I wasn’t going to comment on this until two of my many clueless Facebook friends had to mock an indignant article about it on a conservative site. I don’t think Obama skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral is worthy of outrage, but it is sad. It’s almost as sad as the degree to which the people who elected him have never comprehended what his job is.
Obama is not attending Nancy’s funeral because he was previously committed to attend a vital event called South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival. Michelle Obama will speak at the funeral, but she is also speaking at the festival, making it obvious that the President could also do both if he wanted to. He doesn’t want to, just as he didn’t want to show respect to a sitting Supreme Court Justice who had died suddenly by attending his funeral.
That’s Obama; we should know him by now. He’s a petty, small man, but more important, he doesn’t seize opportunities to repair the poisonous partisan divide that he helped create because he doesn’t understand the symbolic nature of the Presidency, or just doesn’t give a damn. That attitude—I think both are true— has played a major role in creating the non-functioning government and the societal divisions he will leave as his primary legacy.
Personally, Nancy Reagan means nothing to me, but many, many Republicans and conservatives revered her, in great part because of her support and loyalty to her iconic husband. Republicans would have greatly appreciated Obama honoring her with his office and all it represents, and his attendance could have opened an opportunity for dialogue with Congressional leaders about the large number of issues that require bi-partisan accord. Republicans in Congress assume Obama knows how much they care about the Reagans, and so his absence will be taken as an intentional snub, which in context it is.
“There’s precedent for Presidents not attending former First Ladies’ funerals” wrote one of my Cluelesses, missing the point. This isn’t any First Lady, it’s Ronald Reagan’s wife. That fills the event with historical and political significance, and the fact that Obama supporters (many of my friends sniffing at conservative annoyance at Obama’s snub are gay, and gays tend to detest the Reagans) don’t care is completely irrelevant, or should be, to Obama’s decision whether his attendance at the funeral is appropriate.
This was an opportunity to build bridges. The President shouldn’t attend because of any reasons but politics and the importance of doing his job, but he has learned nothing about Presidential leadership. I guarantee you that Lyndon Johnson would have gone under these circumstances. Bill Clinton too: say what you will about the former Sexual Predator in Chief, Bill knew how to soften up the opposition. Ronald Reagan also would have naturally seen the opportunity here, and exploited it. Those men, and others, knew how to be effective Presidents. They would have attended the funeral of Jeffery Daumer if they thought it would get a bill passed.
Fortunately for Obama, but unfortunately for the nation, his self-destructive pettiness has spawned a generation of equally petty and politically ignorant Democrats, who would rather see him symbolically tell Republicans and conservatives that their heroes mean squat to him than have him build useful alliances with politicians they detest. I don’t know if President Trump, Clinton, Sanders or Cruz will be any more competent in this critical leadership skill, but they couldn’t possibly be any worse.
112 thoughts on “The Flat Learning Curve Continues: Obama Skips Nancy Reagan’s Funeral. Of Course He Does.”
I hate it when this happens: ten minutes after I posted this, I stumbled upon this piece in Roll Call, making substantially the same point: http://blogs.rollcall.com/opinion-analysis/president-obama-always-go-to-the-funeral/?dcz=
Doesn’t the blue line on the graph start a little high?
I think our current President is mostly just lazy, and selfish. I bet there’s a nice golf course somewhere in Austin he’s going to be playing with his golf and basketball buddies (assuming this pretentious SXSW event is in Austin).
It is. An island of blue in a sea of red.
Actually, the graph is kind of neat. Maybe it’s a recently discovered Mondrian?
OK. Explain to me why Ronald Reagan’s wife ranks above ALL others. This seems like a biased comment.
I’m sorry that you think that this is an opportunity lost. If he DID go, his detractors would have SOMEthing negative to say about his going. Oh, maybe something like, “He’s only attending for political reasons” — the very reason you think he OUGHT to attend. Or some other criticism.
When you think someone’s a putz, everything that they do is putz-worthy.
This is pure bias because it is the wife of the sainted Ronald Reagan.
Target on my back, but I don’t care. This just really made me angry.
Oh, and I’m sure previous POTUSes who didn’t attend former First Lady funerals could have imagined politically correct reasons for attending.
Bad. Political correctness and political astuteness aren’t even in the same ballpark. Now as you aren’t President, that’s an excusable, if ridiculous, mistake. For a President, it’s incompetent.
OK, have it your way.
Oh, and I’m sure previous POTUSes who didn’t attend former First Lady funerals could have imagined politically astute reasons for attending.
Wilfully ignorant and obtuse comment, Patrice. Reagan is materially different because of how he is regarded. Objective opinions of him, or jaundiced ones like yours, are irrelevant. Sure, some hard core partisan will find fault with anything, but that’s an attitude a supporter can have, not a leader in a legislative democracy. Obama gave up, like you, around 6 years ago. But he can’t give up. Of course it’s an opportunity. If you don’t try, it’ easy to say “it wouldn’t do any good anyway.”
Your comment is a classic example of how bias makes us stupid. Don’t do the kind and compassionate thing because people who are looking for fault will find it self-serving, even if your job is to smooth over conflicts to accomplish things…and even if it WOULD be self-serving, if you cared more about getting things done than showing your contempt for the opposition?
Don’t go into politics. And re-read the Golden Rule. I bet Obama would like the sitting President to attend Michelle’s funeral.
Maybe he should have been the exception to the small-t tradition/history. I’m apparently too obtuse, stupid, biased, and ignorant to know. I did not intend to imply that the fact that he is not attending is because some people would criticize anything he does. How the hell would I know that? My point was that to some people — you, for instance — it matters not what he does. Just like to some people, it matters not what Ronald Reagan did.
Politics? No way. I’m too attached to The Golden Rule to go into politics.
And for the record, I did NOT give up. And I am not as biased as you think I am. Certainly not as biased as many of your commenters. I have criticized this POTUS and this Administration when deserved. I might have been silent at times when you think I should have been critical. There’s no way you could know what I was thinking or what was preventing me from criticizing at those times.
Insult me if you like, but I certainly don’t deserve to be referred to as obtuse, ignorant, or stupid. Biased? Maybe somewhat. But then so is everyone else on this forum. At least somewhat. Human nature. Now I suppose you will tell me that you are disgusted with me because I haven’t found a foolproof way to rise above my human nature 100% of the time. But I do try.
Jack did not call you “obtuse, ignorant, or stupid”, he called your comment that. Big difference.
The issue is that President Obama could have had an opportunity to reach out to Republicans by honoring someone they honored. He did not. This is a pattern of ignored opportunities to mend the partisan atmosphere in Congress. (One of his prime campaign promises was to heal the partisan gridlock; when the President ignores a chance to address of his explicit promises, it is worthy of note and criticism.)
Maybe obtuse and ignorant was about the comment. But read again: “Your comment is a classic example of how bias makes us stupid.” Accused of bias, I am thus accused of stupidity.
Wrong. Bias makes everyone stupid. Haven’t you read that mantra here before? Here: catch up. https://ethicsalarms.com/?s=%22Bias+makes+us+stupid%22
It was not a personal insult. You said you were angry about people being so negative about Obama, which was 100% irrelevant to the post—you just read it through your jaundiced eyes, and wrote two whacked out posts back to back. Other Presidents had no relevance, and you made a non-rational analogy with them. You used “political correctness” as if I said Obama needed to go to the damn funeral to satisfy some social standard, which I specifically said was not the case.
Personally, Nancy Reagan means nothing to me, but many, many Republicans and conservatives revered her, in great part because of her support and loyalty to her iconic husband. Republicans would have greatly appreciated Obama honoring her with his office and all it represents, and his attendance could have opened an opportunity for dialogue with Congressional leaders about the large number of issues that require bi-partisan accord.
All of that is manifestly true. How bizarrely must someone read that to take offense at it?
Explaining your longer bias-caused irrational post, you wrote…
“My point was that to some people — you, for instance — it matters not what he does.”
Cheap shot, lie, demonstrably false, lazy, negligent, biased, insulting and counter-factual. I know a damn lot about the Presidency, and I know a crummy one when I see one. You will not find a single critique of Obama on this site that isn’t backed by facts and analysis, as well as application of sound leadership theory and practice. Anything? When Obama has done something praiseworthy, I praise him, and nothing I have nailed him on would I not nail anyone on. Go ahead—tell me which of these is based on “Get Obama:. He’s the President, and the proof is in the toxic pudding he has made of black vs, white, Hispanic vs, legal citizens, religious vs feminist, male vs female, female college students vs male students…and the rest. I’m sorry he’s such a lousy President; we needed a competent one, and for the first black POTUS to be one of the worst is a cultural disaster. He would be easier to sympathize with…it’s a hard job—if his own arrogance and narcissism weren’t do much of the problem.
Gee, Patrice, is that fact that he lied directly to get Obamacare passed “anything”? That he’s ignoring his own ultimatum on Cuban human rights, like he ignored his own “red line” on Syria? That he refused to fire an incompetent and racially divisive AG who lied to Congress? Of a CIA director who lied to Congress? Of an NSA director who lied to Congress? Or injected himself and race into a local incident, making a citizen who had not been tried the target of vigilantes? I ignore most of Obama’s botches because I don’t want to keep writing about him. I’m sorry he’s incompetent, I really am. But don’t blame me.
I could answer these points but I won’t except this one —
“Bias makes everyone stupid.”
Everyone is biased, therefore everyone is stupid.
Some of us recognize our biases. Some of us work to mitigate them when trying to be rational.
You’re right — I do have an anti-Reagan bias. I refuse to accept that this bias got in the way of my reasoning. I just don’t agree with you. And, in my own obtuse and ignorant way, I don’t believe that my reasoning is flawed. Should he go, to build some damned bridges with the Party of No who have deified the Reagans? Is not going unethical? No. If it were Barbara Bush’s funeral, would conservatives be in such a lather? No. Would you think it unwise for him to miss that funeral? Barbara Bush was and is fairly well loved by both sides of the political spectrum. No. I refuse to cowtow to the Reagan myth machine. The more I argue with you about this, the happier I am that President Obama is not going. This is ridiculous. And biased.
Ugh. Just ugh.
