Monday, December 02, 2013

the hermeneutics of Hugh Laurie

Dr. House—better known as actor Hugh Laurie—recently tweeted his opinion of the Obamacare snafu:

Obama's struggle with Affordable Care. He's like a prison governor asking the inmates to make lemonade for his garden party. It'll be tangy.

The tweet is somewhat opaque, open to interpretation. Some on the right are guffawing, perceiving Laurie's quip as a dig against Obamacare, and possibly against Obama himself. I don't see it that way at all. Let's break down the simile/allegory, shall we?

prison governor (UK English) = prison warden (US English) = Obama

The above seems clear enough. Obama's the warden, which makes America the prison, as well as, possibly, the garden in which the garden party will take place.

inmates = ?

But who are the inmates? I'm going to assume the inmates are those tasked with implementing Obamacare, assuming the lemonade symbolizes Obamacare. The implementers could be Congress and/or the insurance companies working with Congress to implement Obama's policy. They could also be the doctors and hospitals and other healthcare providers who must shoulder the new policy's burdens.

inmates making lemonade = pissing in the drink = rebellious act

Assuming, in this garden-party/prison image, that the American people are the ones benefiting from Obamacare (the lemonade), then the American people are the party guests who will, unfortunately, be treated to "tangy" (i.e., urine-tasting) lemonade. This implies that the warden is, at worst, guilty of relying on the wrong people to make his lemonade properly. Obama is relying on Congress and/or healthcare providers (hospitals, doctors, etc.) and/or insurance companies to get this right, but there are rebellious elements determined to mess this process up (piss in the lemonade).

All in all, then, Laurie's tweet seems to be saying that it's not Obama or Obamacare that's the problem: it's the network of policy implementers who are determined to see this plan fail. If anything, Laurie's tweet comes off, to me at least, as supportive of Obama and Obamacare.

Your thoughts? Have I completely misread the great Hugh Laurie?



Bratfink said...

OMG You are following Hugh Laurie on the Tweety???????????


Kevin Kim said...

I do follow a few celebs, but not Mr. Laurie, unfortunately. Do you?

Bratfink said...

I have all 8 seasons of 'House' on DVD. What do you think?


I followed him as soon as Stephen Fry told about it.

And I agree with your assessment of what his tweet meant.

John said...

Well, let's see. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. This lack of bi-partisanship certainly added some tartness to the recipe. Then Speaker of the House Nance Pelosi infamously said we'd have "pass the law to find out what's in it", which indicates that no one bothered to read the recipe. And then the President blatantly and repeatedly lied about how the recipe would taste when completed (If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.) Finally, when HHS wrote the implementing regulations for ACA, they unilaterally changed the recipe by exempting provisions for political cronies and delaying/ignoring aspects of the law for political expediency.

In the end we got nothing but a bag of lemons and our government called it lemonade. The first bite of one of those lemons was indeed "tangy" and there are still many more lemons yet to consume. It's gonna be one hell of a garden party, that's for sure!

On the other hand, Hugh Laurie is a great actor!

Kevin Kim said...


So you're saying Hugh Laurie's tweet was actually against Obama and Obamacare? I'm trying to separate your feelings about Obamacare from Laurie's snark about it.

My own gut feeling was that Laurie, good leftist actor that he is, would never have a go at the POTUS.

John said...

Well, I wasn't stating my feelings, just the indisputable facts. Laurie is a smart guy and knows better than to rock the liberal boat that is Hollywood. I think his tweet was deliberately obtuse to provide plausible deniability should he be challenged on it from the left.

To directly answer your question--I consider it a criticism. When life gives you lemons, you try and make lemonade. So, he seems to acknowledge the law is a lemon. The inmates (Democrats in Congress, bureaucrats at HHS)wound up making a tart brew from the lemons. So Laurie is implicitly recognizing they fucked it up. The incompetent warden presided over the boondoggle. And the American people (the garden party) are being forced to drink this shit.

Fair enough?

Kevin Kim said...

Fair enough. I don't think that's what Laurie is saying, but you're absolutely entitled to your interpretation.