January 21, 2009

Obama "is not a messiah and does not act or speak like one. He's a traditionalist in many ways."

Let's hope so.
Mulling over the address yesterday, I felt in retrospect that the restraint and classical tropes of the speech were deliberate and wise. From the moment he gave his election night victory speech, Obama has been signaling great caution in the face of immense challenges. The tone is humble. We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion; which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive. He's a man, it seems to me, who knows the difference between bravado and strength, between an adolescent "decider" and a mature president, between an insecure brittleness masquerading as power, and the genuine authority a real president commands. He presides. He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we've been waiting for.
That's Andrew Sullivan, in case you couldn't tell. I agree with some of this but think it's fatuous to say that the President presides. Deal with it: He decides. We are always the ones we've been waiting for is poetic fluff. You were just saying the time for poetry is over and then you waded right back into it.

138 comments:

Richard said...

Usually it's all about homoerotic sex with Sullivan. What a refreshing change.

Methadras said...

Sullivan is always trying to tone down masculinity. What a girl.

traditionalguy said...

What a wonderful thought. Obama is a traditional guy too. I am eagerly awaiting to see which traditions he doesn't throw under the ObamaBus.And how will American, Scots-Irish traditions play to his world wide base?

Bob said...

Well for "this historic day" he manages to put aside his fixation on Trig.

Balfegor said...

adolescent "decider"

This is really forced. You can object to the ex-President's decisiveness, but decisiveness itself -- and a willingness to step up and say "the buck stops here," as it were -- is not a particularly adolescent quality, at least in modern American adolescence. Nowadays, the defining characteristic of the adolescent is almost that he doesn't know what he wants to do, and that he shirks responsibility -- he bums around, tinkering with this and that, until he settles down, matures, and sets a clear direction for his life.

Michael H said...

Note to Andrew Sullivan: Barack Obama opposes gay marriage, just like the last president. Thought you might have overlooked that fact. He's not the one you've been waiting for.

But hey, thanks for the donations.

jayne_cobb said...

Does anyone have posts from Sullivan from around the period in which he was in love with George Bush?

It would be interesting to compare his previous crush to his current one.

Bissage said...

Now don't that beat all!

Just when I learn to stop worrying and love the Obama, Andrew Sullivan tells me it’s time to sober up.

PatCA said...

It wasn't wise and subdued--it was pedestrian. The first half was a stump speech, and the last half picked up a little but not much.

Freeman Hunt said...

Just curious, has Sullivan ever run anything? I get the feeling he hasn't. He seems to have the sort of romanticized notions of executive leadership that someone who's never provided it would have.

Balfegor said...

It wasn't wise and subdued--it was pedestrian. The first half was a stump speech, and the last half picked up a little but not much.

I thought it was okay. There's a sense of lost opportunity, though, given that Obama is the first President we've had in generations who actually has some talent for stringing together pretty words on his own, without the assistance of trained experts.

Original George said...

"Great caution in the face of immense challenges" is not necessarily the best path.

We're not Belgium.

If Obama's going to be Mr. Cautious, we elected the wrong guy. No one, at this point, needs to be "warn[ed] of impending challenges."

"The rest of us" don't "move the ball forward." Obama is the quarterback. He moves the ball. Obama leads the cavalry. It's time to charge.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

It amuses me to imagine Sullivan presented with one of Bush's speeches as though it were Obama's. I suspect you'd get the very same verbiage.

As for me personally, I'll take a decider over a voter of "present" any day.

Simon said...

The tone is humble? How so? The tone struck me as intellectually arrogant and hostile: hostile to those who opposed him last year, hostile to those who are critical of him now.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Note to Andrew Sullivan: Barack Obama opposes gay marriage, just like the last president.

The shaking of his tiny fist once he finally figures this out is one of the few things I'm looking forward to these next four years.

traditionalguy said...

With little real experience in being the POTUS myself, I wonder where Sullivan gets his information. If all the POTUS does is preside over the Sec'y of State and the Sec'y of Defense, et al. then he/she is a figurehead. I suspect that Sullivan hopes that Obama will not use his power to develop policies that anger Sullivan, such as a compromise that is not favorable enough to Gays, over the Black Church's views, as Sullivan wants to see.

chickenlittle said...

Richard said:
Usually it's all about homoerotic sex with Sullivan. What a refreshing change.

Sullivan is just imagining the long, hard slog ahead.

Balfegor said...

