The Mendacity of Hope

“Metaphors for the Obama presidency have gone from heroic to homicidal,” Matt Welch writes at Reason, tracing the decent of metaphors for The Age of Obama “from the loft of Lincoln to the git-‘er-done gutter of LBJ” to the slime of Frank Underwood:


Where the Lincolnphiles suffered from an over-fondness of rhetoric, the knock-a-few-heads-together crowd labors under a similarly unrealistic notion of what could be accomplished if you just locked warring political tribes in a room. That approach fails to take into account the many awful examples of bipartisan deal making, from Medicare Part D to the stimulus packages of 2008-09. Even worse, it reduces the dull, protracted realities of real-world policy making to a drama tidy enough to fit within the length of a major motion picture or Broadway show.

More troubling even than the rehabilitation of a man Democrats once couldn’t wait to hound out of office is the rising fondness for an even more ruthless commander in chief: Frank Underwood, our cover boy this month, the fictional anti-hero of Netflix’s critically acclaimed Washington drama House of Cards. Underwood is a honey-throated liberal Democrat in the LBJ mold who—spoiler alert!—actually murders his way from House majority whip to commander in chief.

“Given the congressional gridlock of recent years,” National Journal‘s Lucia Graves wrote in February, Underwood’s ruthlessness “doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. The question, given the current legislative paralysis, is does the ends justify the means?”

Barack Obama came to prominence on an altogether different premise. “We need to rise above an ends-justifies-the-means mentality,” he said on the Senate floor in 2005. Fittingly, that speech was in opposition to the then-GOP majority in the Senate changing the rules governing filibusters, a favor the Democratic majority returned in 2013-with the blessing of a president who every day looks less like a heroic statesman and more like a character in a tawdry political melodrama.


Of course, there’s still one more presidential metaphor to go:

New York Times reporter James Risen said Sunday that none of the current leak investigations would be happening if President Barack Obama did not hate the media so much, the Morning Sentinel of Maine reports.

“I don’t think any of this would be happening under the Obama administration if Obama didn’t want to do it,” Risen said at Colby College in Maine after he received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy award for journalism. “I think Obama hates the press. I think he doesn’t like the press and he hates leaks.”

Obama came into office with Paul Krugman begging him to go full Nixon — why follow his lead, Democrat biographical hacks?





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