Presidential Election 2012: Eddie Haskell versus Ward Cleaver

Leave It To Beaver is an iconic television show, complete with archetypal American characters.  Week after week, during its Eisenhower/Kennedy heyday, the show presented its American audience with the naifs (Beaver and Wally Cleaver) being enticed into dangerous or embarrassing situations, thanks to the machinations of Eddie Haskell.  Eddie was a skinny, duplicitous young man, adept at ingratiating himself with adults when called upon to do so, but basically dedicated to upsetting the placid social order prevailing amongst Beaverville’s young.  When anarchy threatened, Beaver and Wally always knew that their mother, June, would express worry and dispense kisses, while their father, Ward, acting in a lovingly magisterial way, would impart wisdom, impose appropriate consequences, and generally restore sanity.

Although the show ran for only six seasons (from 1957-1963), and pre-dated the upheavals of the 1960s, it is a show that resonated in the American psyche.  Generations of Americans have laughed with (and yes, sneered at) the tight little world of Beaverville, one that presented stable families; wise fathers; loving, stay-at-home mothers; and children grateful for the security that this traditional nuclear family provided.

Perhaps the scenario is a fairy tale, and never did reflect the majority of American families, but it’s a lovely fairy-tale, one that promises lasting security for the child who can escape the bad boy’s enticements and embrace the elders’ wisdom.  It presents an America as we wish it would be, although we will happily accept that the next-door neighbors in this healthy, stable community represent different races, colors, and creeds, and that there’s a conservative gay couple down the block, raising an adopted orphan from China, as well as the biological child of one of the gay partners.

Simply put, Leave It To Beaver transcends race, color, creed, and sexual orientation.  It is about a way of ordering the world, one that puts its trust in maturity.  Further, it is a world that makes manifest the benefits of that maturity by contrasting it with the instability, physical and psychological risks, and dishonesty that naturally results from putting ones faith in a youthful hustler.

The Presidential Election of 2012 is Beaverville played out in real life, on the national stage.  President Barack Obama is the skinny, duplicitous “Barry” Haskell, while Gov. Mitt Romney is the wise, affectionate “Mitt” Cleaver.  Here’s a little history of the two main characters in the Eddie versus Ward show that Barry and Mitt are playing out right now, on the national stage, before an American audience:

To begin with “Barry” Haskell lies.  His lying always follows the same pattern, whether he is (a) distancing himself from a troublesome priest; (b) supporting gay marriage (1996), which he did before opposing gay marriage (2004), which came before supporting gay marriage (2012); or (c) making diametrically opposite promises about Jerusalem, all within the space of a day or two.  Barry’s lies are rather spectacular, in that they are peculiarly attenuated.  Whenever he’s caught in a problematic situation (ah, those friends of his, whether individuals or special interest groups), rather than making a clean breast of it, or a good defense, he instead engages in a perfect storm of ever-spiraling affirmative defenses, with the common denominator always being that it’s everyone’s fault but his own.

For those who are not lawyers, let me explain what affirmative defenses are.  A complaint contains allegations that the defendant committed myriad acts of wrongdoing.  In response, the defendant does two things.  First, he denies everything except his own name, and he’d deny that too, if he could.  Next, he issues affirmative defenses, which concede the truth of the accusations, but deny that they have any legal or practical meaning.

As an example of how this plays out, imagine a complaint alleging that that the defendant smashed his car into the plaintiff’s fence, destroying it.  The defendant will begin with a simple denial:  Then he’ll begin an escalating series of affirmative defenses:  (1) “Okay, I did bring my car into contact with the fence, but I didn’t actually hurt the fence.”  (2) “Okay, I hurt the fence, but I didn’t hurt it badly enough to entitle its owner to any damages.”  (3) “Okay, I destroyed the fence, but it was falling down already, so it’s really the owner’s fault, so he gets no damages.”  And on and on, in a reductio ad absurdum stream of admissions and excuses.

