November 1, 2008

"Don't you feel like we don't quite have a leader right now? Don't you feel like our country is missing its voice?"

Asks Jac, adding: "It's not a very good feeling, is it?"

ADDED: I just noticed that the quote I chose to excerpt is not ostensibly pro-Obama. I liked it because of what it said about Bush. It really has been a dismal shame over the years that Bush has not been able to speak to us and for us about the things he has decided to do. (Sometimes, I wonder if Bush has read Mark 15:4-5 too many times, with too much self-regard.) 

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade says:
THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, even right-wing liberal female law professor bloggers in Madison, Wisconsin would be quoting Bible scripture on a daily basis. AND THEY WERE RIGHT.

42 comments:

mcg said...

Hmm. Another off-the wall Bible reference. I guess I shouldn't mock it too much lest it indicate Ann is reading the Bible more these days!

Jim said...

I agree that Bush's inability to articulate positions has hurt during his term. But he has been effective as a CIC, using troops abroad to keep the civilian population safe for 7 years that experts predicted would be bloody indeed. All this while effective counter terror measures were exposed on the pages of the NY Times so those who want to do us harm could have an easier go of it.

We will soon have a speechifying celebrity in chief with no national security chops whatsoever. He is getting a pass on his military policy because Iraq is quiet now. It is quiet because of a policy that he strongly opposed and his opponent relentlessly went to bat for. Can't help but enjoy the irony.

We may in the next few years be reminded of the difference between a well spoken dream merchant in chief, and a solid inarticulate man who quietly kept us safe despite great odds.

Some of us don't need alot of blue sky coming from 1600 Pennsylvania, we want to be left alone. We are now in the minority. Most apparently need to be told how easy and fulfilling their lives will be if only they vote correctly. What nonsense.

Jen Bradford said...

Britain is mute also.

Original George said...

It is good to live in a country where we can feel we don't "quite" have a leader, yet everything is still ok, in very deep fundamental ways.

Mr. Bush had his go at it and has earned his retirement.

Let's hope things stay quite quiet for a good while.

John Althouse Cohen said...

It is good to live in a country where we can feel we don't "quite" have a leader, yet everything is still ok...

A lot of people would disagree with you about the "everything is still OK" assessment.

Recovering Liberal said...

POTUS is a burnout job, due to the stress of the position and disregard heaped upon US Presidents by the (mostly left) psuedo-intelligentsia of the world. (You know, those folks who know better than everyone else, but never actually accomplished anything outside of career building).

Does anyone remember a second term President with a strong presence and agenda? Clinton was mostly about creating his "legacy" and staying out of jail. Reagan was dealing with the early stages of Alzheimer's and the Iran-Contra scandal. Nixon was dealing with Watergate (and trying to stay out of jail). Johnson (not technically a second termer) decided to get out ASAP. Eisenhower ... was during my childhood, but I do recall how his era supposedly reflected the smugness of American world dominance, racism, and greed. Plus ca change ...

Bush is dealing with BDS and being blamed for just about everything under the sun. If I were him, I would keep my mouth shut and count the days to freedom.

The Messiah will also disappoint. Will he be held to account in any meaningful way? Or will blame be assigned to racism and the unwillingness of Americans to accept hope and change? Hmmm... That's a tough one.

Meade said...

THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, even right-wing liberal female law professor bloggers in Madison, Wisconsin would be quoting Bible scripture on a daily basis. AND THEY WERE RIGHT.

Scrutineer said...

jac - The president needs to encapsulate the spirit of the nation and speak for all of us. Don't you feel like we don't quite have a leader right now? Don't you feel like our country is missing its voice? It's not a very good feeling, is it?

The president isn't my "leader," and this confusion of the nation with the state is creepy. Conservatives tend to think of the government as a necessary evil, not as a spirit encapsulating source of meaning.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse, your latest tag line should be: Leader of the cabal of right-wing liberal female law professor bloggers in Madison, Wisconsin

Palladian said...

I don't want a leader. I want a competent manager. I'm not saying that George Bush fulfills that requirement either, but I'm certainly glad he fails in the "leader" department. In America (theoretically at least) the people lead the leader. That's why we have elections so often.

campy said...

The president is not my leader. The president leads the executive branch of the government.

He is my employee.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Conservatives tend to think of the government as a necessary evil, not as a spirit encapsulating source of meaning.