With little real experience in being the POTUS myself, I wonder where Sullivan gets his information. If all the POTUS does is preside over the Sec'y of State and the Sec'y of Defense, et al. then he/she is a figurehead.

On the one hand, I wouldn't be at all disappointed if Obama took this tack, as I trust his cabinet's judgment a lot more than his. And there are reasons, in Obama's background, to think that he may take this hands-off approach to the messy details of governance -- he's never really been in the weeds on policy before, and in many cases (e.g. the immigration fiasco), he's tried to swoop in at the last minute and steal credit for whatever compromise emerged, without having played any role in its formulation.

On the other hand, isn't that "preside" "preside" approach what Alberto Gonzales thought the Attorney General was supposed to do for the DOJ? That suggests a, ah, possible downside.

former law student said...

You were just saying the time for poetry is over and then you waded right back into it.

Not exactly. The Obama phrase that Sullivan echoed belongs to the past. The meaning of the phrase -- that there are no magic rescuers, that we must all shoulder our share of the burden of fixing the nation's problems -- means as well that Obama's inauguration does not end all our troubles.

Original Mike said...

which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive.

He's scared.
He should be.

vbspurs said...

Bob wrote:

Trig

Trig really stands for a surrogate Andrew Sullivan.

...or rather, the Andrew Sullivan who secretly suspects would've been rejected by his mother, had she known how would've turned out.

In his mind, Sullivan cannot reconcile the fact that a person who doesn't think he has the right to marry (in effect, denying a part of his humanity), wouldn't also have chosen to kill her child in the womb.

He imagines that people like Palin would consider homosexuality to be as damning a flaw as having Down Syndrome, and therefore he has fabricated this whole psychosis about the kid, because Trig is the living negation of what he believes homophobic people are like.

Sullivan cannot allow Trig's existence to pass unremarked, to make him an exception. Were he to accept his mother's story about actually being his mother, would make her good, emphatic, and accepting.

And that view about people who deny others the right to marry cannot be allowed to prevail.

Cheers,
Victoria

Freeman Hunt said...

Successful executives don't "invite," they command. They don't "preside," they decide. They don't "set a direction and mood," they set the plan and order others to carry it out.

That's not to mean that a successful executive has to be a jerk, you can do all of that in a personable way, but the hard truth is that you can be a jerk and still be a very successful executive. You can be full of "bravado" if you'd like because bravado does not preclude strength. You can be "brittle" as long as you're right because then people call it courage.

Look at the great directors, look at the great coaches, look at the great business leaders, look at the great political leaders of the past. Hell, look at the fictitious ones even. None of them embody this effete version of leadership that Sullivan romanticizes. A leader says "make it so," not "This is the mood I'm feeling and the direction I think I'd like to go in, so you guys work with that."

And while this is a criticism of Sullivan's idea of leadership, not Obama, I do hope that Obama fulfills Sullivan's vision. I would rather that an executive with whom I share few values was ineffective.

Leland said...

We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion;

I love the image on Drudgereport this morning compared to Sullivan's comments. Obama can rally vast crowds, but only to emotion. Get that same crowd, cheering about environmentalism, to walk over to a trash can? Nope, can't do it.

Nice community organizing there. I'm glad each of those supporters did their part to help this country.

AlphaLiberal said...

Well, deciding is only one part of the job. Remember TDR saying the Presidency is a "bully pulpit." He was right.

And the reason is the other parts of the job include leading, pushing, uniting, etc, etc. Moving the nation and Congress to adopt the President's agenda. A lot of deciding follows that stuff.

Is "presiding" the best word for the whole ball of wax? I don't care. I care that we get this country out of the ditch and back on a new, higher, road.

AlphaLiberal said...

Ms Hunt:
Successful executives don't "invite," they command. They don't "preside," they decide. They don't "set a direction and mood," they set the plan and order others to carry it out.

That description sounds more like a czar or king than a President in a democratic Republic.

i.e., autocratic, not democratic.

former law student said...

The tone is humble? How so? The tone struck me as intellectually arrogant and hostile

Although harsher, Obama's tone wss much like that of Reagan's first inaugural. Reagan blamed all of our problems on big government, claiming small government was the solution; Obama blamed all of our problems on blindly following ideology. Both offered hope, and both alluded to our nation's founding.

Reagan's even provided an equivalent to "we are the people we are waiting for": "I will do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone," a quote from the diary of Martin Treptow, a barber who was killed in the Second World War.

