Roger’s Rules

Barack Obama, Comedian

There aren’t many humorous headlines today (another assassination in Pakistan, Illinois on the brink of bankruptcy, the national debt tops $14 trilliontrillion!), but here’s one that brought a smile to my face:

“Obama exhorts Republicans to put politics aside.”

Yes, that’s right: just as he ends his two-week vacation (I think we ought to start calling Obama “President Holiday”: has any president ever taken as many vacations as he?), the leader of the formerly free world is “appealing to newly-empowered Republicans to resist jockeying for the White House in 2012 and work with him to get the economy growing and the jobless back to work.” Ha, ha, ha! Oh, what a card.

Help him “get the economy growing,” eh?  What better way than to inject a little venom into the temporary extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts he grudgingly endorsed last month?  How about the carbon frenzy his administration has exhibited, using another bogus “environmental” concern to hamper businesses all over the country? (See this depressing story on “the EPA’s War on Texas.”) Or, since I mentioned the $14 trillion national debt, how about the incontinent spending this profligate administration has indulged in? Take a look at this:

What the chart fails to communicate, of course, is the staggering reality behind that ascending red line: who among you really appreciates the world-destroying effect of $14 trillion in debt? The President of the United States has two basic, interwoven,  responsibilities: 1) to “provide for the common defense,” as the Constitution puts it, and (2) to pursue responsible fiscal policies.

One thing that  makes President Holiday’s appeal to Republicans to “put politics aside” risible is its timing.  When he won in 2008, President Holiday told us that “elections have consequences” and that he now had a mandate to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into a European-style socialist state. But when the 2010 election had a rather different outcome, we were told that the election didn’t really signify anything.

Of course, we know that for President Holiday and his team, elections only matter when they happen to endorse their policies. Which is to say: they don’t matter at all, except as window dressing. But we knew that already, didn’t we?  Consider the way the administration rammed ObamaCare down the throats of the people: has there ever been such far-reaching, consequential legislation passed over such widespread popular opposition?  Elections are meant  to register the will of the people. The people, to the resounding number of some 63 percent, oppose ObamaCare. Never mind: President Holiday and his bureaucrats know better. They want ObamaCare — not because it is better health care, but because it invests more power in the government, i.e., in their hands —  so it is ObamaCare you will get.

The deeper cause for humor here, however, is the spectacle of a politician, speaking in his role as a politician, exhorting other politicians  to “put politics aside.”  But if the politicians we elect to do the people’s business were to “put politics aside” they would have failed to do their job. That’s what we pay them for: to play politics, which means to argue and lobby for policies that, in so far as is possible, further the common good.

The exhortation by a politician “to put politics aside” is never anything more than a cynical political gesture designed to thrill the credulous and sentimental. To hear a hardened pol like President Holiday utter it is to find oneself warring with two conflicting emotions: disgust, at the brazenness and bad faith of the pronouncement, and hilarity at the chutzpah and sheer baldness of the performance.

I own that I laughed when I read about President Holiday’s appeal.  It wasn’t long, however, before other sentiments took over.