Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Always That Way

FLG wrote a post yesterday that he deleted because he wasn't quite happy with it. It's rare that he deletes a post, and he almost always regrets it. Some of you with RSS feeds probably still saw it, but he's going to repeat it here. The main point FLG wanted to get at is that blaming the difficulties Demcorats are having on the incoherent preferences of the public is bullshit. People always want stuff and don't want to pay for it. The most important job of leaders is to bridge that divide somehow. That the administration and its apologists are using this as an excuse indicates that they lack wisdom, courage, and leadership qualities.

Anyway, FLG went a little off topic in the post, which is why he deleted it. But he regrets having done it. So, here it is:
Liberals, looking for some reason to explain their electoral fate and opposition to their policy achievements, turn, as they are wont to do, given their short-term time horizons and concomitant blindness to how they are applying values to facts, have begun to argue, as they did when Jimmy Carter was in office, that the country is ungovernable and its the people's fault. The president, as you all know, made these point rather inelegantly recently.

Well, today, over at LOG, we have guest author E.C. Gach.

He writes:
Allowing some settling of the dust, I think it makes sense to split the difference and say, yes, on the one hand, such statements were ridiculously foolhardy of the President to make. They were “tone deaf,” as the political chatter loves to report. They were elitist, snobbish, and so on. But after admitting that point, how much less accurate does that make them? Yes, the remarks were widely unpopular and considered both hurtful and tactless. But what does that mean for their accuracy or relevance?

Good line of inquiry here.

Still, no matter where you land on the question of the anxiety/rationality relationship we can still explore the sentiment being expressed, however crudely, by the President.

Alright. Agreed.

Now why would anyone think that there are large swathes of the American public who are confused/inconsistent with regard to their beliefs?

Lay it on me.

For one, many people feel that public education is going down the tubes, but many are increasingly satisfied with their school (public or private).

FLG will admit this is confusing. It's probably a combination of wishful thinking, lack of data in where schools sit relatively, and they actually know and like the people working in their local school, which distorts their analysis away from truly a objective stance. But okay, point taken.

Congress has horrible approval ratings, but most people like their Congress person. Plus, most Americans feel that it’s individual members of Congress that are the problem rather than our political system as a whole. Congress is broken, but the system is fine, it’s the individuals who are broken, but not my individual.

FLG took a class not too long ago on congressional politics, and this has always been the case. Consequently, this isn't about fear or whatever that occurring right now. Therefore, has fuck all to do with Obama's point. Thinking about it some more, FLG wonders whether the previous point about local schools holds historically and has shit to do with this as well.

Many people feel that Social Security will not be there for them when they retire and are worried about it, but equal majorities both do not want to raise tax revenue to pay for it, or cut benefits to make it solvent.

FLG isn't sure this is entirely confused. I'm writing off social security, but FLG doesn't want to raise taxes or cut benefits. I don't want to raise taxes because that would inevitably cut into what FLG is able to save for retirement. (Yes, yes, retirement savings are pre-tax, but the overall tax burden will affect how much I can put away.) On the other hand, cutting benefits would be unethical because people who are near retirement have been counting on those.

I would add that most people want government spending to decrease, but don’t want individual government programs cut. Most people liked stimulus, now dislike it, but wanted unemployment insurance to continue, but didn’t want government deficits to go up, but don’t want other non-discretionary spending cut.

My question is: how do you square this convoluted and seemingly irreconcilable circle?

But more broadly speaking on this point -- FLG wants a Ferrari, but doesn't want to pay for it. Human beings are just like that. We have always been like that. The idea that there are the inconsistencies and incoherence in human wants and desires makes no sense as an explanation for the Democrats' or the President's current trouble. In fact, a key task of leadership is to somehow reconcile these ultimately irreconcilable desires.

FLG has come to realize that he was wrong to vote for our current president. Not simply because FLG thinks his policies are wrong. FLG had a good idea that he'd disagree with many of the president's policies. It's that the president, while he possesses vast amounts of knowledge, possesses very little wisdom.

