Home / The End of Personality Politics

The End of Personality Politics

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

President Obama didn't win office on experience, credentials, or accomplishment. He won for one reason only: who he is. He has a winning personality, and America had a love affair with their new American Idol; rewarding him with its highest office. Politics went from being about policy to being about personality. Republicans who supported Obama didn't care about his specific positions, they just felt that it was "time for a change," and were moved by Obama's flowing oratory. Even those of us who didn't support Obama were at times moved by it, and personally speaking, I disagreed with much of what Obama ran on.

Prior to this last election cycle, politics, and especially presidential politics (at least in my memory), were never centered around personality, or wanting to have a beer with the candidate. Reagan won in large part due to the poor performance of Carter, the Iran hostage crisis and inflation. Bush Sr. won on the tails of a successful Reagan presidency. Clinton won mainly due to the interference of third party candidate, Ross Perot. Bush won in a near even split of the electorate. In all of these elections, the personality of the candidate had less to do with getting elected than their policies did. In fact, more often than not, it was a choice of the lesser of evils based on their policy stance, and personality was largely irrelevant.

The exact opposite was true with the election of Obama. During the campaign, the most common description of Obama was that from a policy standpoint, he was a blank slate, a vessel in which his fans could place their hopes and dreams. His campaign slogans reflected this by using vague terms like "hope" and "change," and enthusiastically telling supporters, "Yes we can," as if before Obama, they weren't sure if they could. He was a master of non-specifics, and of high minded, soaring, intellectual and often times inspiring, if vague, rhetoric.

For the first time, it wasn't the greatness of the country, or of the structure of our government and freedoms set forth by the framers, which inspired confidence in America and would get us through the economic crisis. No longer did we put our stock in the idea that there is something special about Americans, all Americans, that despite the odds, despite how bleak the picture was, that we would always, via our ingenuity, hard work and freedom, come through the problems of the day; as we had before, time and time again, when facing worse threats in our 200 plus year history. This time, America's doomed fate could only be saved by one person: a man named Barack Obama, who given the chance, promised to change the country, without much real discussion about how.

Sure Obama had plans and specifics on his website, and yes, he did describe plans in his speeches. But there were deep, unanswered questions about those plans. And there was a larger question about the nature of this change and the true identity of America — touched upon in episodes such as Obama's encounter with Joe the Plumber. But the media glossed over these questions and relentlessly attacked critics as either ideologues, fakes, or racists. They laughed loudly at any suggestion that Obama represented closet socialism, while suggesting that since Bush had dabbled in the same pool, this wasn't really such a stretch anyway.

To make matters worse, McCain ran a lousy campaign, which took away any confidence the right and independents might have had in him. Amidst the visceral hatred for Bush, McCain nailed the coffin of his presidency shut with the choice of Palin as his running mate and various comments he proudly made about his lack of knowledge in finance and technology. Obama won by a near landslide, but not by running on a liberal or other ideology. He won because he was Obama and McCain was not.

To a lesser degree, Tim Giethner's confirmation followed a similar trajectory. Here was a man who, by his actions, should never have been considered for the position. Yet America was facing a crisis so dire, we were told, that we must overlook his flaws and he must be confirmed. Again, it wasn't America or the system of capitalism that had built all this wealth for all these years that could resolve the situation. The last eight years supposedly proved that history didn't matter and the old fashioned notions of capitalism just weren't working. The chickens were finally coming home to roost, and we needed change. From a treasury perspective, it all rested on this one man, this really smart man. Geithner held the key, he had the solution that no other person had. And besides, Obama chose him.

Since the dramatics and grandeur of the election, inauguration and cabinet appointment process, Obama has revealed himself in many non-presidential ways. The hope and change have turned, in many cases, into despair and cynicism. He hasn't forwarded a single new idea, or post-partisan anything, while pointing fingers at the prior administration, the greed of the private sector — anything and everything except, perhaps, the public's response to his own unfinished policies. Unless you consider "change" as following liberal ideology to the letter, and doing it badly, we haven't had much of that either. All new presidents have their clumsy moments, but for Obama, that's all it's been. I have not observed any president in my lifetime require nearly as much on-the-job training.

Likewise with Geithner. His stock has fallen from a high to a low that would make Citibank blush. After several attempts to quell market concerns and show that he could lead, the markets instead learned that there was no there, there.

The true believers still do, and always will, believe, but that doesn't matter. The independents, the swing voters, even some moderate Republicans and Reagan Democrats — these are the people who are the key to winning and losing an election, and they are starting to wake up to the reality that one person doesn't have the answers. Great speeches aside, we can't look to the government to fix our problems. The real solution isn't from some freshman treasury secretary, nor in the words read with great feeling from a teleprompter by an inexperienced president. The real solution to our woes is in the hands and hearts, and in the hard work we, as individual Americans, do every day.

Perhaps I am being too forward-looking, but I don't think so. Barring any event that would canonize Obama, and by extension his cabinet, and provided Obama continues on the trajectory that he's set in these first two months of his presidency, he will more quickly than Bush find himself with worse ratings. In the internet age, judgment is passed faster and sticks longer. These days, the best advice for a public figure is, "Don't play yourself," yet Obama already has. America's bold experiment of picking a president based purely on personality amid a lack of clear position on policy, is over. At least for one generation.

Powered by

About The Obnoxious American

  • RJ

    0bama was objectively the least experienced major-party Presidential candidate since 1944. But he still won. And in a time of war and economic crisis!

    Why? Because of unprecedented media bias and the complete disaster that was Dubya’s second term.

    The GOP brand is in the toilet. I don’t see 2010 as a breakout year, although I hope I’m wrong. Maybe 2012 will bring back conservatism. Or maybe I’ll just emigrate to Austria or the Czech Republic or something.

  • Or maybe I’ll just emigrate to Austria or the Czech Republic or something.

    I always knew you were odd, RJ…

    “Austria: proudly combining xenophobia and paranoia since 1938!”

  • Baronius

    OA, I have to disagree with you. Looking at every election you mentioned, the more likable presidential candidate has won. Think about the losers: Mondale, Dole, Kerry, McCain, et cetera. Those are some pretty unpleasant personalities. Nor is this really a new phenomenon. Guys like Abe and Ike were elected as much on image as on experience or ideology.

