At every point in some boy's life, he has to face down a bully and fight him. It's a rite of passage, a transitional moment in which every young man must establish who he is and how far he'll let his enemies go. For me, that moment came when I was 10 years old. One of the kids at school -- he seemed 8 feet tall at the time -- was smacking me with a ruler across the shoulders during P.E. class. Eventually, I'd had enough; I grabbed him around the neck and punched him on the top of the head. His nose started bleeding, to my surprise (I'm not exactly Joe Frazier). Naturally, the principal blamed me ("do you know how much money his father makes?" she asked my dad), but the bully never bothered me again.
The same holds true of presidents. Every president has to draw a line in the sand. Every president has to determine just how far he's willing to be pushed around. Every president has to decide who his enemies are, and then face them down.
President Obama has decided that his real enemies aren't Iranian genocidal dictators, anti-Semitic reporters or Muslim terrorists. His real enemies are conservatives and corporations.
How can we tell? From his rhetoric. Obama doesn't punch anyone in the face directly (not that his fists would do much damage, judging from the way he throws a baseball). But he does lash out at his enemies with his most valuable tool: his silver tongue. When Obama talks about his enemies, his honeyed mouth becomes a blunt instrument rather than a scalpel. The supposed master of the nuances of the English language is apparently rendered stupefyingly inarticulate when faced with those he dislikes; he's suddenly a WWE wrestler pumped up on testosterone, the mic boosted to deafening levels. He calls people out. He uses colorful and confrontational language. He threatens physical force.
When faced with the prospect of Americans who don't like his policies, Obama tells his followers to "argue with them and get in their face." When confronted with his administration's inability to handle the Gulf oil spill, Obama sends out his lackeys to threaten BP in purple terminology; " [we'll] keep our boot on [BP's] neck," they say. This week, Obama doubled down, stating that he had traveled to the Gulf region "so I know whose ass to kick."
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