I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are making the argument that the government shouldn't have an important role in people's lives support the following: (1) the invasion of Iraq, (2) overturning Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion, (3) laws against euthanasia.

Seven Machos said...

I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are making the argument that the government should have an important role in people's lives support the following: (1) cutting military funding, (2) non-enforcement of existing immigration laws, (3) lax laws regarding conventional morality.

Scrutineer said...

ac - I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are making the argument that the government shouldn't have an important role in people's lives support the following ...

Who said the government shouldn't have an important role in people's lives? You worded your complaint about missing a "leader" in a way that suggested you see the president as filling a quasi-religious role. That's what I found "creepy." I don't need or want a Rev. Oprah in the Oval Office.

What do you think of Stanly Kurtz's piece arguing that the American left tends to practice politics as a religion substitute?

Quayle said...

The better question is, "Don't you feel like we withdrew from Iraq? Don't you feel like we're not even fighting two wars?"

In the past two months, we've gotten almost no stories about Iraq and Afghanistan, when last spring it was all Iraq problems, all the time.

What it shows you is that we live in a totally manipulated "news" environment.

We hear only what someone else decides that we hear. We see only what they decide that we should see.

In reality, what do most of us here know about Iraq and the successes or failures except what someone else told us?

Another example is the economy. The press keeps saying "Financial Crisis", "Financial Crisis", but who in the press really understood and explained a coherent story of what is going on?

One minute the press is talking about those nasty greedy banks repossessing homes, and the next minute they are talking about those poor troubled banks failing, and they couldn’t explain why both were happening.

Bush seems to understand that none of that immediate “chattering news” is real or really matters.

What really matters is whether planes fly into buildings.

We understood that very well on September 11. Hillary got booed off a stage by unions who didn’t want to hear the “clap trap.” But since then we’ve lapsed back into our superficial “real” world.

MayBee said...

I'd ask what it is JAC would want to see a leader doing right now. As a reminder, Obama was seen to be a "leader" during the financial crisis votes because he sat back. Made no pronouncements or decisions and didn't even take a position.

The media and the Democrats have spent 8 years undermining Bush's authority, simultaneously blaming him for everything bad and questioning everything else. He let people die during Katrina! He lied us into war! He refused to leave Iraq! He did that banking thing with the SWIFT codes.

Now Iraq is doing much better. We could have story after story about the successes there and the CinC that bravely ensured they happened.
He doesn't get press like that.

8 years has taught him this America doesn't want a leader, it wants a scapegoat. So he'll quietly do his job leading, and let people looking for a different leader vote and hope.

Oligonicella said...

"It really has been a dismal shame over the years that Bush has not been able to speak to us and for us about the things he has decided to do."

Those who will not listen will not hear, those who listen, have.

jdeeripper said...

mcg said...Hmm. Another off-the wall Bible reference. I guess I shouldn't mock it too much lest it indicate Ann is reading the Bible more these days!

Maybe Sarah Palin is having an effect on Ann.

Alec Baldwin calls Sarah "Bible Spice".

Bush is irritatingly inarticulate no doubt. Imagine the unappealingly yet articulate Newt Gingrich as President trying to defend his agenda.

This need for a "leader" is a symptom of a deeper issue that goes beyond politics but we should have a President who can at least present and argue his case in a clear and compelling manner.

Meade said...

"IN THE COMMENTS: Meade says:"

Just plain "Meade?" Not even the QUASI-wonderful Meade?

Ann Althouse said...

Marvelous Meade.

Meade said...

Not that I'm complaining. The only thrill bigger than seeing my name alongside Bush, Jac, Jesus, McCain, and Obama would be to see it next to InstaPundit itself.

Meade said...

"Marvelous" -- Meade like-y!

dick said...

JAC,

I think you ruined your point when you asked how many agreed with the policies. How can he speak for the spirit of the people when the people do not agree. As soon as he supports one position he is not speaking for the other.

The president is elected to manage the executive part of the government as one of the 3 legs of our federal government. He represents his positions, not necessarily the positions of the whole of the country. He cannot because half the country does not agree with him and half does.

What he represents is the policies he has supported as the policies of the nation.

do you really feel that Obama if elected will represent the spirit of people like me who think he is the worst possible president we could have? I certainly don't. He doesn't represent my spirit in any way at all.

