Friday, September 24, 2010

Obama: Intellect Over Feeling, Being Cool Over Being Passionate

Consensus: When Clinton said he felt our pain, he appeared to be really hurting. When Obama says it, we don't doubt his truthfulness, but he does not come across as feeling it deeply in his heart. This jibes with my frequent criticism that he sounds too much like a professor and not enough like a politician. I don't expect him to be a prophet. That is another vocation.
I wonder sometimes if deep in his heart he is an idealist who wants everybody just to get along, despite his schooling in and sometimes practice of  "Chicago politics." He does not want to offend anybody-- Republicans, big business--remember FDR who said they hate me; I welcome their hatred. He wants everybody to like him--generals, bankers, school kids, dogs, and canaries. Now cooperation in ventures that promote the national interest and the common good is a wonderful thing. But sometimes one has to get nasty in the spirit of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove to be successful. 

Would it help if we saw more of the latter in Obama's pragmatic political practice?  I wonder.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's Wrong With These People Anyway?

Johnny came home with a black eye, a bloody nose, and a few loose teeth. His Mother was horrified, but Johnny said, grinning from ear to ear, "Yeah, Mom, but you should see the other guy!"

That appears to be what the Democratic message gets boiled down to this fall. "If you think we are bad, the other party is worse."  Although it convinces me, that is not an inspiring slogan. But will it work for independents and swing voters?

Please explain to me why these coveted voters swing back and forth tossed about by "every wind of doctrine." (1) Why would folks who voted for Obama and Democrats in 2006 and 2008 say they plan to vote Republican this November?

I have voted for one Republican in my entire life beginning with 1948 until now. I preferred  Republican Russell Peterson to be governor of Delaware in 1968. He was by far the most progressive candidate, whose like are totally extinct today. Every other time the Democratic candidates were more in line with my ideology and values, although sometimes I have had to hold my nose while pulling the lever.

I suppose that many people are less ideologically oriented than I am or have an outlook that is more in the middle, since admittedly I am  well toward the left and got paid while I was articulating a point of view in some detail. Folks in the middle could more easily than I tilt between parties as circumstances and issues change.

I suspect however that a lot of swingers react on the basis of what is happening to them at the moment, what they feel in the gut. The "in party" must be responsible if I can't find a job, pay my mortgage, or send my kids to college. So I will vote them out. If unemployment were at 4.8% and their incomes were rising, and times were good  all around,  presumably they would reward the party in power. So a president and his  majority party are in large measure victims or beneficiaries of fate  but with limited control over what is going on in the world during their tenure.

So despite all the good things Democrats have done, the times have not been kind to them, and they may get punished come election day.

"Yeah, I know, but I have seen the other guy."
(1). . .  so that  we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Ephesians 4:14.  (RSV)