Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obama's Scapegoat of the Week

It really goes beyond irony. Here we have the president who ran on post-partisan politics, getting beyond the petty squabbles in Washington DC.

Yet surely no president in modern memory has used polarization and scapegoating as consistently and routinely.

Never mind the tired Blame-it-on-Bush tactic. Just think of all the others he has accused of wickedness.

Yesterday it was the bankers. The federal pay czar demanded that companies taking money from the TARP fund should reduce their compensation--by as much as 90 percent.

Before that it was the insurance companies, whose search for profits, as everyone knows, is the reason that health care costs are so high.

Now the president is threatening three special interests in what Mark Tapscott calls:

Barack Obama and his White House capos muscling recalcitrant opponents and promising to crush those who don't get in line.

They are muscling the US Chamber of Commerce:

Now the White House actively encourages an exodus of high-profile firms from the nation's most prominent voice for business, with the prospect of billions of dollars of "green industry" subsidies being a prominent lure.

There are the doctors:

If the doctors would drop their demand for medical malpractice lawsuit reforms and support Obamacare, Reid would quickly move the $247 billion bill to spare them from scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursement.

Otherwise their Medicare reimbursements would fall sharply. (Stop press: Reid failed in a test vote to move the bill forward yesterday).

Then, of course, there is the war against FoxNews. Heigh ho.

Let us raise all this to the dignity of a Law of Political Scapegoats. "The last refuge of a political scoundrel is the scapegoat."

There are some politicians who reach for a scapegoat as their first refuge, but they are beyond the pale.

There's nothing wrong with scapegoating, per se. It's obviously a necessary part of human society. When things go wrong, you need to load all the guilt and the failure on a convenient victim and cast him out--hopefully with all the guilt and failure--so you can make a fresh start. In a democracy, this process is called an election.

But there must be a limit to this. And I suggest that, for a politician, the limit on scapegoating should be this: the scapegoat must be another politician.

In other words, if President Obama wants to blame someone for everything going wrong, it must be another elected politician. No fair blaming the doctors or the insurance companies.

Why does everyone hate the insurance companies? Because government policy has put them in an untenable position. They are expected to deliver unlimited medical care in return for a fixed monthly premium. Who can do business under those conditions? What happens when they try to limit their costs? They are pilloried as corporate monsters.

Or the bankers. The government keeps playing games with money and credit. For instance, it decided that more people should be able to buy homes, and bullied the banks into lending more money to sub-prime borrowers. After home prices soared and then collapsed when the sub-prime borrowers couldn't service their loans, the politicians blamed the bankers, their reckless lending practices, and their bonuses.

It's up to We the People to do something about this. Whenever a politician hauls a scapegoat onto the political stage for ritual humiliation, we must avert our eyes from the public execution and start looking for the man behind the curtain.

Meanwhile, here's some advice to President Obama.

Mr President, I have a feeling that there is a natural limit to the scapegoating that a politician can get away with, a point at which the people stop falling for the scapegoat play. And I think you are getting close to that limit.

Just a word of advice from one American to another.

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