Synova said...

I don't buy this notion that it's Bush's inarticulateness or uninterest in communicating that is the problem.

Sure, that's been the refrain... waaa waaaa waaaaa... why didn't Bush tell me what to think. Waaa waaa waaaa... it was up to him to convince me Iraq was a good idea. Waaa waaa waaa... if I stupidly believed it would be *all over* in Iraq in a matter of months, it's HIS fault because he didn't do my thinking for me and explain well enough what I didn't want to listen to!!!

Which is what was going on, of course. Bush could have "communicated" that the sky was blue and the chorus of "LIAR!" would have rocked the rafters.

I don't for a moment blame Bush for failing to strap people down with a sock in their mouths and make them listen.

Synova said...

This need for a "leader" is a symptom of a deeper issue that goes beyond politics

Dare I say it's... gasp... un-American?

Host with the Most said...

GREAT TAG choice!

miller said...

Overturning Roe v. Wade would accomplish what, exactly?

Abortion would still be legal.

What would happen is (I guess) that the individual states would have to argue about it, rather than having a judicial point of view enforced by fiat and bias.

How is that an argument against government? I'm not sure I follow.

Simon said...

My problem here is that Althouse Sr clips Althouse Jr's comment. The preceding line is important: JAC said: "The president needs to encapsulate the spirit of the nation and speak for all of us. ¶ Don't you feel like we don't quite have a leader right now? Don't you feel like our country is missing its voice? It's not a very good feeling, is it?"

Obama is, arguably, eloquent. But he won't "speak for all of us," or even much more than a majority, any more than Bush has. Of course we should want a President who is intelligent, who reads books and who can articulate positions clearly, but those criteria don't trump all else; JAC wouldn't vote for Newt Gingrich, and I wouldn't vote for Barack Obama. I wold go further: not only are those criteria not sufficient, nor are they necessary. They are preferable, but when there is a choice between a candidate who is substantive unacceptable and one who falls short of the mark in communications skills, as much as I may dislike being asked to make such a choice, the choice is clear. It's McCain.

Spread Eagle said...

The great communicator Bush never was, although in his first term me made a bit of an effort. After Katrina he totally gave up on it. If they weren't going to give him credit for keeping America safe, if they couldn't see how he had done that for 5 straight years at that point, if they were going to freaking blame hurricanes on him, and attribute it to his racism and his desire to stick it to the black people in New Orleans, why even try?

Synova said...

if they were going to freaking blame hurricanes on him, and attribute it to his racism and his desire to stick it to the black people in New Orleans, why even try?

That's my take on it.

And I agree with him.

It's not rational to behave in any other way.

blake said...

(1) the invasion of Iraq, (2) overturning Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion, (3) laws against euthanasia.

I split with the Big L Libertarians on (1), because they're anti-Iraq. But just as I don't want gov't involved in my life, I want it involved heavily in the lives of those who would fuck with us. (Strategically, the Iraq invasion was brilliant and will be recognized as such long after the perceived mis-steps are forgotten.)

(2) Why would you single out Roe v. Wade? Let's go back to FDR-era abuse of the commerce clause. I'm against it all.

(3) Again, why single out laws vs. euthanasia? The problem with that particular area is that you can't really know the intention of the person being killed. (Yeah, they can leave videos and what-not, but you don't know those weren't made under duress.) You're legalizing murder. Suicide, I would point out, is also illegal--but really only if you fail.

As I said in a previous thread, in a sane world, it wouldn't matter very much who got elected President. The fact that it's so important to so many is indication that government has too much power. Way too much power.

blake said...

As for Bush, he's probably keeping his head down and thanking God for bringing Sarah Palin into this world.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Who said the government shouldn't have an important role in people's lives?

From the comments on this post: "Conservatives tend to think of the government as a necessary evil." From another commenter: "Some of us don't need alot of blue sky coming from 1600 Pennsylvania, we want to be left alone." From a commenter on my post: "What I wish is that the government be such an insignificant part of life that it would be quite normal for people to neither know nor care who the president is." Others made similar comments. Clearly this was a theme.

I'd ask what it is JAC would want to see a leader doing right now. As a reminder, Obama was seen to be a "leader" during the financial crisis votes because he sat back.

