The Norman Transcript

Columns

August 19, 2013

‘Phony’ is new racist

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Obama’s team is too busy acting like an army of Holden Caulfields lashing out at an establishment full of hypocrites, except they, like the protagonist of the classic “The Catcher in the Rye,” are unreliable given what’s now known.

And since they are the establishment, they can’t even pretend to be the victim like Holden.

But it’s a great tactic. Race hustlers including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson know the label is more important than the truth. Their tactics work so well Americans can thank them for the fact that it’s possible to recover from just about any personal failure except being branded the r-word. For the most recent example, see Paula Deen.

The fact that the president and his spokespeople are using “phony” is particularly significant, though. Americans hate phonies, even though we are a nation of fakes who care more about how we are perceived by social media “friends” than real ones, judged by how much time is spent on those sites and whose young people’s self-esteem in no way corresponds to ability. The president’s handlers know the word is a trigger for all that is bad about politics and Washington and has the ability to twist the president’s problems into those of his adversaries.

That the self-proclaimed president of the middle class would espouse this line of attack as he airlifts his dog Bo separately to Massachusetts’ exclusive Martha’s Vineyard beach retreat on one of two MV-22 Ospreys, an aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane, is particularly outrageous. But as the president has shown with his “phony” argument, authenticity was never the goal.

Winning at any expense was and is as Dan Balz describes in his new book about the most recent presidential election, “Collision 2012.” In it he talks with Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager. “My favorite political philosopher is Mike Tyson,” Mr. Messina told Mr. Balz. “Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don’t have a plan anymore. [The Republicans] may have a plan to beat my guy. My job is to punch them in the face.”

In light of that way of thinking, the “phony” talking points are just another punch. But this time it’s against the American people, not a political opponent. If Holden Caulfield could only know how phony is the new real.

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