Last Updated: 12:35 AM, April 15, 2012
Posted: 10:41 PM, April 13, 2012
President Obama is finally figuring out how to use government — namely, to hurt people we don’t like.
In response to higher gas prices, for instance, Obama is pushing for an end to oil subsidies — take that, oil companies! And with the bad economy leaving ends tight for many folks, he’s out to enact his “Buffett Rule” tax on the wealthy.
Now, you can’t come up with even a science-fiction scenario in which higher operating costs for oil companies will lower gas prices, or where taxes on the rich will provide more jobs — but that’s not the point. The point is that people don’t like oil companies or the wealthy. And the president’s willing to hurt them for us.
So by focusing on these things, has Obama given up on helping us? Probably — but only because he’s gotten smart about government.
Think of the federal government as Godzilla. If you sent Godzilla to feed the hungry or help find someone a job, he’d fail and leave a huge swath of destruction in his path. But if you told Godzilla, “Hey, go step on that guy!” he’d do a great job.
Similarly, the government has always been pretty sketchy at helping people (except for just handing them money), but hurting people we don’t like is its core competency.
What’s Obama’s one big popular accomplishment? That Osama bin Laden was shot in the head and chucked in the sea (adhering to strict Islamic standards on sea-chucking).
If the way to bring bin Laden to justice was to get him a job and decent health care, Obama never would’ve been able to sate our lust for vengeance. But shoot a guy in the head — that, the government can actually do.
So, with a re-election fight on his hands, that’s what Obama is focusing on.
Trying to improve the jobs situation and save the economy has been a disaster so far. We’re drowning in debt and trying to convince ourselves that if we just got to 8 percent unemployment, things wouldn’t be so bad. But now Obama is going to govern smartly and just focus on hurting the right people.
Of course, it’s not like he can take out Americans we don’t like in a drone strike (well, except for Anwar al-Awlaki, but oil companies and wealthy Americans are probably too smart to join al Qaeda). But there are other mean things he can do — and not just taxes.
Like with those oh-so-holy religious types that so many people find annoying — now they have to buy other people’s contraception. Ha — how do you like them apples?
And if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, let’s see how the justices feel about a punitive tax on black robes.
The president has a chance to make voters feel that he’s the guy they can relate to. He can target all these unpopular groups like the wealthy and oil companies and say, “See, I’m just like you. I’m a blue-collar guy who worked my way up writing in the memoir factory, and I hate all the same people you hate.”
Obama may not quite feel your pain, but he can make sure that people you don’t like feel plenty of hurt.
Frank J. Fleming is a political humorist.