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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's School Speech

I've read it, I heard it. Wonderful.

I'm disgusted by the number of Right Wingers who saw something sinister in the Presdent addressing school children. What the hell? The text of the speech was published yesterday, and it's just personal responsibility, focus, hard work. Wow. Obviously, the problem was not the speech, but the speaker. Pure politics with a side-dish of venomous racism. Never in my life have I seen this kind of vitriol directed at a new president. I don't think people would have reacted like this if Clinton had addressed school kids during his problems, or Nixon his. Wow.

ᅠI hope no one will listen to ANYTHING that those who wanted to keep children out of school, etc. ever says again and expect anything remotely resembling balance, fair play, or unpretzeled logic. Absolutely disgusting.

##

But then I'm also beginning to see a fascinating pattern emerging from the Left, one that seems diametrically opposed to the way the Right functions. We'll see as time goes by...but the basic thing is in relation to the Health Care issue. We've got an issue here that the Left has been trying to move toward Single Payer for about fifty years, and the inertia is fantastic. Anyone who thinks that the 1.3 million PER DAY expended by the health care industry to defeat it is ineffectual just isn't watching. But the fascinating thing is that Obama has already gotten this thing further than anyone else ever...but because there is evidence that he might not get it all the way to Touchdown, I'm seeing signs of genuine despair among some of the Liberals. Wow. All over, say, Huff Post I see people throwing their hands into the air and screaming "Uncle", and they won't participate in national politics again, and on and on. Jeeze.

ᅠThis is SO different to the way the Right dealt with Bush...the man could operate at a horrifically inefficient level (Katrina, anyone?) and he was defended right down to the wire. Instead of blaming their own side, they attack the Left. THAT'S how you get a war won, or an agenda across. Under pressure? Solidify, hunker down, fight like hell. The Left? A herd of cats. This would be really entertaining, if it weren't so serious. I wish I was an alien, who could just put my feet up, munch popcorn, and laugh at them silly humans.

##

And on the other side,

I still don't know what kind of President Obama is going to be, but I just can't believe how much of a tightrope he seems to be navigating with grace.

#

This is just fear, coming out in some ugly ways. Clearly, we're headed for a social re-organization, at what I would consider to be a higher level of efficiency and communication. I'd certainly like to see the health care chunk of this happen soon, but fear and greed combine to make a fantastic amount of inertia.

##

Watching the original run of Joss Whedon's "Firefly" and think it's terrific science fiction, with excellent characterization and a well thought-out background. Women seem to love this show, probably because of its strong and varied female characters. And I think they are correct in this. And it has some typical science fiction flaws on a social level:

1) Supposedly, the United States and China are the last remaining superpowers, which joined together into the Alliance. The Chinese language has infiltrated English...however, the cultural/racial mixture hasn't changed. Almost no Asians to be seen, nor mixed bloods. I find this way unlikely for 300 years in our future.

2) All the white crew members are young and sexy. The one black woman is sleeping with the white guy. The one black guy is doubly removed from sexual competition: he is old, and he is a priest. I've watched six episodes, and am not certain I've seen another black male character who had even a single line of dialog. This is especially bad because the SF field typically considers itself quite enlightened about such things, and irritable when you point them out.

Whedon probably heard about this after "Firefly", and while his subconscious urges might well have been to create a world in which white males have perpetual power, the casting of Chiwetel Ejiofor in "Serenity" or Harry Lennox on "Doll House". It reminds me of the "Star Wars" situation, where, apparently unconsciously, the entire "Galaxy far far away" was inhabited almost entirely by white people. Lucas was criticized for this (and "Chip" Delaney got death threats for pointing it out) and in the next movie, Billy Dee Williams miraculously appeared.

For this and many other reasons I think this stuff is unconscious but real, and that if you point it out, all fair-minded people will take steps to correct it. And it is always amusing to note the screams about "political correctness"--which always come from members of the groups whose power and hegemony is being threatened.

##

Confront Evil--Defeat

I've talked about this step of the Hero's Journey frequently, but it bears repeating and re-exploration. Basically, the implication is that it is impossible to raise oneself to a higher level of efficiency without struggle. More specifically, we cannot "kill" our old ego identity without the kind of pain and fear that can accompany mortal peril. If your current ego-identity could already accomplish a given task or acquire/express a given skill, you'd already be doing it. This is why you need to be CLEAR on what the goal is--which means writing it down. You must deal with the fear of change. Take action. Find role models who are more accomplished than you in the desired field (there is nothing sadder than someone who surrounds themselves with sycophants), and you must prepare yourself for failure.

