Monday, June 24, 2013

Obama Tightrope Act: “I'm up in the spotlight, oh does it feel right”

Did you catch Big Guy’s high wire act over the Grand Canyon last night?


Okay, you caught me: that’s Nik Wallenda.

“Tight Rope”: Leon Russell

BO’s not really a high wire artist, although he does play one on television regularly. Take, for example, gay marriage where he “straddled the fence” so-to-speak right up until the moment in the campaign where he discovered he was for it after having been against it.


Or Syria, where it looked like the bright red line would give us plenty of turf to walk lightly  while waiting for reinforcements.

red line

Unfortunately the reinforcements came from Russia and Iran, rendering our red wire a little less stable than we normally like.

red lines crossing

And of course there are all of those Campaign promises that we need to constantly tread ever so carefully (in alphabetical order): the debt, economy, education, energy, entitlements, gay rights, global warning, gun control, health care, immigration, Iran, and taxes.

They’re all child’s play though, compared to the current high wire issue of national security that Big Guy addressed last month during his counter terrorism speech:

“Meanwhile, we strengthened our defenses — hardening targets, tightening transportation security, and giving law enforcement new tools to prevent terror. Most of these changes were sound. Some caused inconvenience. But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy. And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values - by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.” 

You’ve got to admit, Big Guy walked that one like a pro. In a speech designed to define his legacy as well as announce the end to the war on terror, he once again demonstrated his balancing skills by campaigning against his own positions while simultaneously ensuring their continuity:

To put it crassly, the president sought to rebuke his own administration for taking the positions it has—but also to make sure that it could continue to do so.


There are a number of areas in the president’s speech yesterday in which Obama publicly aligns himself with critics of his administration, while promising in hard terms very little.(snip) He criticized Guantanamo and indefinite detention, without promising to release detainees who pose a serious threat yet cannot face trial.

He followed this up by walking the tightwire regarding his position on the use of drones:

“Going forward, I have asked my Administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones that go beyond our reporting to Congress. Each option has virtues in theory, but poses difficulties in practice.”

Translation: we’re going to continue the Tuesday afternoon kill list meetings; butt don’t worry, we won’t be drone-killing any of our enemies in the United States (for now).

I like to call this his “Grand Canyon” performance:

bo-tightrope copy“Nailed it!”

Big Guy’s high wire expertise should surprise no one who’s been following his career. Way back when he was just a junior Senator from Illinois running for his first historic presidency he told reporters who were interested that his favorite TV show was The Wire.

In case you don’t remember it, The Wire was a crime show set in the mean streets of Baltimore. It was a cynical show focused on the intercession of crime and politics, which is just about anywhere you look: the world of drugs, the longshoremen on the docks, the police department, the city government, the school system, and the news media.

Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution they are committed to.

I believe it was classified as “realistic drama.”

Big Guy has long been fascinated with the use and benefits of electronic surveillance, which is probably why he was drawn to the show. Not surprisingly, given its title, surveillance was a central and recurring theme on the show:

Central to the structure and plot of the show is the use of electronic surveillance and wiretap technologies by the police—hence the title The Wire.(snip) Simon has discussed the use of camera shots of surveillance equipment, or shots that appear to be taken from the equipment itself, to emphasize the volume of surveillance in modern life and the characters' need to sift through this information.

Oh, and for the record: Big Guy’s favorite character is Omar, a gay thief who lives by a strict moral code of his own making that few in the world of law enforcement would recognize or acknowledge.

tumblr_m3txowpv8O1qgsr1po1_1280“Man’s gotta live what he know, right?” From “The 49 days of Omar1

Don’t judge, people. You’ve never had to walk in Big Guy’s slippers.

bo ghetto-tightrope copy

It’s not as if this high wire act is easy.

1 Counting the omer – the 49 days from Passover until Shavuot.

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Cross-Posted on Patriot Action Network