Obama Derangement Syndrome and the Government Shutdown


Just when you thought Obama Derangement Syndrome couldn’t possibly get any more deranged.  The competition was stiff, but the photo above is surely the silliest  to come out of the shutdown of the federal government.  This blatantly (and comically) Photoshopped image purports to depict how the evil Fuhrer in the White House was being “spiteful” by closing up national parks like Mount Rushmore.  What it really exhibits is the extreme extremes to which ODS victims are willing to go in order to embarrass and humiliate themselves.

There are at least a couple of different versions of this image in circulation, accompanying various and sundry blog posts devoted to the furtherance of Obama Derangement Syndrome. At least one of them ran a disclaimer to the effect that “the photo is fake, but the story is real”.

Despite the disclaimers, it’s certain that many ODS sufferers will interpret the photo literally, and figure that black copters from DC did indeed drape those enormous stone heads on the mountain. But that’s a relatively minor point. The important thing is that the story itself is only marginally less phony than the photo. The essential claims are that (a) President Obama (or “Hussein”, as such ODS blogs tend to call him) blocked all public views of the famed monument; (b) that he did so out of “spite” — or, for some reason or other, to “punish” the American people for something or other; and (c) that he defied requests from the state to remove some of the cones blocking the roads.

But the National Park Service (not the president) closed the access roads for reasons of safety rather than “spite”. It also isn’t true that the NPS thumbed its nose at the state’s request to remove some of the cones; in fact, the NPS complied with this request. Moreover, the federal government even made an arrangement with states to reopen this and two other national parks during the shutdown. Oh yeah, and the closures did not totally block the view of the monument.  Other than that, I suppose the story is somewhat in the neighborhood of accurate.

I wish I could say that rumors like these are rare occurrences.  But with the ODS invasion of our planet in full swing, no rumor is too bizarre to be cranked out; and no rumor that is cranked out is too bizarre for the masses to believe. And the government shutdown was yet another golden opportunity for such rumors to erupt. (Of course, a butterfly sneeze would be construed as a golden opportunity to tack some sinister plot on The White House.) The era of the Obama presidency will be remembered as the age when lunacy became not only acceptable but chic. And the media will have played a huge role in making it happen.

It has become standard procedure for the media to invoke the “both sides do it” refrain every time Republicans or “conservatives” exhibit childish, hateful or arrogant behavior — while in contrast, whenever a Democrat or “liberal” does something wrong, it tends to be characterized as exclusively Democratic or “liberal”.  Right-wingers say the president is a communist socialist Nazi Muslim atheist dictator who tramples on the Constitution and operates behind a veil of secrecy. The president says we need to overcome our differences and work together. The media report that both sides have indulged in partisan bickering.

The shutdown is no different.  The mainstream media consistently referred to it as “an impasse”, ” a stalemate”,  lack of “compromise”, “a game of chicken”, etc., etc., etc.  Which is to say, both sides were doing in it.  Well, to be fair, not all  media outlets said this. Some of them just cut to the chase and ascribed the whole debacle to the president’s  supposed refusal to “negotiate”.

In fact, the president bent over backward and tied himself into knots to compromise and negotiate (to an absolutely alarming degree for many of his supporters) in getting the Affordable Care Act (almost  universally ridiculed as “Obamacare”) passed into law.  But passed into law it was. It was signed by the president. And its constitutionality, which allegedly was in question. was upheld by a stridently “conservative” and shamelessly activist Supreme Court.  Of course, if you point out to ODS victims that the ACA is law, they have a very ODS response handy: slavery was once the law of the land too, and helping people to live and stay healthy is comparable to keeping them in chains, torturing them, and forcing them to do hard labor — in fact, it’s the same thing. No, really.