"The only way you know how far you can go is by going too far." I first heard that from Tony Robbins, but I have no idea where it came from originally, but it's a damned fine one. Re-defining "failure" so that we understand that falling down is an inevitable part of learning to walk is critical. Our egos will use any "failures" as "evidence" that we cannot, or should not, succeed at a given goal. Why? Because our egos don't want to die, and if we change, we die.

Frankly, a lot of the political discussions remind me of this. Every American has an image of what America is. If that image begins to change, people feel fear and uncertainty. The future will not look like the past--who will I be in that new world? What will it mean to me and mine? Fair questions, and you can look at the people who deal with this rationally, and the ones who are twisted by ideology, classism, racism, sexism, or whatever, and cannot actually hear the underlying issues.

I digress. What is critical is that you have the capacity to separate yourself from the fears and threatened self-concept, and remember that every single skill you have ever acquired was acquired at the cost of pain, effort, and loss. Every single one. And we forget this, every time, much as women say that if you could REALLY remember how difficult child-birth is, no woman would have a second child. So we can't REALLY remember how bad it felt to fail in the past...so that our new failures feel like "the end of dreams" every time.

Get the joke. Sense the pattern. Move forward.

33 comments:

Shady_Grady said...

I don't know if the emerging feeling among some self-identified Left people is so much despair as it is confusion that could turn to anger.

The Obama deal with the pharmaceutical companies, the weakening of the "public option" (whatever that means) and the conflicting signals that even a weakened public option could be jettisoned as part of a deal make some people feel that this is not want they want to support.

That is why IMO recent editorials have drawn very sharp comparisons on this issue between FDR or LBJ and Obama on this issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/opinion/03smith.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=FDR&st=cse

The President has made a mistake in allowing his opponents to frame the debate. Hopefully he can correct this and reframe it in a way that will energize his base and attract independents. But on some issues -health care being one of them- he should lose this seeming fascination with bipartisanship. It's not working.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 'liberals' are so much more tolerant of opposing views.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/09/03/flashback-1991-gephardt-called-bushs-speech-students-paid-political-a

Steven Barnes said...

1) That criticism seems to have been made AFTER the speech was given, not before. Were there boycotts? Picketing? People calling in to talk shows raving that the President was "indoctrinating children"? I'm unaware of it.
2) I never said that Liberals were more reasonable people. Just that something unusually venomous is coming out here, and I've never seen anything like it.

Scott Masterton said...

Steve -

I don't think the attacks are more or less charged than any other time in the past. I remember similar silly attacks on Reagan and both Bush presidents.

Having said that, I think all of the focus Obama's speech to school kids is just dumb strategy on the part of the right. If Ronald Reagan had given this speech you would have found it on every right wing blog (had there been such a thing in the 80's). THousands of words would have been written telling us how the president enlightened our kids with his words supporting personal responsiblity.

To me this is just a good example of people being so "against" that they can't even see when the president agrees with them. I saw this happen with the last presidency too.

As far as the greater outcry, I think it has more to do with our natural fear of change. I think the healthcare shift that President Obama wants is one that is "scary" because it's so different.

Frankly, I think a focus by the right on this speech makes it more difficult to have their legitimate concerns concerning healthcare taken seriously. Just like the whole "birther" thing. Dumb statements tend to destroy the real discussion.
Peace,
Scott.

BC Monkey said...

Steve, if you never noticed the hatred against Bush far exceeding the levels of opposition for Obama, you cannot have been paying attention.

This was a beautiful summation: http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=YzFiMWUxNjQ5NzI4YzhkM2I3NjY5NTk0YmNhYjg3YTI=

They say that “hate” is rearing its head, and that President Obama and the Democrats are the victims of it. Let me make a couple of predictions: I predict that the chairman of the Republican National Committee will never say, “I hate the Democrats and everything they stand for. This [politics, basically] is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.”

Howard Dean said that about the GOP: “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for. . . .”

I predict that an editor of a conservative magazine will never write a piece called “The Case for Obama Hatred,” beginning, “I hate President Barack Obama.”

A New Republic editor did this, about Bush.

