'Always the opposite of Obama' is tricky platform
If Barack Obama had been the Democratic president who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," Republicans would call it capitulation.
"Obama surrenders to America's enemies!" Commentators on Fox News would opine it's actually an Islamic saying he picked up in a madrassa in Indonesia. "The prophet Mohammed talked about fear, it speaks to his Muslim leanings." Fox and Friends would lead the next morning with the question, "Did Obama include a part of the Koran in his speech last night?"
"Karl Marx's whole campaign was to eliminate -- completely obliterate fear! Now we have a president following in his footsteps!" Rush Limbaugh would bellow. All his doppelgangers and dittoheads would repeat it on every corner of the Internet and talk radio: "Fearless is Marxist!"
Those more moderate would just call him out of touch. "Obama doesn't understand how Americans feel: they're fearful of Obamacare!"
Mitt Romney would go on five networks to announce he's always been a big fan of fear. "In America, the fear is the right height," he'd declare. "Saying we have nothing to fear is foreign-sounding to a lot of Americans." Days later, video of Romney telling a crowd not to be afraid would come to light. His campaign would counter with another weather balloon about his VP pick. "Paul Ryan? How about Ginny Thomas?" would be the entire body of an email to Romney supporters.
Internet message boards would speculate there's an Obama plot to criminalize negative emotions ... tied to fluoride in the water, of course. "Mr. President, what are you trying to hide?"
Congressman Darrell Issa would launch an investigation into this alleged plot outlined on these said message boards. Sideshow Michele Bachmann would mutter about how fear is profoundly Christian and Obama with his contempt of fear has shown his contempt for Jesus ... and of course Israel. "Obama wants to destroy Israel!" Allen West would say it's a form of slavery. John Boehner, wiping back tears, would proclaim, "Fear is a job creator -- Mr. President, why do you want to punish success?"
Suddenly fear would be a constitutional right. "Barack Hussein Obama is trying to take away our God-given right to be afraid!" "We have nothing to fear? I fear our right to fear will be stripped away if Obama gets a second term."
Yes, the party that bravely came out against empathy (a trait lacking in all sociopaths), when Obama admired it in Sonia Sotomayor, would come out in favor of fear. It would become their signature issue. AstroTurf busses would drop grassroots activists on the capitol lawn for the Million Phobics March. It would mainly consist of security personnel (pro-fear remember) and Sarah Palin proclaiming, "Unlike Barack Obama -- we're God-fearing Americans!"
SuperPAC-funded T-shirts handed out at the rally would read, "I'm God-fearing not Mohammed-quoting!"
Inevitably there would be Democrats being forced to defend denouncing fear. "Look, I think we can all agree fear is not helpful to Americans. No no, the president doesn't want to see it criminalized. He just said, however inartfully, we don't need it." That would be dubbed a gaffe by the 24-hour news cycle. Right-wing commentators would gasp, "The administration all but admitted to their ambition of outlawing fear. 'We don't need it!?' This is about freedom and governmental overreach!"
Nancy Pelosi would be asked to weigh in on the controversy. She'd say, "This is not a debate about who's for fear and who's against fear -- this is about a struggling middle class." The video clip would end up actually setting up several debate segments on cable news shows about who's for fear and who's against.
To sum up: You have the right to be afraid! The Democrats want to take away that right! That is the choice this November!
Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.