Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe seems to think that President Barack Obama was not a gutless coward by using his podium to insult Republicans – specifically, Paul Ryan, who Obama personally invited, apparently specifically so that Ryan would be insulted. Let me clear this up for Mika, and every other member of the steadily-dwindling Obama cheering section.
- When you are the President of the United States and speaking in a formal setting, it is standard practice for other people to show deference to the position that you hold, given that it is an office that is almost two and a half centuries old, and one that has been held by some of the finest men in America. This deference is unfortunately informal, which means that there’s no actual rule against a President abusing it by using said deference as a shield behind which he may safely snipe at his betters without fear of retaliation.
- Which effectively means that President Obama is no more ‘brave’ for insulting Paul Ryan in an arena where Paul Ryan cannot swing back – because Ryan respects the office more than President Obama himself does – than I am for formally calling President Barack Obama a gutless coward for doing this.
- Admittedly, it’s for ostensibly different reasons. In the President’s case, it’s because there’s no individual out there who can effectively call him on the carpet for being a gutless coward; in my case, it’s because I’m this random guy on the Internet on the wrong side of one heck of a political power imbalance. But in both cases there is the appearance of bravery, but not the actual substance of it.
I would hope that this clears it up for Mika, but I kind of doubt it.
[UPDATE, kinda] I’ve had this in the queue for most of the afternoon, mostly because I forgot about it until Hot Air reminded me.
*Which leads one to the conclusion that the bravest man in American politics is probably South Carolina’s Joe Wilson, who famously shouted out “You lie!” to President Obama’s, well, lie about illegal immigrants’ access to Obamacare.
Fascinating how that worked out, though? Wilson’s opponent – who got shellacked in 2008 – got $3 million in campaign contributions… and got shellacked again in 2010; and if I remember correctly, a large part of that money had to be used to retire the Democrat’s 2008 debt anyway. Certainly, none of it was used to shore up any number of close elections where the Democrat didn’t quite have enough money at the end to save his or her seat.
So: Speaking Truth to Power does work, apparently.