25 August 2010

In Defense of Frequent Presidential Vacations in a Time When the Executive and Legislative Branches are Simpatico...

Seems like President Barack Obama has been receiving some undue disapprobation for his penchant in taking quite a bit of "me" time. While I disagree with just about every policy goal he has ever set or achieved in his time as our nation's chief executive, I feel compelled to defend his habit of enjoying spending time away from Washington DC.

The truth of the matter is, that given the current political situation, he's superfluous, so rather than rolling around bored at the White House, a man has to do what a man has to do, and if that means lots of golf, lots of time in a variety of resorts, and lots of unwinding, then let the man eat his shrimp.

Because of the successes at the ballot box his Democratic Party allies enjoyed in 2006 and 2008, our President finds himself in the enviable position of not having a whole lot to do. It's not like any notion that comes to his head, doesn't also come to the minds of Speaker Pelosi or Majority Leader Reid (though Reid for re-election purposes, may have to pretend for a bit not to be so in concert with the President, I'm sure Obama won't take any statements from Reid between now and November seriously). Also, because the vast bureaucratic apparatus that has grown from the astonishing proliferation of agencies directly overseen by the Executive Branch, the President can CHANGE our country at will without any pesky nuisances like bringing legislation to Congress. It's truly a glorious time to be a pro-regulation member of the elite.

Now it may seem somewhat counter intuitive that given free reign over a massive and largely unaccountable (so long as the press is compliant) bureaucracy would be a slow time for a President that so clearly embraces all the wonderful CHANGE that can be brought about by the alphabet soup of agencies. The thing you have to understand about President Obama, is that the people in charge of these agencies are his people, if it's not a crony straight out of Chicago running things, it's at least a like-minded Ivy League graduate with little to no business experience to sully the purity of their vision of how our nation must CHANGE. The end result, the bureaucracy metastasizes like an especially aggressive form of cancer without any particularly active participation from the West Wing, and does so in a manner exactly how the President would want it to. Were he to bother with all that messy and tedious micro-managing that can really take a depressing chunk of potential tee time away from an avid duffer like President Obama.

He can't do 'better' by taking a more active role (and from his perspective, better means more and more federal control of every last damn thing), and given the big majorities in both halves of Congress enjoyed by Democrats, there's really no arm twisting or legislative cajoling needed to pass any legislation he really cares about passing (which of course suggests that any bill that gets thwarted, was designed to be thwarted and was just a piece of political theatre to begin with), so what's a man surrounded by a wife, two daughters, and a mother in law under his roof expected to do?

That's right, hang out and knock back a few cold ones with your favorite golf buddies every chance you get, it's what any red blooded American male would do.

So quit expecting the President to spend more time in DC, everything is going exactly as he wants, and everyone under his command is doing exactly what he expects, but by appearing to be 'hands off', Obama slyly gives himself a bit of 'deniability' with regards to any blunders that come his way, and he can always act 'surprised' and 'disappointed' whenever some underling does something that becomes a bit too controversial. Aloof detachment is the way to go if you want to preserve the ability to throw anybody under the bus at any moment they become inconvenient from a narrative standpoint.

President Obama has redefined what it means to be President in the 21st century, rather than following in his predecessor's business-like, CEO model for organizing his White House, Obama has positioned himself as "Narrator and Chief". His job isn't to run things, so much as to explain things, and shape the trajectory of the narrative.

It's a known fact that writers require copious amounts of downtime in upscale resort areas (preferably seaside) to properly get a handle on their narrative of the moment. So let the Narrator and Chief chill out, it's what he does best (cause he's certainly proven somewhat inept at everything else)

(and as a side note, it should be obvious to any benefactor out there who may wish for my own personal power of narrative shaping to increase, they'd be wise to gift me with Obama-like trips to all expense paid trips to any number of fine resort areas in this country, or around the globe, I promise to give you a shoutout in the acknowledgements of the inevitable best sellers that would follow)

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