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Conveyor belt of horror

By Tom Toles



Friday rant: waiting for Mighty Mouse edition

I haven't seen the much-discussed Waiting for Superman documentary about education yet, but I don't have to wait any longer for Mighty Mouse. He lives under our sink. He can eat cheese and peanut butter out of a trap without springing it, but when he does spring it, he apparently is using it to trim his nails and whiskers. He takes the poison we put out and moves it around to different places, I guess just to make us crazy.

Apparently, waiting for Superman has become our preferred method for solving public policy problems. We can no longer agree to work things through any longer, because magic pots of gold beckon us at either end of the left-right rainbow, with nothing in between but rainstorms and gloom. Obama was apparently scheduled to be Superman, according to the disillusioned liberals who appear to think they are living in a country called Sweden without all those cranky conservative states, senators, and filibusters. He didn't burn holes in them with his X-ray vision and bend their hands into the YES position on his legislation! (We won't even talk about the other side, which is Waiting for Sarahwoman.)

So Obama is out of wonk mode now and back in fighting form, oversimplifying everything on the campaign trail! Count me as the last of those who actually like the wonk mode. I do wish we could have seen an intermediate version: the president who presents a complex understanding of difficult questions with some wit and passion on an ongoing basis, trying to build a more intelligent electorate one week at a time throughout his term. Oh well, you can't have everything. But we are set to punish him for staying Clark Kent. And we are about to elect a swarm of Mighty Mice, without the Mighty part. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | October 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Economy and jobs  
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A wonk! Seriously, I can't get over this. Was this notion based on Obama being "articulate, good looking and clean"? Was it based on "Hope"? Was it based on his banal "Red states, blue states" speech? Was it based on his two whole years in the senate. What wonkish insights did he share with us then? I can remember how he told you the surge would make things worse. He did often vote "present" when he was an Illinois state senator, and maybe a rube would mistake that that for nuance. But a wonk?

Posted by: skinnynomore | October 3, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes, I miss the wonk Obama when he said "I won." Only the rubes could mistake "Yes we can" for wonkery. Only the rubes believed the Democrats idea of stimulus would keep the unemployment below 8%. "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor." Did you buy that bridge? That was a huckster who sold it, not a wonk.

Posted by: skinnynomore | October 3, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Thanks well stated, but waiting for the real truth is not the way you normally do it.

Posted by: jornolibist | October 1, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm busy tonight, and don't have time to refute all your falacies and mis-representation, but there is one point that should be made. You said "If President Obama is so smart why can't he produce an agenda that stays within the Constitution?"

If ANY of Obama's initiatives were actually unconstitutional, the Republicans would have had them in court so fast their heads would spin. There is a suit over the health plan, but it is given little chance. So you are a better judge than the US judicial system?

Posted by: spaghettus | October 1, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Tom are you thinking about doing some art in retrospect on that heinous Rutgers hate crime?

Posted by: jornolibist | October 1, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

"Labor union members... required to show up for the liberal rally on the mall?" That would definitely be news, if it was real.
Kinda like it would make something other than FAUX News if the "Poor People's Lobby to Write Mortgages for Us Who Can't Afford Them" outspent the combined resources of the responsible and much-maligned banking and investment industries and convinced a resistant Congress and former president to gut regulations on THEIR behalf.

Again, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn't. Commitment to reason and evidence, the bedrock of a pluralist democracy, seems to have gone the same way as commitment to strong public education. Maybe there's a link?

Posted by: jonroesler | October 1, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I hear, ya, Tom. And boy! how I sympathize. But we're into an age where reason doesn't count for squat, apparently. I guess most of our neighbors want miracles (performed by someone else, anyone else) rather than buckle down and do the nitty-gritty. If the representatives are treated as leaders instead of representatives then we get what we deserve. Aren't those "closed-until-election" Congress persons supposed to translate the gist of what their constituents imply they want into practical legislation? How've them been doing with that?

Posted by: Jazzman7 | October 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

News flash, Prairie Dog.....
Republicans could not stop anything that Obama and the extremist left-wing, socialist/Marxist thugs in the Democrat MAJORITY wanted to do. But guess what... ??... they couldn't even get a majority from their majority. That just tells me how over-the-top and radical the agenda really is. It's a bull crap excuse and a typical lib/dem LIE.

As for the rant, Tom.... you're probably mostly right... except, my view is that maybe now we can get some reasonable, responsible adults elected, that will a) actually read legislation they vote on, b) advocate policies to actually HELP the country, not dismantle and remake it, and c) put the brakes on Obama's anti-American, anti-capitalist agenda.

Posted by: Shrimper | October 1, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Any attempt to build a more intelligent electorate is likely to be met with failure, at least on the right. Those who wear ignorance and lack of education as badges of honor cannot learn, because, for some insane reason, they prefer not.

Your mouse would make a better student than the typical teabagger. As evidenced on this page every day by bobbo and the gang.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | October 1, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Obama in wonk mode tried to work with Republicans, and kept trying to do that even when a lot of us progressives were thinking, "Why bother with them? They say 'no' to everything, no matter what it is!"

And then the Republicans, in typical Bizarro World fashion, would turn around and call him ultra partisan and accuse him of ignoring them. (And of course, the Faux News Faithful gobbled that right up.)

