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Mojo Myth

by James Lileks

The president attended church in Hawaii, but he went the day after Christmas, so as not to distract from the other guy’s limelight. Decent of him; the babe only gets one day a year. He had much to be grateful for, since the month of December had seen the Miracle of the Reinvested Mojo. Gone was the battered, diminished wisp of a president who ceded his podium to the husky bloviations of Clinton the First; now he was back, baby, with a tripartite victory under his belt. Let’s recap:

Stunning Victory No. 1: He’d gotten the tax deal he never wanted and had long complained about with the prickly tone of a food critic forced to admit that the foie gras–stuffed veal is delicious though sodden with cruelty. He even admitted that raising taxes in a recession would be unwise, which was nice. It’s a bit like a medieval bloodletter admitting that the patient should occasionally take a break from being covered with leeches, if only to produce a fresh supply of humours and phlogiston, but any sort of recognition of something called “economics” is welcome, regardless of the necessity that produced it.

Victory No. 2: “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a hateful creation of homophobic generals who used black-ops mind-control technology to force the Congress and President Clinton to do their bidding, was revoked and replaced with “Who cares, whatever?” This was also proof of mojo reacquisition. Congress, terrified of a mainstream-media culture that bristled with constant hostility to gay issues, had refused to consider the matter and quailed in the face of a president who’d just gotten a tax deal he hated. He’s almost drunk with power, lads — if we don’t give him this, he might sign an executive order requiring high-speed trains from Chicago to Hawaii.

This issue matters a great deal to coastal opinion leaders and people who have a horror of being thought of as Mean, but most people don’t care much. They figure there are already gays in the military, and if the prospect of furtive glances in the shower hasn’t demolished Israel’s capacity to defend itself, the United States can probably get through this. Even in Middle America, people know gay folk, and if one of them said, “You know, I’m going to Afghanistan to put rifle rounds through the brainpans of Taliban girl-whippers,” most people would say get ’er done. The president could have done this earlier, of course, but as he said recently, his views on gay issues are “evolving,” meaning, an election is nigh.

Victory No. 3: The New START treaty. He was assisted by defective Republicans — sorry, defecting Republicans, who belong to a long line of GOPers who have the jellied spines of frock-coated diplomats. Yes, by all means, trust Russia. The proof is in the Putin, as they say. It’s easy to see why Democrats vote for these treaties; they hate weapons. If the United States came up with a weapon that would destroy everyone else’s weapons and shower the planet with daisy petals and gummi bears, they’d oppose it. The Republicans who signed on come from liberal states that believe that the alternative to an arms-control treaty is a blackened planet trailing a caul of ash as it moves through space. Newspaper editorialists in your home town frown in disapproval. Vote for New START and you’re one of those rare cretins from the right who “grow in office,” and with luck maybe you can stand erect someday and carve a tool out of bone. Not a weapon. Maybe a napkin ring.


So how will Mr. Mojo spend his juice?

February 2011. TASP, or Totally Awesome Single Payer overhaul, passes the House on a 435–0 vote. “There’s no way our incoming freshman class could say no to the ultimate apotheosis of national health care,” a veteran congressman will note with rue. “Given the loud red throbbing amount of mojo coming from 1600 Penn, it was all we could do to keep the Tea Party congressmen from demanding death panels. Hell, they even wanted to call them Grandma-Smother Murder Boards.”

State Pension Bailout Act of 2011. This act, which might have raised eyebrows in the pre-mojo era, incorporates the DREAM act and extends full California-level retirement benefits to everyone living north of the southernmost point of the outer ring of the suburbs of Mexico City. “We thought the 2010 elections constituted a message about spending and the concept of citizenship,” Tom Tancredo will say, “but it’s clear that anyone who can accept a continuation of the tax code and a repudiation of his party’s stance on immigration was playing rope-a-dope. The Republican caucus was prepared to extend lifetime health benefits to anyone on the left side of the Panama Canal, but the administration played hardball on that one.”

Environmental regs will set the maximum amount of carbon anyone can use, possess, or give off, and appoint as neighborhood enforcers all those relatives who lecture you about global warming. It will be called “cap-and-tirade.”

That’s just the few first months. If there’s mojo left over, the administration may work on its goal of a carbon-neutral navy, with all ships converted to renewable, sustainable power sources. Specifically, wind. The first lady will be pushing for row power, as well. Good exercise.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

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