The time for negotiation and compromise has come and gone. Now it’s a matter of following the law or doing everything in your power to thwart it out of a political an/or personal vendetta. The GOP chose the latter. Not only did Republicans engineer the shutdown, they plotted and threatened to do so for months, and even changed the rules to make such a shutdown inevitable. They were quite willing not only to hold the American public hostage, but even to hold Congress itself hostage. And despite their avowed concern for fiscal responsibility, they have voted to repeal the ACA several times (though they knew perfectly well they had no chance of succeeding) at a cost of at least 55 million. And they show no signs of ever stopping the stupidity. They also knew damn well that this attempt at extortion via shutdown would not derail “Obamacare”, but they were quite willing to subject countless Americans to the pain and inconvenience anyway in order to express their all-important, lemming-brained contempt for the guy in the Oval Office — as if people weren’t already well aware of it.

But couldn’t Obama and the Democrats also have done something to prevent the shutdown? Well, sure. They could have caved in 100 percent instead of only 80 or 90, but that would have set a very dangerous precedent that likely would have had greater long-term consequences than the shutdown itself.

Even some hard-right Obama haters admit that the GOP masterminded the shutdown — before resuming their regularly scheduled hard-wired programming of just laying all the blame at the feet of Obama and the Democrats. Jonah Goldberg of the ever-entertaining National Review, while conceding that the GOP started it, still insists that nonetheless, “President Obama and Democrats deserve the lion’s share of the blame for not only prolonging it but also making it as painful as possible”, whatever that means; and that the president’s putative refusal to “negotiate” is due to a “vindictive streak” that causes him to “punish his enemies.” How many head scratches can we work in there, Jonah?

Or some of them tried to tango around the blame game by arguing that even if the Republicans are to blame, they had some kind of Constitutional authority for their actions, so they’re really not to blame. Cute. Maybe we should point the finger at Thomas Jefferson instead.

Many of them, however, just skip the preliminaries and get right to the Obama blame impulse. When in doubt, blame Obama. The symptoms of Obama Derangement Syndrome, after all are: (a) a passionate conviction that absolutely anything the president says or does stems from sinister motives, and (b) the passionate conviction that anything that goes wrong in the U.S., if not the entire world, is directly traceable to the 44th chief executive.

Lest we forget, Barack Obama was democratically elected president of The United States. Twice. Indeed, he is the only president since FDR to be elected twice with a majority of the popular vote. And one thing he was elected to do was reform the healthcare system. But to the ODS crowd, he is a tyrannical dictator who somehow has unlawfully seized control of “their” country, and is now working his evil plan to control the universe — by, among other things, helping to ensure affordable healthcare. When there is, for example, a turnover of military brass in his administration as in any administration, it must be a “Stalinist purge” to install commanders “willing to kill Americans.” In other versions of the tale, he’s specifically purging Christians from the military. Or his critics. Or Romney supporters. Or all of the above.

And once the shutdown had ended, the president urged that saner heads prevail:

And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do.

What? Focus on facts more than propaganda? What a radical suggestion. And to the ODS brigade, it was more than just a recommendation. It was an imperious “demand” that you “ignore” anyone who “disagrees” him.

Okay, ODS sufferers, listen up: I’m really tired of having to defend President Obama, or any other politician, from wacky rumors and accusations. I really and truly am — there are other, far more important things I’d rather be discussing here. Can we just agree that you’ve made fools of yourselves enough for the time being and give it a little rest? Mind you, I’m not asking you to abandon hatred and delirium permanently; I realize they’re what gets you out of bed in the morning. But can you just allow a little time for both yourselves and me to catch our breath a little? Pretty please?


  1. Hello Pop,

    Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head and reaffirmed reality for those of us who feel like hitting our heads against the wall in response to the complete and utter insanity of politics 101, in the Republican playbook.

    I really enjoy your frequent tongue in cheek style as you point to the absurdity of those members of the GOP who have thrown away all logic in a blatant attempt to lie and deceive the public, and yes, the press was complicit in this insanity, by refusing to challenge the old, “both sides are responsible,” for what it is–a fictitious cop-out.

    What is really scary though, is that these Republican turds who have “taken us into a world not of sight and sound, but of mind,” is that they are very good at spreading their propaganda despite the fact that it really could qualify as the leading philosophy employed in the bizzaro world!