And there is increasing worry about assassination: that someone will take a shot, not just at the president, but at the first black president, which would be extra-catastrophic for the country. A few protesters have carried signs urging violence against Obama, or smacking of violence. Let me make some more predictions:

I predict that a network talk-show host will not show a video of President Obama giving a speech and put the following words on the screen: “SNIPERS WANTED.”

Craig Kilborn of CBS did that to George W. Bush.

I predict that U.S. senators will not joke about killing Obama.

In 2006, Bill Maher had a conversation with John Kerry. He asked Kerry what he’d gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry said he had treated her to a vacation in Vermont. Maher said, “You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.” Kerry replied, “Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.”

This is the same Kerry who, in 1988, said, “Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they’re to shoot Quayle.” Then he said, “There isn’t any press here, is there?”

I predict that a New York official will not tell a graduating class about assassinating President Obama.

Also in 2006, comptroller Alan Hevesi said to students at Queens College that Sen. Charles Schumer, his fellow Democrat, would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.”

I predict that no columnist for a leading European newspaper, and leading world newspaper, will write, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?”

Charlie Brooker of the Guardian did that to George W. Bush.

I predict that no major writer will write a novel debating the morality of killing President Obama.

Nicholson Baker did that to Bush, with Checkpoint.

I predict that no filmmaker will make a “fictional documentary” that fantasizes — and I’m afraid that is the word — about murdering President Obama.

Some Brits did that to President Bush with Death of a President.

Dear readers, I have made very, very safe predictions. If a CBS talk-show host pictured President Obama and said “SNIPERS WANTED,” he would lose his job, of course. He would never work in the media again. I wonder what else would happen to him.

I could go on, but you’ve heard enough.

There is a website called “zombietime,” and its materials make for pretty rough, discomforting viewing. Here, the site has gathered many pictures taken at anti-Bush and anti-war rallies — and Obama rallies. They show signs and such screaming for the murder of Bush. They show pictures of Bush with a bullet through his head. They show depictions of Bush being guillotined. They show Bush being burned in effigy. Etc., etc.

This is awful, vile, jacobinical stuff — stuff you are not supposed to see in this easygoing, constitutional, non-extremist country.


So if you're able to find examples exceeding those, then I'll agree that hatred against Obama is unprecedented.

Marty S said...

Steve: There is a difference between what Reagan and Bush did and Obama's intention to include a lesson plan. Most of the furor by the right was around the lesson plan. I listened to Fox news discussion of the speech itself and it gave general approval to the speech and its education goals.
Scott: You brought the "birther" thing again, brought forth by the nuts on the right. But, as made the news recently this kind of idiocy can be matched on the left by the 9/11 was a Bush conspiracy nuts.
Finally. its not just heath care insurers opposing the plan its a lot of American citizens. And if you want to talk about money and propaganda, how about so called news networks who will take paid pro-health care ads, but not paid anti-health care ads. There is plenty of money and propaganda on both sides of the issue, but maybe the American public has actually been exposed to sufficient information from both sides to rationally make up their own minds.

Steven Barnes said...

I fail to see how pro Health Care could be as plentiful or corruptive. On the one hand, you have people who stand to make, or keep, fantastic profit. On the other hand, you have people who might get more government jobs, or have some undefined power over others. Monies come from...what? Individuals who want change? While they can be as selfish as anyone else, that money would almost have to represent lots of individuals, rather than a money-making entity that can spend their customers' money to fund their own purposes. Just like oil companies and "Global Warming" advocates: I see the collection of money as quite different. Doesn't make one argument better than another, but it does put the greater cash in one set of hands. Now, I do see money (on average) as being more corruptive, and can't really "prove" that because there aren't any "power units" to compare to "money units."

Steven Barnes said...

Hatred for Bush within his first seven months? No, I didn't see that, although I'm sure comments have been made. The hatred and discussion of his "failed presidency" started before Obama was even sworn in. If there had been some pretext, like the belief of a stolen election, I might have understood it. But in no way did I see the Left going after Bush as hard at the very beginning of his Presidency.

Scott Masterton said...

Marty -

Couldn't agree with you more. My point was that the Goofballs (911 Conspiracy types, Birthers, etc.) tend to muddy conservative (and Liberal in the case of 911)ideas.They obscure the real and important issues with things that are none issues.

