I feel like Norman Fell.
T.V.’s Mr. Roper had a scene-stealer with Bob Newhart in the film adaptation of Catch-22. Fell’s Sgt. Towser takes such a mixed-up, impossible-to-believe direction from his superior officer played by Newhart that the scene, and Fell’s reaction, is a celluloid classic. My wife said I had pretty much the same look as I read the President’s comments that he “aspires to a light touch” with the economy. Okay, so the Fell analogy is a stretch, but the absolute absurdity of what we’re being asked to believe can’t go unremarked.
Gerald Seib’s interview with Obama in the Wall Street Journal is a must read for those who (like myself) can’t get enough of the hubris and chutzpah of the beltway crowd. The man who “aspires to a light touch” had just announced the most sweeping overhaul to our financial system in 80 years. He’ll give more power to the Federal Reserve, and (more shockingly) reverse individual state insurance regulation in favor of his proposed National Office of Insurance. Never mind regulation at the state level has been in place since the Civil War. He’s about to nationalize the health care sector (one-seventh of our economy), whatever he might claim about private vs. public options. He already runs the auto industry. And Rahm Emanuel, his charming chief of staff, is in the process of ginning a plan for energy, to be ready by summer’s end.
Catch-22 is now a familiar term in our pop culture lexicon, so much so that it’s found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “a measure or policy whose effect is the opposite of what was intended.” Be sure to remember this whenever the administration prattles on about its light touch.