1) The “party of no” is a slur, and pure partisan fantasy. When Obama vetoed a bill, or the Reid’s Senate refused to bring a House bill to the floor as the system was supposed to work, who is saying no? Look at the practices of Harry Reid as Senate leader. Good Presidents, Patrice, don’t take no for an answer. That’s the point. That GOP slur was designed to excuse Obama’s inability to work with Congress like every other effective President.
2) “Should he go, to build some damned bridges with the Party of No who have deified the Reagans? Is not going unethical? No”
WRONG! The answer is yes, because its his fucking job, get it? He doesn’t get to say, “Congress is mean to me so I’m going to pretend they aren’t there,” because they are, and that’s the system, and that’s the way the government was designed. If plan A doesn’t work , then you try B, then C…get where this is going? You display a 3rd grader’s comprehension of representative government.
By the way, here’s an unbiased report on the signature accomplishment of the Obama Presidency, that spawned the Tea Party, that Republicans said no to, that Obama repeatedly breached the Constitution to save, that he lied about, and that is both unpopular and expensive:
Click to access PatientPerspectives.pdf
I know, they’re just criticizing anything poor Barack does.
Bias also makes us blind. This is called “bias blindness”—refusing to see how biased you are. Common, and crippling.
Whatever you meant is irrelevant, it’s your tone that ultimately carries the day. Yes, “bias makes everyone stupid” doesn’t single Patrice out, nor does it directly refer to her as stupid, but it doesn’t matter — their proximity makes the connection unavoidable.
This was the point Cephalopod attempted to make when he argued you often “don’t understand the other side.” You get so caught up in your own point that you often fail to see how they’re liable to be interpreted. As a lawyer, I would have thought you’d be better at recognizing that — however right you may be, the judge/jury you’re trying to convince may have other standards. This was the mistake that Clark and Darden made during the Simpson trial — they failed to appropriately consider the jury. Cochran didn’t.
The tea party predates Obamacare. It was mostly a response to TARP and TARP 2 and the quadrupling of annual deficits as I recall it. Although precursors like porkbusters go back further.
I’m certainly not defending Obamacare though.
It’s nice to know that others receive the condescending treatment as well.
Most don`t paint such a large target on their back Neil, so don`t worry, you`re still special. Rona still has a sale on hammers this week, if you`re interested in crawling off that cross.
How can he crawl off the cross if he needs a hammer to get off? Seems like a chicken and an egg problem to me.
The most recent precedent was set by George W. Bush – who did NOT attend Lady Bird Johnson’s funeral, despite being fellow Texans. Nor did President Reagan attend Bess Truman’s funeral. In fact, in American history, only four Presidents have attended the funerals of past First Ladies. So it’s hardly about protocol or precedent.
And I get it – you claim you’re not arguing precedent or protocol, you’re arguing “building bridges.” But come on, Jack. Look at this in context.
–It’s been 7 years since the “You Lie” comment in the SOTU address kicked disrespect for the President into a new, higher gear,
–it’s been three congressional terms since McConnell declared the mission of the GOP was to get the President
–we’re now in the middle of an absolutely unprecedented (in length of time) attempt by the Senate to obstruct the normal functioning of judicial appointments – the least number of approved judicial appointments since 1969, at this rate.
And in that context, you want Obama to “be the bigger man?” When the right wing continue to demonize him with phrases like “petty” and “small,” I think by now he’s finally earned the right to stop trying to respond by turning the other cheek in unprecedented ways. Instead, try telling it to the GOP.
I get that Obama is the ice man; he should have visited Congress; he should have drinks and dinner, he should have socialized more, he is temperamentally no drama Obama, and that has played against his ability to work with Congress. But that hardly deserves the opprobrium that gets heaped on him, IMHO.
Worse, you’re complaining about symbolism. I get it, symbolism is important. But is it more important than the substantive gridlock we’re getting in the judicial system from the GOP side?
If you haven’t already, go read Jeffrey Goldberg’s extraordinary article Portrait of a Presidential Mind, in the just-out issue of The Atlantic. I cannot imagine you reading that and then using the word “petty” about him.
By contrast, the word “petty” fits nicely when you consider the id-based nonsense that passes for foreign policy coming out of the mouths of his political rivals these days – glowing sand, kicking ISIS’s butt, “behaving,” and all the other nonsense. I’m glad we’ve got someone who’s capable of reacting to provocation with cool, serious thinking rather than the knee jerk schoolyard ego games we’re hearing lately.
If the price of that coolness is that he runs out of capacity to turn the other cheek – well, this is far from the worst of sins.
I read most of it – I imagine Jack may appreciate it since a Godfather quote (“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”) was referred to.
Overall, it is an article about the US Project of World Management and this president’s relationship to that project. It is interesting to me that if the US is the Headquarters for the reigning World Management Team, it is serving very different interests than mine.
A few quotes from “Portrait of a Presidential Mind”:
“One day, over lunch in the Oval Office dining room, I asked the president how he thought his foreign policy might be understood by historians. He started by describing for me a four-box grid representing the main schools of American foreign-policy thought. One box he called isolationism, which he dismissed out of hand. “The world is ever-shrinking,” he said. “Withdrawal is untenable.” The other boxes he labeled realism, liberal interventionism, and internationalism. “I suppose you could call me a realist in believing we can’t, at any given moment, relieve all the world’s misery,” he said. “We have to choose where we can make a real impact.” He also noted that he was quite obviously an internationalist, devoted as he is to strengthening multilateral organizations and international norms.”
“For all of our warts, the United States has clearly been a force for good in the world,” he said. “If you compare us to previous superpowers, we act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.”
“I am very much the internationalist,” Obama said in a later conversation. “And I am also an idealist insofar as I believe that we should be promoting values, like democracy and human rights and norms and values, because not only do they serve our interests the more people adopt values that we share—in the same way that, economically, if people adopt rule of law and property rights and so forth, that is to our advantage—but because it makes the world a better place. And I’m willing to say that in a very corny way, and in a way that probably Brent Scowcroft would not say.”
“Having said that,” he continued, “I also believe that the world is a tough, complicated, messy, mean place, and full of hardship and tragedy. And in order to advance both our security interests and those ideals and values that we care about, we’ve got to be hardheaded at the same time as we’re bighearted, and pick and choose our spots, and recognize that there are going to be times where the best that we can do is to shine a spotlight on something that’s terrible, but not believe that we can automatically solve it. There are going to be times where our security interests conflict with our concerns about human rights. There are going to be times where we can do something about innocent people being killed, but there are going to be times where we can’t.”
President Obama: “For all of our warts, the United States has clearly been a force for good in the world,” he said. “If you compare us to previous superpowers, we act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.”
I think this encapsulates one of the primary tenets of Americansim, in the sense of ‘the tenets of American civil religiousness’.
While I understand that the chief executive, in a public interview, cannot really tell the truth – I mean cannot really reveal what s/he really and truly believes and understands – I have all sorts of different questions about what *our* relationship to these questions must be. I mean, *we the little people* who sit on the sidelines. We the marginally complicit.
To be a political figure-head, is to be a Liar-in-Chief. It would be possible, and perhaps profitable, to include some of Machiavelli’s maxims which, essentially, recommend to the princely ‘lion’ that he be just as much a ‘fox’, and I think we generally understand that the political sphere, which includes the business sphere, is one where bold and outright use of power is mediated by the art of bending truths to serve the deceptions of power. What I find interesting – at the psychological level – is the degree that any given person is, in different degrees, just such a *political liar*. Take one Maxim of Le Rochefoucauld:
— “We are so much accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that at length we disguise ourselves to ourselves”.
It is interesting to me – and in reference to some maxims of Machiavelli by Gentillet translated from Latin to English by Simon Paterick in 1577 – that to function in the political world there is required the Political Lie and to transform the Self into Political Liar:
— “A Prince ought not to feare to be periured, to deceive, to dissemble; for the deceiver alwaies finds some that are fit to be deceived”.
— “A Prince which will make a straight profession of a good man, cannot long continue in the world amongst such an heape of naughtie and wicked people”.
The problem is very profound. Let me elucidate in this way: The nature of the our physical world, the nature of beings who struggle to survive in the physical-biological world, is by its very nature a nature bound up in deception and subterfuge. In nature, there are visual deceptions and deceivers, chemical deceptions and deceivers, microbiological deceptions and deceivers. Hunting is a game in which the hunter out-sees and out-strategizes his prey. Intelligence by definition is (in this sense) an increased capacity to master deception. It arises in that context. A predator gains an edge and exploits his edge.
Interestingly, in the Medieval conception of the world, the world is a fallen world, and the closer one comes to the actual dense matter of the world, the further away from the angelical realm of brightness and truth and reason and intelligence one moves. I find it interesting that *we* still inhabit a mental world, an interpretive world, which is often very much in the shadow cast by the Medieval conceptions: We need only refer to Shakespeare’s operative conception of the world to understand this.
Yet – supposedly – we have emerged out of the darkness and misunderstanding of these obscurantist understandings of ‘reality’ and we now stand stand in a brave new world cut off both from the false-understanding of Heaven-exsting (angelical realm) and Hell-existing (demonic realm). Now, it is no longer possible to see reality in dualistic terms. If you do so you will be understood as a lunatic seeing the world in that way. Yet, that viewpoint is still very close. Indeed, there are many on this blog who are still *in* such a metaphysical view-structure of reality. It is true it is that millions of people – billions in fact – still live in a world of duality and in a Mediaeval mental world.
It is my personal view that not many people really *see* and describe the world we actually live in. Meaning, there are not many people who describe the perception-world of people generally. The way that we stand in the world, the way that we make sense of our existence, the way that we explain it all to ourselves. This ‘existential meditation’ is one of the strangest endeavors that we can undertake really.
When once we had access to a supporting view-structure – the description of a world that made sense to us and in relation to which we had, or understood that we had, a capacity to remediate (I mean quite exactly access to metaphysical or divine mediation to alleviate the overwhelming sense of sin of being ‘lost’ in a devilish, devious, deceptive, dark and dangerous ‘realm’ – it is now our modern understanding that all of these fantasies have collapsed. If you think, still, in these terms it is evidence of being mentally ill. Sort of in the same sense that the Christians drove the pagan gods and goddesses underground and converted then into demons and demonettes. Now, to think in the Christian terms (really, the better term is Mediaeval terms) is evidence that you are a little batty, and in the worst-case scenarios this perception-mode erupts and dominates perception so that you get put in a nuthouse.
