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December 23rd, 2009

I am an idealistic, practical person

I am an idealistic person. For instance, I take seriously the bit about letting dangerous criminals go if the evidence against them is eyewitness, even if 11 people are ready to convict. (Happened in 1980.)

OTOH I am practical. We have Brent Budowsky complaining that the president is a bad poker player, who tells ahead of time what he’s up to. Senator Harkin expresses surprise that Obama might not have lobbied Joe Lieberman on behalf of the public option, and at least some legislators are openly griping. Yet I believe Budowsky is nuts if he thinks much more could have been gotten, and, unless something unusual happens,d Obama is going to be the person who succeeded, and that despite steadfast Republican obstructionism. The problem thus becomes how to explain Obama’s success.

Part of the explanation is pretty obvious: Obama was just one cog in a machine. Many people who have even been outwardly hostile actually unconsciously decided long, long ago that they were going to see this through practically no matter what. Bernie Sanders, for instance.

But another partial explanation may be that people appreciate if you aren’t trying to play poker with them. I, for one, detest such games.

It has occurred to me that, if Sheldon Whitehouse had not defeated Lincoln Chafee, a decent person who may well have blown off the Republican leadership, we likely would have gotten Olympia Snowe, who is too timid to act on her own; and if you get Olympia Snowe, you likely get Susan Collins. OTOH the fourth Republican you are likely to get in that case, Arlen Specter, we actually got anyway.

Stunned

I just listened to Ron Reagan and Joan Walsh discuss their disappointment that Barack Obama was not the ‘change’ they’d ‘hoped for’, and I am stunned. What in the world were these people expecting? On what planet are they living?

It’s not possible to explain this to me by arguing that Barack Obama hasn’t been working as smoothly as his campaign, or that he promised this and promised that which he hasn’t delivered, etc. A campaign is a campaign, governing is governing. Sure, I didn’t count on this or that fumbling, but so what? It’s not exactly a unique event. The speeches and promises, half of that was political boilerplate; ‘Change’ was one of Bill Clinton’s slogans, goddammit. I never understood how anyone could take it seriously; I still don’t.

Get this: I see these things going on, which people are so caught up by, and they mean nothing to me. The most I ever felt from Obama was a warm appreciation when he spoke his mind, a delight when he made a subtle dig at some deserving person, and what I still feel, and really appreciate concerning healthcare reform, is a kind of joy that he seems to act out of caring alone rather than balancing it with hate.

It bothers me that we have so many citizens who are trying to improve the country by choosing a hero who makes them feel giddy. Improve yourself, goddammit, if only so that you can choose an Obama next time for good reasons and not then go on to deny responsibility for the mistake you didn’t make.

I wish everyone good luck in their self-improvement quests. :)

Demingesque politics

You should play poker with your competitors, not with your suppliers.

Methods of communication

Here is how Carl Sagan communicated the importance of caring for our planet and ourselves:



It is a photograph of Earth taken by Voyager 1 after it had passed the orbit of Pluto.

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