I specifically say in the blog post that I don't have a plan for the financial crisis, so I don't have an answer about "what should be done." If you honestly believe that Obama would just "sit back" and do nothing to solve the crisis if he were president, then fine, vote for McCain -- but I don't find that very plausible.

I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are making the argument that the government should have an important role in people's lives support the following: (1) cutting military funding, (2) non-enforcement of existing immigration laws, (3) lax laws regarding conventional morality.

First: I'm not for all of those things. Second: define "conventional morality." Third: mainstream liberals in the United States don't typically believe in some kind of absolute principle of the government doing whatever anyone might want it to do. Conservatives are much more likely to invoke minimal government as a first principle than liberals are to invoke big government for big government's sake. The idea is for government to act where it can be effective and not an infringement on people's private lives.

Overturning Roe v. Wade would accomplish what, exactly? Abortion would still be legal.

I'm not saying that overturning Roe v. Wade alone would outlaw abortion. I know that it would be reserved to the states. That's why I referred to people who would support "overturning Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion." You're acting like I didn't write those last three words. All I'm trying to do is make the pretty uncontroversial point that conservatives want to outlaw abortion, which would entail two steps: first overturn Roe, then pass legislation outlawing abortion so that women who get pregnant are forced to have children and can't choose what to do with their own bodies. I simply find it interesting that many conservatives have that policy preference while at the same time claiming to hate having the government being involved in people's lives. Things like tax rates or health insurance are relatively benign infringements on liberty next to the government getting inside women's bodies and making people's moral choices and family choices for them.

Freeman Hunt said...

(1) the invasion of Iraq, (2) overturning Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion, (3) laws against euthanasia.

I'm with blake on every point. I'd expand on (2) and say that attempts to outlaw abortion represent less state overreach than allowing it. Legalized abortion uses government power to bestow special rights on some people (mothers) over others (children). Giving me the right to kill somebody else may arguably give me more freedom but it entirely wipes out freedom for the person I'm allowed to kill.

Freeman Hunt said...

first overturn Roe, then pass legislation outlawing abortion so that women who get pregnant are forced to have children and can't choose what to do with their own bodies

This entirely ignores that another person's body is involved in the equation.

Simon said...

John Althouse Cohen said...
"If [MayBee] honestly believe[s] that Obama would just 'sit back' and do nothing to solve the crisis if he were president, then fine, vote for McCain -- but I don't find that very plausible."

Sometimes sitting back and doing nothing - "benign neglect" - is the right response, of course. Many things worry me about Senator Obama; one of them is not an idea that he might be too hesitant to get the government involved in any problem, that he might sit back and let things play out. Generally-speaking, the intellectual tradition to which he belongs can fairly be called the polar opposite of laissez faire.

Echo FH's 3:47 PM comment, also.

mcg said...

I'd be interested to know how many of the people who are making the argument that the government shouldn't have an important role in people's lives support the following ... (2) overturning Roe v. Wade and outlawing abortion,

People are anti-abortion because they see the unborn child as a distinct individual possessing human rights. Once you grant that, there is no logical contradiction. That's not to say that it makes things suddenly simple; the life of the mother and child are linked, of course. But the idea of at least some restrictions, even significant ones, is hardly illogical.

Obviously if you don't believe the unborn child is deserving of such rights there is an apparent contradiction. But the logical error lies further beneath the surface, in the assumptions.

Synova said...

outlawing abortion so that women who get pregnant are forced to have children and can't choose what to do with their own bodies.

Of course they can choose.

They just don't get to change their mind once their choices have been made.

Freeman Hunt said...

Having just had an ultrasound last Wednesday, I am especially struck by the barbarity of a society that would allow me to kill that person. Abortion is, in my opinion, the modern moral equivalent of slavery. Future people will look back at us and shake their heads at what a bunch of savages we are.

blake said...

Hey! Congrats, Freeman!

Freeman Hunt said...

Thanks, Blake!

Kirk Parker said...

Synova,

"I don't for a moment blame Bush for failing to strap people down with a sock in their mouths and make them listen."

You're right, it's hard to fault him there--but for not strapping people down and making them shut up??? On that charge, he's guilty, guilty, guilty.

Freeman,

"Future people will look back at us and shake their heads at what a bunch of savages we are."

You forgot to say, IF we let them live, they might do that.

And yet more congratulations to you!