So, what is ‘reality’ now? I suggest that this is not a small question, and also that it is the Question that sub-structures our relationship to life, and certainly to ethics and morality. Before the q
To be a political figure-head, is to be a Liar-in-Chief.
Baloney. The President seldom has to lie. Obama and B. Clinton especially made it seem that way, because they embraced the endless campaign. That’s not endemic to the job. Every time a President lies, he undermines faith in democracy, and undercuts it. There are times, especially in foreign matters, when obfuscation is necessary and unavoidable. But your statement is bad history and bad leadership….and just plain inaccurate.
I am not sure if I have succeeded in making myself clear Jack. It is rather a difficult concept I am working with because, really and truly, it touches on metaphysical concepts (though I know that some ridicule these concerns in a modern political discussion). The State – our state – is an organism. And the organism, and other organisms, function as organisms in the natural world do. They take, they claim, they possess, they dispossess, they establish their systems to do all of that, and they also work to eliminate competition. I am not saying – not at all – that this is ‘wrong’. It is obvious in a sense that it is simply the way it is. Our states are extensions in this sense of our own biological status, as it were.
When I say the political figurehead-in-chief, to be such, must lie, and if I refer to Machiavelli and his doctrines to back it up, I think I touch upon truths that we all recognize to be facts of and dynamics of existence.
In this sense then, though we no longer overtly describe our reality as a ‘fallen’ one (and the Fall of man, in medieval metaphysics, contaminated and corrupted the terraqueous world: man’s fall is thus the earth’s fall and man’s redemption is also a cosmic redemption. Not making this up. These ideas functioned at the core of this metaphysical description of reality), we live in the shadow of these concepts, and I will assert that much of ‘progressivism’ is post-Christian imposition of value on the no longer dual, but certainly the ‘fallen’ world of man. If you think I am merely ‘seeing poetically’ I beg to differ. The classical Social Justice Warrior is a modern Christian hero.
Our modern states are in a certain sense, and seen from a certain angle of view, a form of criminal enterprise. We tend to be able to see this fact easier when we examine other states which we examine with a critical eye. They establish and maintain hierarchies and even when, say, a hierarchy of serfdom is superseded by another form, still but in different ways, very strict and yet very real hierarchies are maintained. And any given state, just like any given organism, must ruthlessly seek out the materials and such that it requires to exist. What I am alluding to is more a fact of our reality: In order to grow we have to clear land. When we clear land we displace other creatures. No matter where and how we take, at the other end we also leave behind. We eat, we defecate.
I suggest that as we have moved away from a dualitic metaphysic – I mean as the concept and the idea that determines our perception – we are in this sense now, maybe for the first time (?), finally with no other option but to be totally present within our actual reality. When once the object of life was (certainly spiritual life) to get away from the reality of life in the body and, in this sense, the terror and the horror of it, we have ‘come back into the body’. This has been one of the major shifts, especially with Freud and a shift in description of reality that took place roughly at the turn of the 20th century.
Now, it is all about the body: about being here. I don’t know how to describe this well. This very much ties in to numerous political strains, not the least being the philosophy which informs Marxist theory. The transcendent in this sense has been supplanted by the immanent.
Now, examine for a moment “State Department Policy Study 23”, issued in 1948, which was apparently written by George Kennan (which is at the core of Chomsky’s critical analysis, his ‘applied Machiavellian analysis’ as I call it:
“The U.S. has about 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.”
Now, I am not sending this up as a Chomsky partisan, but I do send it up because it is an assertion of truth. It is an organization of data about relationship to the world, and it describes, in essence, exactly that a State is a form or organism. And specifically in this sense to be and to fulfil the role of state figure-head, involves all manner of forms of deception, spin, partial truth, and everything that we know operates in PR.
Someone reading my (albeit odd) analysis will ask OK, but what are you saying? Where do you stand in all this? What is your position?
And what I am trying to say is that: To the extent that we are biological entities we are implicated and collusive in a specific sort of game that is part-and-parcel of existence. It is this way now, it has been that way in the past, and it cannot be any other way simply because the system cannot allow it to be different.
Someone like me, who sees as I see, recognizes that at the core of each and any system, at the core of each and every state, there is a power structure that operates by Machiavellian rules. To the degree that I am a patriot and decide to defend my nation and my nationalism, I must get comfortable with making a deal with the deal, with coming to terms with (on one level or another, in one degree or another) with the ‘fascist personality’ or the raw aspect of Power Politics, and the truth of ‘how power functions’.
What I propose, then, is the end of self-deception, the end of the endless lie, and the false notion of ‘doing good in the world’. I began with that statement and I do indeed think that it is a lie-of-a-sort. It MAY be a lie that I am comfortable with – in any political and economic situation, in any given state – but I suppose I am suggesting that *we* do away with the lie.
Just as one might say ‘We are complicit in a system that, though it has warts, does good’ we could just as easily say ‘We are complicit in a system based in the false-declaration that we ‘do good’ when we actually collude with evil’.
We no longer live in a dual world. We (seem to) have to come to face our complicity.
I must get comfortable with making “a deal with the deal” …
“Making a deal with the Devil” is what I intended to write.
Ironic, but apropos.
Before the question of ethics and morality can be answered, one has to define the place where we are. But we CANNOT agree on our definitions of what sort of place this is, and what exactly we are to do here, and what is right and what is wrong, and indeed these questions are so confused, and people are so confused, that each individual carries an atomized personal narrative and faces the world of his peers from his personal stance, failing to grasp that the Other does exactly the same thing.
I have no idea what that means. The values don’t go anywhere. We find them, they don’t find us.
Again, it requires a whole gamut of metaphysical definitions in order to define a value-system. An ethic does not – at least as I see it – develop ‘naturally’, and there is no such thing as ‘natural ethics’. If we were to go that route we would actually have to say that nature is amoral.
Our values have arisen in a context. You seem to me content to operate within a ‘defined set of values’ which you link with the American situation. I am (more) interested in how these values came to be defined, and how valuation shifts with the times.
To say ‘values find us’ is to give entity to what you term ‘value’. Do values exist as discreet entities? That would imply a metaphysical background.
I accept that my concerns and my issues are not so common. They can be ridiculed (Hi Tex!) But I am convinced that these issues, and the clarifications they entail, are vital to understanding the present.
[To all readers, I apologize for what promises to be a very long and skinny post – only one and one-half pages in non-blog world, but still (I think) worthy of reflection.]
Alizia, if I ever was acquainted with a person that thought too much, you may be she. I fear you miss the more obvious things in life – the beautiful things in life – by trying to dig ever deeper into darkness. You have a fascinating mind…if only for our benefit, please do not destroy that precious mind.
While Machiavelli may have thought he was giving sound advice, only tyrants and despots have embraced his methods. To be called Machiavellian is an insult, not high praise. In other words, Machiavelli’s doctrines do nothing to back up anything other than poor behavior of very poor leaders. There is certainly no need for any political leader to become a political liar or Liar-in-Chief. While some may see immediate gains from lying, in the long-term, lying (and deception generally) is always detrimental to one’s self and one’s nation.
Assuming an evolutionary dawn of man, we transcended nature millennia ago. Many of us claim to have transcended religious belief; still others of us claim to have transcended reality through spiritualism. Regardless, we still have a dualistic world view. We all recognize a difference between good and bad, right and wrong, better and worse – this is our reality. (If we do not do this, we cannot function.) We may not tie this recognition to any particular religious belief, but the recognition remains. This is what makes us special, and different from nature at large. Yes, nature is amoral – nature does not consider ethics or morality. We humans, on the other hand, are moral (or immoral). Deception in nature has nothing to do with us, and certainly isn’t a model for human behavior.
No state is an organism; a state is an association of multiple individual organisms. Giving the state (and “systems”) status as individual organisms is only a way to shirk personal responsibility. (It is a classic leftist ploy. It is also a classic legal ploy that allows corporations to be regarded as “persons”.) All of the things you say states do are actually done by individual persons, sometimes in concert with others, but by persons nonetheless. George Kennan’s pronouncement that we should “devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security” is not about maintaining an organism called a state. Kennan (an individual person) was calling for a plan that would allow other individual persons an opportunity to enjoy the freedom and prosperity they apparently earned (the state being only the mechanism through which the plan is executed).
I have no doubt that modern social justice warriors view themselves as heroes, but they’re certainly not Christian heroes. Christians emphasize personal transformation and personal responsibility. Social justice warriors, on the other hand, seem to emphasize “systems change” to allow governments shoving down our throats whatever the warriors deem appropriate at the time.
No, you do not have to be complicit (or non-complicit) in any Machiavellian endeavor. There is no “system” controlling things in our world. There is no “power structure that operates by Machiavellian rules”. There are only people – individuals that choose to behave ethically or non-ethically. If the end of self-deception is seeing things that don’t exist, I don’t want to go there.
Defining a value system does not require “a whole gamut of metaphysical definitions”. Ethics has developed naturally, and, for most people, “natural ethics” is the only ethics (though some academics have stretched themselves to find truly unnatural ethics). And, again, outside of humanity, nature is amoral (trees do not think about how good or right it is whether they grow straight or crooked; lions do not think about the moral implications of killing that tasty little antelope; the moon never considers how it might affect ocean tides on earth). We, on the other hand, can and should consider how our behavior affects all other things. Relegating our behavior to no better than nature at large only promotes the type of behavior most of us abhor.
Finally, as for values, we find them. More accurately, we recognize them, and have done so very naturally. All of the people, memories, aspirations, activities, ideals, and material objects we value are cherished only because we somehow sense they are conducive to our happiness or the happiness of others. There are many ideals valued worldwide. Among these are compassion, fairness, honesty, responsibility, wisdom, knowledge, courage, love, benevolence, freedom, justice, equality, and temperance. These are not “American” values, dependent on a particular political view or cultural upbringing – these are human values. Over the course of millennia, we have (naturally) learned that pursuit of these ideals is conducive to our happiness or the happiness of others. This is why such ideals are valued, and why not pursuing these ideals is unethical. Yes, most of these are not discrete; they are ideals toward which we should strive. And, pursuing them with any foggy idea of what they might mean is preferable to not pursuing them at all.
