Maybe we get what we deserve

I can’t abide people who are already salivating at the prospect of Obama’s failure, who are convinced that he is a godless Marxist with a secret plan to steal our guns, open our borders, and make us all work like slaves on wind-energy farms while turning our daughters into lesbians with kindergarten sex-education seminars. The reality is that we need him to exercise good judgment and rein in the lunatic fringe of his own party, just as we need Republicans with some backbone to quietly take Rush Limbaugh by the arm and remind him that he is nothing more than a dancing bear, that if he expects any more of them to come kissing his rear end after they hurt his precious feelings then he is sadly mistaken, and that the best thing for everyone would be for him to have another diet shake and shut his piehole.

If Obama fails because he is captured by the know-nothing Pelosi wing of his party, in other words, we all lose, and big. Racial polarization, continued drift toward a massive fiscal disaster as the overly entitled, under-saving Baby Boomers accelerate their descent from mediocrity into dependence, and a likely return to the feckless, ill-directed foreign policy that characterized the Clinton photo-op years. We need this president to succeed.

This is why his speech last night was so disappointing to me. He uses words a little too precisely, reminiscent of Al Gore’s “no controlling legal authority” tightrope walk before a phalanx of attorneys. He creates a false dichotomy, between the reasonable people who agree with him about fulfilling a social spending wishlist and calling it economic stimulus, and the extremists who want to do nothing. Judging by his facial expressions, he gets irritated at the slightest challenge to his assertions. I’ve heard a lot of big talk about “how we do it in Chicago,” but I’m wondering if politicians in Chicago are used to being criticized, because that seems to be a new experience for this man. Which is inexplicable, because no matter how obsequious his hangers-on, he does have a wife. Surely I didn’t get the only one who disagrees from time to time.

So between the paranoid rhetoric of the talking-head right, and the defensive disingenuousness on display last night, I’m feeling awfully queasy about the future. I guess I always assumed that when things got really bad, maturity would trump the self-seeking behaviors and refusal to accept trade-offs characteristic of ill-trained children. But maybe all the adults have left Washington.


  1. Terro

    Sadly, I agree with the gist of what you say.Obama seemed less than eloquent last night, and he insults our intelligence when he attempts to define “pork” as a component of earmarks only. The American people do well to look in horror at our august legislators showing less maturity than a high school mock legislative assembly and at a president who appears a hapless teacher out of control of his class.

    I do disagree with you about racial polarization, however. I don’t think this issue revolves so much around Obama’s success as it does the success or failure of minorities to seize opportunities to educate themselves and move up the economic ladder…and the belief that they can do so. Come to think of it, though, that mindset is partially dependent on the state of the economy.

  2. nichole

    I didn’t get the same impression. Being a lawyer, I like the fact that he carefully chooses his words. I didn’t think he seemed miffed at being challenged. I think he’s annoyed with the naysayers that offer no alternatives or only offer grandstanding theatrics and there are a lot of those people right now. My impression was that he was telling those who disagree with him to either put up or shut up. Some have, like Sen. Nelson trying to work out some compromises across the aisle. Standing around blaming people isn’t going to make anyone’s life any better. I agree with that philosophy to a point.

  3. Rick

    I’m trying to understand the mindset that gives Rush such a hard time but that in the end sounds exactly like he does.

    As a frequent listener of the man’s talk show, and a frequent reader of your blog, I’m seriously confused by your condemnation of the man.

    He is, by far, a most eloquent articulater of exactly that which you seem to endorse here.

    Someone who believes in making people laugh, who believes that making a point while also entertaining is the most effective way of getting a message across and who believes firmly in God, and not some mamby pamby God in the sky BS but the God whose son is Jesus Christ and whose Holy Spirit influences the willing today.

    It must be something I simply don’t have the ability to understand to smear Limbaugh while agreeing largely in principle with what he espouses.

    I tend to learn things quickly when it’s explained slowly.

    One of these days, someone like yourself will explain to me slowly what exactly your point is in smearing a person you largely agree with.

    One of these days.

