When I was a teen, we used to call it the “okey-doke”. Whenever someone was tricked into believing something that was a deliberate distraction, we would say “You went for the okey-doke.”
Muhammad Ali used the “okey-doke” to take boxing to a new level. Real boxing fans know that while Ali was fast, quick and deceptively powerful, much of his technique was borrowed from Jersey Joe Walcott. Ali’s new twist was all the mouth before the match. Everyone except Howard Cosell thought Ali just had a big mouth. All the other sports writers derided Ali because he would not shut up. But every fighter from Sonny Liston (“too ugly to be the champ”) to Joe Frazier (“It’s not Joe! It’s a gorilla.”) to ”rope-a-dope” George Foreman, lost their battles with Ali BEFORE they actually got into the ring.
President Obama’s opponents initiated a political destruction strategy that was launched immediately after his inauguration in January 2009. The strategy reminded me of another saying from my past as a corporate salesman: “If you throw enough mud on the wall, some of it has to stick”. The country endured a four-year, steady drumbeat of anti-Obama messages, many of which were half-truths or bald-faced lies. Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Obama is a Muslim. Obama and the Democrats have caused the recession. The economic stimulus strategy failed. There is no evidence of climate change or global warming. Financial regulatory reform is anti-business. Americans don’t want health care reform. The United States of America was founded as a Christian nation, and must be true to its founding faith. Islam is evil and the source of terrorism. The list went on and on.
Obama supporters seemed to be stymied by the ugliness and the persistence of this campaign. A number of well meaning Americans believed these messages. Others did not, but were influenced by the tumult the messages generated, believing that given the vitriol and fervor of the messengers, there must be something wrong with President Obama. If you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it has to stick.
Fortunately, most of America did not go for the political destruction okey-doke. President Obama won re-election decisively and was inaugurated today for his second term. While the pundits predict that his presidency may yet be mediocre, the President’s supporters are sure that his best days are ahead. Perhaps the real okey-doke is the smoothness of Barack, blazing his way forward into transforming America to 21st century greatness while letting his opponents think he’s fighting with them. My guess is, they are so wrapped up in Obama-hating that they won’t realize that they, too, will win. Okey-doke!