“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” – Karl Marx
When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, absolutely destroying John McCain, the king of right-wing talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh, drew great ire by declaring that he hoped Obama failed. Now, I think there are two ways to spin Limbaugh’s comment, neither of which comes back as “I hope Americans suffer.” It was either wisdom coupled with vanity, or hope for the better of two bad outcomes. He either meant “I think Obama’s policies will fail, because progressivism has failed everywhere it’s been tried” (wisdom) and “I want to be right, because I like being right” (vanity); or he meant “I hope he fails, because if he [by some miracle] succeeds, people will wrongly think that his policies are good policies and he’ll be able to implement them in even greater doses” (making “bad” better than “horrific”).
Of course the punditry, and all of the mainstream media, jumped on the comment as “conservatives don’t care if American’s suffer as long as it promotes their agenda” … remember that. Say what you will about Limbaugh, his “hope” of failure for Obama stopped at hope. It stopped at jawing on his radio program. It stopped at free speech. I cannot point to any instances of Limbaugh actively seeking to scuttle the US economy in order to do harm to Barack Obama. (If somebody can, please chime in – but “talking meanly about the president” doesn’t count.)
The same cannot be said of the president these days.
Last week the government entered a “shutdown” because the two political parties could not agree on a spending package. (I use the “scare quotes” because it is hardly a shutdown. While many folks are out of work for the time being, the government is still somehow 83% functional.) As expected, the mudslinging and finger pointing ensued right away, with each side blaming the other. I personally expect that the blame will tend to fall with Republicans as they have had a far less competent strategy to this whole thing (and the media is generally hard-over for Obama, with the exception of Fox news which is hard over the other direction).
Indeed, the administration thinks this is true as well. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a senior administration official said:
“We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”
Remember that. It doesn’t matter what pain happens, all that matters is who wins in the end.
In a shutdown, certain government services will end (apparently around 17%). It usually ends up with frustration over inability to get a passport or something of the like. But this time around the president has undertaken to make the shutdown as difficult for as many people as possible. Let me say that another way. The president (or “the administration”) is actively pursuing a policy of antagonizing Americans during the shutdown to achieve a political end.
It’s nothing new for this administration. Back during the sequester they put out notice to at least one government agency to make the cuts as painful as possible, to keep in line with administration projections that the cuts would indeed be painful. (Everybody remembers how bad that was supposed to be, right?)
This time around we’ve seen some rather blatant misbehavior on the part of the administration.
Most folks are aware by now of the WWII memorial fiasco. The National Park Service has erected a barricade to prevent entry to an open air memorial. They had to spend time and money to prevent people from coming in. On Monday an honor flight of veterans went through the barricade while the guards were distracted. Men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and Okinawa had to push past the National Park Service police to see their memorial. Shame Mr. president, shame. Now, did the president call the NPS and order this behavior? Of course not – there are like 20 layers of middle management between the commander in chief and the park police. Still, the story is public and the president is quite aware – and the barricades are still there. (I’m sorry, the “Barrycades”)
It didn’t stop there though. The NPS have removed Vietnam vets from the memorial. Shame, Mr. president, shame. These are open air memorials. Free men who fought for this country should be able to walk freely to them. Shame. They are not your playthings, and you are not a king.
The park police also attempted to close down Mount Vernon – which is privately owned! Realizing this was flagrantly illegal, they then proceeded to block off federally owned parking spaces … going out of their way and spending extra money to make sure the American people feel as much pain as possible. (Arguably not a massive amount of pain – but needless pain as well.)
Residents at the Lake Mead National Reservoir, who own their cabins outright but the cabins sit on federal land, have been kicked out of their homes.
One park policeman has apparently had enough with being used as a storm trooper to achieve political ends:
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
(There is good news though, the president’s golf course will remain open.)
The shutdown debate and impending debt-ceiling impasse all make for great political theater, and I hardly hold a grudge with politicians playing politics. But this isn’t a policy issue – it is a character issue. There is no reason to attempt to harm the people, make them feel as much pain as possible, in the midst of this political fight. That is a question of character. It has shown the president to be deficient.
Times like this, I miss George W. Bush. Because of his policies? Heavens no. Besides, Obama’s policies are just warmed over Bush policies anyway. But the man was an adult. He had honor and character, regardless of policy shortcomings.
By now John Boehner has surely figured out that he is up against it. He had the weaker hand to start with. The president has refused to negotiate, refused to discuss any issues until Republicans capitulate on everything. And now the president has shown he has no compunction about hurting the people to achieve a political end. Boehner must realize that the president isn’t at all worried about a debt-ceiling crisis, I suspect he welcomes it, if indeed his path to greater political power is suffering of the people. A man who will say “I’m going to keep making the people feel pain until you give me everything I want” is tough to negotiate with.
Strike up the fiddle, Nerobama.
I’m still waiting for the courageous liberals who castigated Rush Limbaugh to come out against the president this time. Still … waiting …
“It doesn’t matter a jot if three-fourths of mankind perish! The only thing that matters is that, in the end, the remaining fourth should become communist.” – Vladimir Lenin
So it is with statists and theocrats alike. It doesn’t matter what pain the common man feels, the man created in God’s image, as long as in the end their system is victorious.