I think those of us progressives that are glad to see him getting a little fiesty again, are just feeling like it's about time he point a finger at the Republicans in Congress and call them out for what they truly are these days...pure obstructionists, hell-bent on trying to foil anything and everything he proposes, whether it's right for the country or not.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | October 1, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Good point, "six years even if they stink."
Angry voters might vote Angle and O'Donnell and Rand this November, but six years is a long time to rue an emotional vote.

Posted by: GeneTouchet | October 1, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes we're about to have another election and most of the people will treat it like a sporting event. Us vs. Them. WHO are you rooting for the Red team or the Blue team?
Let's be a little more serious about this. It's fun to say "throw the bums out!". I certainly have wanted term limits for Congress (remember Jesse Helms?). Old members become too powerful and focused on special interests (the system needs some kind of shake up). WE have to be careful about who we bring in, however. A Senator is going to be there for SIX YEARS, even if they stink. The old saying "be careful what you ask for" should make you a little more reflective before you do something rash. Switching coaches every year doesn't build a championship team, why would it work with something far more complex, like our government?

Posted by: B_Al_Zebub | October 1, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Tom, you may have a point the electorate did put the current bunch of rats in control, but when the so called media were working with the rats it's hard to blame the electorate. On the bright side, over the last two years and some for four if they were following the democrat controlled congress, the electorate has earned and honorary PhD in how socialists govern and the Mighty Mice look like superheroes in comparison.

Posted by: jornolibist | October 1, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

They named a documentary about education after a Flaming Lips song? Sheesh.

But I digress.....

Tom, I hate to break it to you, but the 'intermediate' president you so ardently desired was...well...Ronald Reagan.

Someone like him, without Reagan's de-regulatory, "let the market rule itself" economic short-sightedness would BE Superman.

I don't know WHEN things will change in this country. We need to get our heads out of the sand first.

Posted by: amethystmarbles | October 1, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Correction Mr. Toles, we are about to elect some new people to Congress. And we are about to remove some career politicians. Wonderful.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 1, 2010 4:35 AM | Report abuse

spigzone, I hear you.
Toles, buy yourself a cat. There, you've gone full circle. Just don't let that cat of yours get too fat...

Posted by: bertzel | September 30, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't think a smarter electorate is the idea. Note the concerted effort by the administration to sideline, stifle, undermine and paint as airheaded extremist idealists the hard core progressives, easily the smartest and most discerning segment of the american public.

The LAST thing the monied elite wants is a smarter, better informed electorate, and whatever Obama may or may not once have been, he CURRENTLY is a wholly owned subsidiary of that monied elite and wholly subservient to their wishes.

Might as well accept the hard truth. The American people, as a whole, are not even remotely up to the task of saving themselves from the approaching oligarchic police state. Permanently Declining Oil, which hits in earnest late 2011/early 2012 GUARANTEES another, far more massive financial/economic crash. That's the one that precipitates people in the streets, declaration of a national emergency and the final death blow to the bill of rights.

Like it, don't like it .. that's what it IS.

Have a wonderful day.

Posted by: spigzone | September 30, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

What's the Democrats version of a franking privilege? When Barney Frank and Chris Dodd got big campaign contributions for making sure millions of people were given mortgages they couldn't afford. Next these same people want to sell you manmade global warming so you won't even be able to afford to heat your rental.

Posted by: bignoisylawnmower | September 30, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Mostly, I blame the Democrats in Congress (the Senate, specifically) for the "enthusiasm gap" between the Republican and Democratic electorates. They got pretty close to their vaunted supermajority only to super-capitulate to the Republicans (time after time after time...).

I'm sure the Dem legislators don't care at all about the lost "opportunities" because anyone losing a seat in November will land on their feet in a lobbying firm, or somewhere similarly opulent, as a reward for voting the "right" way.

Obama shares some blame because he's the Dem Pary figurehead. He's been outmaneuvered frequently on legislation by more experienced, established, and cunning (and envious) legislators.

Oh, and the mice? You know what they say about building a better mouse trap. However, the electorate appears to be waking up to the infestation.

Posted by: duke5 | September 30, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Bob Woodward was asked whether or not President Obama thinks that he is usually the smartest person in the room. Woodward said yes, Obama thinks he is the smartest person in the room. This is a President with a delusion. "Presents a complex understanding of difficult questions?" So far President Obama has done a lousy job of explaining the health care bill. What about when he said that the bill was not a tax and then said it was? We have had "brilliant" Presidents before. The most recent would be Jimmy Carter. If President Obama is so smart why can't he produce an agenda that stays within the Constitution? Trying to build a more intelligent electorate one week at a time? More like trying to convince the American people that the Nanny State is our path to Utopia. People who think that they know it all don't know that they don't know. Did anyone know that many labor union members are being required to show up for the liberal rally on the mall? Is that how you create an educated electorate, by forcing them to attend? When the left starts picking up the pieces in November they had better understand that they weren't that smart after all.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 30, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Dude, X-ray vision doesn't burn things. Only heat vision does. Totally different thing.

Though I suppose they could be the same basic principle just at different levels now that I think about it.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

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