OK

For movie buffs who spend a lot of time focused on political thrillers, the quote in this diary's title might ring a bell.  

For political buffs who spend a lot time thinking about why the President included chained CPI in his budget, the above quote - from a movie - might be the "11th dimensional chess" that all of us wanted the President to play, but are afraid he eschewed in offering what amounts to a cut to Social Security.  

How do these two relate?  It's a long journey to get there, but I hope you'll follow me along.

The quote is from The Hunt for Red October, a political thriller set in the waning days of the Cold War in which Soviet Ballistic Missile Submarine Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) attempts to defect with his fellow officers to the United States, in the process handing over a cutting-edge technology.  The problem is, the Americans think Ramius is coming to the US seaboard to launch a nuclear war; and the Soviets are attempting to stop Ramius from defecting.  

Ramius and his officers are - in a sense - caught between two groups of vastly differing ideologies who both desperately want to stop them.

But, there is one American - a CIA Analyst - who guesses correctly that Ramius is actually trying to defect: Jack Ryan (Alex Baldwin).  

The quote from the title of this diary occurs in the third act of the film, by which point Jack Ryan has convinced an American submarine captain (Capt. Mancuso) and the head of the CIA to at least give him a chance to contact Ramius in order to find out if the Soviet Captain actually wishes to defect.  In so doing, Ryan - who is not a naval officer - ends up with Mancuso on the Soviet ballistic submarine with Ramius, just as a Soviet attack submarine has caught-up with Ramius.  

In that moment, the Soviet attack submarine fires a torpedo on Ramius' ballistic missile submarine, sparking the following scene.  

Jump below the tilda to find out more.

(The following is taken from the original script.)

Ramius tosses Ryan behind the helm.  

Ramius: You sit here!

Ryan: But, I can't ...

Ramius: Do exactly as I tell you.

Stunned, Ryan grabs the help.  ... Speakers crackle. ...

Jones (VO): Torpedo in the water.  High speed screws.  Bearing zero-two-zero.  I estimate range at eight thousand yards.

Ramius (to Ryan): Turn the helm to the left.  Steer course zero-two-zero.

Mancuso (to Ramius): Wait a minute!  That's heading INTO the torpedo.  You should turn away from it.

Ramius (to Ryan): Turn that helm to the left until the dial says course zero-two-zero.

Mancuso: No!  That's wrong.  Ryan, DON'T turn that goddam wheel!

Ryan stares at Mancuso then at Ramius.  Deciding, he turns the helm left, coming to course zero-two-zero.

Mancuso: You're heading straight into that torpedo.

Ramius: I know.

...

(For several moments, Ramius and Ryan converse about the books Ryan has written while the torpedo bears down all too quickly on the submarine.  Everyone else is saying their prayers.)
The torpedo arrives at The Red October.  IT HITS the sub, but it does not explode.  Instead, it breaks-up on the hall without a detonation.  

The Control Room ROCKS.  Sound of the Torpedo hitting the submarine and then BREAKING UP.  Metal scrapes.  

Realizing what's going on:

Mancuso: I'll be damned.

Ryan: What happened?

Mancuso: Combat tactics, Mr. Ryan.  By turning into the torpedo, Ramius closed the distance before it could arm itself.

Combat tactics.  The idea that you can defeat your opponent through superior usage of the battlefield.  

Politics is often compared to combat and - while the analogy isn't perfect - it is perhaps an apt reference in the case of why President Obama has included chained CPI in his budget.

Consider the battlefield as President Obama and his advisors see it currently.

They are faced with an opposition in the GOP who are "post-policy" (as often described by the folks at the Rachel Maddow Show): meaning, that policy no longer matters and the strategy of the GOP is not to pass meaningful policy, but rather to position themselves politically to the pure, political opposition of the President and the Dems.  

The President and his team must be well aware by now that the GOP will maneuver into whatever position will stand opposite to the President's position.  The President and his team - while at times seemingly, frustratingly too interested in compromise - have to have known that whatever policy stance they took in the recently released budget, the GOP would move their goalposts to stand perfectly opposite of the President's stated goals.

With that in mind, who is to say that President Obama's inclusion of Chained CPI wasn't a brilliantly conceived combat tactic to protect it?

If we contemplate the above knowledge of the current battlefield as "whatever position I take, the GOP will completely oppose that ground to me", then it stands to reason that in order to protect a position, we should attempt to take it.

Said another way, if the President intended to protect Social Security from destruction at the hands of the GOP ... and if he knew that the GOP would fiercely oppose any objective that the President intended to achieve ... then the President SHOULD openly embrace attempting to deconstruct Social Security, because the result will predictably be that the GOP will oppose him and therefore demand that Social Security be saved.

It might be that the President and his team aren't playing at this level; that they're really just trying to score points with independents by seeming reasonable and painting the GOP as intransigent.  It could also be our worst fears as Dems that the President is preempting negotiations by offering compromise, only to see the GOP thank him for concessions and then demand more.

Or, it could be "Combat Tactics, Mr. Ryan."

Maybe President Obama has turned the ship of state towards the torpedo labeled "Chained CPI" in the hopes that he can force his opposition to defend Social Security, thereby saving it in whole ... long before the Chained CPI torpedo can arm itself.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.