  4. Lucy

    I think I agree mostly with you. Maybe. And the gleeful salivating is indeed annoying and immature. BUT …

    You said “If Obama fails because he is captured by the know-nothing Pelosi wing of his party”. When you use the word “captured” you seem to be implying that it would be against his will, or that at best it would be because he was manipulated by the bad people.

    While I do indeed anticipate his failure, its not with glee. And I think he is eagerly running toward the Pelosi branch of his party. He is not the one “captured”. Instead THEY have captured the Office!

    (And, no, I don’t harbor paranoid fantasies of the need to move to Alaska and stockpile … stuff. I DO think there will be significant damage done to the economy and personal rights. Which is unfortunate, but fixable.)

  5. Tony

    the real insult in that sentence was aimed at Congressman Gingrey. I don’t think I smeared Rush, a verb which connotes slander. He is indeed a performer (“dancing bear” is just a funnier turn of phrase), and I suspect the two of us agree on at least a few things. My dislike stems from the fact that he leads a wide swath of Americans in attributing the worst motives to their opponents. For all Obama’s misrepresentation of the positions of his detractors, at least he has the grace to say that he believes they harbor good intentions.

    Limbaugh, on the other hand, engenders paranoia and mean-spiritedness, which is a fairly harmless schtick when the country is in decent shape (as in the Clinton years), but is outright destructive at a time like this. That doesn’t mean we should all support bad policies, but we ought not to speak and behave as if we think everyone on the other side from us is possessed by the Devil.

  6. Rick

    I’m a Tony Woodlief fan and I’m a Rush Limbaugh fan and I think I’m both for the same reason but the genres in play are certainly different.

    Tony, you write your stuff down and presumably have the luxury of reading, re-reading, writing and re-writing them before they become public. Limbaugh speaks live before a national audience for 15 hours a week and though I think he’s one of the most prepared talk show hosts out there, I do think at times he simply speaks first and thinks later as to whether the substance of what is being said might’ve been said differently. I would challenge you Tony (or anyone else for that matter) to speak before millions 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, and not come across as mean-spirited or even outright destructive at times. I don’t think you could do it. I know for certain that I could not. But all that misses the larger point.

    Mean-spiritedness has come, for me, to mean something other than it’s dictionary definition. It’s a canard too many times used by the Left (and more frequently today by the well-intended Right) to shut down a perspective, to stymie an opinion, to censor a viewpoint.

    Rush Limbaugh speaks for me more times than not. As does Tony Woodlief. I see the two of you to be much more alike than I think perhaps you do but I say this from the experiences gleaned over the years of listening to him and reading you.

    To suggest that Limbaugh is being destructive or that he engenders paranoia and mean-spiritedness can, in my less than humble view, only come from someone who listens to him rarely or, worse, who hears about him or something he’s allegedly said through the filtration system of today’s leftist dominated media.

    Limbaugh does nothing more than react to the mean-spiritedness that is couched in the ‘nice-ness’ and ‘open-mindedness’ and ‘tolerance’ being talked of by the left but rarely ever actually practiced. For his reactions (and that’s what his show is about… reaction), he’s the one painted as the victimizer, the divider, the bigot, the homophobe, the misogynist, etc ad nauseum. It gets a little tiring and I say this simply because I know the man speaks for me most of the time as I suspect he does for many.

    The culture today is replete with the notion that voices like mine (who Limbaugh represents, people who are direct, blunt, to the point, etc) should be marginalized and dismissed simply because we’re not politically correct in the methods employed in our communications. The substance of what is being said gets lost in the style.

    Tony, if you listen to Rush regularly and still want to stick to the opinion you’ve expressed in your post about the man, and if you think that my opinions expressed in defending him are simply nothing more than the expressions of a glassy-eyed dittohead, then I guess we’ll have to part ways here at loggerheads.

    But if you don’t listen to him regularly or if you think some of what I’ve expressed has merit, then I’m hoping you’ll ponder the possibilities.