These affirmative defense patterns have shown up with respect to some of Barry’s nastiest little pieces of personal history.  When Jeremiah Wright’s sermons first surfaced, Barry denied knowing anything about them.  When that denial failed, he claimed that he only had one or two exposures to this deranged level of hatred, so he didn’t make much of it.  When that denial failed, he conceded that he’d heard this stuff often over the years, but wasn’t concerned about it, because he knew his pastor was a good man.  (Which makes Barry either complicit in the statements or a fool.)  Indeed, he even made a much-heralded speech about what a good man his pastor is.  He then promised that he’d never abandon his beloved pastor.  But when his pastor became dead weight, Barry dropped him so hard you could hear the thud.

The Jeremiah Wright series of lies wasn’t an isolated instance.  Barry repeated this tactic when word got out about his connection with two self-admitted, unrepentant, America-hating terrorists.  (That would be William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, for anyone out of the loop here.)  When caught, Barry again engaged in a perfect storm of affirmative defenses.  (1)  I don’t know them.  [A lie.]  (2) Okay, I know them, but not well.  [A lie.]  (3)  Okay, I know them well, but we’re just good friends, not political fellow travelers.  [A lie.]  (4) Okay, we’re more than just good friends, because we served on a Leftist board and I sought political advice from him.  And on and on.  With every exposed lie, Barry first concedes that maybe he deviated from the exact truth, and then he comes forward with a new lie.

The same pattern emerges with Rezko, with Barry freely ranging from “I didn’t know him,” to “I never took favors from him,” to “I didn’t take big favors from him,” to “I took a big favor from him, but I didn’t know it was a big favor.”  It just goes ad nauseum, as if Barry is a machine, programmed to spew forth this endless flow of denial and concession.  Unlike Eddie, Barry doesn’t even need a team of scriptwriters to make these lies happen.  Barry is pathological in his inability to admit wrongdoing and his ability to prevaricate.

Just today, Barry repeated his pattern.  In 1996, when it was politically expedient to do so, he explicitly supported gay marriage.  In 2004, when Barry was making waves on the national scene, and it was no longer useful to support gay marriage, he suddenly repudiated it — with no reference to his prior position.

It’s worth noting, too, that Barry grounded his 2004 gay marriage stance in religious scripture.  Today, though, Barry has apparently decided to worship at a different church, one in which Jesus pretty much mandates gay marriage.  Dan Blatt, at The Gay Patriot, notes that scripture marches nicely along with Barry’s desperate need for campaign cash, some of which might come from a GLBT community that’s pleased that Barry’s finally came out of the closet on the subject.  The one thing that’s for certain is that Barry has outdone John Kerry, by adding a flip to that last flop.  Barry’s views aren’t e-volving, as he and his acolytes claim, they’re re-volving.

All of this is Barry’s Eddie Haskell hustle.  And he does it all with Eddie’s trademarked smarminess.  He knows that he’s pulling one over on the voters (they’re the Wally and Beav naifs in this national play), and he can’t resist a few winks to his complicit MSM audience.  They’re all in on the joke being played on the American innocents.

Eddie Haskell also had a nasty habit of vanishing when the pot he’d stirred started boiling over.  His character was the living embodiment of the old saying that, “when the going gets tough, the faux tough get going.”  Barry, too, can’t stay the course.  He walked out on Iraq, turning it into an Iranian satellite.  He’s assured the Taliban that they need not worry about America much longer.  He kicked out Mubarak, who was nominally America’s ally, and is now leaving the hapless and ignorant Egyptians to the Muslim Brotherhood’s tender mercies.  Having dabbled in war’s waters in Libya, he’s decided that the Syrian people are on their own.  Ten thousand or more have already died, while Barry dithers fecklessly.

Barry also shares Eddie’s behavioral dishonesty.  He can turn on the smarmy charm when needed (“he oiled his way across the floor, oozing charm from every pore”), but when the pressure is on, the hustler comes out.  Magisterial memorized or teleprompted speeches give way to nasty remarks about Hillary being “likeable enough,” about Sarah being a pitbull, about asses getting kicked in the Gulf States, about Americans who need to be shoved into the back seat of the nation’s figurative car, about stupid cops, etc.  Just as Eddie does, Barry reserves his charm for manipulating people.  He doesn’t like them; he uses them.

