Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Kick their asses and report back to me"

Lewis Chess piece from the National Museums Scotland
That's, um, that's a phrase I've heard more than once in my life. Unfortunately, much to my dislike, and given our hierarchical collective command structure of a society, it has been rephrased to "Kiss their asses, and ...".

As I get older, as my prefrontal lobes stew and season in my own juices, I like to think that I'm developing a certain maturity that allows for just the right amount of introspection. And one of those moments of clarity is the realization that I am (or can be) remorselessly, psychotically, ruthlessly without conscience - under certain circumstances. And, if I am to be honest with myself, and no doubt a symptom of my own unique insanity, I'm a little proud of this.

(Now, some will say that questioning your sanity is a sure sign that you are sane. And to that I say, fucking bullshit).

I am, under the right conditions, a dangerously psychotic sociopath. I have, on more than one occasion, experienced a Berserker Moment. And I've got to tell you the memory of such unfettered rage, of quite literally Seeing Red, is one of pure and utter pleasure, perhaps something like what a cute little kitty cat or puppy dog feels when it takes down its prey.

Now, just the right amount of introspection, coupled with some interesting library tidbits about Northern European, or rather Northern Barbarian, history and folkways, makes me suspect that this is just a tad bit more genetic than cultural. And since this makes me uncomfortable, its a theme worth exploring, which I probably won't do.

I bring this all up because my attention was drawn to a rather alien and opposite piece of behavior, a compelling anecdote about our President to be found in Mr. Chauncey Devega's blog, We Are Respectable Negroes . Mister Devega's anecdote is as follows:

Several years ago a fellow traveler and colleague of mine studied under then Professor Obama. In the latter's constitutional law class there was a very outspoken, provocative, and often wrong student that was quite disruptive as he seemed to revel in contradicting a young professor, one who was coincidentally not White. Throughout the term, Professor Obama would handle him politely and delicately, in the best professorial sense finding merit in said student's comments and redirecting the course appropriately.

One day the seminar was discussing Reconstruction, the Emancipation of Black Americans, and the Equal Protection Clause. The arch-Conservative student in question suggested that African-Americans were not prepared for freedom, had not demonstrated a propensity for democracy, and would have been better off in a state of servitude until they could appreciate the fruits of liberty as taught by White people. Shocked, with students on the edge of their seats, Obama smiled, did not respond, and then once more salvaged this intentionally provocative, racially tinged, and disruptive set of assertions. Many students were stunned. The line of reasoning offered by our provocateur was both intellectually lazy and 
unfounded by the historical record. Obama could have destroyed this observation and the specious reasoning underlying it with little effort...what could and should have been a truly teachable moment. Instead, then Professor Obama chose to make lemonade by adding bar sugar to a noxious mix of rotten lemons.

In that moment President Obama signaled to a type of too good-natured naivete, and a belief in the generosity and reasonableness of people, that is to this day vexing his presidency.

 I am, quite frankly, continually blown away by this behavior. Not that this behavior is alien to me. Nor do I view it as a form of laziness or cowardice. Upon more than occasion, I've recognized that this type of particular battle is not worth the effort. That the asshole in question in the above anecdote (and yes, clearly, the student vexing Obama is an insufferable asshole, and, it should be noted, not likely to be President of the United States of America, proving, in some sense, that the best form of revenge is living well).

There have been more than a few moments, both on treading the debate boards of the interwebs, and in real life, when you realize that It Just Ain't Worth It. Nevertheless, there are other times when you just have to say, fuck it, savage the little weenie, destroy the chickenshit, and let him hate you for the rest of his hopefully short, squalid and miserable life. And then the inner Viking leaps with joy, and asks the flavor of the violence, short duration or long? Fast or slow? A quick rabbit punch to the pharynx? Or how about the Blood Eagle (a quaint Norwegian custom )? And if Obama had had a certain Rahm Emanuel as his teaching assistant, is there any doubt that the student would probably have suffered some type of deserved painful physical humiliation?

I do not view this reaction with pride. I only note it as instinctive to a degree. As a basic drive, a compelling animal magnetism which the Will has the only option of vetoing. It is no choice, any more than an act of heroism or altruism, as it has been noted by heroes in times of emergency, a choice. It's just the thing to do.

Showing restraint is a superior quality of a superior man. But, in this tawdry world, such men need men of baser metal to look after them. I, contrary to almost everyone, have more respect and admiration for Obama than before. And given the circumstances of the past two years, feel that he deserves more than a few chances. He really had no choice with the current tax deal, with the cowardly criminal hostage takers, Mitch the Bitch McConnell the Freak Half-Turtle Man, and John Boehner: Alien Escapee from the Carrot People Planet, but to put down his gun and talk to them, just like in the cop shows.

For the longest time, I viewed him with a slightly jaundiced eye. I certainly did not vote for him. Rather, I voted against McNasty and the Dingbat, who I viewed then (still do, even more now) as utterly and irrevocably disastrous for our nation.

I believe I will now be more charitable.


  1. I agree and disagree. I think he should have stood his ground. The Repubs held the unemployment benefits hostage because they knew it would work and it did. He should have stood his ground and forced them to back down. Now not only did they get their way but when the deficit increases since we are paying out more with no increase in tax income, they will blame it on him. He has not kept a single promise. We are still fighting both wars, the health care reform is no reform at all as it just impoverishes people who can't afford insurance while further enriching the insurance companies, gays are still getting booted out of the military and now this.

  2. I agree and disagree back. I think he has done some very smart things, which to my perplexity he hasn't crowed about. Possibly because most people would say "Big whup" Science and education have been 40 years in the wilderness under Bush. They are the only long term thing economically that keeps us going. Barry is pushing them big time. The healthcare bill? Was never going to be what it should. The fact that it is even there speaks loads. Shitty legislation that can be incrementally improved is vastly better than nothing. He has kept a lot of promises, just not the ones most liberals wanted.

    So, I'm being contrary, both against the general opinion and against my own cynicism. I'll cut him some slack. But there are some issues he'd better dig his heels in about, or that's that. I'll stick a fork in him.