One element in last summer's Obama ruckuses -- there's always an Obama ruckus going on, it seems -- was a few placards at tea party rallies comparing the president to a certain A. Hitler. Both the comparisons and the ensuing ruckus they caused were rubbish. Couldn't we all just see Obama heil-ing huge crowds to fury over national enemies and the like? Nope. Not a bit of it.
The business of handling "enemies," nevertheless, needs review and reappraisal at the highest White House level, meaning the presidential level. As White House frustration mounts over criticism of the health care, so unreasoning rage mounts and, unfortunately, finds outlets. The Obamans are fouling their own nest.
A few days ago the story was pettish administration attacks on Fox News. Mean ol' Fox was being ugly about the health care reform -- suggesting overhaul of the overhauls in progress. No way! The White House communications director stuck out her tongue at the Foxies. Then Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, trying to advance the agenda on CNN and ABC respectively, made things worse, declaring (in Axelrod's words) that Fox, far from presenting news, was "pushing a point of view."
Mercy! Push a point of view? Nobody in the news media would do that -- not Keith Olbermann, not Jon Stewart, not Rachel Maddow. Only those mean ol' conservatives at Fox would do anything so underhanded as question the means directed toward making over one-sixth of the U.S. economy!
As for the president, he picked up the cudgels himself, clobbering the health insurance industry in his Saturday radio and Internet message. How dare these fellows claim the Senate approach to overhaul would raise premiums 18 percent more than otherwise would happen over the next decade? "Smoke and mirrors," said the president (making fine points in the debate instantly clear). "Bogus"! And just a minute here: maybe -- maybe -- it was time to review the insurance industry's antitrust exemption.
That's right -- don't let those critics speak out when all they want to do is confuse people about the patent virtues of what the White House wants! How dare these guys! Shut up, shut up!
There's nothing in the world like freedom of speech, so long as the speaker booms out your praises, sprinkles his remarks with words and expressions such as "hope," "change" and "the fierce urgency of now." In such a case, welcome to the White House. Can we pour you a glass of lemonade, give you an autographed photo of the president? You others out there -- shut up!