I think it's important to discuss things within the land of ideas. I applaud the speech that the President gave to the students (Reagan couldn't have said it better) while opposing a vast majority of Mr. Obama's ideas including UHC, the auto bail out and the bank bail out. I think President Obama is a good man that has, however, a vastly different vision for what is best for the country than I do. In all fairness, I felt the same way concerning President Bush. Bush, in my view was at best a luke warm conservative and because he was luke warm the country did not prosper under his presidency as much as it could have.

One of the best things I've heard from our President is this last speech. I applaud that. I would like to hear more of the same and have him backup this speech with his policies.

Peace,
Scott.

Anonymous said...

' Were there boycotts? Picketing?People calling in to talk shows raving that the President was "indoctrinating children"? '

I think that these things occuring is is exactly the point of the article actually. Can't say that I personally remember though.

Mike Ralls said...

Many people thought that given the economic climate and this congress that nationalized health care was a slam dunk. To see it become an iffy thing naturally makes people question the ability of the guy in charge. And if President Obama gets it closer than anyone else ever did, but still doesn't get it passed, he get's ZERO points for getting close. In fact, due to the nature of politics, if you give it everything you've got and suffer a close loss then that is usually much worse than never trying in the first place as you've expended quite a bit of political capital and got nothing in return for it.

Personally, I'm surprised but not shocked. I never expected the most inexperienced President in 80 years to be a wiz when it came to actually getting difficult legislation passed. What in his past would make anyone think that he would be?

If he manages to get what he said he wanted in a health care bill passed, people will think higher of his political skills. If a bill passes that is essentially a GOP bill with DEM written over REP in crayon, they will think less of them. That's just the nature of the game. Time will tell.

Mike Ralls said...

>But in no way did I see the Left going after Bush as hard at the very beginning of his Presidency.<

Question to ask oneself; If they had, would he have accomplished more, less, or the same of his agenda?

Dan Moran said...

Steve, if you never noticed the hatred against Bush far exceeding the levels of opposition for Obama, you cannot have been paying attention.

A recent book on the Secret Service said that Obama gets four times as many death threats as Bush did.

albatross said...

Your Firefly comment seems right to me. (I remember one strong black male character in one episode expressing sexual interest, and it was cringe-inducing.)

Firefly makes a really strong case for your argument that the weird race/sex dynamics in film are subconscious. Because in the surface-level description of the world, in the dialog and characters and history and assumptions, race absolutely doesn't matter at all. Nobody ever notices it or mentions it--it has the relevance of eye color in American culture. But somehow, oddly, black men (at least non-monstrous ones) don't really have any kind of interest in sex.

Really, it's a bit of a mystery how you guys haven't been bred out of existence, between having no interest in sex with women, and having that mysterious altruistic urge to sacrifice yourselves for the good of the white leading characters.

Foxessa said...

The latest of the best they can come up with:

WASHINGTON – Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as divisions among Democrats undercut President Barack Obama's effort to regain traction on his health care overhaul.

As Obama talked strategy with Democratic leaders at the White House, the one idea that most appeals to his party's liberal base lost ground in Congress. Prospects for a government-run plan to compete with private insurers sank as a leading moderate Democrat said he could no longer support the idea.

The fast-moving developments put Obama in a box. As a candidate, he opposed fines to force individuals to buy health insurance, and he supported setting up a public insurance plan. On Tuesday, fellow Democrats publicly begged to differ on both ideas.


Now this may be a scare story planted by the rightwingnutz (whose line on the POTUS's speech to the kids now is, "Again this President speaks to the poor, disadvantaged, MINORITY in this country. Has he nothing to offer the rest of us?".

Obama and his people failed entirely in strategizing and in making a plan. Thinking they learned from Hillary's debacle, they proposed nothing and left it to the Congress. That didn't work out at all.

But it's been a failure of planning, strategizing and thinking things through from the getgo. So far, not a thing I need from a federal government has even a glimmer of happening. In the meantime the corporatistas get ever more of my money. And I ain't got none!

Love, C.

Marty S said...

Saw an interesting segment on CNN. Two senators were part of a discussion on the health care bill. One Bernie Sanders was pro providing a medicare like system for all. When the two were asked if they would support a bill which required senators to be in the same plan with everyone else Sanders gave an honest answer. "Sure!" as long as its as good as my current Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan.

Foxessa said...

Federal employees' health plan is almost always Blue Cross Blue Shield (they can choose something else). That's what the guys in the Congress get -- top of the line from BC BS. We pay for it. They don't.

