Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Winning. Duh.

The whole world loves an underdog...

Haha, that was your irony. The world does not. America especially does not. This country only cares about winners. Losers can drop dead.

There are deep historical and cultural reasons for this, having to do with George Washington’s false teeth, the Monroe Doctrine, the fact that they had photography already by the Civil War, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” that FDR died in office instead of on a ranch, and that we have people who seriously think Jesus loves Kansans more than Bedouins, even though they’re practically identical, except for the outfits, tents and camels. The same people can’t even name one Bedouin.

The Monroe Doctrine has had an important role in forming American attitudes about winning and losing.

Speaking of naming Bedouins. Here we go: Muammar el-Qaddafi? Moammar Kadafi? Moammar Gaddafi? Moammar Gadhafi? Muammar Gaddafi? Moamer Kadhafi? Muammar al-Qaddafi? Moammar Gaddafi? See, I can’t name one, either.

My point: America loves a winner, and how can you be a winner if nobody knows how to spell your name? You can’t get your trophy.

That’s why the Obama administration was so quick to back the sure Libyan winners-to-be, the non-Qaddafis, in spite of being so slow to come out for the non-Mubaraks in Egypt. It’s easy to tell that Kadhafi is a loser, but I can spell Mubarak, and he looks damn good in a suit, whereas Muammar in a suit looks like Michael Dukakis with shoulder pads.

How many times has the United States backed a dictator, just because there was no way he was going to be deposed?

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, also illustrates my point. Two years ago President Obama was prepared to stand by DOMA to the bitter end. Why? Because it crawled out of the same alphabet soup Obama did? No! Because it didn’t look like it needed his help, that’s why.

For Obama to have opposed DOMA back then, he would have had to go on record as supporting what then would have been regarded as a lost cause. This being America, and not Vermont, his ratings would have plummeted.

But times have changed, and now DOMA is looking weak. There’s a truckload of independent legal challenges pending in courts and DOMA is taking one hit after another.

It violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, says one. KICK IN THE SHINS! It violates the Tenth Amendment, says another. TO THE HEAD! It falls outside Congress’ authority under the Spending Clause of the Constitution. GUT BLOW! By passing DOMA, Congress “overstepped its authority, undermined states' efforts to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, and codified an animus towards gay and lesbian people,” says another suit, kicking legal butt.

Now that DOMA is reeling against the ropes, Obama remembers he has better things to do with his lawyers than prop this loser up. So, when DOMA finally goes down for the count, our president will be on the winning side, sharing the cheers.

Learning to apply the theory to everyday problems:

As I write this, the Wisconsin State Assembly (their “House of Commons”) has passed Governor Walker’s budget which deprives most public workers of their collective bargaining rights. The law now goes to the Wisconsin State Senate (their “House of Lords”), where Democrats are fighting it tooth and nail from an undisclosed stairwell in a hotel in Chicago, a hundred and fifty miles away.

Can you guess which side the American people will take in this political battle?

Hint: In order to apply our theory, you need to know which side of the fight is going to be perceived as the “loser” side. You need to analyze which is more “loserly”, whether it’s to run away from a quorum, or to claim that collective bargaining rights have anything to do with balancing a budget in the first place.

For bonus points, find a way to change the result of your analysis by removing the Wisconsin Senate Democrats even further from the scene. What if they didn’t even exist? How would that make the unions look better?