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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hoisted on His Own Petard

Did you ever wonder what a petard is?  I checked it out.  The word has a French origin and it means a small bomb that was used to breach a wall or a gate.  It was particularly dangerous to use.  It was made of iron and contained five or six pounds of gunpowder.  It was to be set off by a slow burning fuse, but too often it blew up almost immediately and the concussion hoisted the bomber high into the air, hence the expression hoisted on or by his own petard.

Shakespeare made the expression famous in Hamlet.  Hamlet is sent as a messenger to the King of England.  He suspects that the letter he is carrying contains his own death warrant, and when he opens the letters prior to delivery finds out that he is correct.  His former schoolmates, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, sent the letter and think they are quite clever to have Hamlet deliver his own death sentence.  But, as Hamlet "writes" below, he turns the tables on them by taking out his name and inserting theirs.  He says that they shall now be blown up by their own scheme, they will, as he puts it, be hoisted with their own petard.

There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,

Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,

They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way

And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer

Hoist with his own petar; and 't shall go hard

But I will delve one yard below their mines

And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,

When in one line two crafts directly meet.

It seems to give us pleasure when someone who schemes against us is foiled, when his evil plan blows up in his face.  Perhaps we should not take pleasure when that happens, but we do.  When someone schemes to have us blamed for something of which we are not guilty and then the truth comes out, it gives us satisfaction.

Such seems to be the case with "The sky is falling!" proclamation of Armageddon if the Congress failed to stop the so-called Sequester that reduced the rate of growth in spending by the federal government.  Never in my memory has such a minor event been so over-hyped and overstated. 

It's not too surprising, of course, that President Obama engaged in such overheated rhetoric.  Every time he has done so in the past, the Republicans caved.  Regardless of the facts or the culprit, the compliant news media blamed it on the Republicans.  With such total cover, it's no wonder the President felt he could once again bully the GOP led House of Representatives into raising taxes yet again.

The President has obviously focus group tested the word "balanced," and that became his tireless mantra as he flew all across the nation (at a cost of more than $140,000 per hour) politicking for yet more job killing tax increases.  The President conveniently ignored or forgot the more than $400 million increase in taxes he bamboozled the Congress into passing just a month or so ago.

The President cried, "Wolf!  Wolf!" until he was hoarse, but it did no good.  It was just too much of a bald faced lie for even the mainstream media to follow.  The dirty little truth is that even with the Sequester, the federal government will spend $15 billion more in 2013 than it spent in 2012.  Only in the Orwellian speak of Washington, DC, is a reduction in the growth of spending a cut.  If it was a play, the Sequester was a farce, not a drama.

And to further show his dishonesty and his unwillingness to lead, the President refused the offer of the House of Representatives to have full latitude as to where the cuts were to be made.  No way!  The President didn't want to accept any responsibility for making cuts.  Accepting such responsibility of leadership would be bad politics and politics always comes first with this Administration.  The goal of the White House is first and foremost to take control of the US House of Representatives in 2014.  It is priority one.  What happens to the country is secondary.  So, the President chose to let the Sequester go forward.

But, the sky has not fallen.  The wolf did not come.  Armageddon did not commence.  The hysterics failed.  The President has been hoisted on his own petard.  His plan to destroy the Republicans has blown up in his face.

In fact, just the opposite has happened.  The popularity of the Republican held House of Representatives increased slightly, and the popularity of the President declined.  As an aside, the news media has failed to report that only 25% of conservatives polled support the current leadership of the House of Representatives.  That fact is polls show that more Americans identify themselves as conservative than they do liberal, Republican or Democrat.  The unpopularity of the GOP leadership has more to do with their willingness to cave in to Presidential demands than it does with their unwillingness to stand up for conservative principles.  It's not a failure to be bipartisan that has caused their low popularity ratings.

So, did the President back off his wild claims and hysteria?  Not a chance.  He has doubled down, shutting down White House tours, but still spending money on fabulous golf adventures with Tiger Woods.  The White House plans for a grand birthday celebration for Michelle on the level of royalty continues unabated, as do plans for a millionaires vacation in exclusive Martha's Vineyard.  The President is tone deaf.

Instead of making cuts in a budget filled with waste and fraud, the orders have gone out to make the pain as great as possible.  After all, this is a political campaign, not governance.  It's about making the Republicans look bad so he can continue further destruction of the national economy and his disastrous lurch to the left during his final two years.  But with every new horror story being engineered by the White House, his ratings continue to fall.

President Obama has gotten the blame for closing down White House tours for children, not the Republicans.  President Obama has gotten the blame for breaking the contract with the military for financing their college education, not the Republicans.  The White House is in a panic.  I should say the White House political team, but that would be redundant.  There is nothing at the White House except politics.

This is the most crudely political White House in the history of the Republic.  There is no effort to lead or to work with the other Party.  The Republicans are treated as the enemy, not a co-partner in government.  Sure, the President has launched a "charm" offensive, but it's just words, nothing more.  It does not signal a change of approach, it's just a cynical PR attempt to once again paint the Republicans into a political corner.

But it appears that the Republican leadership has learned an important lesson courtesy of President Obama—they can stand up for principles and the world won't come to an end.  The President's misstep has re-energized the conservative movement and the Republican Party.  Sure, there will be ups and downs between now and Election Day 2014, but the tide has turned.  The sun has come out.  The dark clouds are moving away.  Conservatives are smiling again.  2014 is beginning to look like another 2010.  Halleluiah!  

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