Out of the Woods / "Obama as a dictator?"
Published 1:01 am, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I confess. There are times when I get so frustrated with the political paralysis in Washington and the bitter stalemate between Republicans and Democrats, that I fantasize (theoretically) that we'd be a lot better off if Obama had unlimited powers to carry out his reforms, including doing away with the Republicans' rabble-rousing extreme right-wing efforts to bring down his presidency -- a goal some leading Republicans have publicly admitted.
I actually agree, in principle, with my favorite namesake, Woody Allen, who, in response to a question last month, offhandedly said -- tongue in cheek -- to a reporter from a Spanish language magazine La Vanguardia while vacationing in Cannes: "It would be good if Obama could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly," according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper carried this headline over the story: "Top political strategist Woody Allen thinks Obama would get much more done as dictator. No, really." The newspaper reported that Allen added: "I am pleased with Obama. I think he is brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him. With health care and the economy now fully fixed," Allen added factitiously, "no doubt one area in urgent need of sweeping Obama-style reforms would be targeting movie reviewers who write negatively about Hollywood." You can imagine the right-wing blow-back to Woody's off-the-cuff gambit. They obviously have no sense of humor.
The conservative blogger website FOX Nation wasted no time in replying to Allen's obvious attempt at irreverent humor, by posting this message: "Of course, this comes as a complete shock. What is it with these leftist loons and their passion for socialist dictators?... Funny thing is that, in a dictatorship, people like Allen would likely be among the first rounded up by the secret police."
At Prisonplanet.com, blogger, Steve Watson, wrote cryptically that Allen's outburst was "another display of "cult-like Obama worship."
"Allen's comments recall the disturbing drivel we were forced to endure when Obama entered office, as celebrities pledged their `service' to the president and vowed to `be a servant,' while encouraging their mind-washed fans to do the same."
Turning serious, Watson said: "Presumably under a Woody Allen imagined Obama dictatorship, the president's recent statement `The practice of listening to opposing views, is essential for effective citizenship' would no longer apply and we'd just be forced to listen to Obama's views and abide by his."
Beliefnet.com also took the bait, saying there were two problems: "First, and most importantly, the idea he's touting is idiotic and grossly un-American. Ideas should be judged on their merit alone, aside from the messenger who delivers them. And this idea, even had it been championed by Billy Graham or Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mouse would be on its face, ludicrous and even evil. No human, Obama included, has the wisdom or self-control to handle absolute power. Power tends to corrupt; absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Let's not try this folly again."
Phil Boehmke at americanthinker.com feigned amazement, writing, "I never cease to marvel at the political brilliance of the Hollywood crowd." Also commenting on Allen's personal social life, Boehmke wrote, "Gee, if only Obama could be dictator, would he have a place for Woody in his regime? Perhaps as `safe schools czar.' And if only Woody Allen had studied history, then he would have learned what sort of things a dictator usually does quickly."
Blogger Mark Whittington firstname.lastname@example.org, who also took Allen's comment seriously, attacked Allen, noting, "One is very certain that Woody Allen has not quite thought through the implications of his proposal, even if he was correct that Barack Obama could do a lot of good things quickly if given dictatorial powers, which is demonstrably false. A dictatorship comes with it all the tools of dictating, including official censorship (which as a filmmaker and author Allen ought to oppose), a secret police, punishments without a proper trial, concentration camps, sanctioned torture (the real kind), and all the rest." No matter.
I have always believed that Barack Obama has enormous courage because he is willing to stand up to the establishment and try to bring about change. This reminds me of the words of the late Thomas J. Watson, Jr., CEO of IBM (full disclosure: this writer once worked for IBM), who once so aptly said: "If one stands up and is counted from time to time one may be knocked down. But remember this: a man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good."