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Games apologists play

I'm seeing this meme starting to propagate from the Obama apologists, so I figure I'd better call it out. Obama fan and alibi meister BooMan burbles:

... [W]e [oh?] should try to understand the game that is being played...

And I saw the same thing over at Digby's place in comments, though I can't find the link -- where Obama's brand of politics was first compared to chess, then to football.

Why is this meme so pernicious?

Several reasons:

1. The game metaphor posits a field, on which there are players, and the stands, in which there are spectators. That's a fundamentally anti-democratic picture, since it puts voters and citizens in the stands, and not on the field.

2. The game metaphor also posits an announcer -- here, skintern wannabe BooMan -- who is, as if authoritatively and objectively, explains the rules of the game, and the personalities, tactics, and strategeries of the "opposing" "sides" (quotes used here to cover the WWF case).

3. The game metaphor is tendentious, in that it's always used -- here, by BooMan -- to keep the players safely in the stands. An aroused citizenry might storm Versailles. An aroused spectator might cheer loudly and wave a sign. The "game" metaphor keeps people firmly in the stands, and never on the field, let alone driving the ticket prices down or seizing the property that their tax dollars paid for from the suits in the sky boxes who "own" it.

So, the game metaphor really translates to "Shut The Fuck Up While I Explain What's Going On To You," which, of course, translates to the old familiar thuggish message from the Obama Fan Base: Shut The Fuck Up. Quelle surprise.

Now, politics is not a game. If you think it's a game, think about that Marvin E. Schur, the 93 year old guy who froze to death because the electric company turned off his power. That was murder by spreadsheet in Bay City, Michigan -- like a giant Excel macro that goes from Bay City's spreadsheet to the utility's spreadsheet to the bank's spreadsheet to the spreadsheet that one of Tim Geithner's golf buddies works. Tim's buddy switches a formula before heading off to his sky box, and the values flip all the way down to an old guy who takes four days to die in the dark and the cold. Tim Geithner's golfing buddy probably didn't have to think at all, but Marvin Schur had plenty of time to think. Four days. Those spreadsheet macros need to change. And game-playing won't do the trick.

So, if you treat politics like a game, you're probably not all that worried about your job, your house, your health care, or choosing between food and medicine. Good luck with that.

NOTE Naturally, the I Ching has the situation covered...

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gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

It all seems like hope to me. I understand trying to capitalize on the backlash, but if Obama is so clear with his words and intentions why the quadruple bank shots off the scoreboard, ref's head, pyramids in Egypt, etc.?

Essentially, you're formulation means that even if Obama tries to thwart liberal policies he is given credit for trying to pass liberal policies. That's an absurd formulation such that nothing he does is deserving of criticism.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

(And they don't even have to say "STFU while I explain it all to you" because it oozes out of every pore.)

And I barely know squat about any sports.

My "fantasy dialogue"/if-I-were-there conversation usually hinges on a deep desire to respond, "OMG! Is that a sports metaphor? Because I don't get it. Because I hate sports."

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

those of you who've been reading here awhile know the case of Mr. Schur isn't the first hypothermia death we've had in this country due to inability to meet the light bill. So far I haven't seen any of those deaths among young people. But while it may have taken four days for Mr. Schur to be discovered, likely it didn't take quite that long for the cold to kill him.