Love, C.

Dan Moran said...

>the most inexperienced President in 80 years<

By comparison to George Bush? The Presidency was Obama's fifth campaign victory.

When Bush settled into the White House in 2000, he'd won two campaigns. The 2000 election, if you're inclined to count it as a victory, would have been his third.

Anonymous said...

"I'm disgusted by the number of Right Wingers who saw something sinister in the Presdent addressing school children. What the hell?"

Among sensible right wingers of my acquaintance, it wasn't the speech itself, which they agreed was likely to be harmless pabulum. It was those mandated study materials which were going to have teachers asking grammar-school students "how can you help the President?" No matter who's in the White House, children in public schools really aren't supposed to be political pawns, and using the machinery of government in a way that suggests that they are is a great way to alienate people.


"Never in my life have I seen this kind of vitriol directed at a new president. I don't think people would have reacted like this if Clinton had addressed school kids during his problems, or Nixon his."

Actually, the Dems held Congressional hearings in outrage when Bush 41 did something similar. But that was then and this is now, I guess.


--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

"[Bush] could operate at a horrifically inefficient level (Katrina, anyone?) and he was defended [by the Right] right down to the wire."

If you'd read (for instance) National Review's online group blog from 2003 to 2008, you'd have seen plenty of criticism of Bush right through his Presidency. In particular, you'd have seen extensive and pointed criticism of Bush on the topics of: whether to invade Iraq while more or less ignoring Iran, let alone Saudi Arabia; control, or the lack thereof, of illegal immigration; excessive deficit spending (oh! such innocent times, when $300B yearly deficits seemed bad!); the nauseating mediocrity of Harriet Miers; No Child Left Behind; the Medicare D extension that ballooned up our already bad national debt; taking far too long to finally do the surge in Iraq; whether neoconservatism makes any sense, or whether we should have been paleoconservative isolationists after 2002 ... you name it.

To think that the Right are a bunch of monolithic Borg members, it helps to have been not following them closely. It helps a lot. It's the exact analogy of what every non-member of an ethnic group says about that group: "they all look alike to me". Understandable, but not brilliantly perceptive.

As for that support of Bush "right down to the wire": a lot of people who voted for Bush in 2004 did so not because they were at all convinced that he was flawless, but because they thought that Kerry was truly a turkey, and that whatever boneheaded things the Republicans were doing, the Democrats would only worsen. What you're seeing among right-wingers in 2009 is a revival of that sort of rather dismal team spirit.


--Erich Schwarz

Steven Barnes said...

You guys really don't see the difference between protesting a speech AFTER it has been given and BEFORE? I have a hard time believing that.

And as Dan said--you don't believe there has been more vitriol, when the SS reports a four-fold increase in death threats? I really, really, have to believe you don't want to see the truth.

Marty S said...

Steve: Again its not the speech it was the lesson plan. Its useless to protest an act after it happens. I hope if you think its wrong to protest before hand you have equal criticism, for all of us who protested the Iraq invasion before it happened.

Mike Ralls said...

>By comparison to George Bush?<

Yes, in terms of how long one has been Governor, Senator, Congressman, or Vice-President, which are the traditional pre-Presidency jobs and the standard judge for how experienced a presidential candidate is (campaign experience is campaign experience, not national statesman experience). I looked it up a year ago and IIRC by that standard President Obama was the most inexperienced candidate since Thomas E. Dewey (in 1944, in 1948 Dewey ran again and was more experienced than President Obama was in 2008) and the most inexperienced elected President since Herbert Hoover or Woodrow Wilson, depending upon if you want to count the experience of being a Cabinet Member or not.

Anonymous said...

"You guys really don't see the difference between protesting a speech AFTER it has been given and BEFORE? I have a hard time believing that."

Did it ever occur to you that because it is 2009 and not 1991, the news cycle may have accelerated? Because, as far as I can tell, it absolutely, positively has. 18 years ago, there had just barely begun to be the 24-7, instant coverage of news we take for granted today (and that first became noticeable with CNN's reporting on Gulf War I from Baghdad in 1990), let alone the speed-of-light coverage of news made possible by the rise of the Web.

