I think the White House press office has been reading Jonah Goldberg. Remember how Jonah used to welcome his couch into the conversation on his blog? Sound chap, that couch: pro-American, suspicious of Europe, always ready with an enthusiastic interjection.
The White House apparently liked the strategy. A lot of ink has been spilled over the President’s comment, at rally about immigration reform in El Paso May 10, that Republicans, miserable xenophobic nativists that they are, “move the goal posts” on the subject of enforcing immigration laws. “All the stuff they asked for,” said the President, “we’ve done.”
THE PRESIDENT: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat.
Note the parenthetical “Laughter.” The official transcript is full of juicy interjections:
THE PREZ: . . . they wanted a fence. . . . Well, the fence is —
THE PRESIDENT: The fence is now basically complete.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tear it down!
THE PRESIDENT: . . . I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: They’re racist! . . .
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we can. We can do it. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
“Booo!” “Tear it Down!” “They’re racist!” Since when did official White House transcripts employ this sly mode of editorializing?
I can’t decide whether this is a sign of confidence or whistling in the dark on the part of Team Obama. Gallop and other polls suggest that the Obama bump for bumping off Osama is small and transitory. I suspect, on the contrary, that it will answer a concern that many, many people have about the international man of mystery: the concern over whether he is sufficiently decisive when it comes to what we used to call “the war on terror.” I believe that question still looms large, but for many, I suspect, the long trail that began in Guantanamo and wherever it was that those al Qaeda operatives were waterboarded in 2003 will be forgotten in the high drama of Navy Seals swarming over that godforsaken “compound” in Abbotabad, Pakistan. I long to know what Jonah Goldberg’s couch would have to say about these latest tergiversations on the part of America’s first post-partisan, post-racial presidency.