Bob Franken

Politics’ Law of Gravity

Copyright Hearst-New York Times News Service
July 21, 2010

As everybody knows, the next election campaign begins the day after results are in from the last one. In fact it probably doesn’t wait till morning.

Those of us who study the science of politics understand that there is an immutable Law of Gravity at work: What goes up must come down.

Just watch President Obama and his party’s backup singers in Congress. While the Republican chorus has been belting out the same melody from the git-go, a song with one word “NO!!!” the Democrats usually sound like they were matched up by E DIS-Harmony.

This Washington netherworld also is controlled by another principle, the D4 rule, as in Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t (DODO). Which explains why, when Mr. Smith comes to Washington these days, or Ms. Jones, or Mr. Obama, whatever he or she does causes his or her popularity to drop. (See the Law of Gravity.)

When Obama and his White House entourage keep his bold promises like health care reform or a financial crackdown, he is vilified by those on the other side who insist he is leading us all down the road to godless communism. At the same time, his so-called allies are complaining that the reforms are empty.

And when Obama holds back on something like, say, closing down the Guantanamo Bay Devil’s Island, he is battered on the left as a wimp and hammered on the right as a softy by all those in NIMBYland, as in: Not In My Back Yard.

TV is always at the ready to give credence to just about any issue, no matter how outlandish. There they are, the Usual Suspects on the right and the left are screaming and interrupting each other. It’s what we call “debate.”

Whatever the mindlessness, there are plenty of shouters to go around, ready to argue that Obama is a commie, a racist or a space alien. That, of course, will create new controversy when someone complains that space aliens are being maligned. Meanwhile, the polls go down and down.

Let’s face it: The Obama presidency is the campaign issue this time around, even though he’s not running. In fact, his spokesman Robert Gibbs suggests the president is already trying to wash his hands of blame for an inevitable defeat in November.

At stake is control of Congress. Even though losing it would be a political disaster for the administration, many Democratic members of the House and Senate believe they have been cast off to fend for themselves.

The smart ones are planning accordingly and are preparing the ads that will saturate the airways and local access cable this fall. It’ll be tougher than usual to get broadcast or even narrowcast time this year, what with all those BP spots.

Their best hope might be to sneak in a few look-alikes. Maybe they can even include a campaign promise to “Make Things Right”, particularly if they’re the Tea Party choice.

Meanwhile, folks who immerse in the election cycle will be rubbing their hands in eager anticipation of the next election cycle, the one that begins on Wednesday, Nov. 3 and that culminates in the 2012 presidential election.

It’s the way it always goes, because the process is also governed by the rule of Same Old Same Old, otherwise know as SOSO. Sad to say, the election cycle is more REcycle as November 2010 slips seamlessly into 2012.

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