Several days ago I noted that the Washington Post’s leading conservative windbag in residence, “Big Charlie the K” Krauthammer, was actually channeling a classic old vaudeville routine in his arguments against Obama and the Dems. In that previous case, his indignant argument was actually a variant of the old joke about the man who kills his mother and father and then asks the judge for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.
Well, guess what? Big Charlie is back at it again today and this time his comedy routine is drawn from a famous moment in the 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” In that film two comically inept train robbers, played with self-mocking, “twinkle in the eye” charm by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, execute a series of increasingly large train robberies, fueled with a cheerfully goofy self-confidence that — gosh darn it all – a couple of amiable rogues like them really aren’t doing anything all that wrong.
Their robberies eventually attract a massive troop of highly professional, relentless trackers and lawmen who pursue them through the entire middle third of the movie. At one point Redford comments on the extraordinary investment that the railroad company must be making to track them down and Newman, with comic exasperation exclaims “Hell, if the railroad would just give me all the money they are spending to stop me from robbing them, I’d stop robbing them.” By this point in the film, when our sympathies have been entirely enlisted on side of the charismatic outlaws, this suggestion actually seems to have a wacky comic logic.
Krauthammer’s variation on this classic joke is the argument that if nasty old Obama would just give the GOP all the concessions they are trying to extort by shutting down the government, well by gosh, they wouldn’t shut down the government. So, the shutdown is really all Obama’s fault because he’s so damn “intransigent.”
Here’s Charlie putting on a silly looking cowboy hat and doing a Butch Cassidy imitation:
…there has been remarkable media reticence about the president’s intransigence. He has refused to negotiate anything unless the Republicans fully fund the government and raise the debt ceiling — unconditionally.
It’s outrageous. Obama actually expects the GOP to allow the government to operate normally – to run the country and pay the nation’s debts – without giving the GOP a laundry list of its demands in return. In his own mind, Krauthammer is turning to Robert Redford and saying “you know, Sundance, if they would just give us the concessions we are trying to extort by shutting down the government, we’d stop shutting down the government.”
Well, sorry, Charlie boy, but while a classic Hollywood star like Paul Newman can take a punch line like that and make it sound charming and funny, when you do it, it comes off more like a bad imitation of Tony Soprano.