Pres. Barack Hussein Obama has formulated a new political ethos: if you can’t beat them, and you can’t join ‘em, insult them!
In the long history of American political thrust and parry, and make no mistake about it, it has been fierce going back to the postcolonial media against Thomas Jefferson, for example, Obama is setting something of a record.
When he has an argument with someone, he unleashes “the White House anonymous sources” to spread rhetorical mayhem around the landscape. Sometimes, too, it goes to lengths that haven’t much logic. For example, when the anonymous sources called Israeli Pres. Bibi Netanyahu “chicken sh___”, aside from its ultimate vulgarity, it was a puzzle. “Chicken sh___” means, as far as we know, someone who expresses bravery but who backs off in a contest.
Whatever else he is, Netanyahu can hardly be called “chicken sh___”. Everyone in the political world knows he served in an elite Israeli Defense Forces unit, was wounded several times, and has a splendid war record [almost that of his brother, the only Israeli killed in the famous July 1976 assault to rescue Israeli hostages at Entebbe.] Puzzling with it, that seems to mean that the Israeli threatened the White House with going it alone with a military strike against Tehran’s bomb makers, then weaseled out? Huh? The White House supposedly didn’t/doesn’t want the Israelis to go it alone as long as the Lausanne negotiations continue to seek a peaceful settlement. So why throw their compliance with U.S. policy, at least in the short term, at them as an invective?
Now, even more curiously, the President has gone after his own party members in the Congress. They are the increasingly traditional Democratic bloc against expanding trade through lowering tarrifs and what the bureaucrats call non-tariff barriers. Okay, that’s a healthy old political position, again going back to Jefferson, perhaps. You may not agree with it, but the base of the Democratic Party holds it in high regard – especially with their valid point that for whatever reason, the U.S. has been scrounged of its manufacturing jobs, first by the Japanese, and now by the Chinese. New trade concessions, these Democrats argue among other things, is going to snatch the U.S. new high tech lead out of the hands of the languishing American workforce.
So what happens? The President, this time doing the dirty himself, wades in and accuses his own base Democratic Congressional opponents of bad faith, being everything from unpatriotic to moronic. What? Okay, he has never been Ronald Reagan with his beerfests with Tip O’Neil for the comradeship that sometimes has salved the political jousting. In fact, Democratic parliamentarians – with the exception of block-‘em-at-the-door, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed – haven’t seen much of the President or collaborated with him behind the scenes in six years.
A kick in the pants has sometimes worked for former presidents. But not always: remember the incredibly popular FDR’s court-packing fiasco in the mid-30s when he tried to get his will with overhauling an antagonistic Supreme Court, and his own party and the country answered with a loud “no”.
Mr Obama, really! “Flattery will get you anywhere” as the old saying goes. But hurling invective at your own party’s stalwarts in the Congress ain’t likely to cut the mustard, to mix our metaphors, as you often do!