Hello Otto. Thanks for responding as you have. To your first paragraph I would answer: The essence of the spiritual or the religious (or the metaphysical) question involves an ultra-serious investigation of reality and self-in-reality. You seem to feel that by exploring what is real and consistent about this *realm* is to probe darkness. I’d say though that to probe our reality is to understand how bizarrely mixt together are the two poles, both outside of us, inside of us, and in our mental world (which has some independence). A superficial relationship (to the Questions and also to self) is safer, I admit, but superficiality will limit one.
I also do not think it possible to ‘think too much’ but it is possible to think lopsidedly, and badly, or non-productively. My contributions in the context of an ethics blog, revolving around questions of society and politics, are odd contributions, this I admit. But I don’t think it irrelevant. Yes, I am interested in the metapolitical, but I think that everyone – Americans especially who sometimes think ‘provincially’ – can benefit from thinking in metapolitical terms.
I very strongly feel that ‘Machiavelli’ (both as political philosophy and in a larger sense as emblematic of man’s capacity to deceive and do evil, as well as a statement about ‘the nature of the place’) defines in numerous senses man’s being in the world. I have made an effort to explain why I think that and to repeat it would surely be tiresome. To say this does not at all mean that one is (or that I am) incapable of seeing beauty or appreciating good.
I suggest that as we enter a description-paradigm of ‘reality’ which is non-dual (and I mean it in the sense that we do not cast ‘good’ onto the heavens and ‘evil’ onto the earth or the sub-earth) that we seem to move toward understanding our place in reality in non-dual terms. The implications of this perspective seem to dawn on us, or to be dawning on us. We are totally complicit. I am not sure how to make this sense of things clear.
You wrote: “Giving the state (and “systems”) status as individual organisms is only a way to shirk personal responsibility.”
On the contrary, to see clearly and to understand how we create systems which function corporately, and then begin to evolve toward functioning like machines (and when machines are married and cojoined to this), is to understand how ‘systems’ begin to overpower individuals.
For an individual to stop ‘shirking’ is to understand how these mechanisms are established. I’d also say that, and I think you mean something like this, an individual must see himself as independent of mechanisms and machines and must see himself more really as a *person*. Frankly, in our present, I notice people defending mechanisms and *machines* as if those things are parts-and-parcels of their selves. I may be terrible and unsuccessful in explaining what I mean but the importance of what is seen is still very much there.
You wrote: ” George Kennan’s pronouncement that we should “devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security” is not about maintaining an organism called a state. Kennan (an individual person) was calling for a plan that would allow other individual persons an opportunity to enjoy the freedom and prosperity they apparently earned (the state being only the mechanism through which the plan is executed).”
I think you may miss the point. The point (that is, the point I wish to make) is not simple and is not a reduction. The point is that a person, and people, and communities of persons, and also states with ‘state policies’ function through their interests. The defence of one’s interests in the strict sense that I mean involves elaborate PR efforts. This is a process of ‘persuasion’ but also often involves deception, distortion and lying. We usually are able to see that and clearly identifying it when we gaze at ‘the other’; it is harder to turn the gaze 180 degrees and look at our selves.
You wrote: “I have no doubt that modern social justice warriors view themselves as heroes, but they’re certainly not Christian heroes. Christians emphasize personal transformation and personal responsibility. Social justice warriors, on the other hand, seem to emphasize “systems change” to allow governments shoving down our throats whatever the warriors deem appropriate at the time.”
To explain to you what I mean, and why I say that, involves a whole lot of background. Too much for a blog of this sort (it would be better and more ‘normal’ in a forum-type setting). I understand our culture as a ‘post-Christian culture’. In one sense it means that though the metaphysic that supported the belief system has utterly collapsed, yet the impetus established through 1000 years of Christian indoctrination continues on.
In my view, in order to understand so-called Progressivism and the ‘social justice warrior’ of our present, the more background one has in understanding social Christian values (the social doctrines of the Church for example), and Christian Democratic movements, and certainly Jewish social doctrines which are largely the background of the former, the better one will understand our ‘progressive’ present.
By understanding this style of progressivism, with its claims to ‘righteousness’ and its self-assurance of the same, one can begin to understand a great deal about our ‘progressive present’.
When one penetrates that progressivism, and when one also sees that it is strongly founded in Christian dualism, one will better understand just how, and where, it needs to be opposed. This will take one into a difficult territory of ‘turning against’ established value-attitudes and toward the definition of harsher, more realistic perhaps, social doctrines.
When you say ‘self-transformation’ and when I say ‘self-transformation’, it is quite possible that we define these things differently.
You wrote: “Finally, as for values, we find them. More accurately, we recognize them, and have done so very naturally. All of the people, memories, aspirations, activities, ideals, and material objects we value are cherished only because we somehow sense they are conducive to our happiness or the happiness of others. There are many ideals valued worldwide. Among these are compassion, fairness, honesty, responsibility, wisdom, knowledge, courage, love, benevolence, freedom, justice, equality, and temperance. These are not “American” values, dependent on a particular political view or cultural upbringing – these are human values. Over the course of millennia, we have (naturally) learned that pursuit of these ideals is conducive to our happiness or the happiness of others. This is why such ideals are valued, and why not pursuing these ideals is unethical. Yes, most of these are not discrete; they are ideals toward which we should strive. And, pursuing them with any foggy idea of what they might mean is preferable to not pursuing them at all.”
I respect your view and understanding. I think this encapsulates them and must inform your views generally. All that I will say, having run out of time, is that it all would have to be carefully unpacked. You and I would discover, I think, different ‘edifices’ out of which we see and speak.
Thanks again for your contribution, it is appreciated.
“And in that context, you want Obama to “be the bigger man?”
This is really all I need to respond to, but to clean up some flotsam and jetsam: “You lie” was one asshole who is not even in Congress any more and was considered an embarrassment by most in hos own party; Oh, please with the McConnell statement. Has any routine political blather ever been given the status of that? I have printed tbe whole thing here. McConnell said in it that Republicans would work with Obama. The statement was , far, far less obstructionist than its cherry-picked excerpts indicate, and anyway, every opposing party is out to make the other Party’s President a one-term President. The fact that Democrats keep harping on that—Harry Reid said worse things weekly—shows exactly the attitude Obama projects. How dare they oppose me? McConnell was and is an ass, and the statement was bad PR and bad diplomacy, and so what.
Of course he is supposed to be “the bigger man”,” though I would term it, “not a petty man.” He is the President. He can rally his third of the three branches—himself–all by himself. He has the bully pulpit. He carries the mantle of Washington and Lincoln, whatever shit he has to eat to make the system work, he has to eat it, because that’s his job, to make the system work, and he has the power to do so. You can spin out of this, Charles. Honoring Reagan could have signaled a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what the tradition is (the tradition is sexist, by the way), because his situation an d that of the parties and nation is unique, in part because a man who promised to transcend partisanship went out of his way to exacerbate them. Obama, as the Post pointed out, doesn’t go to ANY funerals of Republican or Conservatives, but does attend those of Democrats and liberals on occasion…making the potential power of his attendance here more obvious and effective.
And more flotsam and jetsam: doing nothing isn’t “cool,” Charles. It’s abdication and dereliction of duty.
I confess to not having known the broader context of the infamous McConnell quote (and to hearing your characterization of him and of that congressman), so thanks for that; I for one will let up on that particular meme.
And I will for the record acknowledge that yes, I too think it would have been a net good thing had he attended. (Apparently the tradition, such as it is, is partisan, and we’ve got more than enough of that).
Thanks, Charles…a reasoned and fair response. Make no mistake: McConnell is certifiably awful, and as responsible for the dysfunction of the Senate as Reid was—it was his duty to forge some kind of working relationship with the Democrats, and he failed, if he tried. I have no problem with holding him to accountability, but his 2010 comment in that interview has been really distorted (and often confused with Rush Limbaugh’s unforgivable statement in 2008 that he wanted Obama to fail).
And you know how I hate to have to defend politicians who are otherwise deplorable.
“I confess to not having known the broader context of the infamous McConnell quote”
Jack posted the dialogue here, in a discussion you were actively part of.
A few decades ago I might conceivably have remembered all the threads I’d read and the comments I’ve made. Alas, I’ve been hit with a case of CRS, and it seems I increasingly Can’t Remember Shit. Sorry.
Slight personal anecdote here: when my mother passed in 2014, a then-friend said she would come to the wake. However, she told me at the last minute that she wasn’t going to be able to make it, and didn’t give a reason why. That, together with a subsequent refusal to ever meet socially again, was the final nail in the coffin of that friendship.
P.S. Yes, it did occur to me that the person may have wanted out of the friendship. However, not to attend a funeral of a parent after saying you will and not giving a reason, even if it’s telling a little white lie like “I think I’m coming down with something” is a lousy way to handle that exit. It’s also a bridge burner, and I’m aware that perhaps the person didn’t care, given what followed.
If she refused to see you socially then she’s the one who drove the final nail, not you for saying “good riddance.” In other words, perhaps that was her plan?
My lone surviving aunt found an excuse not to attend my Dad’s funeral. She and Dad never got along, but my Mom was deeply hurt. My aunt came to my Mom’s funeral a year later, but to hell with her. She was a petty, vindictive jerk when my Mom needed her support. I haven’t had contact with her since, and I don’t intend to.
Funerals are…. Odd catalysts for feelings. I tend not to hate people, it takes too much effort. There are two people I just can’t find it in me not to hate though, and both have to do with a funeral. One is the oncologist who got into a pissing match with my grandmother’s general practitioner, which delayed her chemotherapy by two months, I don’t know if those two months would have made a difference, in fact; I’m almost certain they wouldn’t, but I’m still bitter. The other was one my grandmother’s pastors (She was… I’m searching for an acceptable euphemism… enthusiastically religious, and belonged to several churches) who in a fit of spite for not being chosen as the presiding clergy at the funeral, decided to go golfing instead.
Go to the damn funeral.
If the person who withdrew on me hadn’t said she was coming in the first place, then withdrawn, but simply expressed her condolences however, then that would have been that. But saying you will go and then changing your mind says you don’t value the friendship, your promises, or both. Like I said, maybe this friendship was on the outs anyway, and some of my friends have given me the usual bs “show a little grace,” “get over it,” and so on, but frankly those are just euphemistic brush-offs for stuff that’s no big deal when it happens to someone else, but a big big deal when it happens to you.
