On pots and kettles, elephants and asses

On the tail end of Obama’s speech last night, a wily reporter asked the brilliant President Obama a question concerning the difficulty of getting the dirty Republicans to vote for a bill that contained only rainbows and unicorns and debt, wondering if it was so hard to flip a few on such a ‘relatively easy’ bill, how nasty would they be in the future. Already the question was bordering on inanity, as if conservatives had heard that the bill was ‘spending tons of money and cutting people’s taxes,’ and therefore lined up to cast ‘no’ out of some unrelated desire to kill small, starving children in the streets. Silly elephants, don’t you know that you have to empty your pockets, burn your home, take a mortgage out on your oldest child, and drive your car (filled with all the electronics from your husk of a house) into a lake in order to get yourself out of a depression?

No, that wasn’t even the sweetest piece of this stupidity pie, amazingly enough. To such a lovingly crafted question, Obama rambled on and on, careening down the Roads of Non-answers, crashing through the Forest of Boring, blazing straight by the Fields of Straw Men, and finally cutting his way deep into the Jungle of Wishful Thinking. It was an epic journey; although as far as political answers go, it is unfortunately still amateurish. Most politicians would have at least refrained from repeating the same answer ten times in one press conference. Back to the point, somewhere in there, this gem came tumbling out of his mouth:

‘When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks, about this recovery package, after they presided over a doubling of the national debt. I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.’

…Ah. Yes. The pot is getting mad that the kettle has a point in saying that they are both waist high in black, charred shit. You heard him right – to the criticism that his plan will be burning through money like a frat house through a keg, he pointed out that a President he didn’t run against did only slightly better than he is currently doing at accounting. Thank you, Mr. Obama, now that you have reminded me your predecessor also mangled this issue, I suppose I need only high-five my neighbor and thank the heavens for the change that you have brought crashing into the White House.

It is reassuring to know that our President currently employs the same tactic the Elementary School children I work with use when they are caught red-handed. When one gets in trouble for fighting, the young boy points to his friend and claims they were hitting too, expecting my Sword of Justice can only be swung once, and hoping they can deflect it elsewhere by a well-timed tattle-tale. But time can’t be veered off with a pointed finger, and regardless of how cultishly-well liked the man is, Obama will be complicit in any failures of the future.

I suppose if you read the whole transcript of the press conference, the only solid plan Obama has is to continue running against George, as if Mr. Bush is going to be running against Obama in the Democratic primaries of 2012, so he had best get a jump start on bad mouthing him. Although if Obama keeps answering criticisms in this manner, Bush will probably have the upper hand, and we could see the man return with a (D) after his name. Lord knows they seem to have the exact same economic plan. But I won’t get my hopes up.

No, I think I will have to content myself with half-assed re-issues of the failures of Bush, an irony that will probably only be noted by us sad political nobodies who just want to be left alone in life, but are stuck with a wild elephant trying to be a mule, and a donkey playing like he is bigger than the tusked giant, and succeeding in only being an ass.

In case you think I am mis-characterizing the immense amount of imbecility bursting out of the exchange, I’ll take the pathetic pleasure of re-printing it here. If I were so inclined, I could map out Obama’s answer like a Family Circus cartoon and demonstrate the various stages of politic skullduggery employed.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. If it’s this hard to get more than a handful of Republican votes on what is relatively easy — spending tons of money and cutting people’s taxes — when you look down the road at health care and entitlement reform and energy reform, those are really tough choices. You’re going to be asking some people to get less, and some people to pay more.

What do you think you’re going to have to do to get more bipartisanship? Are you going to need a new legislative model, bringing in Republicans from the very beginning, getting more involved in the details yourself from the beginning, or using bipartisan commissions? What has this experience with the stimulus led you to think about when you think about these future challenges?

MR. OBAMA: Well, as I said before, Mara, I think that old habits are hard to break. And we’re coming off of an election and I think people want to sort of test the limits of what they can get. You know, there’s a lot of jockeying in this town and a lot of who’s up and who’s down and positioning for the next election. And what I’ve tried to suggest is that this is one of those times where we’ve got to put that kind of behavior aside, because the American people can’t afford it. The people in Elkhart can’t afford it. The single mom who’s trying to figure out how to keep her house can’t afford it.

And whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, surely there’s got to be some capacity for us to work together — not agree on everything, but at least set aside small differences to get things done.
Now, just in terms of the historic record here, the Republicans were brought in early and were consulted. And you’ll remember that when we initially introduced our framework, they were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cuts that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there.

I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned. But there was consultation. There will continue to be consultation.

One thing that I think is important is to recognize that because all these — all these items that you listed are hard, that people have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long. And let me give you a prime example.

When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks, about this recovery package, after they presided over a doubling of the
national debt. I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Having said that, I think there are a lot of Republicans who are sincere in recognizing that unless we deal with entitlements in a serious way, the problems we have, with this year’s deficit and next year’s deficit, pale in comparison to what we’re going to be seeing 10 or 15 years or 20 years down the road.
Both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to think differently in order to come together and solve that problem.

I think there are areas like education, where some in my party have been too resistant to reform, and have argued only money makes a difference. And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, no matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let’s just blow up the public school systems. And — and I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we’re going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively. But we’re also going to need more reform, which means that we’ve got to train teachers more effectively; bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively; that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom; that we should have high standards.

So my whole goal over the next four years is to make sure that whatever arguments are persuasive and backed up by evidence and facts and proof, that they can work, that we are pulling people together around that kind of pragmatic agenda. And I think that there was an opportunity to do this with this recovery package because, as I said, although there are some politicians who are arguing that we don’t need a stimulus, there are very few economists who are making that argument. I mean, you’ve got economists who were advising John McCain, economists who were advisers to George Bush — one and two — all suggesting that we actually needed a serious recovery package.

And so when I hear people just saying we don’t need to do anything; this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without acknowledging that by definition part of any stimulus package would include spending — that’s the point — then what I get a sense of is that there is some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.

But I am the eternal optimist. I think that over time people respond to — to civility and rational argument. I think that’s what the people of Elkhart and people around America are looking for, and that’s what I’m — that’s the kind of leadership I’m going to try to provide.
All right?

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