Monday, May 4, 2009

Handling Obama Derangement Syndrome

When conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg recently praised Barack Obama's handling of the Somali pirate incident, his email inbox overflowed with "snark and bile" from readers unable to stomach the good words.

Of course, there was nothing wrong with the actions themselves.

If Ronald Reagan had taken the same steps - sending Navy forces to the area and ultimately rescuing the American ship captain after killing his captors with astoundingly accurate sniper fire - conservative magazines would feature the Gipper on Mt. Rushmore.

What better response from the conservative perspective? We used military might to rescue an American hostage. You'd think that would win cheers from everyone without tie-dyed sheets, yet Republicans still sneer (see 'Obama Derangement Syndrome' in the Economist).

'There's no pleasing some people' takes on a special significance today, as the phrase has more literal meaning than in the past. The radical right will be pleased by nothing, absolutely nothing, undertaken by Barack Obama or his party, just as the radical left refused to endorse any action by George W. Bush (even such liberal-friendly acts as increasing AIDS treatment funding for Africa).

So why try to make the radicals happy? A better option is to ignore them completely.

No more trying to please the opposition. No more making tax cuts the single biggest part of the stimulus package, because the other guys will still hate you. No more resisting calls from both sides of the aisle to nationalize banks, because the opposition will still call you a socialist or a fascist or a communist... or even all three at once. (See the Economist article above.)

In fact, that's the very topic of next week's post, Words are Terroristical.

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