Don’t Ask; Don’t Sell!

The man with one foot in Africa is about to land the other one in a tiger trap. The Republicans (with the unwitting help of their witless enemies the Democrats) have dug the ditch, sharpened the spikes. All they have yet to do is cover the whole with foliage and whistle.
“I assume,” you say “that the man is Barack Obama. But what is this trap” you say “of which you speak?”
I’ll give you a hint. They had to dig the ditch extra long, because Barack is not going to walk into it willy-nilly. He is going to drive into it like a bat out of Hell in a brand shiny new Chevrolet!
Travel back with me fellow travelers to the year of our Lord, 1992. A time marked by the miracle of tube sock scanning technology, web 1.0 and “How Do You Talk to an Angel.” A time personified by the man from Hope, William Jefferson Clinton. Clinton had been swept into the Presidency by an impressive near majority of the popular vote. Defeating the Great Regurgitater, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot, a man who learned too late in life that no matter how rich you are you can’t believe in aliens unless you look like Tom Cruise.
It was all Big Macs and Kiwi ice cream for Slick Willie in the autumn of 1992. How could he have seen the trap into which he would soon fall—the gambit that forever put the powdery white stain on the navy blue dress of his electoral honeymoon?  “What gambit” you ask?  Well, don’t ask! And don’t tell! The trap in question was the now famous non-issue, equipped in standard army issue: Gays in the Military.
You kids today wouldn’t recognize the landscape of the early 1990s. It was a time of serious economic recession. Jobs were scarce, interest rates were high, gas was expensive, and there was a guy named Bush in the White House who didn’t seem to have a clue.  Serious issues needed addressing, and the people voted in a young, generally untested Ivy League Lawyer because they wanted change.  President-elect Clinton took office and declared that he would “hit the ground running” with a bold agenda for dealing with important social problems.
Then on the 5th of February, he ordered America’s military recruiters to stop asking recruits what their sexual preferences were (which seems pretty tame compared to the present day, when recruiters are afraid to ask, “Do you have a criminal record?” “Are you going to commit a crime when you leave here?” “Where if anywhere did you hide the body?”).  He also directed Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to come up with a plan by July 15 to formally lift the ban on those gallant young men and women who put the spree in Esprit de Corps.
History tells us that Clinton’s popularity went down faster than [insert your own gay joke here]. His electoral honeymoon ended faster than his real honeymoon probably did when his new bride found him banging the wedding planner behind the champagne fountain. It took a dot.com bubble twice the size of the one that transported Glinda, the Good Witch to keep him from becoming Son of Carter.
Witch brings us to today. Sorry, which. Got distracted. In the 50s, Glinda was considered hot.  The Republicans are setting the stage for exactly the kind of trap they set for Clinton. Only this time instead of Victor, Victoria it’s Crown Victoria. Don’t cry for me, Ford Torino.  The issue that threatens to derail unnecessarily the first 100 days of the Obama Presidency is the argument over whether or not to bail out the big three. Once Clinton got snookered into letting the GOP goad him into shifting his agenda, he was sunk. He put himself in a lose-lose situation and ended up with everyone angry with him. Obama faces he same dilemma—come out strongly in favor of a plan that cannot succeed because it is under-funded or come out against the last vestige of serious union power and the rust belt populations that went against their better judgments to vote him in.
So Barack, my advice to you is to let the B-Team wrangle this one out. In fact, go farther down the bench and let Rangel wrangle this one out.  If you do, you can wait a few months for the issue to shake out and either heap praise on the team or jump in to save the day. If you don’t, if you get goaded into symbolic action that will blow up in your face faster than the plastic seals in a Dex-Cool treated Alero, then what happened in the Clinton era will happen to you. It will be harder than ever for a soldier to go on leave and get himself an affordable Hummer, and the honeymoon will be prematurely over.

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About bigshotprof

College Professor in the Communication Studies department at Pace University. My personal life fall somewhere in the gap between less than you want to know and more than you need to know.
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