For nearly a decade, every day has been Opposite Day in America. For eight years, the White House and its surrogates on cable news and talk radio sold us every story, every scenario as the opposite of what it actually was.
Black was white. Night was day. Illegal was legal by virtue of lawyers and signing statements. Torture was not torture, only fraternity hazing rituals and blowing off steam. A country with no WMDs, no nuclear program and no ties to Al Queda was a savage behemoth and terrorist ally who had targeted us all for sudden annihilation. Conspicuous consumption was called sacrifice. Warrant-less surveillance was protecting our freedom. Exploitation of religious groups for political gain was known as a faith based initiative. Committing high treason by outing a CIA operative was regarded as patriotism. Turning a $237 billion budget surplus into a $1 trillion deficit was called fiscal conservatism. Slashing air pollution laws was called a Clear Skies Initiative. Outsourcing jobs overseas was good for American workers. A $3 trillion war cost only $50 billion. Seasoned experts in counter-terrorism, economics, ecology, war strategy and diplomacy were naïve morons to be ignored.
So you would think that with a new administration in power, Opposite Day would be in its twilight, right? If only. The Opposite President and his team may be gone, but the talking machine that bolstered him remains in business with strong ratings, and has vowed to hold vigil until his like is once again elected.
In the meantime, the GOP and their followers are wired into a nostalgia trip, reminding themselves what a great racket the old political tactics were; how much fun it was to operate in a state of permanent campaign (even though it cost them control over two branches of government), and they're determined to milk that teat for all it's worth. Suddenly a middle class tax cut is skewered as "taxation without representation." The encouragement of advanced education and public participation in government is called tyranny. An administration that advocates government transparency, accountability and heightened political discourse is labeled fascist. Strengthening the country's hand on foreign policy through courtesy, respect, common sense and serious wisdom is renamed rolling over and playing dead. A first lady with class and authenticity who works to inspire young women is called trash. A family descended from slaves who worked for years on behalf of the underprivileged are somehow slave drivers.
That's only after three months.
It could get even worse, given the right wing's broadcast advantage (another opposite: an entire news enterprise run by Republicans, with talking points echoed by all three major networks, is called liberal media bias). But so far, Obama and his cabinet have been very effective in countering the punches and seizing headlines. He's not afraid to give regular news conferences and can handle any question thrown at him. Plus, his command of the English language can yield words that stick in one's consciousness a lot longer than anything spewing forth from the 24-hour talking heads.
And that is the opposite of what we've had to endure for eight years. Happy Opposite Day, indeed!