  • The Czech Republic, though, is fine. Beautiful women – the Czechs: Sylvia Saint, Yana Kova, and I could name more than three dozen. But they’ve all immigrated to American and took over the porn industry. So no! I’m gonna stay here and hope to run into one of ’em – even second or third rate.

    With few exceptions, they’re all blondes.

  • The Czech Republic would be tolerable if only for the beer.

  • Yes, the Pilsner.

  • The Obnoxious American


    I said, “never centered around personality.” Personality is always a factor, but it was never THE factor. This is the first election where it was the primary factor in who won the election. Personality trumped position because people wanted to believe.

    I like Pilsner.

  • RJ


    If you define “xenophobia” as “not wanting your country to be flooded with extremist Muslim immigrants who refuse to assimilate” then I guess Austria’s populace is indeed “xenophobic.”


  • RJ


    You’re judging an entire country by a handful of porn stars?

    And anyway, everyone knows the best porn comes from Japan.


  • “Great speeches aside, we can’t look to the government to fix our problems. ”


  • RJ

    Communication is an important skill for a President to possess, however. While 0bama may rely too heavily on the teleprompter as a crutch, at least he is able to speak in complete paragraphs. One of Dubya’s biggest problems was an almost complete inability to articulate a clear message.

    People look towards their President for leadership. So when a President can barely speak a sentence without committing a gaffe or butchering basic grammar, that’s a significant problem.

    That being said, eloquence only gets you so far. 0bama’s inexperience has already done damage to his presidency. The poor vetting of nominees, the half-assed way he handled the visit by Gordon Brown, his mixed messages on the economy, etc. have hurt him.

    This is aside from partisanship and ideology. His administration’s incompetence thus far has even liberal media types and some of his supporters wringing their hands. Howard Fineman and Warren Buffett are just two examples.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “at least he is able to speak in complete paragraphs. One of Dubya’s biggest problems was an almost complete inability to articulate a clear message. ”

    It’s just not true. Dubya wasn’t the best speaker, but he was able to speak in complete sentences, he wasn’t illiterate. It’s absurd when I read this. Is Obama a better speaker? For sure. But let’s not make Bush out to be a monkey please.

  • The Obnoxious American

    To make my point, here are the first two questions asked at the last Bush press conference. Not taken for substance, just the first two responses in his very last press conference.

    No, it’s not poetry, but this isn’t an autistic kindergartener either:

    Q Thank you for those comments, Mr. President. Here’s a question. I’m wondering if you plan to ask Congress for the remaining $350 billion in bail money. And in terms of the timing, if you do that before you leave office, sir, are you motivated in part to make life a little easier for President-Elect Obama?

    THE PRESIDENT: I have talked to the President-elect about this subject. And I told him that if he felt that he needed the $350 billion, I would be willing to ask for it. In other words, if he felt it needed to happen on my watch.

    The best course of action, of course, is to convince enough members of the Senate to vote positively for the — for the request. And, you know, that’s all I can share with you, because that’s all I know.

    Q So you haven’t made the request yet?

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, he hasn’t asked me to make the request yet. And I don’t intend to make the request unless he specifically asks me to make it.

    He’s — you know, I’ve had my third conversation with him, and I genuinely mean what I say. I wish him all the very best. I’ve found him to be a very smart and engaging person. And that lunch the other day was interesting, to have two guys who are nearly 85, two 62-year-olders, and a 47-year-old — kind of the classic generational statement.

    And one common area, at least the four of us, we all had different circumstances and experiences, but one thing is we’ve all experienced what it means to assume the responsibility of the presidency. And President-Elect Obama is fixing to do that. And he’ll get sworn in, and then they’ll have the lunch and all the — you know, all the deal up there on Capitol Hill. And then he’ll come back and go through the inauguration and then he’ll walk in the Oval Office, and there will be a moment when the responsibilities of the President land squarely on his shoulders.

    Toby. Yes, we’ll get everybody.

    Obama doesn’t do much better in the Q&A phase of press conferences. Compared to Obama’s constant disingenuous attack of strawmen (republicans want to do nothing, stem cell issue is about science, not politics, etc etc) and his constant “uh” noise, I’d take Bush over that any day, supposed incomplete sentences and all.

  • RJ

    Well, I’m not saying that Bush is a moron. (I’m sure he’s got a triple digit IQ, which, pretty much by definition, means he’s smarter than at least 50% of the population.)

    And 0bama isn’t a genius. Smart, but not NASA-smart, so to speak.

    They are both men of above average intelligence, in my estimation.

    But 0bama is just a smoother speaker. And people respond to that. It’s an important leadership quality, especially in the television age.

    Look, we wouldn’t elect a morbidly obese President, regardless of his/her other qualities. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but it still is. And we wouldn’t elect a deaf-mute, either. Or someone with a horrible stutter. Or a midget.

    The people expect certain things from a leader. There are many qualities they look for. And confident, clear speaking is one of them.

  • RJ

    Oh, and we actually did elect a morbidly obese man (Taft) President once, but that was before the television age. There might have been a stutterer or two as well. But, again, that would have been before the era of the television.

    TV changed everything. It probably got JFK elected over Nixon in 1960, for example.

  • bliffle

    Of course this election was decided by personalities. It usually is. It’s the cheap shot that most voters prefer. It’s what the BCers prefer.

    The BC discussions focused on personalities, despite pleas to discuss policy.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Agreed. Honestly, I think I posted in response less to your specific point, and more to the endless comment that Bush couldn’t speak in full sentences. I’ve been hearing this sentiment more and more all over the place, especially in the press. It’s like talking about someone after they leave the room and it annoys me.

  • RJ #9;

    It’s a matter of preference. I have a weakness for blondes, gay or straight – so long as they’re “lipstic lesbians.”

  • Baronius

    OA – Your comment #7 was fair. I still don’t agree, but part of that might be due to a defect in me. I’ve always found Obama as eloquent and sharp as a tree stump. Ronnie, Bill, and W had charm.

  • “W had charm.”

