In an illustration of the type of power certain “hysterics” (here I am using that word as a noun) can amass simply by being relentless, stubborn, indefatigable, and having a large microphone at their disposal, President Obama effectively caved to critics today – which he did by engaging with them on their level, rather than rejecting the premise of their questions and assertions, which I thought was rhetoric 101 – over what has become skeet-gate.
In an interview with The New Republic published five days ago, Obama was asked if he had ever fired a gun, and responded, “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.” Apparently, this slightly overstated though innocuous comment struck some of those on the right who are still clinging to the birther bandwagon as apocryphal, and they decided to make some hay while the sun was still shining (see “skeet-gate” link for a great bit of evidence of this). The conservative media took up the cause wholeheartedly, questioning why we’d never heard about this if it was such a favored pastime, and why the White House had never issued any photos of Obama so much as holding a gun, since Obama has been photographed doing just about everything else “but flossing.”
Well, as he did before with the original birthers, Obama caved today by giving them what they were asking for, I suppose in an attempt to shut them up, though surely he knows at this point that nothing will shut them up. So I don’t really know why he did it. I think it would have been better for him to remain above this kind of fray, and hopefully next time – since this is most certainly not the last – after at least two instances of seeing how un-effective it is to give them what they want, Obama will tell the hysterics he has better things to do with his time.
In any event, the above picture was released today by the White House, and the right-wing conspiracies about how the picture is fake or the gun is actually a replica or Obama’s svelte physique must have been doctored can commence…now.
I wrote about this back at the beginning of December, and it turns out that the White House has finally actually responded to the petitioners. From an article in the Washington Post:
The Obama administration will not be building a Death Star.
Responding to a petition on the White House Web site, science and technology adviser Paul Shawcross tells disappointed “Star Wars” fans, “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.”
Shawcross explained that at $850 quadrillion, the cost was simply too high in a time of tight budgets. Moreover “the administration does not support blowing up planets.” And anyway, “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, went on to argue that the various space projects the White House has launched are at least as cool as a Death Star. (Debatable.)
Anyone can post a petition on the “We the People” site, launched by the White House. If a petition gets 25,000 signatures, the administration will respond. Administration officials have answered demands that the government recognize extraterrestrial life, allow online poker, legalize marijuana, remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and ban Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces Network radio.
But many petitioners complain that the administration has issued boilerplate responses with little opportunity for follow-up. In this case, at least, the White House clearly gave an important issue the time and attention it deserved.
How cool is that?
The White House’s open invitation for the people to be heard – in the form of petitions on whitehouse.gov – was put to good use today with a proposal that would “spur job creation,” “focus our defense resources,” and “strengthen our national defense,” according to the petition’s authors. Which sounds great…if only it existed in the realm of nonfiction. The petition is for the government to begin construction of a Death Star – from the Star Wars franchise – by 2016. So far, 612 people have signed since the petition was first established on November 14th.
To me, 2016 sounds way too optimistic. The world is scheduled to end well before that.