Callaghan: Answer Man says: Ignore Russian guy behind curtain

By Peter Callaghan, Columbian Syndicated Columnist

Published:

 
photoPeter Callaghan covers the state Legislature for The News Tribune in Tacoma. Blog: thenewstribune.com/politics; or Twitter: @CallaghanPeter. Reach him at peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com.

What are we all to make of the complex international and national events that are filling cable TV news, at least until the next Zimmerman trial? At times when complex questions abound, simplistic answers from The Answer Man are more needed than ever.

Q: Thanks for taking my questions. First, can we talk about Syria?

A: No. Now that President Barack Obama has agreed to consider believing that the Russians actually believe that the Syrians are really willing to fork over their chemical weapons, we don't have to think about Syria anymore.

Q: Do you really believe that?

A: I choose to, yes. As an American, I have a right to ignore places that aren't American. Besides, we have more important issues to discuss right here at home.

Q: So you think it's a good thing that Congress now has more time to debate yet another government shutdown, yet another attempt at immigration reform, and yet another move to defund Obamacare?

A: Now that you put it that way, let's talk about Syria.

Q: I can't believe that the president and Secretary of State John Kerry stumbled into what might be a way out of that crisis.

A: Stumbled? Maybe that's just what they want you to think.

Q: No, I watched it on TV. Kerry inadvertently tossed out the idea of Syria giving up its chemical weapons and then tried to take it back. Then the State Department dismissed the idea.

A: Right, and then what?

Q: And then Russia surprised everyone by saying it just might work and they'd try to convince Syria to accept the idea.

A: And Syria did, quite quickly, in fact. Correct?

Q: Exactly. The pundits called it the gaffe that saved the world from another war.

A: And it all happened so quickly, as if anything in international diplomacy happens quickly. Everything fell into place, almost like it has been planned ahead of time -- even rehearsed.

Q: You mean …

A: Yes, Putin! It has the fingerprints of spymaster Vladimir Putin all over it. Let's say he sidles up to Obama and whispers that if the U.S. suggests -- but doesn't demand -- that Syria give up its chemical weapons, he will have Syria lined up to accept.

Q: What's in it for Obama?

A: Not losing a crucial foreign policy vote in Congress, not risking U.S. forces in yet another war, not having to use that ridiculous "boots on the ground" cliché anymore. And all he has to do is tell Kerry to look like a bumbler, a role he took to pretty well, don't you think?

Q: Wait. You know this happened or you think it happened?

A: Think. Know. What's the difference. Don't you watch Fox News?

Q: CNBC. I like their facts better. But don't you think you've been reading too many John le Carré spy novels? Maybe you should see a psychiatrist.

A: Perhaps, but not until next month when I can buy some health insurance on the state's new exchange.

Q: Won't Congress have defunded Obamacare by then?

A: Probably not. Republicans in Congress will be too busy beating the crap out of each other to get organized enough for such an act. And the adults in Congress doubt another government shutdown threat will poll very well.

Q: They have adults? But now it seems the left is starting to dislike Obamacare too, especially the unions. Could this be the start of a big movement?

A: I'm not sure there will be merger anytime soon of the AFL-CIO and the Tea Party.

Q: I saw poll results showing that 40 percent of Americans think Obamacare has already been repealed or overturned by the courts. Why are so many people so uninformed?

A: Maybe they are just differently informed. In fairness, though, it is hard to explain it all in 140 characters. Or maybe they're waiting for the extensive coverage on their No. 1 news source, BuzzFeed: "10 Things You Know About Obamacare That Aren't True."

Q: Yeah, they should instead rely on phony question-and-answer columns.

A: I do what I can.