    I end this with one more Limbaugh/Woodlief comparison. You’ve written extensively on what it means to be a man and how you hope to raise your boys to be something other than girly-men. At least, that’s my interpretation of what you’re attempting in a nutshell.

    Limbaugh is being a man in political culture that seems to want us all to act like old ladies at a bridge club. The conservative movement needs more men to be men. There is a tyranny in niceness. See Canada.

  7. Curt Howland

    I think we’re seriously screwed. Not because Obama might be “captured” by anyone, but because his voting record since he started in office has been consistant: big government, intrusion, regulation, more more more.

    So those who thought the Revolution might come sooner if the economy went into the toilet are in for a treat.

    BTW, I hear that he’s asked for another $3Trillion in addition to everything he’s gotten already. Well heck, it worked for Mugabe…

  8. Steve

    I feel the same amount of anger/disgust/frustration with those who continue to see our country/world in black and white terms, either with their political party or without. Your assessment of Limbaugh is dead on in my opinion, he is no doubt a dancing bear but at the same time a dangerous one who continues to hammer away at wedging this country in two. The conservatives are much better served by those who can state their position without denigrating the opposition or framing them as the source of all evil on earth. George Will and Andrew Sullivan come to mind as examples of this.

    I would say that one should give Obama and his policies time, three weeks and one press conference, in the midst of the greatest financial crisis we’ve ever encountered, is too short a time to make assessments of how things will go.

  9. Steve

    Take it for what it’s worth. : )

    A blog-with-comments is a piss-poor place to debate matters like the existence of God. It’s not even a good place to debate whether Obama’s stimulus bill is likely to be successful. Blogs just don’t do complexity and nuance — which, I think, is why they’re so popular. As everyone knows, the less complex and nuanced the positions on a blog are, the more comments it gets. This is an Iron-Clad Law of the Internet. Blog posts are just too short to deal with the Big Issues, and too likely to be fired off in short order, with minimal reflection and no pre-post feedback from wiser and cooler heads. Andrew Sullivan may think this is a good thing, but I’m not inclined to agree. And of course comments are usually even worse than posts in these respects. Some wonderful conversations happen in blog comment threads, but they happen in spite of the architecture, not because of it. The architecture is fighting thoughtfulness with all its might.

  10. Max

    “Salivating at the prospect of Obama’s failure”

    Project much? That’s been the left’s game plan against George Bush for the last eight years.

    The pain you feel listening to Rush Limbaugh comes from within you. It’s a measure of your own intolerance. You won’t deal with it by acting out against Rush.

  11. RockThrowingPeasant

    Andrew Sullivan can be a self-described conservative, but I haven’t seen much coming from his computer that reflects conservatism in years. This isn’t about establishing a litmus test for conservatism. It’s just an assessment of his writing.

    As far as not casting his opponents in the worst of all lights, Sullivan led the “Trig is the daughter’s baby” charge and let no Palin rumor go unpublished and no insult go unheralded.

    You can have him.

    Regarding Libaugh, this just seems to be the cycle. A Republican is president and vicious attacks flow like water down a sewar drain. When the Democrat follows, there’s an immediate call for civility and an end to bickering. I refuse to buy that I’m mean spirited because I won’t play along when the people who wrote plays fantacizing about Bush’s assasination, marched with flag-draped coffins to trumpet the death toll of war, and/or called me a NAZI, unpatriotic, etc for daring to support my nation during a war suddenly want the rhetoric turned down now that their guy is in the hot seat.

    He will be judged fairly, but I will not play nice when he wrenches the country to the Left.

  12. Buttercup

    I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, or any radio personality (having 4 kids means either Radio Disney or blessed silence when on the rare occasions I’m alone), but it seems very odd that you compare Rush’s role as radio personality to Obama’s role as president. I never thought of Rush as the leader of the GOP. I wonder what makes you think he is?

    And to the Steve who said Andrew Sullivan was not just a conservative but a conservative who doesn’t denigrate his opponents: Thanks a lot, buddy, now I have to clean all the Coke zero I just sprayed all over my monitor when I read that one!

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