    You must be kidding. Like a snake oil’s salesman, perhaps. Unless you’re referring to his smirk.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Totally agreed.


    Try not to think purely in Michael Moore charicatures.

  • Baronius

    Roger, snake oil salesmen are the most charming people in the world. W had a completely masculine confidence and an indifference to people who looked down on him, mitigated by the humility of a Christian and alcoholic. Besides, he ran against the two least charming people in the Union. Gore’s vocal tics and feigned Tennessee accent made Bush look like a smooth speaker, and Kerry’s every movement screamed “bully”.

  • Bar,

    Forget about Gore or Kerry. They’re both automatons. I’d say the only reason why Gore wasn’t elected because of his methodical, machine-like delivery to the American people: he spoke to them as though they were children, cadencing every word and syllable lest they misunderstand. (Except even children shouldn’t addressed in that fashion but rather as little adults.) A completer turnoff.

    As to W, I’m sure he’d fun (especially during his drinking days) to be with and have a beer or two.

  • Baronius

    Look at each of the matchups since 1980:


    The names on the right are some of the most unlikable people you’ll ever meet. If you’re considering a candidate’s personality as a factor, you’ve got to take the other candidate’s personality into account. I think that in every case but the most recent, the more likable guy won (and I recognize that for whatever reason, I underappreciate Obama’s charm).

    Now, I took 1980 as the cut-off because that’s what OA used in his article. I realize that if you go back a little further, you run into the almost inhumanly uncharismatic Richard Nixon. So personality isn’t everything.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Props for not suggesting it was due to Jeb.

    I actually voted for Gore, largely due to how I felt about Clinton. I didn’t like Bush, but he changed my view of his ability after 9/11. And I supported regime change in Iraq in 1991, and 1998, seeing the liberal backlash when a GOP president decides to follow in Clinton’s footsteps really turned me off to the left in many ways.

    And since then, their intellectual dishonesty has sealed the deal. There are a number of left wing views that I hold (though I disagreed with “hillarycare” back in 1993). But ever since the left has been totally taken over by the most extreme liberal wing of the party, as evidenced by the selection of Obama as the general election candidate, I simply cannot support them in any way. Socialism isn’t what America is about.

  • No disagreement about your list. About Obama I’m not certain either. Personality is not so much his strong suit – not that I can see. Perhaps “charismatic” is a better word. I don’t think it’s exactly the same thing.

    Nixon, though, had his strong points (although TV wasn’t the best medium for him – e.g., sweating during the 1960 debates with JFK. But he had a kind of force that, at times, was convincing.

    Going back – JFK (and Robert Kennedy even more so) was the best of the lot.

    And you can’t forget LBJ. I really liked him. till the end.

  • The Obnoxious American


    I intentionally left out incumbent elections. Incumbents traditionally win anyway, and in terms of personality, they have been a known quantity for four years while their opponent is usually new on the field.

    In terms of Reagan/Carter, again people were complaining that Reagan wasn’t ready, unskilled, not very eloquent, etc.

    Bush/Dukakis, you had 8 years of a successful Reagan presidency. Bush won on his tails clearly.

    Clinton/Bush, you had read my lips and the Gulf War.

    Bush/Gore, 50/50 split in the electorate.

    Not a single one of these races was about personality. Was it a factor? Always. Was it central? Not at all.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clinton/Bush (forgot to add) – Ross perot. Bush would have won had it been for Perot.

  • Baronius

    Roger, another reason I cut off the list at 1980 is that I don’t remember previous campaigns so well. It’s like looking at class pictures from elementary school; you’ve seen the picture for so long that it replaces the memory you have of the actual experience. The 1970’s are a fog for me, but it’s because of my age. Not the other reason that some people can’t remember them.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Sure that’s why you can’t remember. :>

  • Those of you who dislike Obama dislike him so viscerally that you can’t see straight, or think straight — but it’s a matter of ideology for you. I think calling him a leftist and a socialist is cartoon nonsense, but this argument seems to go nowhere on either side. You are already convinced, and immovable.

    For those of us who do like and support the president, his ‘personality’ and his approach to policy are inseparable. He’s calm, he’s confident, he wants to pursue policies that he genuinely believes will work; he basically ignores the caricatures, the labels, the vitriol that is coming mostly from a very small minority on the very far right [rather over-represented among the regular contributors to this site].

    So condescendingly reducing him to ‘personality’ plus a back-handed compliment about his speaking ability says more about the right’s complete lack of open-mindedness than it does about Obama.

    And as for ‘unprecedented media bias’ … puh-leez. Another point on which you guys are 100% convinced, and at least 90% dead wrong.

    I know it hurts to lose elections, but I genuinely think you lost this one [and we won it] entirely on the merits. It does happen, you know.

    You’re just so convinced that conservative ideology is always right and liberal ideology is always wrong that actually thinking through the issues becomes secondary.

  • By the way, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed or pointed out RJ’s cute 0bama [zero-bama] instead of Obama. Right up there in cleverness with his ‘BJ Clinton.’

  • The Obnoxious American

    “And as for ‘unprecedented media bias’ … puh-leez. Another point on which you guys are 100% convinced, and at least 90% dead wrong.”

    Lollll ok sure whatever you say. I have some great land to sell you out in Okeechobee.

  • Exactly my point: you will never be convinced that it’s nonsense. You’ve made up your mind and are immovable.

    And I find all the evidence presented by commenters here to date, over the course of many, many, many debates, to be questionable and/or bogus.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “I know it hurts to lose elections, but I genuinely think you lost this one [and we won it] entirely on the merits. It does happen, you know.”


    I really do like you, I think you usually carry yourself pretty well but it’s also clear that lately this Obama bashing has gotten the better of you.

    I agree that we lost on our merits, and certainly Obama won on his. But, I recognize what his merits were: Personality.

    Try reading the very first paragraph and dispute it (repeated here for your ease):

    “President Obama didn’t win office on experience, credentials, or accomplishment. He won for one reason only: who he is. He has a winning personality, and America had a love affair with their new American Idol; rewarding him with its highest office. Politics went from being about policy to being about personality. Republicans who supported Obama didn’t care about his specific positions, they just felt that it was “time for a change,” and were moved by Obama’s flowing oratory. Even those of us who didn’t support Obama were at times moved by it, and personally speaking, I disagreed with much of what Obama ran on.”

