wound Obama.

What’s next? The Republicans have only extended funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily. Long-term authorization will come up again soon and the recent drama may repeat. Do the American people really feel air travel is safer with FAA workers furloughed? Will Marshal Obama have any allies, or will he be forced to stand up to the bullies once again all alone? The government does essential things, such as inspecting our food, supporting senior citizens, and restricting pollution. It would seem that anything is fair game now.

After holding the American economy hostage to bully their way through the debt ceiling, what will the GOP do next?

The Obama haters keep devising new ways of trying to hurt the president. Has the citizenship of any previous president been called into question? The question is utterly silly, yet House Speaker John Boehner refuses to condemn the “birthers” who accuse Obama of using a falsified birth certificate.

Have Obama’s predecessors been called terrorists, communists, fascists, or socialists? Maybe on occasion. But Obama has been tarred non-stop with outrageous labels. Even his religious beliefs are contorted and smeared. There’s no end in sight.

The billionaire Koch brothers fund shadow groups, such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, which promote pure lies about Obama and his policies to rile up people against him. It’s bad enough when the most ridiculous accusations appear on crazy websites like WorldNetDaily. It’s worse when people making the most vile accusations are given free rein, or even encouraged, to spout nonsense on Fox News.

Marshal Obama can’t take on the bad guys all by himself. It’s high noon now, and all Americans need to stand up for American values. Whether or not you like Obama personally or agree with his policies, we must all demand an end to the destructive tricks and make common ground with the president to move our nation forward.

In High Noon, the marshal stood alone against four professional killers. The townspeople far outnumbered the bad guys. Likewise, ordinary Americans far outnumber the fringe elements and could run them out of politics by simply uniting against them.

John Wright is the author of The Obama Haters: Behind the Right-Wing Campaign of Lies, Innuendo & Racism (Potomac Books) and co-author of Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future (Prometheus).

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