This week, Mitch McConnell declared the “era of liberalism is back” in response to President Obama’s Inaugural Speech on Monday. Conservatives in the media and online have gone ballistic over the speech; one that they claim is overly partisan and mixed with a highly liberal agenda. But is this actually true?
Well, Obama’s speech didn’t talk much about the fiscal issues of the day and really seemed to focus on a much more social agenda. These issues seemed to be focused on the rights of gays, climate change, immigration, and even a small nod to guns control. And you know what? Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are right to say that this was a very liberal speech.
When you’re dealing with a master of sleight of hand, even the simplest activity may be a complex deception. To understand the complexity of a magician’s life, according to Penn in this video, you need to know the seven basic principles of magic.
Palm – To hold an object with an apparently empty hand
Ditch – To secretly dispose of an unneeded object
Steal – To secretly obtain a needed object
Loan – Secretly move the needed object to where its needed
Simulation – To give the impression that something that hasn’t happened has
Misdirection – Lead attention away from the secret move
Switch – Secretly exchange one object for another
Those are the seven principles of magic, and with them you can do wondrous things. Now, what if I told you they could not only be applied to magic, but also to negotiating? When the new year rolled around, quite like magic, we witnessed a party begrudgingly going along with something they clearly didn’t want to. They enacted what was, while technically speaking a tax cut, in essence a tax raise in their minds with almost nothing in return for it. This was the same party refusing beforehand to vote on “what we all agree on,” as Obama put it. This was the party of no.
So, how did Obama perform this trickery? Like a well-trained magician, he had to know his audience. The audience in this act was threefold. One piece of this audience, the Republicans would always look to attack him on nearly anything and everything. Again, they’re the party of no. So, going into this he knew it would be no. No compromise. Nothing. Like the magician that must be keenly aware of what and where his audience will be watching and questioning, Obama had to know this. He had to finally understand this. Another of his audiences, the media, would always try and see things from the middle, and they’re obsessed with very serious people, as Paul Krugman puts them, and as such a push for a grand bargain that has tax raises and spending cuts would be just the sort of thing they could get their panties wet for. And last, he had to know us. That is, he had to know both the liberal and the republican base.
Next, quite like Teller, he used a bit of sleight of hand. Like the magician about to saw a lady in half, he stood atop the stage during his campaigning and proclaimed, “I will raise taxes on those making above $250,000 per year.” And, despite how popular this plan was, we all didn’t really know how it could be done with the Republicans likely still having control of the house. Their pledges to Grover Norquist make this feat about as hard as making an elephant disappear before your very eyes.
Bill Clinton recently warned about gun control, “Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them.” I wasn’t there, but I’m sure he said it in his charming southern tone. Likely he had a twinkle in his eye, and that slight smirk on his face as he awaited the applause. Everyone loves Bill Clinton, right? Well, not all the time , but still, he’s a pretty charismatic guy who nearly single-handedly defeated Mitt Romney with his speech at the DNC. (Who knew such a long, technical speech would work so well in this day and age? I certainly didn’t.) He knows how to get things done with the other side, even when they’re things his own side is not entirely too sure about.
With regard to gun control, it may sometimes be hard not to patronize certain folks. I must admit, I shook my head upon hearing of the many accidents that happened on yesterday’s so-called “Gun Appreciation Day.” A 12 gauge shotgun discharged in Raleigh, North Carolina, injuring three people. Another man was injured in Medina Ohio when a gun dealer accidentally shot a bystander. Last, but certainly not least, another man shot himself while loading his gun outside the Gun and Knife Show in Indianapolis. Thankfully, no one was killed in any of these incidences, so I don’t feel so bad pointing out the palpable irony in it all.
It’s also hard not to patronize those who say things like “[Guns] … are absolutely essential to living the way God intended for us to live.” Now, it may be truthful to say that guns are great for self defense, and that self defense leads you to a new sense of safety, but to say that your God intended it this way just rings a little on the side of crazy to me. I would hate to say that God intended us to live in a constant state of fear for the lives of our family and friends unless we purchase a tool meant for killing. That’s not even mentioning that Jesus himself said, Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” I know a sword isn’t a gun, and the situations are at least a bit different, but this is one of the definite, quotable things he said, not that we can count on certain people to actually listen to his words…
And it’s also so hard not to patronize Alex Jones when he starts a petition to deport Piers Morgan and then went on his show to scream that 1776 will commence again! But, that’s Alex Jones, and I guess it’s safe for us to all-out trivialize him, and the interview’s entire purpose was probably to highlight just how breathtakingly crazy he is.