    Can you dispute it? I’d like to see you try my dear friend.

  • Baronius

    Handy, that’s funny. First you say that your opponents are close-minded, then you say that you reject all their evidence. You realize that your actions are pretty much the definition of close-mindedness?

  • The Obnoxious American


    “Exactly my point: you will never be convinced that it’s nonsense. You’ve made up your mind and are immovable.”

    It’s not just me sitting here with a tin foil hat on. I think if anything you are in the minority denying that no such media bias existed. Facts my friend.

    If Obama was a republican, then the Rev Wright fiasco would have immediately sunk him, as the strom thrumond fiasco sunk Trent Lott.

    If Obama was a republican, then his associations with Tony Rezko and William Ayers would have immedaitely sunk him as they have multiple republicans in the 2008 election.

    If Obama was a republican, then the LA Times would have aired that video tape of him toasting a former PLO member and terrorist sympathizer. But the LA Times didn’t.

    If Palin was a black democrat, then her lack of experience would not have mattered one bit.

    Both Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro would not have been canabalized as racists if the media didn’t favor Obama. Nor would they have demanded Hillary leave the race after just a few primary losses.

    These are just some of the incidents that came to mind. Your absurd assertion that there was no bias for Obama isn’t even agreed to by Democrats in the media. Obama won because the left loved him and the left owns the mainstream media. Just look (and explain) MSNBC? Are they not biased? Is Wolf Blitzer not biased? Gloria Borger, or any of the other talking heads? Come on Handyguy, you are starting to lose a bit of your dignity on this one.

  • If you want to pick apart my sentences to find a contradiction that may or may not be there, have fun with that. I have refuted the ‘evidence’ of media bias before, and no doubt I will get to do it again real soon.

    My point is that several of the rightists who contribute here [taking their cues from Rush or Beck or whoever] start with an ideological premise, and never budge from it:

    Obama is to the left of me, so he’s a leftist.

    A leftist could never win an election on the merits, so there must be some other reason he won, and I’ll find it, by gum. Oh, yeah, personality, that’s it.

    The mass media don’t display a right-wing bias [with one notable exception], so they must be leftists too. After all, they…they embarrassed Sarah Palin! Right? Obviously they got the Socialist in Chief elected.

    Liberal solutions are always wrong, so no matter what Obama proposes, it has to suck. Oh and did I mention that he’s an extremist/socialist/teleprompter-reader? And it’s been about 5 minutes since I last mentioned it, so let me again point out that his Treasury Secretary didn’t pay his taxes and is obviously therefore worthy of eternal scorn.


    This can occasionally be entertaining, but only very rarely does it result in an actual give-and-take on the merits of the issues.

  • The Obnoxious American

    One more point to add:

    “he basically ignores the caricatures, the labels, the vitriol that is coming mostly from a very small minority on the very far right”

    The far right? Oh wait, this fits into your view that the country has moved left, right?

    Wrong. 53% voted for him. 47 didn’t. The country didn’t move left as much as it rejected Bush and his party. That vitriol was all fine and good when Bush was president and the country was under attack right? And it’s not just a “very small minority” – many people including many on the left have concerns with Obama (not to mention his poll numbers which have been steadily dropping).

    Plenty of Democrats in congress have rejected Obama’s budget, and even some voted against the stimulus plan. Why? Were they vitriolic and in the very small minority too? Or is it that just you are in a very small minority of extreme liberals?

  • The Obnoxious American


    I don’t think all left wing viewpoints are wrong. For example, I think the GOP is wrong trying to legislate abortion (though I do think abortion is clearly murder, but given the situation, murder might be the best answer), or gay marriage. I think that there is a role for government in terms of helping those truly in need. Government is needed for some regulation.

    You say that some of us claim that because Obama is to the left, he is a leftist. I claim Obama is a radical liberal, based on his anti-market, pro-big government policies, which are to the left of more centrist democratic presidents such as Clinton.

    If Obama was a centrist, I’d call him that. I’d celebrate his good actions. So far, I haven’t seen anything to celebrate. All I’ve seen is demonification of the rich, and his attempt to dismantle what has made this country great in favor of government dependency (see my next article for more on this). Too bad people didn’t really believe him when he said he was change we could believe in. I believed it and voted McCain.

    Lastly, Palin is not an idiot. She’s definitely smarter than “Plugs” Biden (thanks Monica Crowley for that great nickname). That the media destroyed her as they did wasn’t right, that they covered for Plugs wasn’t any better. Difficult to reconcile these actions with a supposed unbiased media, notable exceptions or not.

  • The previous post was a response to Baronius.

    As to the supposed evidence of bias listed by OA:

    It’s not like the media failed to cover the Wright, Rezko, and Ayers matters. They covered them to death!

    What made the difference was that many voters decided those issues were of secondary or no importance. And they were undoubtedly very wise to decide that. What does Wright or Ayers have to do with any genuinely important issue on the president’s plate today?

    By the way, Gloria Borger is a commentator, not a reporter, and she is always paired with a Republican, ususally Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, who gets equal time and is pretty effective. On Blitzer’s ‘biased’ show.

    MSNBC’s current prime time lineup consists of commentary shows also, not ‘news’ per se. It’s in direct competition to O’Reilly and Hannity. Nothing wrong with that. [Fox gets bigger ratings, but their audience includes many more old folks. Younger viewers are obviously biased, or brainwashed, or something.]

  • Baronius

    “Come on Handyguy, you are starting to lose a bit of your dignity on this one.”


  • The president’s favorability rating as averaged by RealClearPolitics has changed as follows:

    Jan 27
    63.3% approve
    20.0% disapprove

    Mar 17
    60.2% approve
    31.7% disapprove

    So 8.6% of the sample moved from ‘no opinion’ to ‘disapprove,’ and it seems likely that most of them are Republicans/conservatives who withheld their disapproval at first after the inauguration. [Unless you think there are a lot of conservatives in that 60% favorable rating, that is.]

