Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People

 

On Friday afternoon, when President Obama and Vice President Biden strolled away from the White House on foot, the press had a brief moment of anticipatory ecstasy. Because the Obama Administration has been the world’s longest exercise in Aaron Sorkin fan fiction, there were murmurs that Obama might be taking a page straight out of an episode of The West Wing where the fictional President Bartlet gained the upper hand in a government shutdown by walking from the White House to Capitol Hill to negotiate with congressional Republicans. Our flesh and blood chief executive’s peripatetic stylings were slightly less grandiose: he wanted a sandwich. 

Obama and Biden reportedly chose their lunch spot partially because it was offering a discount to furloughed federal workers (though, as The Hill notes in as arch a fashion as its editorial style will allow, the food run may have been inspired just as much by the fact that the White House Mess is serving a limited menu during the shutdown). That’s a pretty bantamweight symbolic gesture. It’s also a telling choice – when the government shut down, the people the president was most concerned to demonstrate solidarity with were public employees.

Now, look, the conservative opposition to big government shouldn’t translate into automatic contempt for those federal workers. Many of them, of course, are necessary, and even in the much larger group that isn’t there are probably plenty of decent people. Are they pawns in this whole thing? Sure. But haven’t we been down this road enough times that that they can anticipate that? Message to all government employees: in these tug-of-war contests, you’ll always be the rope. No, people in the private sector don’t have to deal with that, but, unlike you, they can be fired – so I’d say you still come out ahead.

You know what would have been a meaningful gesture? Walking down to the World War II Memorial, removing the barricades, and shaking the hand of every veteran who had made his pilgrimage to the Mall. Of course, it would have been an even more meaningful gesture had Obama’s OMB not ordered it shut in the first place. Now it looks like the wages of that pettiness are going to come back to bite the Administration, with plans for a “Million Vet March” on Washington on Sunday. According to the organizers:

We do not care what political leanings you may be; be it liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent or whatever. The actions of the U.S. government this week with regard to barricading and shutting down the World War II Memorial to veterans, that may or may not be on their last trip to Washington DC, is a despicable act of cowardice.

 … Many in our group have decided that enough is enough. We are Americans. We are proud of our heritage and our service. As all of us were military brats and spouses, we have served in some form or another our entire lives. This is our way of life. We will not stand by and let the U.S. government dishonor the legacy of sacrifice of the generations before us. It is time to make a stand! We hope that you will join us in our peaceful protest against anti-American policies.

I rarely have an appetite for protests of any kind – they tend to be more about the people protesting than the ostensible cause – but after the World War II Memorial, the North Carolina Inn, the Virginia park, the San Francisco restaurant … this seems like an ideal time for some extremely civil disobedience.

I can’t think of anything that would demonstrate the pettiness of the Obama Administration – not to mention the spirit of the American people – better than people throughout the country showing up at unnecessarily closed memorials, opening up unnecessarily closed business, and generally telling the feds to go pound sand. As symbolic gestures go, that beats buying a sandwich.

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  1. Frederick Key Inactive

    I’m like a reverse populist. I hate the people, but I usually find something to like in the people I actually meet.

    • #1
    • October 7, 2013, at 9:34 AM PDT
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  2. J.Maestro Inactive

    You give populism far too much credit. As much as it pretends to champion the poor it typically operates to exploit the poor.

    Every single thing Obama does can be explained in those terms. These photo ops included.

    • #2
    • October 7, 2013, at 9:41 AM PDT
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  3. Casey Inactive
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    Obama and Biden reportedly chose their lunch spot partially because it was offering a discount to furloughed federal workers 

    Looks like they chose a spot where they could get a good shot of the LOVE sign.

    Subliminal politicking.

    • #3
    • October 7, 2013, at 9:43 AM PDT
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  4. Frozen Chosen Inactive

    I like the idea of civil disobedience on this issue. I can’t make it out to DC (I’m not a veteran anyway) but I’m totally down with occupying the Apostle Islands, which are in a national park.

    WHO’S WITH ME!

    • #4
    • October 7, 2013, at 9:44 AM PDT
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  5. KC Mulville Inactive

    Showing solidarity with furloughed workers. How nice. How inspiring. What a great message that sends.

    Now, if only the person who could fix the problem was aware of this gesture. Gee, if only the president could be made aware of this gesture!

    Hey, wait just a minute …

    If I were a furloughed worker, I’d be the guy in the back of the line, yelling, “Hey, Obama! We’re suffering and the most you can do is join us at lunch?! What the heck good are you???”

    • #5
    • October 7, 2013, at 10:18 AM PDT
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  6. Ralphie Member

    I have never felt Obama was genuinely a personably fellow.. He doesn’t seem to have good friends, and is extremely guarded and uncomfortable in many spontaneous situations. He does not identify with any of the groups he panders to, even the federal workers are not appreciated because of their formal job descriptions, but the ability to influence and use them informally as a personal staff.

    Perhaps I’ll write my Congressmen this weekend in support of vets.

    • #6
    • October 7, 2013, at 10:30 AM PDT
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  7. Fred Cole Member

    You know he’s working hard because his jacket is off and his sleeves are up a little.

    Limited menu in the White House Mess?

