Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Exactly who is Barack Obama?

David Seaton's News Links
The question is still, who is Barack Obama?

What do we really know about him from direct observation and not what he chooses to tell us? Or that we choose to imagine about him

Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain, warts and all, are people who have been in the public eye for a long time, they have had their successes and their failures in public. If we like them or dislike them it is because we actually know them. They are personalities that certainly do not encourage fantasizing.

We are moving into very dark and troubled waters and the rhythmic stroking of platitudes will not be enough to see the nation through them.

I think it says volumes about the present, desperate state of the American psyche that content-less speeches, well delivered by someone with such a tiny CV, could sweep all before them.

Most of what any politician anywhere says has a high bullshit content. It's not entirely their fault, there are many traps waiting for the plain and incautious public speaker ... However when they have been around a long time, it is possible to use our experience of how what they say relates to what they actually end up doing, to evaluate correctly the distance between their words and their actions.

Lets look at the recent case of Mitt Romney... There were a lot of actions as a governor and a lot of words as a candidate. Republicans were able to measure the distance between the two and make a decision based on observable facts.

Being President of the United States of America is the country's top job, it is the crowning achievement of a lifetime of service, eight years is as long as you can hold the job, after that you are supposed to fade into the wallpaper. Look at all the shit Bill Clinton is taking for not fading into the wallpaper. The only ex-president that has done anything interesting is Jimmy Carter. Being president is the end of a career, not the beginning of one... Unless you envision a lifetime of decades of after dinner speaking stretching out before you.

How does someone in his 40s with almost no CV have the nerve to present himself for such an important office? JFK was young you say?

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a war hero, who had been something like fourteen years in the Congress and the Senate and had won a Pulitzer Prize (not about his search for his "identity" BTW) before he put himself forward. And today he is not considered to have been a successful president, only a tragic and much loved one.

Look, the USA is broke, losing two wars, entering a recession that might even turn into a depression. I am really worried by Barack Obama's chutzpah, I see a boundless ego, untested by reality, standing before 300,000,000 people in a time of crisis and saying. "I am the best person among all of you to lead you!"

Getting starry eyed about Obama is like someone who has lost his job, taking his last savings and buying a lottery ticket... Hope. I don't know who is crazier, Obama or the people who cry at his speeches. DS


Anonymous said...

Hi David

I have been reading your blog for some time, and enjoy it very much. I agree with your ideas for the most part, but I think you got it wrong when it comes to Obama. Perhaps I am naive, but I think we tend to underestimate the importance of the hope and dream aspect a president can represent. Bush represented the frightened and vengeful American. Obama represents the dream. While this might sound irrational, look at how much is irrational in the entire American system. (the stock market for example)I know this sounds really corny, but a dream can be powerful. A hope can move a people. I say, and some of this is based on what I read on your blog, that the USA is in a disastrous situation. It has been for some time heading in the wrong direction under the Bush Clinton Oligarchy. Perhaps you are correct, and there is little chance for this unexperienced young senator for Illinois, but I for one want to give him that chance because for the first time in a long time he has given me some reasons to hope.


Anonymous said...

The sound of your recent lovefest for Hillary or anyone but Obama makes me pause. What is really on Hillary's CV? Being married to the governor of Arkansas which got her on the board of Wal-Mart and the wife of the president? A carpetbagging Senator from NY? come. on.

US Domestic politics is pure theater anyway. Anyone who takes it too seriously is going to be disappointed. It is already decided who will be selected next. The people are not part of that process.

jhwmeasor said...

Hi David,

Noting your concerns about Obama of late - and as a Canadian I don't get a vote either way - could you not temper such concerns with the simple fact that the "experience" and "make up" of Clinton (see below) and McCain simply leaves people with no better option?

From Scott Horton today:

"Hillary Clinton, who promised her opposition [to the post-hoc immunity for telecoms], couldn’t be bothered to cast a vote. She was the sole absent senator. In the minds of many of the party faithful, she forfeited her right to party leadership by her unexplained absence on a vote of exceptional importance."

Treating the Constitution Like a Doormat

While not trying to be cynical or despondent - the looming crisis before us doesn't exactly speak well of those with the "experience" of leading U.S. society into the cul de sac.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Answering Newslinkers:

"I for one want to give him that chance because for the first time in a long time he has given me some reasons to hope."