Also in keeping with his Eddie persona, Barry’s never held a serious job.  Eddie had the excuse of being a child in an imaginary, fairly affluent suburb.  Barry has no such excuse.  He’s “organized,” lectured, and voted present, but the presidency is Barry’s first real job.  Worse, he doesn’t seem to like the gig.  Despite his savage desire to win, Barry prefers to do anything but buckle down to his day-to-day responsibilities.  He wants the glory, not the sweat.

And of course, there’s the obvious physical likeness:  Barry and Eddie are both young, skinny, nervous, jittery guys.  Their physical presence does not inspire calm in the face of crisis.

Now, please turn your attention to “Mitt” Cleaver.  He’s the grown-up in the room.  Set aside the media-induced preconceptions about him being robotic, weird, and out-of-touch.  You need to understand that all adolescents strive to paint authority figures in precisely that light.  Doing so provides them with the justification they need to deny the adult the respect he (or she) deserves, and to ignore the wisdom that the adult has acquired over the years.  (“God!  My Dad is such a dork.”  “Daaad!  Don’t talk to my friends.  You’re embarrassing me!”  “God, Dad!  You don’t know anything.  How can you not recognize Justin Bieber?”)

Viewed objectively, Mitt is the essence of wise maturity.  Not only has he held down real jobs (Bain, the SLC Olympics, Governor of Massachusetts), in each case he’s excelled, benefiting not only himself, but thousands of other people.  Even if Progressives won’t admit it, and conservatives are embarrassed to admit it, capital management creates vast sums of money, not only for the money managers, but for the nation as a whole.  Money isn’t trapped in dusty government coffers or doled out selectively to special interest groups in exchange for votes.  It’s spread around.  As Dolly Levy understood, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”  Romney, Bain, and that whole crew were America’s farmers, spreading that money far and wide — while pull out the weeds that appeared in the guise of mismanaged or dead-on-their-feet corporations that were trapping useful wealth.

Romney is a thoughtful man.  His flip-flops lack that extra flip that Barry adds (e.g., Barry’s gay marriage flip-flop-flip).  Instead, they’re the thoughtful development of ideas based upon life experience.  Significantly, his changes move in one direction.

Mitt is a man of true faith, unlike Barry, who talks the talk when he needs to, but has never walked the walk.  You may not like Mitt’s faith, but he’s true to it.  Importantly, while its doctrine may be a bit peculiar to many Americans, the values it imparts to its followers are completely consistent with American values.  Moreover, Mitt’s doctrinal beliefs don’t shift abruptly with the political winds.  There’s something unstable, and downright megalomaniacal, about a man who bends Jesus to his will, rather than bending himself to Jesus’ teachings.  Mitt lacks that unnerving instability.

And here’s an important one, given that Americans consistently rank Mitt’s “likeability” factor significantly lower than Barry’s.  The “Barry likeability” thing is a media lie.  Aside from resenting the adult in the room, the media has to sell Barry’s likeability, because it’s about all he’s got, given a record that leaves thoughtful people shuddering.  Because Barry isn’t very likeable, the only way to raise Barry on that pedestal is to make sure that Mitt doesn’t get anywhere near it.

Mitt may not be the nicest man in the world — none of us know him well enough to make that call — but we do know that he’s invariably polite, that he’s capable of charm and wit, that he’s unbelievably decent (as his Bain employees will attest), and that he’s no more inarticulate than the next man (and he’s actually probably much more articulate than the next man).  Keep in mind that Barry is fluent only when he’s reading words off a page.  On his own, few match Barry for being completely tongue-tied (not to mention the little matter of being ignorant too, ’cause Barry has clearly studied just as hard as Eddie did).

The Eddie and Ward show culminates in November 2012.  That’s when Wally and Beav, the American naifs, have to make a choice.  They can continue down the “Barry” Haskell path, one that inevitably leads to lasting trouble, or they can follow the all-American Wally and the Beav, and turn to the wise parent, Papa Mitt, who is waiting in the wings to restore sanity to an increasingly insane and scary national situation.

 

Be Sociable, Share!
  • weathtd

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years and I think this is one of your better posts.   Too bad will can’t make this required reading before the election.
     

  • SJBill

    Bookie! OMG you are so right! Funny as h3ll!

  • Gringo

    What can I say, Book?  That was a masterpiece. 
     
