Monday, January 07, 2013

Obama Derangement Syndrome In Full Glorious Flower

Latest Newspaper Column:

People sometimes ask me if I have trouble coming up with ideas for columns. The answer is, "sometimes."
But I know that all I have to do is fire up the trusty Web browser, head on over to Fox News or Drudge Report or any of a dozen lesser online right-wing loony bins, where I'll often find the latest outbreak of what's come to be called Obama Derangement Syndrome for our pointing and mocking pleasure.
Take, for example, a recent interview conducted in the Fox News Echo Chamber by Sean Hannity, who indulged in yet another one of those head-wagging rounds of the game "Ain't Obama Awful/Yes, He Sure Is" with syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Hannity started with his usual prep-school-bully sneer, complaining about the president of the United States taking a "tropical vacation" during the so-called "fiscal cliff" crisis. By "tropical vacation," of course, Hannity meant "spending Christmas with his family in the American state where he was born." This is something I'm sure quite a few Americans did, Hannity included.
But remember, we're dealing with Fox News here, the Hot Zone for Obama Derangement Syndrome. No activity of this president, no matter how normal or benign, is beyond the ability of a raging ODS sufferer like Hannity to be outraged over.
On to Krauthammer, whom I've found hard to take seriously since a 2010 column in which he inveighed mightily against a value-added tax (VAT) which he predicted was coming. He urged his right-wing readers to "get ready to fight" against the VAT.
Funny thing is, no one in Congress or the administration had proposed any such thing, nor have they since, nor are they likely to. For an ODS sufferer, however, exhorting people to fight against legislation that doesn't exist is a classic symptom of the disease.
Another symptom is a deep paranoia combined with extreme cognitive dissonance, leading the sufferer to ascribe to his imagined antagonist both complete incompetence and fiendish craftiness.
Krauthammer credited Mr. Obama with no less an accomplishment than "shattering" the Republican Party and plunging it into civil war: "He's been using this, and I must say with great skill - and ruthless skill and success - to fracture and basically shatter the Republican opposition. ... His objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the Republicans in the House, and to create an internal civil war. And he's done that."
Wow. Not bad for a mere "community organizer" who was playing golf on vacation. It calls to mind the Honorable John McCain's complaint during his unsuccessful presidential campaign against Mr. Obama that the blame for rising gas prices could be laid at Obama's feet, even though he was, according to other McCain ads, only the inexperienced junior senator from Illinois.
As I observed at the time, you don't want to make someone that powerful angry. Lord knows what he could do if he was really paying attention.
So, what does Krauthammer think the president should do, now that he has crushed his enemies, seen them driven before him, and heard the lamentation of their women?
Simple. He should give up. Accept Mitt Romney's non-plan of closing undefined loopholes to raise revenue, rather than raising tax rates on the wealthy, which was what the president said he was going to do during the election - an election, lest Krauthammer has forgotten, that he won. If Obama doesn't capitulate entirely, Krauthammer predicted, he'll be blamed for the "fiscal cliff" and go down in history as a "failed president."
Of course, Krauthammer also confidently predicted that Romney was going to eke out a win rather than losing in a landslide, because, according to him, Obama already was a "failed president." He also ignored the polls which show that more people will blame Republican intransigence for any failure to reach an agreement than blame the Democrats.
Here we have two more symptoms of ODS: (1) the unshakeable conviction that the consequence of losing an election is that the victorious side is still required to give you everything you want; and (2) the inability to learn from experience.
People like Hannity and Krauthammer never recognize that the last time they made predictions like this, they were wrong and the polls were right, and that maybe this blithe self-assurance is not confidence but delusional thinking.
Can ODS be cured? In the case of people like Krauthammer and Hannity, we may never know, because it's one of the few mental illnesses that's actually profitable for some of its sufferers.
But at least it gives me something to write about.