Compare and contrast for yourself.

http://www.reaganlibrary.com/reagan/speeches/first.asp

vbspurs said...

Obama can rally vast crowds, but only to emotion. Get that same crowd, cheering about environmentalism, to walk over to a trash can? Nope, can't do it.

I had stopped checking Drudge after the election, but I had to when I read your comment.

Good grief!

That beautiful Mall turned into Beirut circa 1982.

Hoosier Daddy said...

That description sounds more like a czar or king than a President in a democratic Republic.

The difference of course being the king or czar is not elected by the people.

I know this may be a revelation to you but Presidents set policy, listen to their advisors and then made the final decisions. Just like a company's CEO or a football teams's coach.

Hoosier Daddy said...

That beautiful Mall turned into Beirut circa 1982.

Of course you won't hear anything about the environmental impact and carbon footprint of those who trashed the place.

Yachira said...

Sullivan doesn't mention his testosterone chest-cream once in that passage. Amazing!!

Bissage said...

Freeman, +1.

And then . . . +1, again.

former law student said...

Successful executives don't "invite," they command. They don't "preside," they decide. They don't "set a direction and mood," they set the plan and order others to carry it out.

This command/control structure -- more an antlike communism than a free society -- wastes a lot of human potential.

Actual, successful executives set ambitious goals, and challenge their subordinates to meet them. Each individual develops his part of the plan, commits to it, and executes it, because the rest of the team relies on his committments, as he relies on the committments of others.

Freeman Hunt said...

That description sounds more like a czar or king than a President in a democratic Republic.

Hoosier already nailed it. Executive is executive. Czars and kings are executives too, the difference being that they aren't held accountable to anyone else. The President is accountable to the people, and they can elect someone else if they don't like him. The owners of the team can fire the coach. The production company can fire the director or not hire him for another project. The board can oust the CEO.

The difference is in the accountability, not in the effective style of leadership.

Freeman Hunt said...

Actual, successful executives set ambitious goals, and challenge their subordinates to meet them.

Yes, exactly. Here's what we're going to do, here's your part, make it happen. Not, I invite you to move us in this direction. I'm not at all advocating that an executive should micromanage people. That's not the point at all.

vbspurs said...

Of course you won't hear anything about the environmental impact and carbon footprint of those who trashed the place.

Naturally. But it's okay because this weekend Barack is going to do community service and help clean up the mess.

Right? Because that wasn't a stunt. It was a principled action on his part.

MayBee said...

The impressive thing about the Obamas is their uncanny ability to do exactly what their followers wanted them to do, but didn't know until after the Obamas did it.

vbspurs said...

I'm not at all advocating that an executive should micromanage people.

I have to say this: Obama doesn't strike me as a micromanager, like (shudder) Carter was.

That's the guy who allegedly spent the better part of his first day in the Oval Office, working out the tennis rota for he and his staff.

Interestingly, micromanagers are much more liable to be held accountable for failures, given that they have a hand in every executive pie. And Obama usually runs away from blame.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

I have to say this: Obama doesn't strike me as a micromanager, like (shudder) Carter was.

I think you're right. Micromanagers have a strong vision, they're just incapable of or unwilling to lead others. I don't think that Obama has a well-defined vision. At least I hope not given what I think it would look like.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Perhaps we should have dealt with the problem I mentioned yesterday by having Bush continue as President and Obama continue as President-elect. That sounds like the job he really wants.

Original Mike said...

That beautiful Mall turned into Beirut circa 1982.

That fits a pattern. On the route I walk to work, there is a remarkable correlation between the houses with Obama yard signs (yes, many are still up) and the people who won't shovel their walks.

I guess they think the government should do it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Biographical note: Andrew Sullivan is the author of the forthcoming Leadership Secrets of Buridan's Ass.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Freeman Hunt said...
"Executive is executive. Czars and kings are executives too, the difference being that they aren't held accountable to anyone else. ... The difference is in the accountability, not in the effective style of leadership."

Isn't emphasizing accountability as the difference overstating the matter slightly? Tsars and most kings worth of the name have few impediments to their leadership, but a President - regardless of the ballot box - is limited by the Constitutional limits on his/her office and on the system to which that office belongs. A tsar could have ordered Texas not to execute Medellin - but our President was impotent to do so, not because he is accountable, but because his leadership options are limited by the system.

Freeman Hunt said...

his leadership options are limited by the system.