    The president’s approval will no doubt ebb and flow, but it looks like a significant number of folks are still willing to give him a chance.

    If you figure the country splits 30-40-30 Dem-Ind-Rep or Liberal-Moderate-Conservative, then half the president’s current support comes from the middle, and 3/4 of the middle support him.

  • The Obnoxious American

    First, I agree that the media did cover Wright during the primary, though not at ALL during the general election, when most people are paying attention. Moreover, people didn’t decide that it didn’t matter. The media told them so. That didn’t happen in Trent Lott’s case, I wonder why (no I don’t).

    The media covering Rezko? Not so much. They were too busy investigating Palin’s wardrobe.

    I watch CNN daily, they do NOT always pair her with a republican. Sometimes they do, and I do agree Blitzer is better than some. But even when they do throw in the token repub, more often than not he barely gets a word in edgewise.

    CNN’s featured commentators are usually Roland Martin, Gloria Borger, Candy Crowley and that other hefty chick who loves Obama. Less frequently, Hayes, that black republican, etc.

    Often, CNN will have a democratic commentator on solo, how many times have I seen Carville on there as the sole commentator – and he directly advises the president!

    O’Rielly isn’t nearly as right wing as Olbermann is left wing. And to compare Olbermann or Maddow’s bombast to anything the right has to offer is a laugh.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I think if he keeps on as he has, his numbers will continue to ebb, not flow. I’d argue that this 8% are all independents and moderates. 3/4’s of moderates do NOT support him or his extremely liberal views. But keep trying.

  • The Obnoxious American

    And BTW, the real clear average has been at the mercy of it’s principles which includes CNN, which had Obama polling in the mid 70s when everyone else had it in the 60s. there’s a bit of trickery there. I think it’s safe to say that Obama’s popularity has dropped more than the 3% favorables he’s lost than your stats would have us believe.

  • I am flattered to think that you fellows think I had ‘dignity’ to lose.

    Would this be the kind of dignity that emanates from, say, Glenn Beck warning us about FEMA detention camps? Or Rush’s very dainty “they expect us to bend over and grab our ankles because he’s black” line?

    Or perhaps OA’s own delicately dignified take on the abortion issue: “I do think abortion is clearly murder, but given the situation, murder might be the best answer.”

    This is even better than his pointing out in a previous article that Obama’s call for digitizing medical records was obviously ridiculous because “every doctor’s office I’ve ever been to already uses a computer!”

    Or his warning that if that darn Obama reverses Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the Iranians will laugh at “our gay army.”

    Yes, those are high water marks of dignity to aspire to. I’ll try harder, I promise.

  • Re #46: Always, always, if you don’t like the message, by all means blame the messenger for ‘bias.’

  • I agree that the media did cover Wright during the primary, though not at ALL during the general election

    Because it was ancient history by then.

    Moreover, people didn’t decide that it didn’t matter. The media told them so.

    Yet you’re more than willing to credit people with media-independent thinking capability when it comes to Obama’s approval rating.

    That didn’t happen in Trent Lott’s case, I wonder why (no I don’t).

    What didn’t happen in Trent Lott’s case? Did the media tell them it didn’t matter and to vote Republican anyway?

  • Because . . . [the Reverend Mr. Wright] was ancient history [after the primaries].Of course he was. Besides, it ain’t easy to get photos and sound bites from someone who has been thrown that far under the bus and, in any event, the Junior Senator From New York was out of the picture. Why bother?


  • Um, possibly because there were other things to talk about that are actually relevant to the presidency? Just a thought.

  • Dan, without wishing to dig up ancient history, what possible course of action for Obama would have made you happier? (Setting aside the potential harm each choice would have done to his campaign.) To have disowned Wright or to have stuck by him despite his remarks?

  • Doc,

    I realize that, during the campaign, Senator Obama was stuck with things as they were. I think he probably did the best he could then have done and still have a chance of becoming the President. I expressed my views on Race, Senator Obama and the Reverend Mr. Wright here almost a year ago and, having just reread the article, adhere to about the same views.

    President Obama, as would any politician who holds high elective office, now apparently thinks he has to be almost as careful as he had to be as Senator-Candidate Obama, not to offend. It is difficult, if not completely impossible, to have a candid dialogue about racial issues, even scratching the surface, without making someone, or lots of someones, quite unhappy. However, President Obama does not need to be quite as careful as did Senator Obama; he is the President, and has almost four years, or possibly eight, years to go in office.

    When Attorney General Holder made his Nation of Cowards remarks, President Obama did a clever soft shoe routine and danced around. He let it go with saying that he would have phrased it differently, and that racial problems are part and parcel of the economic problems he is trying to solve; you don’t get anything done by just talking about race (sound familiar? Remember his remarks about Rush Limbaugh?).

    I wish President Obama had thrown caution to the winds and said,

    I think Attorney General Holder had it half right. We do need to talk, seriously and at length, about race. To refuse to do so is, indeed, cowardly. The Black folks, White Folks, Yellow, Red and Brown folks all need to consider their antagonisms and where those antagonisms and the hostilities they have generated have put all of us.

    Damnit, they are all full of shit, the Blacks for constantly playing the race card and the Whites and all the rest for encouraging and enabling them to do it. Fuck Political Correctness. We are not pet Niggers to be patted on the head and told that we still need to be treated somehow differently because of things that happened long ago. We are just as bright, articulate and competent as everybody else. Get a life; Live it, damnit; or get the Hell out of the way.

    I have so advised the Attorney General, and if he wants to resign, OK. I hope he doesn’t, but that’s his decision to make.

    I am putting together a multi-racial conference, which I shall lead and in which I shall participate vigorously. It will be held later this week, and I have every intention of pissing off a bunch of people — White, Black, Yellow, Red, Brown and even Green if any show up. I hope that I do piss off everyone there. If I don’t, it will just have been a nice excuse to get together at the White House and spend more of your money. I shall consider that an abject failure.

    President Obama is uniquely qualified, in the history of the United States, to pull off something like that. I wish he would try, but don’t plan to hold my breath.