Like most things Obama related, this is a double-standard and a tempest in a teapot all at once. In the last 80 years, a sitting President has attended a funeral of a former first lady exactly twice, JFK at Eleanor Roosevelt’s funeral, and Bill Clinton at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s funeral (mostly because he thought himself as the natural heir to Kennedy’s legacy.
Obama is following the exact protocol for former First Lady funerals; that is, he is sending the current First Lady. That is no snub or insult, that is what is done. He is giving her the honors due to her. The Reagan children are huge, vocal fans of Obama. I am positive that if they had wanted him to be there, he would have attended. But the President being there requires levels of hassle and security that even the First Lady doesn’t bring, and not everyone wants to deal with that headache, or inflict it on their guests. Those who are having a fit or tantrum about Obama following normal protocol are the ones, per usual, ruining the political discourse.
The Clintons did not attend the funeral of Pat Nixon in 1993. In 2007, President George W. Bush did not attend the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson, though he had no scheduled events that day.
And in 2011, Obama did not attend the funeral of former first lady Betty Ford.
President Carter also did not attend the funeral of Mamie Eisenhower in 1979, while President Reagan did not attend the funeral of Bess Truman in 1982.
I gotta say Deery has it exactly here, Jack. It’s “a double-standard and a tempest in a teapot all at once…” I think yes, he might have given up on trying to make anybody in Congress happy, but he is truly damned no matter what he does with them anyway. I’m personally conflicted about Nancy myself, because she was the first First Lady I paid any attention to as a kid, but now know more about her that colors my kid’s opinion. No one is perfect, but there are specific reasons for the animosity certain groups have for her.
I am also of the opinion that you ALWAYS go to the funeral. Period. But in actual run-ins with my husband’s family, I caused real issues with that basic ideal. Because I was not ALLOWED to just go, and in one case, got in trouble just for THINKING (and listing internet flight options) about going. People get so weird when loved ones die.
I think it was fine here to stick with the official protocol of sending the First Lady. Your mileage may vary. And I always hope I’m not one of your FB friends who incites your ire…
I think the point isn’t that he has a duty to go, obviously he doesn’t, as deery pointed out, there is a long history of missing funerals. I think the point being made here is that this is an opportunity missed; an opportunity to build bridges, an opportunity to share some humanity, an opportunity to not be a dick. I can’t think of a time when Obama actually used an opportunity to actually bring people together merely for being people. Can you?
think the point being made here is that this is an opportunity missed; an opportunity to build bridges, an opportunity to share some humanity, an opportunity to not be a dick.
I don’t think he is being a dick: that would entail not even bothering to send Michelle to the funeral. He has spoken very long and lovingly about Nancy Reagan’s legacy. He is sending the wife to the funeral. Nancy Reagan has said mostly good things about him. He is upholding his end of the of “bridge building” process. Compare and contrast the Republicans announcing, before Scalia’s body had even grown cold, that they would not even consider even one of Obama’s nominations to the Supreme Court, sight unseen.
I think Obama correctly figures the Right is a lost cause, and no matter his move, they will react with overblown hysteria. He is doing exactly the same thing as everyone else, yet it is never enough. The right doesn’t just want that, they want special honors and considerations, with nothing really to justify it other than, “But it’s our guy, so it’s different (somehow)!” In this climate, I don’t see how Obama could build bridges, not with so many people intent on burning bridges down. The Republican party is obviously working something large and unpleasant through it’s system right now, of which Trump is a symptom, not a cause. Whether this “something” will be expelled out, or kill the host has yet to be determined. But I don’t think anything Obama says or does would be satisfy the hysterics or build any bridges.. Best to stick to protocol, the way pretty much every other President has done in this situation.
“In this climate, I don’t see how Obama could build bridges, not with so many people intent on burning bridges down.”
Are you stupid?***
He has been the bridge burner in chief for quite awhile now, following in the bridge burning tradition of the Left for a couple decades. Don’t even foment the obvious fantasy that somehow he’s just given up on trying to repair bridges.
***I didn’t want to be rude, but, try as I might, I couldn’t find a better way to pose this question
‘I didn’t want to be rude, but, try as I might, I couldn’t find a better way to pose this question”
Yes, you did; else you could and would have found a better way. Your phrasing echoes almost every ignorant diatribe I’ve ever heard which invariably began with “I’m not a racist, but …”
No, I really didn’t want to have to identify the stupidity. I really wanted to attribute deery’s stance to something else.
But I couldn’t. There is no way to assert what deery asserted in defiance of in-our-face reality. Either deery IS stupid and cannot see past his own biases, or just simply cannot discern reality (though he doesn’t seem like he’s inhibited that way) OR deery IS stupid enough to think being willfully blind to this is somehow beneficial to his analysis, OR deery IS malicious and actually enjoys and is desirous of the End that Obama’s petty divisiveness will lead us too. But, you know, Hanlon’s razor… so Stupidity it is…
What I think you fail to understand, and to take into account, is that people operate from different core premises, different sets of tenets, and even very different metaphysical bases and predicates.
T. E. Hulme wrote that it is almost insuperably difficult to become critically conscious of one’s own habitual assumptions; ‘doctrines felt as facts’ can only be seen as doctrines, and not facts, after great efforts of thought, and usually only with the aid of a first-rate metaphysician.
‘In-our-face reality’ is a phrase which indicates a person wrapped up in ‘habitual assumptions’ and ‘doctrines felt as facts’.
Hulme was not speaking to political analysis, and was speaking about metaphysics literally, and yet the overall idea has relevance here.
It is so curious to me how people so immediately conclude that when someone does not understand, or agree, or when they see an issue differently, that they are 1) mentally defective, 2) stupid, and my favorite 3) deliberately being obtuse (as if one could deliberately choose obtuseness.
(Myself, I’d rather be identified as being the Devil’s Mouthpiece or perhaps as possessed by a Fury. “You’re deliberately channeling Satan again!” would be welcome. This reminds me of the ‘Chomsky has hit intellectual menopause’ argument, or the one where some poor soul imagined I was writing while under the effect of barbiturates. (While in fact I am often under the influence of mint tea).
For crying out loud. We get it. You haven’t figured out reality yet. Everyone thinks differently, we get it. We all operate from different starting points. We get it. We need to figure out what makes people think that way. We get it. We need to figure out from a Johannine perspective why in a neo-platonic sense a polarized world can, given a post-modern framework derive from Judeo-Christian origins, flavored with quasi-Nietzschean philosophy so easily divide into neo-Communist camp and an alt-Right camp, with such apparent necessity that it leaves our pre-Kantian minds swimming, but we ought to consider the words of Hume, Anselm, Aesop, Aquinas, Sproul, Zinn, Chomsky, Lewis and Confucius to determine exactly how, from a semi-Pelagian stance we can resolve our differences and still result in a post-Augustinian reality. We get it.
What you fail to take into account is that Deery is quite blatantly saying “Obama doesn’t have to do this, not because he shouldn’t have to appeal to Republicans as fellow Americans, he also has to appeal to democrats who want to continue to cast a certain great American and his adherents as something non-American”. Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it in reality-land. It is essentially saying “I don’t have to transcend and be a leader because my people hate this guy, so I’m going to follow the guidance of their unethical hatred and not try to transcend”. It’s a rotten rationalization because it doesn’t try to rationalize unethical behavior with something ethical, it tries to rationalize unethical behavior with something unethical.
That was pretty Clever, Tex. I don’t mind the mockery. At the very least it indicates that you have read my posts and for that I am thankful. Should you have made a reference to Wily-E-Coyote I’d have been even more impressed.
I am still of the opinion – or this is my developing opinion – that everyone in this conversation is ensconced within a partisan relationship to our political world.
Though I am warming to the possibility that it might be possible to gain a clearer sense of ‘what is really happening’. But, I am not at all sure if gaining that perspective – coming closer to truth – would bring one into a defence of one side or the other necessarily.
“It is so curious to me how people so immediately conclude that when someone does not understand, or agree, or when they see an issue differently, that they are 1) mentally defective, 2) stupid, and my favorite 3) deliberately being obtuse (as if one could deliberately choose obtuseness.”
You left out malice.
No, in fact I referred to it ironically: “(Myself, I’d rather be identified as being the Devil’s Mouthpiece or perhaps as possessed by a Fury. “You’re deliberately channeling Satan again!” would be welcome. This reminds me of the ‘Chomsky has hit intellectual menopause’ argument, or the one where some poor soul imagined I was writing while under the effect of barbiturates. (While in fact I am often under the influence of mint tea).”
Malice = intentional evil; a desire to do intentional harm; malevolence. This IS the metaphysical backdrop, especially it seems in American political discussions.
Are you seriously saying that people do NOT fail to understand because they are “1) mentally defective, 2) stupid, and my favorite 3) deliberately being obtuse (as if one could deliberately choose obtuseness.?”
I see all three every day, especially the latter, when someone intentionally misstates or ignores, or refuses to deal with a clear and well supported point because they can’t cope with accepting that they are wrong.
Point of view or not, there are opinions and positions that are objectively wrong. Your comment comes perilously close to endorsing the “my truth/your truth” fallacy.
Stupid: “Obama is excused from lying about Obamacare because Bush lied and people died.”
Mentally defective; “Because we have had series of professional politicians who have failed at the Presidency because it is such a difficult and: complex job, we clearly need someone with no relevant experience or skills whatsoever”
Jack wrote: “I see all three every day, especially the latter, when someone intentionally misstates or ignores, or refuses to deal with a clear and well supported point because they can’t cope with accepting that they are wrong.”
The best I am able to say to you, today, is that I see these sorts of retorts used all the time in discourse.
I agree with you that there are opinions and positions that are objectively wrong. I agree that starting with simple examples we can easily indicate that this is so.
But your implication is that there is one, defensible, and also correct viewpoint, and that it is attainable. The problem is that though this is so in smaller instances, it seems that in the larger instances, and then in something akin to chaos of the political and social world, people disagree terribly. Their premises are distinct and different. One chooses a camp and one inhabits a camp.