Excellent point. Hadn't gone there. Just like the other examples would be limited by contracts.

Unfortunately the government seems to feel less and less contrained by the Constitution. This is a very very bad thing.

Anthony said...

From way up: He seems to have the sort of romanticized notions of executive leadership that someone who's never provided it would have.

Sully has romanticized notions of everything. He's basically a 15-year old girl.

Though I still don't know why Ann or anyone else still links to his dreck.

ZZMike said...

From the Daily Dish: "We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion; which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive."

A semicolon doesn't go there. It should be a comma.

"... he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion..."

I can think of a few other orators who could "rally vast crowds". Most of them worked in Europe about 60 years ago.

I don't know what Sullivan understands by "He presides". Everyone who leads a meeting, no matter how small, presides.

"... in a constitutional democracy,..." Sullivan seems unfamiliar with the fact that this nation is a constitutional republic. I understand what he's trying to say; I doubt that he does.

Sullivan never misses an opportunity to disparage Bush: "... between an insecure brittleness masquerading as power, and the genuine authority a real president commands."

I'd rather wait longer than one day to see what "genuine authority" Obama commands.

Sullivan is obviously a guy in love with his own writing. Like the guy who talks to himself - because he's the best conversationalist he knows.

AJ Lynch said...

Althouse:

Have you ever told Sullivan he is a pussy?

Chip Ahoy said...

The tone is humble.

Well, yeah, if you discount the harnessing-the-sun bit, and the part about reining in the solar system, and corralling the galaxy. OK, I might have made up those last parts.

vbspurs said...

Freeman Hunt wrote:

Micromanagers have a strong vision, they're just incapable of or unwilling to lead others.

I see it more as 'unwilling to let others lead', which is a crucial difference -- but you could ultimately be right.

I don't think that Obama has a well-defined vision.

I totally agree with that. It's possible he has rivalling political philosophies in his own mind, and feels like parsing each to get out the best bit from each one.

My memory is immediately jerked back to the famous David Brooks exchange, about discussing Reinhold Niebuhr with Obama.

Obama has the great intellect. I was interviewing Obama a couple years ago, and I'm getting nowhere with the interview, it's late in the night, he's on the phone, walking off the Senate floor, he's cranky. Out of the blue I say, 'Ever read a guy named Reinhold Niebuhr?' And he says, 'Yeah.' So i say, 'What did Niebuhr mean to you?' For the next 20 minutes, he gave me a perfect description of Reinhold Niebuhr's thought, which is a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you. And I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.

President Obama doesn't want to lose intelligentsia like this, even if they are his ideological rivals. He's going to tinker with his plans as long as he can, to make them as palatable as possible. He wants his plans to be permanent, like the Great Society was, rather than ephemeral federal directives.

To do that, he has to finesse the kingmakers.

Cheers,
Victoria

Zachary Paul Sire said...

HAHAHA...check out Sullivan's last post today:

"I swear I didn't drink too much and suspect food poisoning or some bug, but I spent much of the night projectile vomiting into the bathroom porcelain. Maybe it was some kind of psychosomatic response to the end of the Bush administration - but the bottom line is that I'm useless and can barely move. Patrick is going to fill in until I can function. Apologies. And, yes, I was at Hitch's last night but I swear I didn't overdo it."

The Drill SGT said...

responding to Obama, and Sullivan. Agreeing with Balfegor and Orginal George.

Belttle Bush, allyou want. The most important characteristic of a President may be "decisiveness" (e.g. Harry, the Buck Stops here, Truman) and "steadiness in crisis". (e.g. Harry, the war is lost Reid). Values that this simple soldier was taught. a President get lots of advice from his staff, but the decisions are his alone. There are a couple of Army maxims, that can be summarized in "an 80 percent solution, ontime, beats the perfect answer, too late". I fear that Obama is going to do what Sullivan expects, study the situation too long (e.g. Iran), talk too much, and wait for the perfect fact set. (e.g. like the Clinton WH passing on killing Osama, on the advice of counsel)

OG; I like your thought. The way it normally comes out is:

"F_ck it! Bugler, Sound the Charge!!"

1jpb said...

The board can oust the CEO.

Hahahahahaha.

Hilarious.

I noticed the naivete regarding your belief in the long term successful ball-buster CEO, rather than the team-builder. But, now you've really topped yourself.

Right, the board will keep a check on the CEO.

Good One.


P.S.