  • Well, he does have one or two other things on his plate at the moment, Dan, so you’re right to keep breathing for the moment. If he said anything resembling your provocation/fantasy, it might knock ‘AIG Rage!’ out of the top spot on cable news. But I’m not sure what else it would accomplish.

    [It also probably doesn’t represent anything close to his views – only yours – so why should he say it? You were rooting for him to lose the election, and you have been, shall we say, less than effusive in your praise for his policies, so now he should make your weird speech for you?]

  • A speech like that would be glorious fun, but he should wait until either

    (a) if he gets re-elected, about a month before the end of his second term, or

    (b) if in late October 2012 he’s so far behind in the polls that he doesn’t have a hoot in hell of winning and might as well go out with a bang.

    Go ‘Bama!

  • The Obnoxious American


    So are you suggesting abortion isn’t murder? Do you really think it’s inelegant to suggest that sometimes murder makes the most sense? I have a feeling that there are plenty of pregnant, inner city 14 year old girls who are agreeing with what I said, right this very minute.

    And my point about digitizing records stands. I’m not nearly the only person who has made that case. Fact is, government creating a cenralized master medical database would do one thing: Stop people from getting a second opinion. If that’s your idea of cost savings, then I pray you never have a serious condition and an incompetent doctor.

    My comments about the way other country’s military is spot on if I do say so myself. It matters whether our armed forces strike fear or merely disdain in the hearts of our enemies. Surprised you don’t get that.

    I’m speaking honestly. My words may at times be tough but always honest. If you think calling it like it is some how detracts from my dignity, then I’d rather be undignified in your eyes.


    “Because it was ancient history by then.”

    No it wasn’t. Inconvenient might be a better description. Usually 4 or 5 months doesn’t quite qualify as “ancient” in my book. And the reality is, most Americans don’t tune in to the primary process. We are political junkies. Most people aren’t, and I’d bet a lot of the voting public didn’t know much at all about the Wright fiasco.

    Also, it’s easy to pick and choose, but what about witholding the LA Times videotape? Was that ancient history too?

  • If it were “murder,” all abortions would be illegal.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Lolll, it’s so funny to hear these left wing types try and describe abortion as something else. I can’t imagine anyone with a love for children not being able to see or hold a newborn and realize that abortion is anything but, merely because it happens just a few months prior to birth. It clearly is murder – the taking of a life by choice, not out of need or self defense.

    I think abortion has it’s role. There are times when the life of the baby and it’s mother would be so severely impacted by the birth that it’s the best for all to stop the pregnancy, which happens by destroying the fetus. And in cases of rape or incest, it should be mandatory as a matter of principle. In cases of true medical need, by all means (though, that would be mere killing, and not murder).

    If we really want to stop abortions (and we should) then it should be via a cultural change, not by government mandate that would result in women dying by coathanger.

    It may have it’s uses, it may be something that is at times necessary, but let’s not sugarcoat what it is or get into a ridiculous argument over stages of a fetus. Even sane democrats agree that it is wrong, I agree with Hillary’s stance, that it should be legal and rare. Ask yourself, why, if it’s not murder, did Hillary think it should be rare?

  • It’s not a mandate. It’s a law and it will be so until or unless it is repelled.
    I would take a lead here from David Nalle who decides not to make it the chief GOP issue. I and Dave disagree on many things, but I always respect his views.

  • There’s nothing funny about abortion, Obnox.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Not quite sure what your point is. I’m not suggesting a difference between a mandate or a law. Abortion is murder plain and simple by the definition of murder, not whether there is a law on the books identifying it as such.

    If you are trying to say that because it’s legal it can’t be murder, then explain the death penalty which is state sponsored murder, another societal choice to murder that has it’s role in society.

    Likewise, euthanasia is murder, even though it is done for mercy. And this too is a scenario where murder has a purpose that serves society.

  • “the definition of murder, not whether there is a law on the books identifying it as such.”

    That’s where you’re wrong. “Murder,” a legal term, is for the courts to decide. “Killing” and “murder” are different, on analogy with say how “lying” and perjury” are different.

  • The Obnoxious American


    You’re making me chuckle. When the ten commandments were written and “Thou shall not murder” was added as the 6th commandment, I’m pretty sure no one was referencing any of the US legal statutes, or any legal statutes for that matter.

    And thanks for explaining the difference between killing and murder. Obviously you missed when I alluded to the same thing by saying that abortion is not murder when the life of the mother is at issue.

    Care to try again?

  • Am I to regard you as a fundamentalist?
    Like it or not, that’s the meaning of the terms. And you can chuckle all you want.

  • The Obnoxious American


    “There’s nothing funny about abortion, Obnox.”

    Agreed. Are you suggesting I tried to make light of it or something?

  • The Obnoxious American


    You’re going off the deep end. So now if I cite the ten commandments, I’m a fundamentalist? You’re acting like a mentalist :>

    Look if you get your moral principles from a book written by lawyers that’s fine by me. I think that a majority of us tend to set our moral centers a bit higher. I’m not at all religious, but I don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and I certainly don’t need a lawyer to tell me what murder is.

  • You’ve done a lot of chuckling and LOLing over the last few comments, is all. I just hope you were chuckling grimly.

  • The Obnoxious American


    Hate to say it but lollll.

  • Right, as if chuckling counted as an acceptable response.

  • And BTW, the commandment reads “Though shall not kill.” If you wish, I could provide you with citations from the Hebrew/Aramaic/Syriac/ – and from further removed Suptuigant and Vulgate (not to mention Koine).

    Which would you prefer?

  • Dammit!

  • The Obnoxious American


    Quoting from Wikipedia:

    “The Roman Catholic Church uses the translation ‘kill’ (less specific) instead of ‘murder’.[3]”

    Killing is acceptable, or all Jews and Christians would be vegetarians. And war would be expressly forbidden. And so would self defense. Yet, none of those things are forbidden by the bible. Thanks for teeing that one up for me.

    And BTW, I was chuckling at Doc’s obviously humorous comment. You should try some humor sometimes, you might like it.

  • I my wayward days, I spend almost three years in a Theological Seminary, Doc. But I guess one never knows when one may have to put the old knowledge to use.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Really? I spent 5 years in a yeshiva. I’m wondering how you missed the whole murder vs kill debate.

