Strange Bed Fellows

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
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By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty

An old adage has it–old? adage? isn’t this an oxymoron or redundant? or just simply unnecessarily wordy, I ask myself anxiously. No, it’s fine! Keep writing. OK, thanks, methinks!–old adage has it that politics makes strange bedfellows. Strange bedfellows! Politics. Wow. Very interesting. Very exciting. Then studying and following politics must be great fun, must it not? I’ll bet no one ever said physics or sociology or history makes strange bed fellows.

And the phrase is relatively easy to remember. Nonetheless, though well known and easy to remember and though I’m now a seasoned watcher of politics with hard earned academic credentials to match, I usually have difficulty coming up with good examples of strange politicians getting in bed together. For in my laterally structured mundane mind, people who oppose each other head off in opposite directions and stay out of each other’s beds. For example, think of Hamilton and Burr, or Adams and Jackson, or Truman and Dewey, or Nixon and Kennedy, or Gingrich and Clinton, or Obama and Bonheur and tea party republicans.

C-T-SYet candor does compel me to confess I do eventually end up remembering one super famous example of strange bed fellows; it’s the alliance forged between Churchill and Roosevelt and their polar opposite, Joseph Stalin. Difficult would it be to find two more opposed individuals than Churchill and Stalin. Yet we must all thank our lucky stars for these two (or three) politicos getting together for defeating Hitler may well have failed if they hadn’t. So strange political bed fellows do indeed exist.

And, dear reader, early this morning in my steaming pre dawn bath, roaring into my dulled, tired and beleaguered brain is the extraordinary realization that another example of strange bedfellows is taking place during my bath as I try removing my peach shampoo’s nasty sting from my now (i.e. then) burning eyeballs: to wit, President Obama’s new Syrian policy is based on the same principle and uses the same lingo President Bush (i.e. 43) utilized when he announced his Iraq Plan. Lest this similarity be missed, soon after Obama explained why we had to bomb Syria , he welcomed to his bed two of his most despised Republican rivals, John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

This development significantly ratchets up the increasingly quoted Apppple Goooogle amazement/incredulity factor or, if you prefer, the more familiar strange bed fellow factor, when we realize that Obama has been busy relentlessly attacking Bush’s foreign policy principles since he began his run for the presidency back in 2008. I mean, dear reader, these guys do indeed represent a gaggle of exceptionally strange bed fellows! No political savant–whether sane or insane–could have possibly predicted such a development which is why methinks President Obama’s Syrian strategy will long remain a hugely bewildering event.

obama-putinBut wait! Go not into that good night too quickly for, as of mid week, one further strange bedfellow event has exploded unto the Syrian Scene: The President’s most hated international antagonist, Russia’s Mr. Vladimir Putin, signaled his willingness to lean on the Syrians to surrender their chemical weapons. And as Mr. Putin hits the Moscow mall looking for an extra large king size mattress to share with the President, the President announced he’d be happy to join Mr. Putin in bed, the sooner the better.

Once again, no pundit in this here Milky Way could ever have predicted Putin and Obama would soon be in bed together. Putin was (is) notorious for going out of his way to mock the President. Then, all of a sudden, he’s pulling Obama’s well roasted chestnuts out of the fire and unto dry land (if you can send mixed messages why not mixed metaphors, is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot of late).

So if you read in the paper or hear on the tube that the old adage about politics and strange bed fellows no longer enjoys much currency, please dear reader, don’t plead ignorance and don’t play dumb. Instead, get on your smart phone, check Facebook, or pound out the Flaneur’s Turtle on the web, and re-read this post. For I hope I’ve shown even the most ardent strange political bed fellow skeptic that politics really does make for strange bed fellows with results that remain awfully hard to predict.



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