IMHO, based on my own experience in corporate management, this is the kind of leadership that is at the core of most (long-term) successful private sector organizations. We will find out how it works in government.

AlphaLiberal said...

Freeman, how can the President of the US order the Congress of the US to do anything?

They don't. The Czar or King can order everyone in the country. No balance of powers.

And, as far as the agencies, even our own agencies have their own rules, customs and ways to be intransigent. (Especially after Bush larded up the agencies with GOPers). We hope they follow the President, but resistance happens.

A President is a pretty unique creature, not just any Executive. Yeah, they're the boss. But not the King. (Agreed even a corporate CEO can't behave dictatorially and be effective).

Appropos of nothing, here's an intriguing Harper's list on the Bush years. It's nice to share.

AlphaLiberal said...

Right, the board will keep a check on the CEO.

Good One.


Yeah, no kidding. That would be a fine day. Most Boards seem to be bought off and stooges of the CEO.

Freeman Hunt said...

1jpd, your assumption that my comments endorse "ball-busting" and preclude "team building," neither of which they do, shows that you don't know what you're writing about.

AlphaLib, who is arguing that the President can order Congress around? No one. Obviously an executive position of any type has its own limitations and parameters.

Freeman Hunt said...

I didn't realize that you wanted an exhaustive account of the checks on various types of leaders. Grasping at straws now, are we?

Wouldn't it be nice to think that leaders just have to be nice and set a good tone and things will happen on their own? Well, that's not how it works in reality. You can be nice, you can set a good tone, but you still have to lead.

chickenlittle said...

but I spent much of the night projectile vomiting into the bathroom porcelain.

@Zach: Maybe he's just pregnant with something.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Freeman, how can the President of the US order the Congress of the US to do anything?

He can't and I don't believe Freeman suggested otherwise. The President can and does set policy for the nation. Period. Not Congress, not the FDA or the FHA, the President. Hence Obama is closing Gitmo by Executive Order. He's going to have us out of Iraq in 16 months. He can decide the US is going to talk to Iran and not talk to (fill in blank). He can decided that the nation's priority is establishing a colony on the moon and focus his energies toward getting congress to work toward that goal.

Not every decision the President makes needs to be determined by a referendum.

Nichevo said...

Even before I had any politics, I always believed that you have, must have, can only have, one brain at the top. Command cannot be divided.

Michael H said...

"....the bottom line is that I'm useless ...."

Perhaps the most accurate thing Sullivan has written in many years.

Freeman Hunt said...

Zach, now I can't get the mental image of Sullivan in his underwear, crawling around the tile of his bathroom on all fours, spewing vomit. Why did the man post that?

Original Mike said...

Command cannot be divided.

Exhibit A: Congress.

ricpic said...

Obama is both green, in terms of real world experience, and pompous. And this is no contradiction. Why? Because he has the key, by way of Karl Marx through Franz Fanon. And like all second rate minds the key provides Obama with absolute certainty about the solution to every real world problem: punish the rich and give succor to the wretched of the earth. Of course that requires that absolute power be gathered in his hands. No problem. Because Obama knows that he is everything good.

1jpb said...

And like all second rate minds the key provides [ ] with absolute certainty about the solution to every real world problem

Is it wise for folks to assign second-rate mind status to those who they say (w/ absolute certainty) claim absolute certainty?

Just asking.

The Crack Emcee said...

Boy, somebody's changed his tune, huh?

Host with the Most said...

Simon said...

The tone is humble? How so? The tone struck me as intellectually arrogant and hostile: hostile to those who opposed him last year, hostile to those who are critical of him now.

I sadly agree. I expected a little better.

The vitrol and partisanship of the next four years - heck, of the next 6 months - will be completely due to the tone and example set by Obama himself.

Here's hoping for the best.

The Crack Emcee said...

You've got to understand Andrew Sullivan's wacky beliefs to understand the wackiness that is Andrew Sullivan.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Freeman Hunt said:
Why did the man post that?

Probably as an excuse to name drop Hitchens? Or for attention? Who knows why this maniac does anything he does.

Andrew Sullivan is Trig Palin's birth mother.

1jpb said...

completely due to

You know what they (ricpic) say about folks who know the key to absolute certainty.

Leland said...

Naturally. But it's okay because this weekend Barack is going to do community service and help clean up the mess.

Hey... he did his part. Obama painted a room. It is time the rest of us did our part. We must do what "liberated" Americans can't do (because they had to get to the Inaugural Balls).

ricpic said...

