Presidents Who Love Too Much

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A prez with benefits smothered in a fuck you sauce…

Watching President Obama try to explain his capitulation to  the Rethugs over taxes and unemployment insurance reminded me of a book I read about a decade ago called  Women Who Love Too Much. I was intrigued by the book’s premise: that even the smartest, most successful, and attractive women would, after a difficult and painful breakup with a guy who turned out to be an abusive schmuck, find themselves in subsequent degrading relationships because they were, in effect, addicted to love.  Even if it were unrequited love.

Stephen Colbert finds a political analogue to this disturbing dynamic in Unrequited Gov. During the health insurance reform debate, Obama wooed Senators Grassley and  Snowe for months. But for all their early promises of support, they left him standing at the altar, delaying the vote through a long hot summer of town hall protests that brought the Teabaggers to prominence. Not a single Retug ended up voting for the bill.

In his column Sunday titled All the President’s Captors, Frank Rich compares Obama’s relationship with the Rethugs to Stockholm Syndrome. Citing the  F.B.I.’s  Law Enforcement Bulletin:

It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness. Soon enough, the hostage will start concentrating on his captors’ “good side” and develop psychological characteristics to please them — “dependency; lack of initiative; and an inability to act, decide or think.”

This dynamic was acted out — yet again — in President Obama’s latest and perhaps most humiliating attempt to placate his Republican captors in Washington. No sooner did he invite the G.O.P.’s Congressional leaders to a post-election White House summit meeting than they countered his hospitality with a slap — postponing the date for two weeks because of “scheduling conflicts.” But they were kind enough to reschedule, and that was enough to get Obama to concentrate once more on his captors’ “good side.”

And so, as the big bipartisan event finally arrived last week, he handed them an unexpected gift, a freeze on federal salaries. Then he made a hostage video hailing the White House meeting as “a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together.” Hardly had this staged effusion of happy talk been disseminated than we learned of Mitch McConnell’s letter vowing to hold not just the president but the entire government hostage by blocking all legislation until the Bush-era tax cuts were extended for the top 2 percent of American households.

Take Stephen’s observation to heart, Mr. President:

“They’re just not that into you.”

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