    I am continually reminded–when I hear these big and little lies told over and over again until Americans who are already distrustful of government, ignorant of science, and scared easily by the future, begin to believe them–of the ending chapter in (I believe) BOLD NEW WORLD, in which the hero was systematically relieved of his own free will by continuous torture and brainwashing techniques. In the final paragraphs of Huxley’s ominous novel, we hear the hero finally agree with his torturers, that they are holding up three fingers (instead of the four they are actually displaying).

    One can’t help but fall back on humor when describing the real implications made by those suffering from ODS, but I find it really sobering to consider how effective they are at selling their madness to the public. Apparently they are convincing large numbers of people, that a President who explains over and over that a government shut down is costly and dangerous, and, that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would likely cause deep and irreparable harm to our credit rating and to our economy, is somehow causing all the ruckus by stubbornly refusing to endanger the well-being of a congressionally passed, and Supreme Court upheld law. What they don’t see is that accepting such a travesty would only endanger our legislative process, for BOTH Democrats and Republicans–since any future legislation, by either party, would then be vulnerable to the extortion demands of a small and vocal minority of Congressmen who radically disagree!

    It may be as unacceptable for Republicans, as it was disappointing to the President, that the ACA was not passed with clear bipartisan support. But laws are not required to be the result of such desired but possibly unachievable co-operation. However, respecting their establishment and refusing to use anything but legal and conventional means to overturn them, IS required of any sane law making body and its individual legislators!

  2. Once again an excellent post on the utter perversity of the far right. ODS has got to be related to OCD in some way. Especially as they seem to be compelled to make shit up and create scandals and blame problems on anyone but themselves. For a group that is always touting that they are the only responsible group they seem remarkably unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions.

  3. I’m an immigrant to the US having spent my last 40 years working in an anti-terrorism role to protect the travellers of our world. I don’t like the way the spoilers of civilization work both within the capitalist system and the general society here, they do more to undermine American values than any terrorist could even imagine!. I came to the US because I liked the openness and the lack of class that I thought was here. Now I find that there’s a hidden class system and an overt racism within American society allied to a religious blinkered view of the world, This is arrant stupidity on the part of the few that affects the many. Whatever happened to e Pluribus Unum?Did the values of the Founding Fathers get lost in the parochial ambitions of small minded individual claims to fame and riches? I thought America was greater than that, I may have been mistaken, and yes, I always have the option to go back home if I don’t like it. How sad that such a sentiment exists in this day and age of instant communication between the people of this world.. T.

  4. I’m pretty sure every society is comprised of people who are prone to believe crazy stuff. It appears to affect between 20-30% of populations. Responsible leaders in other countries do their best to control the crazies (and we used to), but in the U.S. we have an immensely popular cable “news” network AND one of our two political parties that actually encourages this behavior. Why do they choose to court the support of the crazies? IMO, because their policies and ideas are so transparently destructive to the well being of the 99 percenters that they can never win national elections unless they can enrage the crazies and turn them into local missionaries who then spread their anger.

    I know, this is nothing new to your readers, but I’m getting tired of waiting for them to self-destruct. In fact, there is now some question as to what will happen first: they self-destruct or they destroy our country.

    Actually what really pisses me off is the outsized power the crazies have in Congress. Why do the 577,000 people in Wyoming have 2 Senators and 1 Representative and the 633,000 people of the District of Columbia have none? We all know the answer of course, but this is the kind of stuff we went to war over a couple of centuries ago. It is pretty apparent that if the Tea Partiers get their way, America will look like Mississippi writ large by 2025. Who in their right mind insists that a large country like the U.S., a superpower no less, should have a small government? There is a reason why we used to be world leaders in most measures of prosperity and education.

    • As I pointed out in a previous column, the Tea Party comprises only about 2 percent of the electorate. Yet it has been dominating national policy. You’ve gotta hand it to them.

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