Moreover, the coverage -- and public response -- to news has not only accelerated wildly, it's qualitatively changed its character by becoming a two-way street, with people who are not at all part of the mainstream media actually being able to break stories despite the MSM trying to ignore those stories, and being able to organize mass protests without pre-existing official intermediaries. Remember how it was that the Lewinsky scandal finally became public in early 1998? It wasn't the by the mainstream media, but by Matt Drudge, whose website forced the media to start talking about Monica. 11 years later, that's commonplace; back then, it was revolutionary.

Two decades ago, when Bush 41 was President and Congress responded to his childrens' speech by holding hostile hearings, the only people who used the Internet were computer nerds, generally in universities; there was no World Wide Web; there was no blogging, let alone bloggers with a big enough audience to take down Dan Rather or Van Jones.

If George H.W. Bush had given his speech to schoolchildren in 2009 rather than 1991, I absolutely think that you'd have seen something like the response you've seen to Obama now, and for pretty much the same reasons: Americans truly do not appreciate a President whose politics they disagree with using schoolchildren as political props. That's probably been true for a long time. What's changed is that, in 2009, ordinary people have the electronic equivalent of their own printing presses and TV stations, so it's now possible for them to react instantly to things they dislike or distrust, on their own initiative. They don't have to wait for Congress to do it for them.

I'm amazed that you have trouble seeing this. Can it be that you yourself perhaps have a blind spot?


--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

"... you don't believe there has been more vitriol, when the SS reports a four-fold increase in death threats?"

I've never argued that there isn't more vitriol, and I'm sorry beyond words that death threats are even happening, let alone that they've quadrupled.

On the other hand, I grew up in an Irish-American Democrat family hearing about how two politicians very dear to my family's hearts -- JFK and RFK -- had both been murdered, five years apart. I am not going to waste my time trying to convince the readers of this blog just how demoralizing that was to learn in my early childhood, or how hardened I got how quickly to the idea that anybody at any time might be murdered. Those of you who are more sane than the others can just take my word for it: I've known about the possibility for horrific violence in American politics. I knew about it well before my eighth birthday.

So Obama has my sympathy, and my sincere wishes for a long life. I very much hope that no small black child ever has to hear about his death, the way that I had to hear about the deaths of JFK and RFK. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

On the other hand, for exactly the same reason that I want Obama to live out his Presidency, I feel zero liberal guilt about criticising him or his policies when I think they're mistaken, misguided, or just plain knuckle-headed. I paid my emotional dues in childhood on this issue. Yes, I want Obama to leave office alive and well. But, I want him to leave, and -- unless he radically alters his political policies -- I'd like it to be in 2012 rather than 2016.


--Erich Schwarz

Foxessa said...

What is wrong with study guides associated with a speech that urged kids to study hard, work hard and stay in school?

Study guides were handed out with lots of materials that were free when I was a kid, like the Weekly Reader. It's traditional.

IOW, there was nothing wrong, nothing controversial, except crazy people tried to make us believe it was so. "Gee, this is Tuesday so today's the POTUS is an Islamic terrorist. Wednesday is the day he's a commie. Thursday he's a nazi. All the rest of the days he's Hawai'ian, and no citizen of the U.S."

Love, C.

Dan Moran said...

Yes, in terms of how long one has been Governor, Senator, Congressman, or Vice-President, which are the traditional pre-Presidency jobs and the standard judge for how experienced a presidential candidate is (campaign experience is campaign experience, not national statesman experience). I looked it up a year ago and IIRC by that standard President Obama was the most inexperienced candidate since Thomas E. Dewey (in 1944, in 1948 Dewey ran again and was more experienced than President Obama was in 2008) and the most inexperienced elected President since Herbert Hoover or Woodrow Wilson, depending upon if you want to count the experience of being a Cabinet Member or not.

Mike, would it shock you any to hear that I think your chosen standards could have been chosen better? :-)

Obama's resume is hugely more impressive than George Bush's was at the same point in their careers. (Hell, it's more impressive now; Obama hasn't trashed an entire country yet.)

Bush lost his first election, for the House of Representatives, in 1978. Aside from that his only political experience was as Governor, for six years. when he ran for President -- three elections, one of which he lost.

When he announced for the 2000 election, Bush had only been outside the U.S. once, if I recall.

Contrast Obama, who taught Constitutional Law at the university of Chicago; traveled the world extensively, including living abroad; and had been an elected official since 1997 before becoming President (12 years, to Bush's six.)

The least experienced Presidential candidate in my lifetime was George Bush, and it wasn't close.

Mike Ralls said...

