United Snakes of America: Obama, the Republicans and the Media

United Snakes of America Obama the Republicans and the Media

House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama meet with Congressional leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 13, 2011. (Photo: Pete Souza / White House)

President Obama

I've been angry with slimy politicians before – Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush – for many different reasons, but with the common denominator of sacrificing the public interest for private interests. So, I was thrilled to vote for Obama. My wife and I donated more money to his campaign than we have given to any candidate running for any office. I believed he was more than just pocket “change we could believe in.” I still have an Obama bumper sticker on my car. This weekend, with gusto, I'm tearing it off.

Obama has fulfilled more of the Tea Party's dreams than Sarah Palin, Grover Norquist or Rush Limbaugh could ever have done as president. He has done more damage to the Democratic Party than Karl Rove in his wettest of dreams. There are two possible explanations for Obama's behavior, both are equally disturbing.

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The first explanation is the kindest and that is this: Obama, despite a progressive heart and Democratic ideals, has demonstrated he is incapable of standing up to his antagonists. His idea of negotiating with hostage takers is, “Here's twice what you asked for in ransom, a homemade bunt cake from Michelle, you keep the hostages, punch me in the stomach and I'll bring you more hostages next year.” Or maybe he has developed the Stockholm Syndrome (think Patty Hearst) – he has come to identify and sympathize with his Tea Party captors because of the psychological trauma they have inflicted.

The second explanation is more sinister and less forgiving and that is: Obama doesn't really believe in government providing social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; doesn't worry about corporate take over of government; isn't concerned about the struggling and disappearing middle class or the extreme concentration of wealth at the top; and isn't losing any sleep over the planet racing toward a permanent climate disaster, the same planet that Sasha and Malia will inherit. As disheartening as it is to admit, I think this explanation is emerging as the most likely. We've been had. At night, the creature who we thought was Barack Obama peels off his latex mask, revealing the head of a snake with a face that looks like Milton Friedman.

The Republicans

One of the most enduring visual images from my childhood is Disney's animated film classic “Fantasia.” Still seared into my memory bank is “Night on Bald Mountain” with the Lord of Darkness rising from the mountain, calling out his minions from the town and graveyard below. See this to refresh your memory. Corporate America, the Koch Brothers et al, are the 21st century's Lords of Darkness and the Tea Partiers their minions swarming to a rendezvous on the mountain in a morbid trance to do their bidding.

Governments and political parties that lie are nothing new. Politicians' willingness to sacrifice the public interest at the alter of special interests is certainly nothing new and has recently become the order of the day in both parties. But what seems new since the ascendancy of the Tea Party is the utter disdain for the real world and an embrace of a world where fantasy (like “Fantasia”), ideology, hypnosis and frank psychoses reign supreme. Republicans have become agents and experts unto themselves. Their belief system has primacy over history, science, empiricism, common sense, arithmetic or facts that contradict that system. Economists, doctors, climate scientists, physicists and historians are no match for the divine and unassailable expertise inherent in hard-right Republican ideology. Truth and reality become whatever they want them to be.

If the Tea Partiers and, therefore, the Republican Party want there to be no global warming, well, then there just isn't any. Michelle Bachmann doesn't believe it, case closed. If the Texas School Board doesn't want separation of church and state, well, then our founding fathers didn't believe in it either. If Thomas Jefferson's ideas are problematic for fanatical Christians, well, then we'll just make him a second-string founding father, or eliminate him from the history books altogether.

If the Bush administration racked up five trillion dollars to our national debt and the Obama administration added 1.44 trillion dollars, then simple math tells Mitch McConnell the debt is all Obama's fault. If the Republicans in unison call all billionaires “job creators,” then they just are, even if their presidential front-runner/billionaire Mitt Romney made his money specifically by taking over companies and firing thousands of employees.

If a deregulated Wall Street was the key ingredient for the housing bubble and the national economic collapse, then obviously we need even less regulation of Wall Street. If history demonstrates that “trickle down” economics has been an abject failure every single time it is has been tried, then, en masse, the Republicans are going to demand that we lock it in for the entire 21st century.

Thousands of medical and economic studies show that tighter control of air and water pollution saves hundreds of thousands of lives every year, makes everyone healthier, significantly lengthens our lives, provides an economic stimulus as much as 40 times the cost of those pollution controls and is responsible for a net increase in jobs.(1) Naturally then, every Republican in the House has joined an unprecedented assault on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to neuter it, defund it and render it not only incapable of implementing new programs, but prevent it from enforcing the existing, bedrock regulations of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Like a snake charmer, the Lord of Darkness has them all perfectly choreographed and hypnotized.

The “Lame Stream Media”

If the Tea Partiers say the earth is flat – and they do – and the Democrats say the earth is a sphere, then the media would report that the earth has a “shape crisis.” Furthermore, both sides would be portrayed as equally intransigent, equally at fault and which shape was actually correct would be irrelevant to the media.

Next, when the Tea Partiers announce that unless we all agree that not only is the earth is flat, but the Democrats are allowing it to hurtle into the sun, the media will ignore whether that is indeed happening and ask the Democrats if they are going to do what's necessary to prevent it. Finally, when the Tea Partiers hold their breath and turn blue and the Democrats concede that the earth is flat and offer the Tea Party our lunch money if they promise not to let it hurtle into the sun, the media reports an historic, bipartisan and “balanced” agreement that, thank God, averts disaster.

No matter how extreme the Tea Party becomes, the media gives them the first and often the only crack at the megaphone. So, Tea Party blackmail becomes a “debt crisis,” health care reform becomes “death panels,” restoring historic and moral tax rates becomes an outrageous “tax on the job creators” and regulations preventing polluters from getting away with murder become “job killers” themselves. Almost always the initial framing of the debate determines the outcome and the media frames the debate as if they are right with the Tea Partiers, slithering at the feet of the Lord of Darkness on Bald Mountain.

While “Snakes on a Plane” was just Hollywood fantasy, snakes on Capitol Hill is real life and they're sinking more of their venom into your future and mine every day.

1. Huffington Post article by EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, September 20, 2010.