When I was in the eighth grade I had Mr. Nadrowski for science, and one day he called Stephen Chilcote up to the front of the class and told him to push against the cinder-block wall until it fell over.Â As Chiclet obediently pushed and the rest of us watched, Mr. Nadrowski kept up a descriptive patter: â€œSo there he is, beads of sweat are popping out on his forehead, his muscles all straining; but you know what?Â Heâ€™s not doing any work!â€Â His point was that from a physics standpoint no work occurs unless the object responds to the force; if the wall didnâ€™t move, Stephenâ€™s efforts didnâ€™t count.
This seems to be the definition of â€œworkâ€ Republicans are using to complain that President Obama isnâ€™t doing enough to fix the economy.Â They build a cinder-block wall of legislative refusal and then criticize him for failing to push it over.
And when he does manage to move objects despite the cinder-block—by the Executive Order modifying immigration or the administrative maneuvers necessary to maintain contraception as a component of basic health-careâ€”his opponents hyperventilate about Obamaâ€™s terrifying expansion of Presidential power.Â From the people who created the Constitutionally bogus â€œsigning statement,â€ thatâ€™s chutzpah enough to topple the canonical instance: the boy who, having murdered his parents, asks for leniency because heâ€™s an orphan.
So letâ€™s do some real work of our own.Â If youâ€™re interested in actually moving objects—Obama canvassers from Illinois to Iowa, and Iowa Democratic voters from their homes to the polls—please join my Wednesday evening phone bank, beginning this week (July 11) and continuing through the election.Â Contact me off-line for details, but bear in mind that Iowa votes early, beginning on September 27: if weâ€™re going to knock over the wall, weâ€™ve got to do it over the summer.
4 thoughts on “Politics and physics”
That’s a nice metaphor. I’m going to use it (w/attribution).
Love this post.
Thanks to you both!
I like it, but wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that he was doing a very tiny amount of work? I’m sure the wall did move a fraction of a millimeter or respond in some way not visible to the naked eye.
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