The thing is, whose resume is more "impressive" is a subjective term. It can't really be proven one way or another. You can say that Obama's resume was more impressive because he studied consitional law, and I can say that he had no military experience and as the President is Commander in Chief that is a net negative, or I could say that being a Governor is a closer job to being a President so it counts more, but there is no way to really prove any one of our positions. We could argue over which "Star Trek" is better (TNG, btw), but there is no way to _prove_ it. Same-same here.

I chose to use a more objective standard and was talking about what the _standard_ judge for how experienced a Presidential candidate is. And if you look at Presidential candidates over the last 200 years, the overwhelming majority of them have been Senators, Congressmen, or Vice-President for more than four years. This strongly suggests that being a Senator, Congressmen, or Vice-President for more than four years is the normal course of experience one gains in order to become President.

>(Hell, it's more impressive now; Obama hasn't trashed an entire country yet.)<

Actually Obama has trashed the country. Woo. Look at that inciteful political point I just made there! I am so brilliant to write such a cutting insight and I'm sure it will convince people who don't already agree with me instead of just being useless filler to make me feel good about my own personal views.

Now, I really do think that President Obama has already done some serious harm to the country that will be with us for a long time. Should I then type this every time the topic of Obama comes up?

Dan Moran said...

The thing is, whose resume is more "impressive" is a subjective term.

OK. We're in agreement there. Would the same hold true of "least experienced?"

We could argue over which "Star Trek" is better (TNG, btw), but there is no way to _prove_ it. Same-same here.

TOS. Die, infidel.

I chose to use a more objective standard and was talking about what the _standard_ judge for how experienced a Presidential candidate is.

Whose standard? Yours? Who chose this standard? You?

And if you look at Presidential candidates over the last 200 years, the overwhelming majority of them have been Senators, Congressmen, or Vice-President for more than four years.

The overwhelming majority of them have won more than two elections, too.

This strongly suggests that being a Senator, Congressmen, or Vice-President for more than four years is the normal course of experience one gains in order to become President.

This strongly suggests that winning more than two elections is the normal course of experience one gains in order to become President.

I don't dispute your core point that Obama's relatively inexperienced for a President. Of course the same was true of Bush (worse, IMO, though I concede this is a matter of degree informed by a certain degree of tribalism) ... the same was true of Bush, and it's just a little amusing to see conservatives suddenly discover that's a bad thing, after eight years of dismissing it where Bush was concerned.

Mike Ralls said...

> Would the same hold true of "least experienced?"<

Unless the two sides could come to some agreement over realative worth (How many "experience points" is leading the largest multinational invasion in history's biggest war (Ike) in comparison to being Vice President? etc etc), yea it's pretty subjective too.

> Whose standard? Yours? Who chose this standard? You?<

It's what I've most often seen mentioned, which is why I used it. Politics is a about what people beleive, and I think a strong case can be made that the American people beleive that being a Congressman, Senator, or Governor are what makes someone experienced enough to be President (admission - I don't have any hard data to back that up).

Think of it this way, if someone had been a congressmen for two years, a senator for four, and a governor for six, can you really imagine significant numbers of Americans saying that they lack experience?

By contrast is someone had been a constitutional scholar for 12 years, traveled to over 100 countries and had held various local offices for 25 years and won tons of local elections, but had only been a Congressman for one year, can you really imagine that people won't say that he lacks experience?

> I don't dispute your core point that Obama's relatively inexperienced for a President. Of course the same was true of Bush<

I've never said anything to the contrary of that. Bush II, by the crude standard of years of being CSG, was more inexperienced then every Prez from Clinton to Hoover (or Ike depending on above) with the exception of Carter.

> (worse, IMO,

And less IMO because I regard being governor as being more like being President than a Senator is like being President, so think it should count for more. YMMV, and the whole thing is unprovable anyways so I don't see any further progress being made here so i will leave you with this TNG quote;

"So much for the Enterprise E." -- Beverly Crusher
* "We barely knew her." -- Picard
* "Think they'll build another?" -- Crusher
* "There are plenty of letters left in the alphabet." -- Picard

albatross said...

I don't think Obama has had much executive experience, running a large organization, before now. By contrast, George W Bush and Sarah Palin, despite being not real impressive in other ways, did both run for president with some executive experience under their belts.

My suspicion is that Obama's lack of previous experience running anything larger than his campaign makes him less effective.

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