  • Forget it, OA. Find a more suitable sounding board.

  • The Obnoxious American

    BTW, My ten commandments link was busted, here’s another try.

    Really an interesting read – even Islam’s ten commandments makes the differenciation between killing and murder and says the 6th commandment is about murder, not just killing. Lutherans and protestants too.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “Forget it, OA. Find a more suitable sounding board.”

    Roger, you’re getting predictable. Is this where you put your fingers in your ears and say lalalalalalala i cant hear you?

  • Argue with Nalle. I have better things to do.

  • The Obnoxious American

    So you’re answer to my “fingers in the ear” question is yes. Now I’m starting to chuckle even more :> And btw, not trying to speak for Nalle, but I suspect he would agree with me on this one.

  • You’d better get an echo, then, to get a response. So good-bye!

  • OA:

    Do you think the rest of the world laughs at the gay men and women who serve in Israel’s army? How about Great Britain’s army? Do you chortle and chuckle about them? Gays have served openly in both those countries’ forces for years. Also Australia, Canada, and most of Europe.

    Are you aware that nearly 12,000 members of the US armed forces have been kicked out under the policy? Many, and probably nearly all, were good soldiers in every other way. [We lost a big percentage of skilled translators this way, for example.]

    Is our country a lot better off for having persecuted them? Make you feel proud, does it?

    I was neither agreeing nor disagreeing with your abortion comment; I was just trying to demonstrate that ‘dignity’ is not something your crudely composed and even more crudely reasoned comments and articles contain very often, if ever.

    I thought I did so with humor, and yes, dignity. Whether you agree is not something I will lose much sleep over. Your back and forth with Roger and Doc, above, provides further examples of exactly how ‘dignified’ you and your writing are.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “Is our country a lot better off for having persecuted them? Make you feel proud, does it?”

    It seems that misrepresenting opponents views seems to be a stable of liberals these days. I never, ever suggested that gays should be persecuted. Go back to that article and re-read the discussion. I said very clearly that in our military, sexual relations, HETERO or otherwise, should not be a factor.

    And sorry to break this to you, but the various armies of Europe and Canada hardly inspire fear and loathing in the hearts of our enemies. And now, we are starting to emulate the same.

    “Your back and forth with Roger and Doc, above, provides further examples of exactly how ‘dignified’ you and your writing are.”

    Really? First, I wasn’t arguing with Doc at all, and I am pretty sure Doc knows that. Surprised someone of your obvious intellect (albiet wrong-headedness) would have missed that.

    As far as my discourse with Roger, you mean where he made an assertion that was wrong, I proved he was wrong, and then he went ad hominem on me, and I maintained humor about it? Is that where I proved my lack of dignity? Do tell.

  • You proved nothing except to your own feeble and ossified brain.

  • The Obnoxious American

    You made an assertion that was wrong, I explained why it was wrong and I backed up what I said, your comeback was to cite 3 years that you spent in a theological semenary and then to attack me, rather than the details I provided which show that you had it wrong.

    Keep on calling me names, I don’t care, it doesn’t change the exchange above where you were wrong and your only response was to make it personal. Not your best showing my friend.

  • Clavos

    OA, Doc,

    I’ve been toying with this in my (twisted) mind all afternoon. Now, after all the back-and-forth about the humor in abortion, I can’t resist:

    Ask yourself, why, if it’s not murder, did Hillary think it should be rare?

    Because that’s how she likes her baby steaks?

  • I’m not going to let you get away with bastardizing English language saying that killing is equivalent to murder – regardless of your fanatical or what other beliefs. So I said all I wanted to say, and you can continue with the rest of your pent-up frustrations and diatribe till earth freezes over for all I care.

    And have a good time while you’re at it.

  • Clavos

    “…till earth freezes over for all I care.”

    If St. Al the Gored has his way, that should be pretty soon…

    Oh wait — it’s global warming he’s freaked out about.

    Well. That’s different.

    Never mind.*

    *© G. Radner. RIP

  • I don’t know why I bother, but here goes:

    If the president doesn’t change the army’s policy, people will continue to be kicked out. You were complaining, loudly and, yes, obnoxiously, that Obama was even considering changing the policy.

    So, if he does what you want, people will keep getting thrown out. I think this is persecution. When people are involuntarily separated from the service, that less than honorable discharge remains permanently on their record.

    Maybe you can manage to twist the logic a bit so that we keep the policy but don’t throw anyone out? Pray share your wisdom with us.

    I note that you do not include Israel or Australia in your insults to the armies of Europe and Canada. Here’s your chance: insult those countries too while you are at it.

    And it seems too obvious to have to say it, but I will: many thousands of gay men and women have served very heroically over the decades before and after this stupid policy, and did so without being discovered and thrown out.

    Your assumption that an army with queers in it is ipso facto laughable and not an effective army is unbelievably ignorant and offensive, and could only come from a not-very-well-informed and just possibly more-bigoted-than-he-claims-or-realizes straight guy.

  • RJ


    I have cited a great deal of evidence in the past that shows just how biased the mainstream media is. That evidence has included:

    – Self-identification of media types as overwhelmingly more liberal than conservative

    – Wildly disproportionate donations given to Dems and liberal causes than to Reps and conservative causes by media types

    – Admissions that the vast majority of media types vote for Democrats

    – Scientific polls that show the public recognizes that the mainstream media has a liberal bias

    – Empirical studies that demonstrate the mainstream media has a pro-Dem, anti-Rep bias

    – Admissions (after the election, of course) by mainstream media types that there was a pro-0bama bias in the last election

    None of this has been able to change your mind. You are therefore not going to be convinced, regardless of the evidence provided. You are not open to persuasion on this issue. You are incredibly close-minded on this issue. Therefore, it is simply pointless to discuss this issue with you.

    It’s like trying to convince the Pope that Catholicism sucks. Except that maybe, just maybe, the Pope could be swayed.

    For you, however, there is no hope.

  • AAA

    I really don’t understand Americans, they’re probably the simplest of all creatures on this planet, yet they are the most annoying.

