Put your money on ‘distancing’

By Barry Farber

OK, all of you who share my shameful habit of writing history before it happens: It’s time to lay the money on your favorite square.

Will all the hydra-headed horrors whip-lashing the Obama White House spend themselves out splashing against a Democratic seawall in the Senate, and the media-corps awaken in the middle of the night and scream, “What am I doing? I repent!” and beg for return to their old bunk in Obama’s back pocket, thereby allowing Democratic gains in both houses of Congress next year and the already scripted nomination and coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2016?

Or will Barack and Michelle flee like the Batistas of pre-Castro Cuba after a big and normal-looking White House party and make it across the Mexican border with fake mustache, goatee and wig, leaving behind a statement that he could no longer waste his life-lifting energies on a population as fickle and ungrateful as we Americans?

Las Vegas may refine as many as 18 alternatives in between those poles and offer scientifically discerned odds on each one.

I’ll put skin in the game, as least as much as I do for the Super Bowl, if they’ll honor my hunch with inclusion on the list. I like “Distancing.”

When fortunes turn, so do loyalties. Rats leave sinking ships. Ships leave sinking rats. The history of “distancing” is fascinating, and so are the ways and means of achieving distancing once you decide you are no longer where you want to be politically.

This is not a good thing for somebody who’s willing to bet family money to admit, but I am staggered that the Democratic Party has not already, in fact long ago, shattered itself on the shoals of Obama and his record. But I’m willing to put up more to fortify my feeling that more than enough Democrats will leave this president to allow this country to save itself.

I didn’t meet my first Christian until I was 5 years old. I didn’t meet my first Republican until I was well over 20. Being born in a Jewish section of Baltimore and abruptly moved to North Carolina at the age of five, it figures. Everybody was a Democrat, including me. I mean literally everybody you met. They were “normal” people; neckties, briefcases, down-home Southern accents, anti-Nazi, anti-Communist. These were salt-of-the-earth, oregano-of-the-universe people. How in God’s daybook could these “Democrats” ever fold, crumple and disintegrate into hatchet-handmaidens for an alien philosophy whose cardinal infirmity is not that it’s alien – so were all four of my grandparents! – but rather that its collectivist ideal has never worked in any country anywhere! I don’t see these “Democrats” I grew up with brooking much more “Obama,” whether it means losing a political appointment, a new post office in town or a troy-ton of free cell phones.

The retiring Democratic senator from Montana, Max Baucus. aptly called Obamacare a “train wreck.” And Baucus helped draft it! As super-singer Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

If I were a university, I’d award a doctorate to anyone who wrote a cogent paper on “distancing.” Are you aware that Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler tried to distance himself from Adolf Hitler when it was far too late for such skin-saving stunts in 1945? Himmler actually staged a meeting with a Romanian Jewish leader to discuss releasing a few hundred thousand Jews from Nazi concentration camps. German air force Marshal Hermann Goering was even clumsier. He actually wrote a letter to Adolf Hitler when the Nazi Third Reich had less than two weeks to live, suggesting Hitler step aside and let Goering take over what was left. He did not address the letter “Mein Fuehrer” with the “Mein” followed by all the customary adjectives like “exalted,” “invincible,” “incomparable,” “justifiably glorious” before it got to “Fuehrer.” It simply began “Mein Fuehrer.” Hitler launched into an anti-Goering tirade for over an hour.

Obama’s tirades aren’t likely to last as long, but there’ll be more of them. Saddam Hussein had an ingenious way to detect any distancing burgeoning in the ranks of his loyalists. He would occasionally have his own loyalists barge into the barracks in the middle of the night yelling, “Get up! Let’s go! We’re going to get rid of the Saddam monster once and for all!” Anyone who showed any enthusiasm for the “coup” was instantly executed.

Distancing makes even more sense when you consider that every single member of the House and one-third of the Senate will have to run for re-election just next year. The joy of a capitalist is the miracle of compound interest. The joy of “distancing” is, each distancer makes the next one easier.

The best dramatization of distancing comes not from Harvard, Yale or the Council on Foreign Relations. It comes from boys who were 8 years old in the 1940s and listened to “The Lone Ranger” on radio. The Lone Ranger’s sidekick was a Native American, Tonto. Once, the Lone Ranger said, “Tonto, we’re surrounded by Indians.”

And Tonto replied, “What you mean “we,” Paleface?”

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