By Ivan G. Goldman
President Obama could learn a valuable lesson from Manny Pacquiao, a member of the Philippines Congress and also of course the best fighter in the world. The lesson would be the art of the counterpunch.
All great fighters counterpunch. Just as the opponent tries to throw something, they slip in their own shot first. If it’s executed properly, the counterpunch will come in so fast and hard that the opponent’s punch, even though it went out first, will freeze before it lands because his neuro-biological structure couldn’t handle what struck him. And an opponent is never so vulnerable as when he’s punching. With a fist out there on the attack, he has to be wide open somewhere. And that’s precisely where the counterpuncher lands -- sometimes two, three, four shots. This isn’t chess. You don’t have to wait your turn.
Often the opponent learns, like Pavlov’s dogs did, what sort of reaction follows a certain action. When he throws, he gets punished, so he pulls in and pretty much stops putting out punches. Antonio Margarito, desperate to prove his mettle, didn’t do that. He kept trying, which is why his face turned to dogfood. Pacquiao’s previous opponent, Joshua Clottey, was quickly tamed and basically just tried to survive, covering up, retreating, and throwing few shots.
Now what does this have to do with Obama? You already guessed. He doesn’t hit back, so opponents have nothing to lose by insulting him and his policies and opposing and lying about them. Also, Obama doesn’t, as so many other presidents have done in modern times, send his vice president out to slam the opposition. Obama gives fighters what they call a free lunch, making him, unfortunately, a chump.
In fact, he begins to surrender as soon as the opponent threatens to punch. It’s happened again and again, on the public option part of the health-care plan, for example. Without it, insurance companies can careen down the price road without braking, and if they run over somebody, tough luck. The plan that got passed was an improvement over what we had, but it should have been better. Now there’s early Obama surrender on the tax cuts for the super-rich doled out by Bush the Second and his compliant Congress. And the counterpunch is so obvious. It’s like an uppercut begging to be thrown underneath a lazy hook, but it doesn’t happen.
The Republicans’ main complaint is the deficit. So how do they solve it? By running it up higher to do favors for the people who least need them.
The Republicans vow to repeal “Obamacare,” but the health-care plan cuts the deficit too -- you know, that thing the Republicans claim to despise so much.
Then there’s their cure for banks. Deregulation. A powerless, stupid jab just aching for a right hand over the top. There should be no argument about any of this because there are facts on one side and lies on the other. No economist who isn’t a crackpot will tell you that cutting taxes for the super-rich is a good way to stimulate the economy or be fair to the public. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office states flatly that the health-care act will pare the deficit. Incidentally, it's true that families making $250,00 and living in big metropolitan areas aren't super-rich. We need more tax brackets. People making $5 million should pay a stiffer rate than those making $250,000.
As for personal attacks, it’s correct just to ignore some of them. Others should be addressed by Joe Biden, who can do a couple rounds once in a while for his boss. He’s willing. He knows what his job is supposed to be, but Obama won’t send him out do it. These stories are slow, dumb punches perfect for a vice president to feast on – allusions and downright statements that the president was born in Indonesia or Kenya, that he’s a Muslim, that he’s the wrong kind of Christian, that he’s a fascist, socialist, communist out to undermine America.
Lots of voters loved Obama when he was a candidate, but they didn’t expect him to be a president who goes out there round after round and hunkers down without throwing any punches. People want a leader who fights for what’s right, does it clean, with hard, quick shots.
Obama learned over the years that it’s dangerous to be an angry black man. It stimulates the fear and loathing among many whites that Hunter Thompson discovered in so many places around America. But screw race. We need a Pacquiao who explains the facts to opponents in ways they can understand. They’ll be so busy covering up and getting pasted that no one will be aware of the champ’s race. They’ll just know America won.
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