When you see a sign that says “wet paint” you have an urge to touch it. Don’t try to disagree; you know I’m telling the truth. When I was a kid the gravitational pull of a wet paint sign was irresistible. Inevitably I’d wind up with a painted finger which I’d wipe on my jeans. (You did the same thing when you were a kid.) My mother would ask why I was dumb enough to mess up perfectly good school clothes. I had no answer. Children are like that. Some folks stay that way into adulthood.
Why am I telling you this? The president has provided a “wet paint” sign that might best be ignored. Obama is getting his ass kicked by something he’s never had to face before…reality. The best of his dwindling options involve diversion. If the opposing party craps itself he might deflect some of the criticism he’s earning. I implore Republicans (and Tea Partiers) and even serious minded Democrats to leave the bait alone.
Consider what’s happening in the real world:
Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya are imploding. Middle eastern revolution is passing around like lice in an elementary school. By the time I post this who knows how far it will have gone? Maybe it’s good news and maybe it’s bad but it is definitely a historic moment that will define millions of lives for the next several decades. Wow! Meanwhile Obama is a deer in headlights. It might be wise to keep out of a quagmire but Obama hasn’t decided to not participate any more than he has decided to do something. The absence of decision is an absence of leadership. Presidents, even when the shit hits the fan, should maintain the pretense of a firm hand on the tiller.
Domestically his Obamaness submitted a budget that did what every Federal budget does; ignore things and let the debt continue. Whistling past the debt graveyard is standard protocol but it’s no longer popular. You may have noticed the election a few months ago? Obama didn’t. Speeches about “Sputnik moments” and other irrelevancies belong to 2009 (actually Sputnik belongs to 1957). Fiscal responsibility (or at least the appearance of it) is starting to make sense to even the most deliberately inattentive. Ignoring fiscal reality in 2011 means the bus is leaving without you.
Then came the kerfluffle in Wisconsin. Our brave Commander In Chief personally interfered with a freshly elected State Executive who is doing precisely what he campaigned to do in the State where he won. I call bullshit! The Federal President has no business forcing a State Governor in the expressly non-Federal (and rather mundane) issue of…teacher’s pay! We’re in debt for $14,182,941,035,367, at war on two fronts, and revolutions are jumping from nation to nation in the Middle East. In this environment Obama springs into action over collective negotiations for third grade English teachers in Green Bay. This is what happens when a community organizer is in over his head.
With Democrats fleeing Wisconsin and Obama fleeing reality, Republicans could rise to the occasion, govern wisely, and look good by comparison. Actually Republicans could shine by merely staying sober and keeping their pants on.
Read that last sentence; Republicans need do nothing but avoid self mutilation. Can they do it? I have my doubts. Given the opportunity to do something stupid, Republicans have been known to seize the day.
Obama, who is not a fool, knows it too. Since the real world sucks he’s cleverly created a false one more to his liking. He looked around for an unpopular law. He found the Defense Of Marriage Act of 1996. A wedge issue the Republicans left cocked and loaded and lying around 15 years ago. Smooth move gentlemen. The president has chosen to stop legally defending it. Why now? In this moment over all others? Because reality sucks; we’re at war on two fronts, the Middle East is imploding, we’re broke, his budget is laughable, the government is running on a continuing resolution, and even in his home territory of Madison Wisconsin he’s getting no traction. Obama has tried nothing and he’s all out of ideas. He needs the Republicans to implode.
Incidentally I’m not happy about either Defense of Marriage Act or it’s likely demise by bureaucracy. I don’t remember civics class covering the part where the Executive can pick and choose among duly passed laws. Nor do I like using the Supreme Court as the involuntary default garbage collector for laws which could be repealed or affirmed through an honest up or down legislative vote. Managing laws the way the government was designed to function does have a sort of simplicity to it doesn’t it?
This game is bad news for Republicans and it’s not too pretty for Democrats either. The Defense of Marriage Act is a wet paint sign. Can Republican’s ignore it? Will they follow their usual Pavlovian response to all things gay and go into rut about a symbolic, largely irrelevant, non-issue?
Obama has put the bait out. Stay tuned to see if his opposition will play their role by sticking their genitals into the waiting metal jaws. Remember…it’s a 15 year old law of minor importance while Lybia is killing people with jets today and the Government is slated to shut down in a few weeks. They could just let it go. Wanna’ place bets?