I am attracted to the idea of ‘truth’ and even ‘absolute truth’. I have no idea at all how defining absolutes in political life could be carried out though.
The implication – your implication – is that simply by clear thought all divisions in political life could be spanned.
And that not seeing as you see is as a result of failure to think right.
My position is to stand above the declarations and to examine the stances. I do not know what ultimate position to take. Actually, my predicates are not ‘absolutely established’. I foreground one, and then another.
Not true at all. All I require and all anyone should require is a logical, rational, bias-free, orderly process of reasoning, along with honesty. I know that my analysis is not the only valid one (in most cases), but if the alternative being claimed is “The world is made of cheese because dogs like ice cream,” don’t tell me I am being unimaginative or doctrinaire to conclude the opiner’s head is on upside down.
I really wish the progammer would stop downloading philosophy textbooks into the Alizia-bot …
I always envision the scene from Good Will Hunting, when Matt Damon’s character schools the sophomore political science major who tries to regurgitate concepts in order to sound intelligent.
I just haven’t figured which character is Alizia though.
I’m afraid she wastes too much time worrying that she isn’t thinking hard enough to realize that she doesn’t need to…
I was beginning to wonder if anybody besides me had noticed that. Thanks.
I wrote a novel on all the opportunities Obama had to build bridges in his first year, and declined to, and the devolving relations between left and right since then. But then I realized: You don’t care. You’ve been around. You HAVE to know what I was writing, you’ve just chosen to ignore it and remain a useful idiot. And that’s sad… perhaps. But not unexpected.
deery wrote: “I think Obama correctly figures the Right is a lost cause, and no matter his move, they will react with overblown hysteria. He is doing exactly the same thing as everyone else, yet it is never enough. The right doesn’t just want that, they want special honors and considerations, with nothing really to justify it other than, “But it’s our guy, so it’s different (somehow)!” In this climate, I don’t see how Obama could build bridges, not with so many people intent on burning bridges down. The Republican party is obviously working something large and unpleasant through it’s system right now, of which Trump is a symptom, not a cause. Whether this “something” will be expelled out, or kill the host has yet to be determined. But I don’t think anything Obama says or does would be satisfy the hysterics or build any bridges.. Best to stick to protocol, the way pretty much every other President has done in this situation.”
I think this is a clear-headed description of reality.
My impression is that both the left and the right (as it is all enacted on national TV, talk-show theatrics, the ‘rehearsals’ performed in the periodicals, I mean as *spectacle* in the Guy Debord sense of ‘The Society of the Spectacle’: political fetishism, that sort of thing) are so invested in their games, their attacks, their political hatreds, their self-righteous postures, that they seem nearly equal in resistance to one another, sometimes equally absurd.
But since I view the political culture – insofar as I understand it – as being seeped in corruption and decadence, sometimes I think nearly to the point from which there is no return, it is hard for me to believe anyone nor be a partisan to one camp or the other.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolás_Gómez_Dávila) wrote:
“Tanto capitalismo y comunismo, como sus formas híbridas, vergonzantes, o larvadas, tienden, por caminos distintos, hacia una meta semejante. Sus partidarios proponen tecnicas disimiles, pero acaten los mismos valores. Las soluciones los dividen; las ambiciones los hermanan. Método rivales para la consecución de un fin idéntico. Maquinarias diversas al servicio de igual empeño.”
I translate as follows:
“Capitalism as much as communism, as well as their hybrid, perverse and larval forms, tend by different routes toward a similar end. Each faction proposes differing techniques, but conform to the same values. Their differing propositions divide them; their ambitiousness unites them. Rival methods to achieve the same end. Differently programmed machines in service to the same resolve.”
It is a perspective that looks upon each corrupt camp as being generally unfriendly to an implicit value system, and one that neither is really much interested in.
I think it’s cute how you got hung up on the phallic reference and ignored everything else I wrote. Here:
“I think the point isn’t that he has a duty to go, obviously he doesn’t, as deery pointed out, there is a long history of missing funerals. I think the point being made here is that this is an opportunity missed; an opportunity to build bridges, an opportunity to share some humanity. I can’t think of a time when Obama actually used an opportunity to actually bring people together merely for being people. Can you?”
I’d love you to address that last line in particular. Can you think of a time where Obama did something that actually built a bridge between left and right? Where he did something he didn’t have to do, just to be nice? I honestly can’t.
You think he wrote the right off? Sure he did. He wrote them off about four years before he took office, and ran one of the most partisan administrations in history. He’s bad at this. His idea of building a bridge is having someone else build it and taking credit for it, and then if the bridge breaks, he blames it on the Republicans.
Deery, for what it’s worth, I agree with your argument that Obama is within tradition and protocol, and, that regardless of what he does, he is likely to be criticized by Republicans. Still, the mark of a good (if not great) leader is to follow protocol and tradition when it’s appropriate, and transcend tradition and protocol when circumstances dictate that such behavior will benefit one’s nation or humanity generally. Magnifying the enormity of the circumstances is Obama’s promise to rise above partisanship – he has failed to do so in this situation (and many others). As Jack, John, and others have clearly argued, Obama missed an opportunity to rise above, to be truly great and worthy of praise. The excuse of following precedent does not suffice.
[Incidentally, I find it amusing that you call Michelle Obama “the wife” and write that she was “sent” by her husband. Does she not have a mind of her own? Isn’t this the mindset we’re fighting against?]
Note that he didn’t see the point of going to the Paris terrorism unity demonstration. Same thing.
I’m not sure Obama is not strategizing — in all the wrong places.
He didn’t attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, but then no actively serving, elected Democrat did. *
The Obama Administration did, however, send a formal delegation, of 14, to the funeral of Socialist Dictator Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a spouter of anti-American rhetoric who referred to the United States as “a bad person,” “an assassin,” and “a violent invader.”.
*[apropo of a previous post, didn’t Meryl Streep win an Oscar for her portrayal of the Iron Lady – why did no one object to that? (and she even forgot to mention Thatcher in her acceptance speech)]
The funerals he attends, the funerals he passes to someone else and the funerals he snubs are so blatantly partisan it’s staggering that people would try to argue they aren’t.
Clementa Pinckney: Democratic Senator from South Carolina, Beau Biden: son of Joe Biden, Nelson Mandela, Tom Foley: Democratic House Speaker, Daniel Inouye: Democratic Senator from Hawaii, Robert Byrd: Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Dorothy Height: Civil Rights Activist, Walter Cronkite, and Ted Kennedy.
Let’s be real… Obama doesn’t need to attend any funerals. But when he does, they voted Democrat.
And that would be fine, if he were a private citizen and didn’t carry with him the prestige and moral authority of the Presidency as built by the men who came before him. But he does. Therefore, using those inherent qualities of his office for narrow partisan preferences rather than for national, all-inclusive objectives is short-sighted, narrow, divisive, petty and small, as well as incompetent. You know. Just like he is.
Ah, but George W Bush did attend Betty Ford’s funeral and showed some class. Considering Obama’s pervious snub of Justice Scalia by not attending the funeral, he has shown no class.
Dubya was not the sitting President at the time of Betty Ford’s death, Obama was. He did not attend that funeral, Michelle Obama did. Dubya, during his actual time as President, did not attend Ladybird Johnson’s funeral, even though Johnson has been lionized by the Left. He did not have any scheduling conflicts, apparently he just preferred to spend the time clearing brush from his ranch. Laura Bush did attend that funeral, per normal.
“Johnson has been lionized by the Left” is just about the most confusing thing I have read or heard today. I can’t think of a Democratic president less lionized since slavery was legal. Maybe by “lionized” you mean “just about run out of office?”
That’s unrelated to his leadership skill, but policy mistakes. Johnson was one of the most deft Presidents we have ever had.
No “just about” about it, Isaac. “I shall not seek and will not accept my parties nomination for President”. Remember that speech?
IRRELEVANT! Just stop.
If President Obama had attended Scalia’s funeral, and sat Nancy’s out, maybe there would be no need to comment. However, it is the PATTERN that is distressing; that when beloved conservative figures die, the President implicitly signals that he cannot be bothered.
The President specifically promised that he would work to end the partisan gridlock in Congress, and yet ignores small steps that could be taken toward this end. That other Presidents did not take this measure is not material; they could be criticized for not going equivalent funerals.
The criticism against other presidents however is mitigated, however, by other explicit measures those Presidents have taken to heal rather than widen partisan divide.
“The President specifically promised that he would work to end the partisan gridlock in Congress, and yet ignores small steps that could be taken toward this end.”
All that needs to be said, factual, and obvious. But spinners will keep spinning.
I only hope that Jimmuh Cahtuh dies on a GOP watch, so the sitting president can snub him as the incompetent he is. Even better if Slick Willie (almost 70 and in not so great cardiac health) follows him very quickly. I can’t wait to watch the twitterverse explode with jokes then.
Deery makes a strong point: the clarifying knowledge that places it in perspective.
While I have not looked deeply enough into Obama’s specific political record, I am not able to see him as a ‘petty’ or a ‘small’ man. In his way – at least as far as image goes – he looks and acts rather magnanimously. The world seems to perceive him that way, too.
However, I do have the sense that the nation is separating into two opposed camps. It seems to me to be extending from the conventional cat-n-dogs Republican vs Democrat snarling matches into something even more vicious, more dangerous.
But what exactly powers this viciousness, that I am not sure of. Is this just extensions of ‘the culture wars’ or is there really substance at stake? (I read somewhere that ‘Wall Street loves Obama’ so it isn’t the business-class that is upset with him, is it?)
Still, I’d imagine (and I have read some of what people have written about Reagan & Wife back in the old days, and it ain’t pretty) that a sizeable faction in the polity today can only see Reagan, and thus his wife, as traitors; as glittering symbols of ‘everything that is wrong with America today’. According to that narrative, the decline began there.
According to them it goes like this: Vote for Bernie, vote against ‘the oligarchy’. Vote for people like Reagan, vote for right-wing fascism-lite and slavery to perverse oligarchic interests.
I hope someone will come along and straighten me out. I can’t make any sense of it.
You missed the point: No one said he has a duty to go. He obviously doesn’t. He missed an opportunity to go and build the storied bridges he always talks about, instead opting to stack a couple more bricks on the wall that is the cultural divide between left and right. And the argument can be made that it is responsible, ethical and right to recognize opportunities and use them properly.
