Upside down politics
By Joseph Randolph
A close friend volunteered at our polling place this past Tuesday and related to me a conversation she overheard. Mention was made of the candidates running in the November election, and though the volunteers and workers are to be politically mute while undertaking their jobs in the polling place, one of the workers revealed her political leanings when she slipped and said that election of a certain conservative candidate would be "frightening."
Apocalyptic scenarios have become all the rage for the left in their descriptions of political opponents, however nauseating and the stuff of mindless nonsense to conservatives. Indeed, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) warned Americans that "Republicans want you to die quickly" during the healthcare preamble last month. Apparently the best the left can muster is to treat conservative opposition as persons in the category of sub-humans or as a lunatic fringe or as extremists. So too, the tea party people are enduring the same sort of Paleolithic mocking from their cultured despisers.
This frenetic liberal attitude toward a conservative opponent as unworthy or even incompetent is a mixture of 1) the inability of the left to imagine anyone unlike themselves—this is simply narrow-mindedness and provincialism—and 2) a despotic temperament that can hardly stomach the reality that one has an opponent at all. The latter attitude, coupled with utopianism, also seems to belong to our President and his coterie. This White House has been extraordinarily peevish with their reactionary criticism of the criticism from the press—and in particular, certain identified members of the press. However, White House opposition to opponents can be understand in the tiresome question that only a conservative can answer and only a liberal can ask, "Why can't we all just get along?"
Some days ago, Harry Smith of CBS asked the President: "Are you aware of the level of enmity that crosses the airwaves and that people have made part of their daily conversation about you?" The President responded by saying that "Well, I think that when you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, it's pretty apparent, and it's troublesome . . . . "But that's not the vast majority of Americans. I think the vast majority of Americans know that we're trying hard, that I want what's best for the country."
The President's feigned reference to a "vast majority" serves to disguise the reality that his presidency is as troublesome as he imagines his critics. The real conundrum is that the President seems to further imagine that his critics in the media are more devious that the dangerous international enemies of his country. His skewed confrontational policy with his political and media opponents is to be compared to the President's naïve foreign policy with international adversaries. This upside down politics, moreover, became glaringly evident this week when the President's advisers announced removal of such terms as "Islamic extremism" from documents pertaining to American national security.
This latest move—to include the revised policy on the use of American nuclear weapons issued the previous day—bespeaks a real worry for Americans: truly dangerous matters are treated with a playpen political strategy. For the President media critics are to be relentlessly monitored and opposed and lumped with the tiny minority of misguided Americans listening to those critics; foreign belligerents and the like are to be given the benefit of kindness for their outright treachery. Thus—and surely mystifying to President Obama—Iran's Ahmadinejad responded to the President's nuanced nuclear policy by telling the American President on Iranian television that just like previous American presidents, Obama too, "couldn't do a damn thing" with Iran. This is a live enemy of the free world that the President should take to task. Instead the President has hitherto ignored such belligerence with hollow rhetoric. And now the latest effort—the President's nuanced use of nukes—still has not managed to befriend the unappreciative Ahmadinejad.
The most distressing thing about the President and his advisors on such important matters is that these individuals are noticeably not from a world that the rest of us must live in. They are more combative and defensive toward media and press questioning than they are protective of the country in matters of national security and real world peace. The whole culture of this President has every appearance of the local community theatre now elevated to the stage of the world, with this director thinking he can rearrange the players and the behavior of the players, by rebuking some and commending others. Even here, moreover, his rebukes and his commending are pinned on the wrong people. Meanwhile the President naively imagines that he can manipulate them by his sheer utopian will to peace in the unreal world he presumes.
I'll take our much less "frightening" local candidate any day.
Joseph Randolph is an academic and writer living in Wisconsin. His 2010 book Debilitating Democracy: Power From The People, is available from Wasteland Press and Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. His email address is email@example.com.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!