With a mighty home run swing against a two-year slump, Barack Obama took his biggest political gamble yet -- an unprecedented, voluntary 25% pay cut. Calling out slackers, freeloaders, idlers on Twitter, and other carnival acts, President Obama declared "war against non-performance and failure, in and out of government," so reads the latest White House press release: "Barack Obama is refashioning his entire presidency and starting the ball rolling by cutting his own salary."
"When I begin to produce as promised, and as needed by a country in dire straights, then I will reconsider my $400k entitlement. In the meantime, I expect to hold my administration, this Congress, and CEOs relying on public money to this bold, new "value for dollar proposition. Now compensation must correspond to actual, measurable, visible achievements. We could call it the audacity of performance."
Throwing caution to the wind, Obama announced a national "forfeit for failure" program moments after honoring Stan Musial, the baseball icon, with a Medal of Honor last week. In 1960 after a miserable season, Musial insisted on the unthinkable -- a self-imposed salary cut. "You don't see that happening today," Obama quipped, flashing his best re-election smile, "and so I am "pulling a Musial,' kickstarting my third year with this commitment:"
Time to move on from empty bipartisanship here, facile accommodation there. No more Mr. Nice Guy willing to negotiate everything in advance. It's time, with re-election looming, to regain the heroic proportions that got me elected, exactly what impresses both Joe Sixpak and noisy, disgruntled progressives online. Like Musial, I haven't knocked the cover off the ball this year but I've only begun to fight. In the next two years, I expect to surprise myself.
To make amends for shortfalls, regain lost luster, display personal sacrifice and impress millionaire donors, I forego one quarter of my annual salary. This should take care of the crass, petty naysayers and the gloom and doomers. This sacrifice should clear the air, allowing me to return to what I do best -- obscure the perplexing past with visions of better times ahead. I commit to win my future. Or the next election, whichever comes first.
Caught off guard, Obama's sharpest critics had to acknowledge such patriotism. No president has refused pay. "For a socialist wetback, Obama has manned up," said losing Tea Party assailant, Sharron Angle, "putting up his own hard cash to help a country that took him in. This could be a devious ploy by the Kenyan anti-colonialist clique to curry favor, and with foreign curry, too. No redneck backers of mine pays the bloated government more than his share, often a lot less. So be it."
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Pundits right and left applauded Obama's shrewd, if seeming double-barreled pandering. Rightwing worshippers of "personal responsibility" lauded the emphasis on strict government economy, musing how to work this up as a union-busting ploy. Considering no top CEO in human history has ever been overpaid, the notion of "just compensation" ruffled no billionaire feathers -- in fact providing cover for what would otherwise, in the days of mortal sins, be vilified as atrocious greed and gluttony.