And FLG is also beginning to question his character. Not that he's evil or a liar. But that he seems so convinced of his own capabilities, intelligence, and good sense that any opposition is not only wrong, but irrational. Moreover, that when confronted with this supposedly irrational opposition at the ballot box, he throws up his hands and says, "Well, they're irrational. People are scared. People act stupid when they're scared."

Well, you know what Mr. President, you thought that the problem was that you weren't tough enough. If you and Pelosi could just get stuff through, show your resolve and toughness, then everything would come up roses. Well, instead of pretending you have balls and a spine, why don't you actually grow a set and confront what it probably your worst nightmare -- that you are wrong. Not only wrong, but drastically wrong. If you confront that possibility and decide that you are still correct, then actually grow a set and FUCKING LEAD. This "Wah, the people are irrational." "Wah, people are scared." "Wah, the Republicans are lying." Makes you sound like a fucking pussy.

You know what? You're the President of the United States of America. That office has the ability to draw all the press coverage you want. Don't whine to me about propaganda or lack of understanding among the unwashed masses.

The people always want free lunches. They've wanted free lunches since politics began. Blaming that for an electoral defeat is idiotic.

BTW, you lost my vote for 2012. Well, unless Palin runs against you.


The Ancient said...

(FLG is grappling with the sudden realization that he voted for a metrosexual.)

George Pal said...

“...the president, while he possesses vast amounts of knowledge, possesses very little wisdom.”

The evidence of ‘vast amounts of knowledge’ would be?

Even if that case could be made, FLG’s confounded preference for Obama over Palin (still) in 2012 suggests ‘vast amounts of knowledge with very little wisdom’ may be contagious.

FLG said...


Palin has neither knowledge, nor wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I dunno FLG. Call me crazy but I don't think Palin is going to be a contender for 2012.

I think she and Newt are going to Jello-wrestle themselves to death while a grown up snags the nomination.

It should be amusing. Very amusing.

Oh, you're remarks on O - spot on.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

A good (related) read:

Mrs. P

George Pal said...


Which makes her no worse than Obama and in most other respects a damn sight better. Our Stepford president of someone’s making may be ‘presidential’ but in the worst way; his head is as empty of everything not ‘presidential’ as his suit is empty of balls.

Anonymous said...

The real facts the Democrats will be facing for the next 25 years years is that VP Palin would never have given us either the stimulus, Obamacare, and the debt level we've currently got.

2010 will not be the only year the Dems will have to run away from the accomplishments of the administration.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

BTW, I live 5 miles from where all of O's travel plans are made. I was talking with one of the AF Dads at pickup yesterday - this trip to India will cost the American taxpayers more than 1 million.

Mrs. P

arethusa said...

Mrs. P - Really? Just more than a million sounds low to me, given their lodging costs (the Presidential entourage is taking over a whole luxury hotel). Did your source just mean transportation costs?

Anonymous said...

He said it would be a million for the hotels. There are more than one. I thought he said 3. And they've rented out every aspect of each hotel - down to every restaurant and ballroom. No one will be in those hotels except O's entourage.

Also, it's perceived (way up) that his presence there will mess up relations with Pakistan. Big. Time.

Mrs. P

The Ancient said...

The Obama administration did the right thing early, and avoided another depression. He is still doing the right thing now in pointing out the risks of early austerity. And he is limited by an unco-operative Republican party trapped in a belief in voodoo economics, the economic equivalent of creationism. Even so, he and his party have been unwilling to tackle long-term entitlement spending. Two years in, and this means the US remains on an unsustainable fiscal course.

Anonymous said...

Update : Major security manpower shortage.

Taking combat soldiers and re-assigning them to this trip. Guys who should be on the front line will be doing security....

At least it's not as bad I when Hillary had Marines passing the canapes at a WH Christmas party.

Mrs. P

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