The Game They Are Playing
December 28, 2012
Here is a column by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post [linked below] in which he quotes Casey Stengel, then the manager of the 1962 “Amazin’ Mets”, asking “Can’t anybody here play this game?” And then Cohen asserts: “That very question can now be asked about Washington.”
My response is as follows: Yes, Mr. Cohen, those politicians in D.C. can play the game. Only it is crucial to understand what game they are playing and it is not the one you think they are playing.
When will it strike Cohen, and many others, that what seems to be incompetence is simply strategy. Or you could even say that the appearance of incompetence serves the interests of those alleged “incompetents,” here Boehner and Obama. It is really not very complicated. Say you want to achieve certain things in dealing with our economy, an economy that is anything but healthy making the preservation of the status quo difficult to defend publically, what better way to go about it then making it seem that those things are the only acceptable alternatives for those holding power in D.C.? Say at the same time, you are faced with considerable popular anger, anger that has led to the election of people who threaten your power. Now, suppose there was a way to accomplish both objectives at once: To preserve an economic situation that benefits you and those who underwrite you and to preserve your political power by making those who rode the popular anger into office appear to be “extremists.” That is, suppose you had a way to avoid economic reforms that would mean huge changes, changes you and your cohorts don’t want, and were endorsed by people who wanted to displace you politically. Would you take such steps, even though it meant you would be labeled “incompetent?” You bet you would. Or as my parents use to say about someone who acted a bit odd: “She’s laughing…….all the way to the bank.”
Yes, Richard Cohen, those in D.C. can play “this game.” Only you have to know what game it is they are playing.