    Additions to  Obama the Savant, as opposed to Dubya the Village Idiot:
     
    Profit and earnings ratio:
    “… what you’re now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it.
    Inflated claims about energy:
    But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!
    [Senator Boxer also had a whopper on that.]
    http://deanesmay.com/2008/08/04/inflated-claims/
    http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/7771/does-president-know-what-p-e-ratio-stands

  • Libby

    Well said! Obama is Eddie Haskell.

  • eli

    Captures the essence beautifully. Let’s hope the grown-ups outnumber the kids on election day. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Only six years book? That’s an eternity in Japan, where most anime shows end in a quarter of a year, one season, and presents a great story with characters that begin, mature, and end.

    The idea of “permanent immortality” seems to be an American or first world conceit.

  • Pingback: Bookworm Room » The Watcher’s Council has advice for Governor Romney()

  • bizcor

    It is a post like this that keeps me tuned into the Bookworm. I will be sending out the link.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    One of the weird things I keep noticing is how in Japanese mainstream literature and programming, especially for young adults, the focus is almost omnipresent on age=wisdom (in fact, the Japanese word ‘age’ literally means wisdom and it is pronounced the same). Asian cultures tend to be very much based on seniority. This has often led to various rebellions and problems between the leadership and the youthful brigades, but the recognition that someone that old couldn’t have survived in his position that long without real power/ability was a reality, common sense assumption in those parts of the world. And the same was true in America… until the Left started changing things.

     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Unfortunately I believe the LEft has put America on a no turning back spiral of doom. We are past the point of no return. As was true in the days of the Western Roman Empire, even the competent Emperors could not undue decades of corruption, mismanagement, and wasteful expenditure of taxes from the treasury. Their attempt to do so even caused them to be assassinated or dethroned by internal political agents.

     

  • MrClyde

    I have been reading your blog for several months and it has become one of my favorites. I find you to be logical, insightful, and your thought compelling, while often looking at subjects and events in an original fashion as you have done in this post. All this while being a busy Mom and caregiver to your mother. 

    Thanks, God bless, and keep up the good work. 

  • Mike Devx

    I’ve been busy, and finally got to see your post, Book.  I REALLY like this one.  I think it’s wonderful.

    And I agree with Ymar’s #10.  We’re past the point of no return.  I wish I saw reason for long-term optimism, but I don’t.  Politically, I see no way out.  Too many people are refusing to take a principled position.  All they vote on is, “throw the current bums out”.  They can’t figure out WHY, they just do it.  Replace em!  And hope the next set of bums somehow make us all more comfortable and solve our problems for us.  How child-like.

    But the next set of bums won’t solve it either.  When all you demand is a new set of bums, what you get is… a new set of bums.

    /I really do think that’s what’s going on in Europe right now.  They’re in deep shit, and they’re just throwing the current bums out.  But Hollande?  Give me a break.  And Greece, guaranteeing with this vote that they will be exiting the EU… did they really think about this?  There’s some anti-austerity, sure, but it’s superficial, I think.  What I see is, “the current idiots didn’t solve the problem, so let’s try someone NEW.”   Hope and Change!  Change and Hope!

    We (the American People) I’ve decided are doing the same thing.  Throw the current bums out.  Give the next set of bums a try.  Failure ensues again.  God, I wish I could be more optimistic.

     

  • Mike Devx

    Check out the two videos at the bottom of this Ace Of Spades post.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/329123.php

    The first is by the Romney campaign.  The second is longer and is pure delightful red meat.

    But examine the focus of the Romney ad.  I remain pleased with how the Romney campaign is beginning their attack.
     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    An example might be worth the effort.

    In one excellently written Japanese story, the main character wakes up and finds his house is in a war zone, amidst ruins and gigantic human shaped robots. Having originally come from a peaceful Japan, his only way of dealing with this is by treating it as a dream where he is the main character. So he goes out and takes a tour, marveling at the realism of the dream, until his walk takes him to his school. Which now has a radar dish, military checkpoints where the gate was, and all kinds of things that to him, look patently ridiculous. So he starts laughing and then decides to just walk through the checkpoint like he owns the world, which would be true if it was his dream.

