Poe’s Law in effect:
As President Obama enters the uninhibited twilight of his presidency, some of what we are witnessing from him is shocking yet informative. In the past week, Obama’s words and actions have revealed the thought process behind how policy decisions are made in his administration. Some of these recent incidents demand urgent responses from our Republican leaders, who are obligated to oppose the president when he crosses the line. But also, Republicans need to do what they can to pull Hillary Clinton into the fray. She has been getting a pass while Obama lurches to the left and Republicans generate distracting headlines.
Conservative lobbyist Ed Rogers opens with a curious paragraph, the sort of … something, I can’t exactly say what … that at the very least suggests what follows will not be the standard pabulum punditry.
And yet, it is, or, rather, both is and isn’t. It is, in fact, Poe’s Law―the proposition that in written discourse it can become impossible to distinguish between genuine extremism and a parody thereof―in effect.
First, the president’s comments Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast were jaw-dropping. He said, “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” Why would the president tell the Islamic State, a terrorist group, that he is keeping its actions in perspective? This is an incredible and alarming statement; Republicans need to voice their strong objections and force Democrats to state whether or not they agree with the president. And as the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Clinton should also let us know where she stands. Does she think today’s actions and sentiments toward the Islamic State should be shaped by the Muslim-Christian battles of more than 900 years ago? Does she also want us to keep those battles in mind, get off our high horse and temper our objections to the Islamic State?
The first thing to note is the weird contextual shift; the second is the odd presentation. As Steve Benen noted of other conservative rhetoric on the issue:
Neither Fleming nor Bolling were kidding. This wasn’t satire intended to make conservatives look foolish; the recordings of both of men make clear they were entirely sincere.
There is a relevant point even in addition to the Poe context.