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June 29th, 2017

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Whack-A-Mole Obama

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Feb. 6, 2015

 Whack-A-Mole Obama

Presidential Whack-A-Mole. Last June President Obama spoke on what he thought the proper U.S. response should be regarding the rise of the radical Islamic terrorist group, ISIS. "This is going to be a global challenge and one that the United States is going to have to address but we're not going to be able to address it alone. And as I said yesterday, what we can't do is think that we're just going to play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up,"

He has used the Whack-A-Mole line several more times since then. If you don't know, Whack-A-Mole is an arcade game invented in 1975, there have also been Internet and mobile versions. A Whack-A-Mole machine consists of a large, waist-level cabinet with five holes in its top and a large, soft, black mallet. Each hole contains a single plastic mole and the machinery necessary to move it up and down.

Once the game starts, the moles begin to pop up from their holes at random. The object of the game is to literally whack the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player's score. The quicker this is done the higher the final score will be.

Obama uses "Whack-a-mole" colloquially, to denote the repetitious and futile task of trying to stop ISIS with force: each time they're "whacked" they pop up again somewhere else. No sense in hitting them each time they surface because they'll just pop up in another place. His message is that it is futile to fight them that way.

But in his rush to sound cool by using the contemporary reference, "Whack-A-Mole" Obama gets it completely wrong. You see, terrorists aren't waiting to be "whacked" before they pop up somewhere else; they just keep popping up regardless. A much better analogy would be to a cancer, which left unchecked will spread and metastasize throughout the body.

The real irony is, playing Whack-A-Mole is exactly what Obama is doing. He's just not very good at it; he does it too late and too little. He has no strategy, none. So he sits back and does nothing until several moles pop up. Then, because of public pressure, he reluctantly picks up a mallet and ever so softly hits one of the moles on the head. But not too hard, mind you, we don't want to make the mole mad at us. Then he puts the mallet down and claims to be doing everything possible to combat the threat. That's called leading from your behind.

Whack-A-Mole has been Obama's favorite game when it comes to domestic crises as well. Another name for it is knee-jerk reaction. Actually it's knee-jerk reaction combined with delay. Whenever a scandal or screw-up pops up in his administration, his strategy is to ignore and wait. Only when public opinion grows does he appear to be picking up the mallet to hit his mole.

He will step in front of a microphone and say something like, "I didn't know anything about this! I found out about this from reading the newspapers. But we'll get to the bottom of this." But he never does. He never actually hits the mole. After awhile the press moves on to other stories, the public forgets, and Obama skates. Or maybe golfs.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are playing Whack-A-Bama but instead of moles it's scandals. Count 'em: from the IRS targeting of conservatives, to the ATF Operation Fast and Furious, to all the Eric Holder obfuscations, to Benghazi, to Solyndra, to hacking of AP telephone records, to abuses by the EPA, HHS, and NSA, to the Veteran's Administration, to exchanging five high level terrorists for one US deserter, not to mention all of Obama's executive orders so as to work around the Constitution and Congress.

Every time one scandal pops up, another one or two pop up before Republicans can whack the first one down. Talk about repetitious and futile. Whack-A-Mole can be a lot of fun at an arcade. It can also be extremely frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as watching your president engaged in slow-mo Whack-A-Mole while he runs out the clock of his administration.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's also a Southern California-based freelance writer.

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