I understand how you feel, but try to see that those were exactly the feelings that many Germans in the early 30's felt about a certain Austrian watercolorist with a thin CV... He gave then reasons to "hope" and besides, look at what a mess the people with experience had made of Germany: lost the war, inflation etec.

Different country, different spiel, but the same mechanism.
Look, I think Hillary sucks, but I think that she might actually get a health care plan through congress. Something is better than nothing and millions of people are sick. McCain, I respect, but I think the Republican mentality sucks.

What would I really like, if I had my druthers? A strong, Social Democratic Party, huge Unions and an enormous, well trained, well funded bureaucracy.

afropolitans said...

This is ageism.

According to the US Constitution you only need be 32 to run for office. Why do you think someone should be 80 and use it as their ride into retirement?

Also, why do you need an 11 page resume? Honestly, I really believe what Obama says that the longer you stay in Washington the MORE likely you are to uphold the Status Quo. You have too many favors to pay back, to many people you know and thus are unwilling to challenge.

It just makes sense to me that he's running and winning. And I think you dumb down the American electorate incredibly. After all, they don't HAVE to vote for him, they should be voting for Hilary........BUT THEY ARE NOT.

afropolitans said...

You think she might get a health care plan through Congress??? Are you serious?

And you are calling Obama voters naive??

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"You think she might get a health care plan through Congress???"

She might, because, in contrast to Obama, she actually has one.

"And you are calling Obama voters naive??"

Yes, as a matter of fact I am, you certainly are a quick study.

Anonymous said...

RLaing says:

A sad situation when a nation can merely 'hope' that the powerful will be kind to them, because the only time that ever actually happens is when the rulers fear the people.

There is however a kind of poetic justice in the situation. The emerging political order is one which America has a long history of inflicting on others.

anatol said...

For true believers and fervent hopers, who despise long resumes: You're a voting member of the board of a $11 trillion company that lately finds itself in deepening trouble, about to hire a new CEO. You're inclined to chose a relatively young guy with scant related experience, no resume to speak of, unknown character (especially as related to running such enterprices), excellent ability to run corporate intrigue (i.e. political campaigning), several position papers which spell out plans for the company (some of them good, other troubling or unsubstantiated - e.g. health coverage for employees) and VERY skillful and inspiring public speeches. Lately the guy refuses to engage in a detailed one-on-one discussion in front of the board with his main competitor.

How do you think the market would react to that choice? What chance does the company have to get out of trouble?

Andre said...

Well, I would like to see just one instance where I could be assured by something he's done in his past, that what he promises is given hope of being accomplished . He speaks of getting rid of lobbyists but says there is a place at the table on health care for the insurance companies.

At least I know this, Hillary tried once with health care and failed, and if we know anything from her persistence in this race for the nomination, it is that the next time she tries, she will get it done.

It's 'known consistency vs. no consistency'.

Obama will try to reform health care and he will fail (oh, you say, how do I know that? and I say show me something in his past that shows he wont!), and he'll give a great speech and say "well at least we tried"!

Anonymous said...

While I might understand all your concerns over your collective prostates, health care is hardly the only issue at stake. The role\image of the US within an increasingly skeptical and ecologically\politically endangered planet seems so much more important. A shift, change, that the people of the US and the World can believe in, a "revolution of change" is what is needed.
You must have become quite the cynic over time to compare the ascension of Obama to Hitler. Still, in doing so you contradict your own arguments. Hitler, like you point out, had a "thin CV" and yet he was able to put forth his agenda. Hitler never hid his right wing fascist side. He did what he set out to do. If anything, this would be a strong argument to vote for left leaning Obama.


David Seaton's Newslinks said...

For any of the things you want to see happen, actually happen the American system itself will have to change. At this moment, and for many decades, America's is a war economy and the only thing that could change that is to have to pay the pensions of the selfish, nasty, boomers.

In this case the system'll have to choose between guns and butter. I don't see the generation of 1968 passively starving. Do you?

Personally, it's no skin off my nose. I pay into the Spanish system, both for health and pension. I just see the entitlements of America's elderly as the "lever" to move the world