    Why do you feel it is ok for Americans to interfere in the business and politics of other nations yet when another country dare to even glance an eye on American politics it is a no-no?

    Grow up and learn to integrate into a very small world, otherwise you are no better than the Taliban or your friends the Bin-Lala mob!

  • The Obnoxious American

    “I’m not going to let you get away with bastardizing English language saying that killing is equivalent to murder – regardless of your fanatical or what other beliefs. So I said all I wanted to say, and you can continue with the rest of your pent-up frustrations and diatribe till earth freezes over for all I care.”

    Um, Roger, it’s actually you who is saying that killing is equivalent to murder – I am saying these are two different terms. As such, you are bastardizing language. I have to say that this exchange really makes me wonder whether you are on drugs or something. Wow.

    For your edification, here is the definition of “murder” from m-w:

    “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought”

    Here is their definition of “kill”

    “to deprive one of life”

    Thus, murder includes killing, but merely killing isn’t murder. The 10 commandments talk about murder, not killing, as harvesting wheat in the fields is a form of killing as is slaughtering animals for food, or defending your own right to life in a self defense situation – all of which are allowed in the good book.

    This is all basic common sense, stare decisis. Look it up. I’ve given the links, all you’ve given is insults. I can’t type the URL into your browser for you or force your eyes to look at it, but you’re wrong and continuing the argument just makes you look silly my dear friend.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “Your assumption that an army with queers in it is ipso facto laughable and not an effective army is unbelievably ignorant and offensive, and could only come from a not-very-well-informed and just possibly more-bigoted-than-he-claims-or-realizes straight guy.”

    That wasn’t my point at all and you know it. Clearly Obama has taught you well about attacking strawmen.

    I think gay people are as tough, or usually, due to the harrassment they routinely get, frequently TOUGHER than their straight counterparts. I live in the NYC area. I’ve hung out in the west village. The last thing I’d want to do is get physical with a 230lb, cut, wife-beater-wearing sweating gay dude (I believe the correct term is a bear?).

    I’ll say it once again. I’ll say it this one time, once more. Please try and understand my view, and argue against it if you wish. please do NOT add your strawman to my view, or misrepresent my view and then attack that. I mean you can if you want, but you wouldn’t be arguing with me.

    What makes this episode so laughable, what makes our military look laughable as a result of this debate, is that instead of focusing on how to beat our enemies, we are focused on the sexual expression rights of our soldiers. Instead of rifles and bullets, we are concerned with social contracts and political correctness.

    Our military has one job, to protect this nation and win wars that we are waging. Not to make people feel warm and fuzzy that soldiers are free to express their sexuality, HETERO OR OTHERWISE.

    The military isn’t about freedom or expression or sexual rights or political correctness. Realize, our military do not have the same rights as we do. In the military, if your squad leader tells you to rush a hill and you refuse, what do you think his sidearm is for?

    Israel has a tough military because they focus on one thing. Winning wars. They allow gays and that’s great, but that’s not the number one issue that they deal with (whereas, Obama dealt with this issue before even gitmo or cutting funding for military). Israel’s military are feared because the enemy knows that all the Israeli military is thinking about is how to kill it’s enemy. I know nothing about the aussies, so i won’t comment.

    Yet our focus has been the exact opposite of Israel’s. If you bothered to read the context of what i was saying, you’d know. Here, I’ll make it easy and paste it here.

    “I for one don’t want anyone on active duty expressing their sexuality, hetero or otherwise. If you think I’m way off here, just remember that somewhere in Iran, there are soldiers laughing at our gay military. And that’s precisely the problem with this feel good nonsense.”

    Is it my fault that our enemies would view our excursions into the warm and fuzzies as a weakness? Not at all. Does it make it any less true? Not at all. Nothing about this episode, or about the way the left has made this an issue, does anything to further the idea of military supremecy, and this my dear friend, costs American lives.

  • The Obnoxious American


    I just wanted to add this, because it’s worth repeating:

    “So, if he does what you want, people will keep getting thrown out. “

    I never said we should throw gays in the military out. In my original article that you responded to in this thread, here is what I say, and I think it’s pretty clear:

    Then I heard that Obama wanted to reverse Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Really, Obama, really? The economy is sinking, we are facing two wars, and you’re worried about soldiers in a foxhole expressing their sexuality openly and freely? What about the actual job that the military has to do? I’m not saying that this Clinton era compromise was the greatest legislation ever, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was absolute crap. But it silenced an issue that we really shouldn’t have been talking about and Clinton understood that. America understood it and accepted it, for the most part. After all, our military is there for one thing, to protect American freedom and interests overseas. I for one don’t want anyone on active duty expressing their sexuality, hetero or otherwise. If you think I’m way off here, just remember that somewhere in Iran, there are soldiers laughing at our gay military. And that’s precisely the problem with this feel good nonsense.”

    Gay’s are Americans and they have every right to defend this country and I honor and am as thankful for their service as I am for all those who have fought for my freedom. The problem is the politicization that comes along with this discussion. The spectacle. The various “rights” issues and other conundrums. Would the Army Field Manual need to be adjusted to deal with lovers who happen to share a fox hole during a conflict? What if two soldiers in the same platoon want to get married? Is gay marriage even allowed while serving? What about gay spouses who do not serve? What about adopting kids? etc etc ad nauseum?

    Our military is a voluntary military (unlike in Israel, where service is mandatory) and aside from the non-gay rights activist minority that might currently serve, I think most of these best Americans just want to do their job to protect the country with respect. They aren’t trying to make a political statement about sexual rights. Their sexual preferences are rightly secondary to the mission, and they are focused. I happen to think that they do not appreciate the spectacle. They want to succeed in their missions and get home safely.

    Between cutting our funding, focusing on non-military issues such as what hole a soldier’s wee wee goes into, we are advertising to the world and to our enemies that we aren’t as serious about protecting our country as perhaps they are. You must be able to see how that emboldens the enemy, increases their will to fight, and how THAT will mean an increase of Americans killed in action.

    From my view, if you want to serve this country, then put on a uniform and go through training and serve. Don’t bother me with the specifics of your sex life, because I really don’t care. Just do what you came to do, or don’t sign up for service in the first place.