OK, but similarly I think you missed mine: If not going to the funeral is a statement, it is a statement against Icons of recent American history. For many Nancy Reagan and her husband are icons of evil.
For some, and for some who think like Obama, or who are linked to his formation and thinking in some or various ways, they do not want to ‘build bridges’ – not to that anyway.
By definition, and when one really polarizes ‘left’ and ‘right’ to their logical conclusions, the notion of uniting opposing camps with radically different ideological bases, is absurd. That would give you, rather precisely, the political center.
The object seems to be to turn things either toward one pole, or toward the other pole, and to do it ‘by any means necessary’.
I seem to remember Obama going to the opening of the Bush Library and saying some pretty kind words about the younger Bush. It seemed – to me and from my very limited understanding of these affairs – extremely generous and the very definition of magnanimous. Based on that I cannot myself see how bad faith can be read into his not going to the funeral (but sending his wife). If no one were to go, now that would be a snub.
I think you’re being deliberately obtuse. It wasn’t a snub. It wasn’t bad faith… Not necessarily. This isn’t a “Be a hero/be a villain” choice, this is a “Be a hero, be a man” choice.
Let’s say I’m walking down the street, and I see another man in a second story window of a burning building: Do I attempt to rescue the man or not? Well… I don’t think I would, to be honest. I’m overweight, out of shape, and generally risk adverse. I’d definitely phone 911. I don’t think that makes me evil, I’m just a man. But if I did make the attempt, whether I succeeded or not, whether I survived or not, that’s pretty heroic. Isn’t it?
Obama doesn’t HAVE to be a hero. It’d be nice if he was. But he has a long and storied history of missing opportunities like this. And especially with all the rhetoric from him about building bridges and not walls, it seems like a hypocrisy that we shouldn’t tolerate. “We should be building bridges, not walls! Well, not me… I can build walls, they were mean to me earlier. I meant YOU should build bridges, and YOU should pay for them!”
Perhaps I am just INNOCENTLY dull-witted, had you thought of that? 😉
In other posts here on this thread I have expressed my general sense of things. Shots in the dark.
I cannot really talk about Obama’s failure to build bridges though. For all I know you may be right.
I hadn’t… Take that as a compliment?
“For many Nancy Reagan and her husband are icons of evil.”
Those people are called “idiots.” Apply some critical thinking. Suppose Michelle Obama died in 10 years. Now imagine some schmuck online saying, “well, for many people, Obama was the antichrist. So she doesn’t deserve any respect.” Sound reasonable?
But Obama is not disrespecting Nancy Reagan. He is giving her the full honors protocol demands. So that is not a good comparison.
I had written: “For many Nancy Reagan and her husband are icons of evil.”
Isaac commented: Those people are called “idiots.” Apply some critical thinking. Suppose Michelle Obama died in 10 years. Now imagine some schmuck online saying, “well, for many people, Obama was the antichrist. So she doesn’t deserve any respect.” Sound reasonable?
I think my position is more nuanced, overall. Below, at 9:29 today, I wrote that I see various levels operating, and I attempted to categorize them. Obviously, and truthfully, there is a wide group of persons who see Reagan and his wife as emblematic of political evil in America. To describe them ‘idiots’ is, in my developing views, to engage them at the same level. Thus, your comment is similarly idiotic.
Instead of that, you’d need to present the specific, non-partisan, non-biased arguments which represent your understanding.
Your example is rather silly. There is an entire – a full and developed – critique of Reaganite policy which, unless one dismisses it as political hallucination, is ‘real and considerable’. Nancy Reagan, and her husband, are Icons of those policies.
I am all for ‘application of critical thinking’ but I operate from different premises. I have come to understand, rightly or wrongly (I am open to instruction) that ‘everyone is lying to me’. No matter where I turn, in nearly all contexts, someone is fronting a narrative and desires that I buy it. They present factrs, which when examined are bias-laden, or sometimes outright distortions and lies. To get to the bottom of ANYTHING requires a research project that extends over months.
From toothpaste, to interpretations of metaphysics, to entire view-structures and Weltanschauung, to politics, to power, the relationships, to man and woman dynamics – everyone is selling a viewpoint. And YOU are going to tell ME to ‘apply some critical thinking’?
Excuse me for snickering, politely of course. I am of the opinion that ‘reality’ is harder and harder to see and define and that the more one engages in the project the more hopeless it becomes. If this is a defect, well then I own the defect. Please correct me: Please instruct me how to see correctly.
My point would be: We seem to desire to operate in the Primary Level of Analysis I have attempted to define below, and yet we seem all (in various degrees) inflected with opinion which stem out of the Second Primary Level.
Agreed with Deery, and I have to say, Jack: you’re always so quick to condemn bias in others, but I rarely see you question your own biases. Is it possible that anti-Obama bias is clouding your judgment on this issue? Or do you think you are always perfectly rational and only other people have biases that influence their opinions?
Agree with Deery on what? He’s ignoring the post and resorting to straw men, because he always, always, spins to avoid holding Obama accountable. What bias do you detect here from me? I state my biases. I have studies Presidential leadership for decades, and my bias is for competent, hard working Presidents regardless of party or policy. I have no anti-Obama bias: by basic standards of leadership, he’s disgraceful. Is it bias to find it incompetent for a President to say he’ll only go to Cuba if it improves on human rights, then go anyway when he admits it hasn’t? That’s analysis. I bend over backward to identify my biases and by-pass them in my commentary. Where does bias come into the funeral analysis? Is DC hyperpartisan, or not? Is Reagan uniquely revered by the GOP, or not? Is showing respect, especially when it isn’t mandatory, a kind and and classy act or not? Does it benefit the country if the President makes a gesture toward Congress in this symbolic form and a thaw commences or not? Is there any damn reason NOT to try it, in the interests of getting something done? It takes bias not to admit that, and none to discern it. I am not biased against Obama, and when he acts like a President, I’ll salute him. He’s been lost from day one.
Seldom but occasionally, I wonder about this group, when so many can’t get past either talking points or their own biases to read a clear post fairly. I didn’t say that the conservative outrage ober Obama not attending was justified; that’s not the issue. I didn’t say he has an obligation to attend; THAT’S not the issue. I didn’t say that there was a precedent that he had to follow. All of these none-relevant straw men have been used to avoid taking the point, which is non-partisan entirely . My original field was presidential leadership, and I would make this exact same observation with a Republican President trying to get, for example, a Supreme Court Justice approved by a hostile Senate under these circumstances. What are they? Well, though Patrice can’t get through her antiReagan bias to admit it, there is a unique level of distrust between the GOP Congress and the President, much, not all, but much, fostered by Obama and never seriously addressed. (Remember the ludicrous “charm offensive,” announced in advance by the White House, meaning, “I hate you guys but I’ll hold my nose and have lunch with you once—will that help?) Read “Th Washington Community.” Read Neustadt’s “Presidential Power.” Presidents get things done by forming relationship with people they don’t like, because its part of the job. Obama can’t lower himself to do that, so he can’t do the job. In his saner moments, even Chris Matthews admits that.
NR death provided a unique opportunity to perform an act with no cost (to a normal, non-narcissist at least) that would absolutely be appreciated by Republicans. Nobody was going to criticize him for coming, and it would have been a strong and meaningful act precisely BECAUSE it was not an obligation or a matter of tradition, so STOP TELLING ME THAT HE WAS FOLLOWING PRECEDENT, because that only proves that you are either intentionally misreading the post or dumb as one.. Similarly, it is puere taking poiint BS to say, as deery does, that there is no chance he can get cooperation from the GOP is also wrong, because he has to keep trying, because that’s his job. I know the talking point is to blame Obama’s epic ineptitude on anyone but him, but his conduct here is a cause, not a result. He stopped triyng years ago. He has a chance to build trust by sucking up a tiny bit. Good Presidents do it, losers don’t.
And if it doesn’t work, all he’s lost is a day at a funeral that he can’t be criticized for. As a political tactic, it’s easy and obvious, except he’s too petty and arrogant to extend himself.
I think that no matter what Obama does, the right has hissy fits about, and Obama has long ago recognized this. They have long ago set themselves up as the “Party of No”, and they revel in it.
That this is even an issue is but one example of the Right’s hysteria. It isn’t enough that Obama give Nancy Reagan due respect and honors. Nope, she must be given extra, super-duper special respect and honors. Because otherwise, it’s a blatant snub, and he is refusing to cooperate with the Right.
Yes, I am sure Obama realizes that the Republican Party is quite fond of Reagan, as I’m sure most the left loved Johnson and Truman. I don’t see a reason why their wives, who I am sure were perfectly pleasant individuals, need even more pomp and circumstance than was already given to them. Perhaps Obama does not want to lend weight to the Republican attempts at mythmaking Ronald Reagan by giving Nancy Reagan more pomp and circumstance than normal. Perhaps her family does not want him to attend. We just don’t know, and quite frankly, under a rational examination and normal conditions, no one, other than perhaps her family, would care all that much. But Republicans are in full froth. And Obama is the one to blame for that? He has paid proper respect to Nancy Reagan. Good for him.
You’re incorrigible. This is just regurgitated partyist crap poured over straw men. Yechhhh. I’m really sick of you misrepresenting posts to get on your soapbox.
1. The fact that some conservatives are outraged is irrelevant to the post.
2. The “whose at fault for gridlock” is irrelevant to the post.
3. Past precedent is irrelevant to the post.
4. The fact that Obama isn’t obligated to go to the funeral is irrelevant to the post.
5. the fact that YOU think it wouln’t do any good to continue to negotiate and make deals with Republican is, asinine though it is—gee, why are so many Republicans mad at Paul Ryan about the budget deal?—is irrelevant to the post.
Policy, partisan positions, Reagan’s virtues or not—all irrelevevant to the damn post, deery, which was simply about competence in leadership. If you need opposition to come to accord, to agree, you 1) don’t go out of your way to alienate them, as Obama did with his irresponsible insults to Republicans during the Iran treaty and now take advantage of an opportunity to reduce partisan warfare by making an effort to honor a GOP icon.
And he couldn’t do it.
