Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Goosing the Squawkers

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union performance last night was smooth.

Not that I think it was a great speech, soaring rhetoric, etc. It was just enough of this, and of that. He touched all the bases. He seemed pleasantly confident, rather than confrontational. Still, with his phrasing, he seemed to be having fun making the Republicans have to stand up to applaud for things they didn’t want to ... but they had to.

And, it seems to me Obama deliberately gave the rightwing extremists enough fresh material to keep them squawking well into the time for March Madness and the spring thaw.

In my view that was high on his list of goals with that annual ceremonial address to Congress. What I saw unveiled last night was a confident strategy to provoke the most ambitious and vociferous of Republican squawkers.

Q: Other than it might be fun, why would the usually cautious president want to provoke them?

A: The White House has figured out that the whole Tea Party era has stopped accumulating momentum. It's bogging down. It’s fizzling out.

Pick you metaphor, culture-wise, the crazy rightwingers have had their day. It all peaked at some number -- I'd guess maybe 28-to-30 percent of the voters. It’s on its way back to being the hardcore 15-to-20 percent thing it used to be. Now the angry take-the-country-back phenomenon's popularity is getting smaller in the rear-view mirror.

That's one of the most important takeaways from the Democratic sweep in Virginia.

While what I’m asserting may not be clear to most people yet, I think it will be sooner than you might imagine. In politics, things can change fast.

Anyway, happy to blow off the chance I could be wrong, what I took away from Obama’s speech was that the White House is going to pursue a provocative course that is bound to goose the squawkers. Rather than waste any more time trying to find common or middle ground with them, Obama is going to do things to provoke them into coming after him with their rhetoric -- mean-spirited blather that sounds stale.

Some will call for shutting down the government, again. Some will call for sabotaging the economy by playing debt ceiling games, again. Some will call for Obama’s impeachment, again. All of which will seem warmed-over, at best. Something new?

Maybe legal action over his executive orders?

So I'm suggesting Obama and his advisors have decided to help the fizzling process along by goosing the squawkers. Which should make more young voters, female voters and minority voters see the Tea Party/Fox News mindset in an increasingly more unfavorable light. When it seemed fresh, five years ago, that was one thing. Now it comes off as just more empty hype.

Not a solution.

Just squawk.  

Of course, in politics, when you can do the right thing, make your opponents act like fools, and help your party win elections in November, well, that’s a slam-dunk. Why wouldn’t you do it? Not bad for a guy who's usually a jump-shooter.

Perfect strategy for the coming March Madness season.

Like Obama, it’s smooth. 

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