    Jeeze this guy’s got a tough job…

    • #7
    • October 7, 2013, at 10:58 AM PDT
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  8. Casey Inactive
    Fred Cole: You know he’s working hard because his jacket is off and his sleeves are up a little.

    The tie is still snug though. When the tie loosens and the top button comes undone then you’ll know it’s time to plan your trip to Yellowstone.

    • #8
    • October 7, 2013, at 11:07 AM PDT
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  9. Profile Photo Member

    Obama’s biggest political problem, aside from having the wrong idea about all of America’s problems, is his total lack of graciousness or magnanimity. I think this is a problem for the whole culture and not exclusive to Obama (or to Democrats).

    I could probably think of things he could do, but after a week of offering advice to Republicans that has generally been ignored, it would be just my luck to suggest something Obama could do and then he would go out and do just that to great plaudits.

    • #9
    • October 7, 2013, at 11:15 AM PDT
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  10. Fred Cole Member
    Casey
    Fred Cole: You know he’s working hard because his jacket is off and his sleeves are up a little.

    The tie is still snug though.

    That’s cause that guy’s a [redacted].

    • #10
    • October 7, 2013, at 11:18 AM PDT
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  11. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Troy,

    ALL HAIL BHO PRAETOR MAXIMUS OF PETTINESS. (Is that his 1st in command or a trained monkey?..hmmm..hard to tell.)

    Praetor Maximus: “IMPERIAL SLAVE I COMMAND YOU TO SUPER-SIZE MY FRIES.”

    Imperial Slave: “You can super-size your own damn fries.. now you and your white monkey can get to the back of the line. If you cut in again I’m calling my manager.”

    Just another day in the Empire.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #11
    • October 7, 2013, at 11:46 AM PDT
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  12. Skyler Coolidge

    Furloughed workers are certainly in a bad spot, and my brother is one, and as much as I love my brother and feel bad for his situation, I don’t feel all that bad.

    I’ve been laid off a time or two in my career. Government workers are generally paid better than civilian equivalents, work fewer hours and have better benefits. So if they are laid off temporarily, I don’t feel any worse for them than anyone from Dell or Apple or anywhere else that was laid off.

    And I’m even less likely to feel pity because there’s about a 98% chance that they will be rewarded for this time off by getting back pay during their time of enforced vacation.

    • #12
    • October 7, 2013, at 11:48 AM PDT
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  13. Steven Jones Inactive

    The Empire Snacks Back?

    • #13
    • October 8, 2013, at 1:30 AM PDT
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  14. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Life’s so hard at the WH these two clown car school dropouts have to rustle up their own grub at the local WhataBurger?

    Man, every single time I think Barry Milquetoast can’t possibly do something more stupid and embarrassing, he goes out and proves me wrong.

    I thought Biden was supposed to be the stupid one? Hard to tell the dunces apart from this distance.

    Too bad the federally-supported Clown Shoe Store was shut down or they both could have walked out in a fresh pair of Oversized Dual Honkers.

    clown_shoes.jpg

    • #14
    • October 8, 2013, at 1:31 AM PDT
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  15. Salvatore Padula Inactive
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    Because the Obama Administration has been the world’s longest exercise in Aaron Sorkin fan fiction…

     

    That is one of the best things I’ve read in a while.

    • #15
    • October 8, 2013, at 7:38 AM PDT
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  16. Bulldawg Inactive

    Now, look, the conservative opposition to big government shouldn’t translate into automatic contempt for those federal workers. Many of them, of course, are necessary, and even in the much larger group that isn’t there are probably plenty of decent people.

    I have been thinking about this quote since yesterday and have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of federal workers whose jobs are not essential to the functioning of the Federal government within its limited and consitutional parameters, ought to be held in the highest contempt. And shunned.

    • #16
    • October 8, 2013, at 9:02 AM PDT
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  17. Fred Cole Member
    Salvatore Padula
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    Because the Obama Administration has been the world’s longest exercise in Aaron Sorkin fan fiction…

    That is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. · 13 hours ago

    Even better if you replace the word “fan” with the word “slash”

    • #17
    • October 8, 2013, at 9:13 AM PDT
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  18. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    R. Craigen: The White House Mess has scaled back? This is a good thing, no? · 3 minutes ago

    This just means FLOTUS will have to “Move” less to work off all those hearts of real Americans she’s been gorging herself on late at night, when no one’s looking, in the basement of the FLOTUS House.

    Let-s-Move.jpg

    • #18
    • October 13, 2013, at 2:39 AM PDT
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  19. Profile Photo Member
    Casey
    Troy Senik, Ed.

    Obama and Biden reportedly chose their lunch spot partially because it was offering a discount to furloughed federal workers 

    Looks like they chose a spot where they could get a good shot of the LOVE sign.

    Subliminal politicking. · October 7, 2013 at 9:43am

    It says LOVE? I read it from bottom right as follows: BR-BL-TR-TL-BL-BR. It’s his guiding principle on social issues.

    • #19
    • October 13, 2013, at 12:18 PM PDT
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  20. Profile Photo Member

    The White House Mess has scaled back? This is a good thing, no?

    • #20
    • October 13, 2013, at 12:20 PM PDT
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