Monday, April 04, 2011

What Bugs Bunny can teach Barack Obama

I have a theory about why President Obama is making some of his more baffling executive decisions. It's probably completely wrong, and I hope it is. Because Obama seems to be pragmatic to a fault, and ultimately it's irresponsible. 

But my theory is this: Obama is so assured of his opposition's reactionary stance against him that he's proving he can literally do anything — enact Romney-style health insurance mandates, strike Libya, waffle on Guantanamo Bay — and the Republicans will still complain. It's almost as if he's entertained by how absurd the arguments will get as he creeps rightward, and sure that those arguments will eventually bring him inadvertent support.

A past example comes to mind: in 1987, uber-conservative Supreme Court nominee Douglas Ginsburg admitted that, years before, he had smoked pot. This led to President Reagan's odd defense: "He was not an addict...He was nothing of the kind." Just Say No to irony?

A small part of me wonders if Obama's more conservative decisions aren't, in fact, backdoor attempts to enact liberal measures by backing Republicans into the Reagan-Ginsburg corner. The more reactionary the GOP gets, the more active the party will be in calling for a contrary stance, no matter how ridiculous.

There's an old Warner Bros. cartoon involving a baseball game where Bugs Bunny argues with an umpire over a disputed home-plate call. It goes like this:

Bugs: "He was safe!"
Ump: "He was out!"
Bugs: "He was safe!"
Ump: "He was out!"
Bugs: "HE WAS SAFE!!"
Ump: "HE WAS OUT!!"
Bugs: "SAFE!"
Ump: "OUT!"
Bugs: "He was safe!"
Ump: "He was out!"
Bugs: "He was out!"
Ump: "He was safe!"
Bugs: "OUT!"
Ump: "SAFE!"
Bugs: "He was out!"
Ump: "HE WAS SAFE!!!"
Bugs: "Whatever you say."

Obama going Bugs Bunny on the GOP is something I can sadly see happening. But if Obama's going to cave to the right, at least he can make the right say, "Stop going to war! Replace this health care reform with something better! End big-government intrusion on ordinary Americans!" He could cave to that. That's Afghanistan, the insurance mandate and the Patriot Act gone right there. Obama could own those issues — as critics say he does — and harness that hatred to change them for the better.

And if that happens, it will be entirely the Republicans' fault, because they chose to be so ruthlessly reactionary at the expense of their own principles.

Again, I hope this is wrong. I'd just rather Obama and the Democrats stand firm and not play politics like this. After all, what do they gain from conceding to their opposition? Nothing.

At least, nothing entertaining. But that's fine by me.


venessalewis said...

I can only pray that he is that brilliant of a strategist. Truly. If not, we may just be screwed. However, in the past, when he's pushed me to a point where I found it hard to defend him, it was then that he came through fantastically, such as with health care. I'm keeping the faith. I hope the same holds true with Libya.

Ian McGibboney said...

Agreed, Venessa. It's almost like Obama HAS to go that far to make anything happen.

venessalewis said...

Kinda Scary:

Ian McGibboney said...

You know, that doesn't bother me. Andy takes the story of one intense Obama supporter who says she's so disappointed in him that she won't campaign in pouring rain while nursing anymore, and extrapolates that to mean that Obama's going to have to fight hard to hang onto his nomination. Hell, I don't even get out of this that she won't vote for him again, just that she (rather petulantly) wants another option.

"It's re-election time." Heh. I could do a whole blog on that BS. Maybe I will. In any case, who really needs a supporter that intense, yet fair-weather?

"Michelle Manning would drop Obama and throw her mighty weight around the Secretary of State in a nanosecond."

That's not the solution. That's the problem.

In any case, I have no doubt that Obama will win in 2012. The Democrats need to pick up seats to ensure a better term for him. All huffing aside (no pun intended), there won't be a third-party candidate who will approach Perot in 1992, or even Nader in 2000. And the Republicans? Who do they have who isn't batshit insane, trying to be batshit insane and/or otherwise long past their prime?

So some Obama supporters won't be so flashy next time. I can live with that if it means he keeps his seat.