Idle threats

I never really liked Richard Nixon. I didn’t loathe him, but it was relatively obvious he was in over his head, lacking in maturity and social skills. I see the same lack of qualities in our current president.

I’ve been comparing the two men quite a bit lately. They are remarkably similar in many ways.

There are some differences. Nixon won his first term by a margin just a little wider than John F Kennedy had beaten him by (Nixon ’68 ~ 0.70, Kennedy ’60 ~ 0.17%), then in the midst of the Watergate scandal he won his second election by a landslide (23.15%). Obama’s first term was his stronger showing (7.27%), that margin was cut in half by his second term (3.86%).

Approval ratings are another measure, both men hit spectacular highs, Nixon hitting 67% twice, Obama making it to 69%. Nixon dropped to 24% while Obama has only dropped to 38%, but the telling statistic is the point at which the approval rating and the disapproval rating cross. This is not a zero sum equation, many respondents fall into the “no opinion” category.  Nixon’s numbers crossed in May of ’73, over a year before he resigned, just six months after his landslide win. Obama’s numbers met in February 2010, just over a year after his first election, and danced with each other for almost three years, until June of 2013, since which time his disapproval rating has remained higher than his approval rating.

Both men had unpopular overseas wars in which they took unpopular tactics. Nixon with the bombing of Cambodia, Obama with the bombing of American citizens wherever they might be.

Both men were bullies, Nixon’s “enemy list” was a shock to a naive nation, Obama didn’t quite learn the “plausible” part of “plausible deniability”, with several political adversaries targeted by government agencies.

What brought all this to mind today was a song on the radio. “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the story of the Kent State shootings of 1970, in which young people protesting the war were shot by members of the National Guard. I thought about the young men of the National Guard, many of whom were probably doing their best to avoid going to Vietnam, firing on students protesting the war in Vietnam. I thought about reports that Obama has been purging the military, seeking commanders that would be willing to fire on American citizens.

I think about the reports from Kiev, where an anti government protest is slowly unfolding in precisely the same pattern they did in Cairo, and how Obama has just played the same recording he played with Syria, idle threats that he can’t fulfill about “consequences”. Russia “helped” in Syria, giving Obama a way to back down from his rhetoric, Russia is a player in the situation in Kiev.

When Obama says “there will be consequences if people step over the line, and that includes making sure the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians”, which civilians is he speaking of? A man who has ordered the murder of civilians himself and funded militants at the cost of American lives hasn’t bothered to make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians previously. Why now?

None of this appears to be heading in a healthy direction. Nixon was a megalomaniac but when overwhelmed by failure he resigned, despite his positive accomplishments. Obama lacks the grace of Nixon (I can’t believe I can say that about anyone). As unrest grows in this country, it seems reasonable to expect the “occupy” movement to find itself in increasingly violent situations. There have already been attempts to hide violence against American protestors, the next move will be to label them as a terrorist group.

We are not in a position to feel secure in the inherent good will of our tin soldiers, we have in fact been given notice to expect violence on our own soil. Our administration has attempted to distance itself from its activities, IRS attacks on conservative groups were brushed off as being without authorization, as have a great deal of the NSA’s interceptions of American conversations. Will an “unauthorized” drone strike be next?

The National Guard was ordered to Kent State to scare the protestors. They were supposed to be an idle threat. The story at Kent State was the shootings were unauthorized.

Idle threats can be pushed into reality.




This entry was posted in Opinion.

2 comments on “Idle threats

  1. mike r says:

    Well said. With the same reckless abandon that it is playing with debt, the US government is dabbling in precisely the sort of situation that led to WWI. The Ukrainian squabble is no place for nuclear-armed powers to be playing chicken. What is to be gained by deposing a legally-elected president in Ukraine? Add this to the powder keg floating in the oceans between China and Japan and the future is even more uncertain. Empires never go quietly.


    • kblakecash says:

      I was desperately trying to not sound as paranoid as this situation makes me feel.

      “Dabbling” is a perfect word, they’ve made it clear they don’t know what they’re doing, and nothing is going to stop them from continuing.


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