    However, it’s not a dream, and he gets put into the ground, restrained, and arrested for not being able to show military ID. Then he gets put into the military base’s stockade. Right about now most teenagers would start to go into a nervous breakdown as they try to deny reality. What prevents him from doing so is the interrogation commanded by his physics teacher. His old world physics’ teacher was an interesting rogue type of loose gun. The same person in the world he resides in, is the female executive officer of the entire base and is in charge of the primary (classified) research being conducted on the base, given international authority because she is also in charge of a special project funded by the entire allied nations of the world (or what’s left of it). It is her explanation and guiding of the main character that prevents him from going into a fetal ball of reality rejection, gives him a short term purpose by slotting him into the recruitment cadet battalions for combat pilots on base, and so on.

    In the course of the entire story, she often calls him out to her office, past security clearances provided to him unofficially, so that she can ask him questions and keep him useful to her and relatively sane to him. And that’s only the “beginning” of her role in the story.

    That’s how an “adult” should behave, but when you look at how Hollywood and tv/cable presents adults here in America… you might realize that there’s a sharp delineation.

     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    And the reason why people think simply electing some politician is going to change their problems is because they don’t realize the magnitude or seriousness this country is in. So like kids, Americans have been reduced to begging the sugar daddy of the federal government to “fix” their problems. They think changing political parties or politicians is going to change things? Is that going to change how Hollywood presents adults to the youngest of Americans? If not, then where is real positive progress coming to come from? Americans have long since lost wars because they focused on short term tactical goals and ignored long term strategic considerations.

  • Pingback: Watcher of Weasels » Watcher’s Council Nominations – The Election Cometh Edition()

  • Pingback: Watcher’s Council Nominations – The Election Cometh Edition | Virginia Right!()

  • Pingback: This Week’s Watcher’s Council Nominations | therightplanet.com()

  • Pingback: Watcher’s Council « Crime Victims Media Report()

  • Pingback: Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog()

  • Pingback: GayPatriot » Watcher of Weasels Nominations — mid-May Edition()

  • Pingback: The Colossus of Rhodey()

  • Kris

    I always appreciate your many writing abilities, particularly at analogy, Bookworm. There is however, one thing you did forget in your analysis…Eddie Haskell was a very terrified human being, very afraid of any authority that might find him out. I recently saw an episode where Eddie moved into a boarding house where he told all of his school chums how great it was to live the single bachelor life, what a great time he was having…how the girls were swooning over him and he was partying every night. Eddie was of course, lying, he had somehow managed to fool his parents who for some reason let him move away at a weak moment and they were extremely worried about him, but didn’t want him to think they didn’t trust him. It was a particularly telling moment to see this boy attempt to hide what was really happening and how lonely he was. His landlady was nice enough to see what was occurring and while trying to help him, managed to tell Wally and Beaver what was really transpiring while he continued to lie to his friends. Eddie always struck me as this sort of human being; one who really never grew up, but couldn’t bring himself to have a really close friend with whom he was honest; I’d say Wally Cleaver was his closest friend because he was the only one who tried in his own way to help Eddie’s flawed character. Sad, really that you should find yourself comparing the Bamster with Eddie Haskell..I always felt sorry for him (Eddie)..I certainly hope Americans don’t feel sorry in the same way for Barack Obama come November..that would really be tragic…

  • Pingback: News: CIA Weakened Under Obama, Leaks Very Damaging | Pitts Report()

  • Pingback: Bookworm Room » The Watcher’s Council turns its collective eye to the upcoming election()

  • Pingback: Watcher of Weasels » The council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watchers Council Results()

  • Pingback: This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results | therightplanet.com()

  • Pingback: The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watchers Council Results | Independent Sentinel()

  • Pingback: And the Winner Is. . . |()

  • Pingback: The Colossus of Rhodey()

  • Pingback: GayPatriot » Watcher of Weasels — Weekly Winners (mid-May edition)()

  • Pingback: Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog()

  • Pingback: The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watchers Council Results | askmarion()

  • Pingback: Rhymes With Right()

  • Pingback: The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results | Sago()

  • Pingback: The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watchers Council Results for 3-18-2012 | Virginia Right!()

  • Pingback: Bookworm Room » Mitt versus Obama, or Ward Cleaver versus Eddie Haskell()