My point is that he is honoring a GOP icon. The problem seems to be that the right feels that he is not honoring the GOP icon *enough*. If Obama jumps through a hoop, the just give him another one, this one higher and smaller.
I think Obama has realized that he should perhaps stop playing by their framework and their demands. Nancy Reagan gets her full honors. If the right-wingers want more than that, too bad. People in hell want ice water. A good leader does not give into unreasonable tantrums. This whole kerfuffle is an unreasonable tantrum, the latest in a long line of such.
No, that’s not the point. The point was clear in the post. He had a great bridge building opportunity by doing more than the absolute minimum within tradition and protocol, and with realizations between Congress and the White House and Republicans and Democrats at an all time, disastrous low, a special gesture to the current GOP/Conservative hero of heroes would have been smart, and maybe productive. He did “enough” if “enough” means the least he could get away with. It was not “enough” to improve relations, because that would have required a gesture that was obviously MORE than merely “enough.” It’s called politics, and human relations, and leadership: doing what you’d rather not to get things done. And nothing you have written has dealt with that issue at all, and it was the only topic in the post.
He had a great bridge building opportunity by doing more than the absolute minimum within tradition and protocol, and with realizations between Congress and the White House and Republicans and Democrats at an all time, disastrous low, a special gesture to the current GOP/Conservative hero of heroes would have been smart, and maybe productive. He did “enough” if “enough” means the least he could get away with. It was not “enough” to improve relations, because that would have required a gesture that was obviously MORE than merely “enough.” It’s called politics, and human relations, and leadership: doing what you’d rather not to get things done.
I think he has done more than enough. He has talked nice about Nancy Reagan, he has ordered the flags at half-staff, the First Lady is going to her funeral. And these things come at cost to his standing with the members of his own party, who do not have the good memories of the Reagan regime that those on the right have, and would resent any special honors to make Nancy Reagan (though really, her husband) seem so much more special than other First Ladies. For many, Reagan is a hated name, synonymous with the AIDS crisis, racial discrimination, and human rights abuses. So Obama must do a balancing act when it comes Nancy Reagan’s funeral, and that is also politics and leadership.
He does not want to help the right’s attempt at the deification of Reagan, nor does he want to snub a figure that is beloved by many. So he follows protocol. Those on the left cannot complain that he is going overboard with the Reagan myth-making, and those on the right cannot complain that he is snubbing her. It’s almost as if that is why protocol was invented in the first place, and why so few are willing to break it. Huh. And except for the right’s continued tantrums seeking extraordinary recognitions for a perfectly pleasant woman, who at the essence, married well, and did not do much beyond that with her life, it would be unnoticed. I think the political and ethical onus should be on the right, to calm the hell down and get some perspective and a grip.
You’re hopeless. He has not done enough unless it makes the impression of being an olive leaf. One moment of clarity:”He does not want to help the right’s attempt at the deification of Reagan” And why the hell not? What’s it to him? If it makes the right more amenable to dealing with him to GO TO A FUNERAL, only a complete, arrogant ass would withhold that. He’h s rather make sure that the right gets no extra satisfaction at the death of an icon’s great love and partner than extend a symbolic olive branch
The post and the issue and nothing to do with current bitching about Obama NOT attending the funeral, which you keep returning to like a skipping CD. I hope you’re being intentionally obtuse.
You’re hopeless. He has not done enough unless it makes the impression of being an olive leaf. One moment of clarity: “He does not want to help the right’s attempt at the deification of Reagan” And why the hell not? What’s it to him? If it makes the right more amenable to dealing with him to GO TO A FUNERAL, only a complete, arrogant ass would withhold that.
Well, perhaps because he is looking at the big picture? Deification of Reagan= no one can disagree with Reagan’s policies, which I am sure Obama opposes. Such contribution to a Reagan deification would cost him support within his own party, and undermines his own policy proposals. As I’ve said, it is a balancing act, and because there has been no indication that that going to this funeral would make those on the right more amenable to dealing with Obama in any way, the costs/benefits analysis suggests that Obama stick with standard protocol.
You seem to think there is no cost to Obama going to the funeral, and since there are only upsides, he is small, petty and shows a lack of leadership, for not going to the funeral, but I disagree. He knows that going would be problematic for his supporters. He also knows that *not* going is problematic for his opponents. But there doesn’t seem to be an upside to pissing off people that support him, just to make nice with people who are pretty much guaranteed to still hate him the second the funeral is over. Game theory dictates that he not go. Just my quick analysis of the situation.
I didn’t misread your post- I did see your point. I just came to a different conclusion about what an opportunity I think it was. I think his chances to suck up are far more limited, and if he’s going to suck up his whatever (pride?) and bend over backwards to suck up, I didn’t view this as a good choice for that. I felt like he did some of that at the beginning, years ago, but got burned and agree he DID stop trying very hard.
Which, as a President, you cannot do.
I’m so frustrated because, to me, this is so simple. For better or worse, President Obama is the leader of The United States. Not the leader of his supporters, the leader of all of us. His job is to be the leader of Democrats, Republicans, blacks, whites, gays, straights…everybody. He has an obligation to seek out instances where he can show respect for his opposition because that’s one way leaders convince their opposition to follow them. If protocol only requires the First Lady to attend the funeral, that makes this an even greater missed opportunity (and example of poor leadership); imagine the the effect of President Obama “ignoring protocol to pay his respects to an icon of the Republican Party”. My God, how hard is it to understand that by “being the bigger man”, the President sets himself up to shame Republicans into meeting him halfway on other issues?
Good leaders evaluate all their actions based on how they will effect their ability to lead. Obviously the President didn’t do this in this instance. I would have a lot more respect for the President’s defenders here if they would elucidate a compelling leadership principle served by not attending the funeral, rather than a litany of excuses for he why he doesn’t have two.
Exactly. Thank you.
Thank you, John. “Being the bigger man” is a phrase I have been trying to remember for a couple of days, now, and couldn’t quite get a handle on. I just love being an old fart.
He had an opportunity to step up and go beyond what his party and the republican party truly expected him to do and that is acting Presidential. He doesn’t have that ability. He always plays it safe leads from the rear not out in front on anything.
What I take away from this, as part of a process of gaining understanding about things (government) I do not understand very well, or well enough, is that there are various levels to consider here.
The primary level is the concrete skill-level of a president in confronting, handling and finessing the intense political differences that are part-and-parcel of a representational government. It is non-partisan analysis and bias-free (in the best of worlds) and is perhaps even somewhat ‘scientific’. In this sense, and seen from this angle, Obama fails because he does not play the political game well enough.
As I (now) understand Jack’s position his argument is that in numerous ways Obama has been a ‘small and petty man’ because he fails to perform that role well. In this sense he is a bad president because
1) he has not been able to master the skill and is a mediocre or immature office-holding politician or
2) because the cards have been stacked to some extent against him by the attitudes of those who oppose him and what he represents,
and 3) he intentionally does not desire to cooperate, network, ‘suck up’ as someone said. This would indicate that he has taken an oppositional stance to ‘the political game’ as it has been and is played. Maybe he does this intentionally.
His advantage though has been that he was elected by a wide margin once and was reelected again and thus, even if the political game of give and take had been stalled for the above-mentioned reasons, he could still rely on popularity and the support of the electorate even if he played the political game badly. In this, he remained good at ‘fronting’ himself to the electorate through the various media, but that he got worse and worse at playing the political game at the more substantial, and perhaps the more important, level.
This level of political analysis is political analysis that requires a background in the political environment in a real sense.
There is another level, the second level, the level of average persons who receive charged images which have purposely been inflected by journalists or their news corporations. If the first, primary order of analysis is ‘the sun’ the second order is ‘the moon’: reflected light. Distorted image. Partial truth. Incomplete truth. Or distortion, bias, and other deviousness. One sees, but one does not see reality. And then there is the problem of the projection of one’s own material on what one sees.
There is I think even a further level, the third level, I mean as one edges toward overt distortion and toward absurd politics. And that is when the receiving subject – the news consumer as it were, and that which feeds him – does not really care a damn, nor does he or she have any sort of interest in or skill in analysing the real facts, but ‘participates’ in a thoroughly media-mediated game in which he or she allies himself emotionally, or in some perverse ideological way, with factions as images that are thrown up for him to look at (the spectacle, the enactment, the rehearsal of absurd politics).
Jack critiques Deery’s position as coming from the second level: it is a bias-based and thus partisan viewpoint. Jack’s critique arises from an analysis grounded in the first level.
So, if Obama (overall) is understood as a populist president but one who is politically inept, and if Obama represents a trend in which media corporations and their consumers are less and less capable (prepared, or even interested in) participating in mature, substantial politics, then it seems possible to suppose that Trump is a further evolution of the same trend.
I am not sure if I would say Trump is ‘even a more radical populist version’ since, seen from one angle Obama was elected on the basis of a skilful PR-driven political-media campaign, and not because he had real political skill of the sort required to operate in Washington at that level.
But is it then true that Obama and Trump share something in common thought they appear distinct, even radically so?
What has created this ‘spectacle’ as a possibility in the present? Why is it coming about? What are and what will be the results as it progresses?
(I hope someone will have caught the Shakespeare reference. “The moon’s an arrant thief / And her pale fire she snatches from the sun.”)
As I read it, I didn’t think Shakespeare but rather Aristotle.
Oooooh. I like it: Fifty-five concentric, crystalline political perception-spheres in which our celestial earth-object is ensconced and which rotate at different velocities. There is a great deal to work with here, Patrice. 😉
I thought of Plato’s cave analogy from The Republic.
Only four sitting presidents in the nation’s history have attended funerals of former First Ladies. The most recent was Kennedy at Eleanor Roosevelt’s funeral.
More recently, George W. Bush skipped Lady Bird Johnson’s funeral – and they were both Texans.
So clearly neither protocol nor history demand it. You say that’s not your point, your point is that Obama is small-minded and mean-spirited and he’s characteristically missing an opportunity to build bridges.
It’s true, a Very Big man would turn the other cheek in his last year in office, in the face of an absolutely unprecedented snub by the Senate regarding confirmation of judges, and to nonetheless generously change some precedent on his own. But since the Party of You Lie has been burning bridges with him for seven years now, it strikes me as a bit much to be damning him for failing to build new bridges at this late point.