No more Mr. Nice Guy
So if you had him on the couch—with the tasteful plants in every corner and the diplomas on the wall, with the pillows arranged just-so and the tissue box nearby—would you find yourself saying something that sounded approximately like this?
“So Barack, how’s that whole mild-mannered thing workin’ out for ya?”
Dream on. The chance that the president of these United States will be stretching out for your therapeutic assistance any time soon is roughly equivalent to the chance that Anthony Weiner will be the next CEO of Twitter. Which is to say, slim and none.
But that’s no reason we can’t do a little bit of dime-store psychologizing all on our own, right? And because everybody who’s anybody has already taken a crack at understanding the Obama personality itself, maybe we can range a little further afield. Maybe we can take a look at some of the poor souls who bought into the whole “Barack is Bambi” notion, and found their comfy universe upended when they discovered otherwise.
So let’s talk about Republicans, OK? Republicans in the House of Representatives. They’ve had a tough go of it lately, and a large chunk of it, I’m convinced, comes from the dashing of those sweet Obama expectations.
They thought they could say anything about him, and he wouldn’t push back.
They thought they could say anything, no matter how ridiculous, about his policies and his programs, and he wouldn’t get down in the mud with them.
They thought he was their punching bag. Turns out he’s a counter-puncher—and there’s some sting in those fists.
Which is why you had that highly peculiar scene just the other day: House Republicans arriving en masse at the White House to tell the president to stop “demagoguing.” To stop “mischaracterizing” their positions on the budget, and on health care, and…
National Pot and Kettle Week, anyone?
Or do you think that portraying Barack Obama as a Kenyan socialist pushing radical job-killing takeovers and heartless “death panels” was all good clean fun?
(File Under: “Dish it out, can”/“Take it, can’t”)
The GOP’s idea guy, Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, was particularly distressed by the White House’s insistence on calling his plan to overhaul (dismantle?) Medicare a “voucher” program. People don’t like “voucher” programs—apparently it reminds them that there won’t actually be enough money to go around. That more and more of the health-care-payment burden will fall on the shoulders of people less and less able to afford it.
Which happens to be a pretty fair characterization of what would, in fact, happen if Ryan’s plan ever made it into law. Although you can certainly understand why he wouldn’t want people to be focusing on that part of it. It tends to make folks antsy. It even tends to make them vote for Democrats.
“I simply explained what our plan is, how it works,” Ryan told reporters after he and his colleagues emerged from the White House. “It’s been mis-described by the president and many others. So we simply described to him what it is we’ve been proposing so that he hears from us how our proposal works.”
Ryan’s hope? “In the future, he won’t mischaracterize it.”
Ryan’s reality? Don’t hold your breath.
Ain’t payback a pain?
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.