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June 08, 2010

Liberal Marc Ambinder: Hey, Obama Should Get Lots of Credit for Using the Word "Ass" Publicly

Yesterday I was discussing liberals finding it very useful to knock Obama on style points, because if meaningless style is the only topic of discussion, the much more important question of Is Obama competent? is not under discussion -- by derailing the national discussion into meaningless blib-blab about appearances, they avoid the much more relevant -- and more deadly -- discussion of reality.

Looking back, I think I was wrong to state that this was "deliberate" and "by design." That's probably only half-true, or less than that. It may not be so much by design, as caused by the fact that liberals cannot even begin to question Obama's competency because they so completely assume it that questions about it simply cannot occur to them. Thus, having eliminated Obama's obvious real problem -- he's not doing a damn thing to fix the catastrophic Obamatrina, and unable to push his people into Red Alert mode -- they are forced to grasp at other explanations.

What they've come up with is that he's good enough at feigning emotion. Which is, of course, pretty much a compliment, because they're saying, basically, Obama is so honest he finds it demeaning and difficult to counterfeit some PR tears even when doing so would redound to his political benefit.

As Sherlock Holmes said, when you eliminate the impossible, then the remaining possibility, no matter how improbable, must be the solution. Since it is, to Obama supporters, impossible that he's failing in the polls because he's failing as a president, they cast about for improbable solutions.

Ah! It must be the case that he's actually a phenomenally successful president, but he's unable to communicate this to the moronic public, which is so intellectually stunted they can only evaluate presidential performance through soap-opera-level play-acted emoting.

This seems to explain (to them) Obama's declining poll numbers while, not coincidentally, reinforcing several of their most cherished beliefs:

1. Obama is the most honest man born of a human parent, and maybe more honest than Jesus too.

2. Obama is the most competent and brilliant man not named "Henry 'Indiana' Jones, Junior," and maybe better than him, too.

3. The public is a bunch of morons who cannot appreciate the wonders of progressivism simply because they're too stupid to do so.

4. Nothing needs to be changed about progressivism or their progressive president, except for some meaningless focus-group-tested catch-phrases and maybe a little faked anger.

Notice how comforting those fictions are. They permit progressives to continue saying their favorite words in the world -- I was right, I am right, I had always been right," as The Stranger said -- and thus to avoid any empirical evaluation of their key tenets of Faith.

Truth is a decent reason to believe in something. Psychological comfort is a far better and stronger reason to believe in something.

At any rate, this absurd discussion now enters a new phase. With some liberals making the removed-from-reality critique that Obama just isn't "emoting" enough, now comes the second wave, to argue that he is emoting just enough.

And while we're having this ridiculous debate about sub-trivialities,
we conveniently ignore the reality that a massive oil slick is poisoning the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, and Obama hasn't done shit about except talk about it, and even on that score, he didn't talk about it much.

The American Prospect's Adam Serwer notes today, "One of the things I used to like about the president is that he always seemed indifferent to village demands that he acquiesce to whatever empty political gesture they wanted him to make."

Well, Serwer can relax.

President Obama did not conjure up the posterior metaphor on his own. He turned Matt Lauer's "butt" into an "ass," and his annoyance seemed to be more a consequence of Lauer's questions than of any effort to appear angry. Appearing angry and appearing engaged are two different things. The White House understands how anger can be appropriately channeled and employed, but at this point, they are eager for the public to see the president as engaged -- as problem solving.

If President Obama hadn't said "ass," then he'd be accused of not being angry enough. Because he did say "ass," he's accused of titrating his response to criticisms that he's not angry enough about the oil leak. The man cannot win.

Yes, Marc Ambinder, he can win -- he can do something about the oil slick.

Not just talk about it or "strike the right emotional notes," but actually do something about it, something tangible, something real, something with real-world impact.

That's how he "wins," dude. And that, I'm sad to report, is the only way he wins.

But liberals are determined to believe that Obama can "win," as he has his whole life, not by actually accomplishing anything but by giving a nice speech.

Hey, if we set the bar for success low enough, then even Obama might be able to clear it -- with some helpful cheerleading by his media Amen Corner, of course.

I've got an idea: Let's just say that whenever Obama uses the sentence "I am angry," he automatically is judged a success at whatever it is he's failed to accomplish.

Manufacturing Consent: I think Noam Chomskey hit upon this idea, and there's something to it.

Suppose there are five possible plausible public reactions to an event or initiative. A, B, C, D, and E, ranging from rightist to leftist, and A and E representing the extremes.

Media debate tends to package C and D -- C, a centristl reaction, and D, a left-center but still mainstream-ish reaction -- as the only two possible reactions, and debates the issue without reference to A, B, and E, as if they don't exist, or, if they do mention them, they are dismissed peremptorily as extremist and wack-a-doo and "not serious."

Thus, at the end of the day, the public does get to "choose"... but only from the two options the media has pre-screened as permissible, C and D. Thus, consent of the governed has been "manufactured" -- sure, the public chooses between C and D, but their choice was forced -- as a magician forces a card on you -- by a media that carefully insulated them from genuine consideration of A, B, and E.

(Now-- Chomsky certainly did not use this idea to argue for media bias from the left! Quite the opposite-- he claimed we were always discussing only two possibilities, like "full support for corporate power" and "90% support for corporate power;" he claimed the media biased the discussion towards two possibilities, one on the right, and one on the further right.

In other words -- he was annoyed that "E" wasn't under active discussion, which is to say, full-blown communism.

Of course it is abject nonsense that the media censors ideas on the left*-- but his theory makes perfect sense when you adjust it to say the two allowable modes of thought are center-left and a little-farther-left-than-center-left.)


So, that's what we have going on. We are allowed two permissible storylines -- Obama's not emoting enough, or Obama's emoting just enough -- and the MFM won't entertain other storylines, like, "This has nothing at all to do with emoting, but rather to do with reality and real-world achievements."


* To some extent, he is right: The media doesn't like talking about communists, and will swear on a stack of Bibles that, for example, Obama is not socialist at all, not even a little bit.

But they do that not to thwart communism, but because they, unlike true-believer Chomsky, understand that communism will not sell in America and if the liberal Democrats are seen to be in basic agreement with communists, or at least count them as allies, it will badly damage the center-left's ability to get its agenda into operation.

Like I Was Saying: Even Matt Lauer is incredulous at Obama's reasoning for not talking with BP's CEO.

"Captain Kick-Ass," all the young people are calling him now.



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posted by Ace at 03:21 PM

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