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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

ACTING STUPID 7.25.09
7/24/2009 8:03:36 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

After a brilliant symposium on the need for health care reform and how to go about attaining it, President Obama, in response to an inappropriate and inane question, revealed himself to be precisely what his detractors fear him to be: human. Mr. Obama instinctively came to the defense of, of all things, a friend. A friend, wouldja believe?—not even a family member!

Of course, the Republicans are having a field day with this, as well they should, having little else going for them. No question the President spoke quickly, misspoke actually, in saying the police “acted stupidly,” and no one cringed more noticeably than myself, along with the White House staff and a few erudite members of the Fourth Estate. Fortunately, better than 80% of the American population (including the .02% who were actually watching the press conference) neither heard nor understood what was said.

Remember Harry Truman? Remember what he said when a music critic, Paul Hume of the Washington Post, cast cold water on daughter Margaret’s singing abilities? Truman threatened to punch him in the nose and kick him in the groin—and he even put it in writing!

How about FDR’s reaction to Republican aspersions cast against his dog Fala’s pecuniary reputation: “He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself — such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog!”

Then there was Tricky Dick who raised our hopes with “You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference and it will be one in which I have welcomed the opportunity to test wits with you.” Sadly, as with so many other things, he remained fairly witless and untrue to his words.

However, I much admire a number of our best known and most beloved media pundits, especially those who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to explain how our government’s fiscal policies actually work. Usually, after we’ve read their columns and listened to their radio and TV analysis, we are more confused and perplexed than we were originally.

So, I sat down Thursday with my friend Willy Moncrief and asked if he could explain why Mr. Obama had spoken so quickly and with such apparent lack of first-hand knowledge.

“Simple,” said Willy, with his inimitable self-assurance. “What else could he do? The question was posed on national TV. He reacted the way any red-blooded American would. He’s human, and he’s a politician. There are times when facts merely muddle the situation. . . . Suppose it’s the month of July (which it is) and there’s this little resort town of Salmon Bend on the shores of Lake Lanier (which there isn’t.) Imagine it’s raining, and the town looks deserted. Salmon Bend, like most towns in America, has fallen on tough times. Everybody is buried in debt and lives on credit.

“One day, a rich tourist comes in from Atlanta. His name, let’s say, is Karrab Amabo, and he goes into the town’s only hotel and lays a 100 dollar bill on the reception desk, saying he wants to go upstairs and inspect which room he wants to stay in.

“While the tourist is upstairs, the hotel’s owner takes the 100 dollar bill and runs down the street to pay off his debt to the local grocery store. The grocer takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay off his debt to the
wholesale food vendor.

“The food vendor then takes the 100 dollar bill and hurries off to pay his debt to the trucking company, which brought the vittles in from the farms. The trucking company then pay off its driver who runs back downtown to pay the local ‘lady of leisure’ who, in these hard times, provides her services ‘on credit’.”

“So then what happened?” I asked, beginning to grasp the whole picture.

“So then, the hooker dashes off to the hotel and uses her $100 to pay for the rooms she booked last month where she brought in visiting rich guys from Atlanta. The hotel’s proprietor then places the 100-dollar bill back on the reception desk so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

“At that moment, the rich tourist comes down from inspecting the rooms and scoops up his 100 dollar bill, saying, ‘Forget it. I don’t like any of your rooms,” and he leaves town.

“But,” I protested, “nobody earned a thing, nobody made a nickel!”

“So what?” Moncrief cried, exasperated at my lack of abstract reasoning. “The whole town is now out of debt, and the future, if nothing else, is rosy with optimism! What more do you want? As my idol once said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you . . . ’”

“What,” I asked, “does any of this have to do with last night’s press conference?”

“I dunno,” Moncrief admitted. “About as much as Mr. Obama’s remarks about Mr. Gates and the Cambridge Police, I guess.”


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