Obama is not a “lame duck” President

This post was inspired by a comment on the State of the Union post at The Standard, but it’s something I’ve been annoyed by for a while: the current framing of Barack Obama as a “lame duck” President.

It’s not just the cringey outmoded language, it’s the blatant spin involved – just another attempt by the Republican Party and their stooges to paint the duly-elected President of their United States as illegitimate and his decisions as optional parts of the law.

Like I said over there (why retype perfection?):

I really hate this usage of “lame duck”. Traditionally, especially in US politics, a “lame duck” President is one whose successor has already been elected, i.e. in the period between an election and the subsequent inauguration. The whole point of the idea is that it’s seen as inappropriate to be using Presidential powers when you’re quite literally *done* and shouldn’t force policy on the new representative of the people.

Of course the US Republicans are desperately trying to extend the meaning to imply that Obama’s administration is illegitimate (just like they have since the day he won the nomination) but FFS, the next election is in November 2016.

Unfortunately it happens all the time in NZ politics too, especially if you’re talking to a leftwinger who really likes to emphasise that Helen Clark was our first elected woman Prime Minister. Sorry, lefties, but it’s a bad argument and it just makes us look insecure. Jenny Shipley got there first. There’s a great story to tell in that a rightwing politician became our first woman PM by virtue of knifing her leader in the back in the time-honoured masculine power-grabbing traditions of capitalist power structures and the New Zealand National Party, but we’re not winning any hearts and minds by pretending she didn’t exist.

Also if we could stop importing terrible American political jargon (looking at you, Beltwaygate) that would be choice.

(And like Megan Garber, I endorse the sweary internet-age alternative to “lame duck”: “zero fucks”.)