And like all second rate minds the key provides [] with absolute certainty about the solution to every real world problem.

Whatsamatta 1jpb, afraid to write God's name?

AllenS said...

Here's something interesting from The Obama's speech: "the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms" and "let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come."

Who wrote that crap, Al Gore?

vbspurs said...

Who wrote that crap, Al Gore?

Beats the sockpuppets talking to each other.

Balfegor said...

The vitrol and partisanship of the next four years - heck, of the next 6 months - will be completely due to the tone and example set by Obama himself.

I don't think that's really fair. Obama has reached out to his opponents, and has come as close as any modern politician ever has to acknowledging they were right and he was wrong by demoting his advisors and installing theirs (or, in the case of Clinton II, them) in positions of significant authority and power. In some ways, this is like Bush II's analogous peace offering -- renominating a number of Clinton I's judicial nominees who had been stuck in committee -- but better. And if it fails, as it probably will, it will be partly Obama's fault, but mostly the fault of the opposition, viz. people like me (but really the Republicans in Congress).

LarsPorsena said...

"..the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms" and "let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come."

Who wrote that crap, Al Gore?"

No. The folks at the Weather Channel.

AllenS said...

"No. The folks at the Weather Channel."

Anything yet from the Disney Channel?

AllenS said...

Obama is starting to bore me. Anybody seen Biden? We could use some new, funnier material.

AlphaLiberal said...

Freeman asks, so I answer:
AlphaLib, who is arguing that the President can order Congress around? No one. Obviously an executive position of any type has its own limitations and parameters.

You are. The conversation is about the Presidency and you said:

Successful executives don't "invite," they command. They don't "preside," they decide. They don't "set a direction and mood," they set the plan and order others to carry it out.

You described this as effete:
He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we've been waiting for.

Your description I responded to was more in keeping with an autocrat than an American President. (This love of autocracy is a recurring theme from conservatives. It matters).

Why did TDR need the bully pulpit if he could just order the country about? Because a President can't just command/order/dictate but must build support.

Sully was right. (Though the account of "talking on the big phone" we can all live without. Bloggy excess.).

Hector Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AlphaLiberal said...

AllenS:
Anybody seen Biden? We could use some new, funnier material.

At your service:
BIDEN: Am I doing this again? For the senior staff. Alright.

OBAMA: A number of the other members have already —

BIDEN: My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts (laughter).


you're welcome.

Hector Owen said...

Sea level is supposed to start receding any time now. People whose boats are tied up at docks will be needing longer lines.

Methadras said...

AlphaLiberal said...

That description sounds more like a czar or king than a President in a democratic Republic.


We are a Constitutional Representative Republic.

Joe said...

Obama is starting to bore me.

Starting? Where have you been the last eighteen months?

AlphaLiberal said...

Somehow this executive thread sprouts a global warming offshoot. Well, keep in mind your information has been controlled by the Federal government these past 8 years:

Percentage of EPA scientists who say they have experienced political interference with their work since 2002: 60

Change since 2001 in the percentage of Americans who believe humans are causing climate change: –4

Methadras said...

The Crack Emcee said...

Boy, somebody's changed his tune, huh?


Little Miss Sullivan is as fickle as he is emotionally feminine. Some might say that is redundant, but not when you consider LMS at her word.

AllenS said...

Thanks, Alpha. What were they doing again? Did they have to do it again? Was it a card trick? Juggling?

vbspurs said...

Obama is starting to bore me. Anybody seen Biden? We could use some new, funnier material.

Biden seems to be a little bit more in evidence this the past week, after being mothballed ever since the Gird Yer Loins speech.

He was just behind our new C-i-C in the latter's first press conference today.

And he was front-and-centre next to Obama in the National Prayer Service.

(Michelle continuing her sartorial catastrophes, regrettably. She just hasn't looked good since the Grant Park volcano dress)

It is not known if he took any photos at either event, like he was seen during the Inauguration...

AlphaLiberal said...

our new C-i-C...

VBSpurs, are you in the military? If not, he is not your Commander-in-Chief. He is your President. He does not command civilians.

Again with the autocratic tendencies.

-----------
Methadras:

We are a Constitutional Representative Republic.

It's always been weird how conservatives started denying any relation to democracy in the USA some years back.

We have lost our civic consensus about what this country's identity with a large faction being overtly anti-democratic.

Sorry I can't make that funny, Ann.

AlphaLiberal said...

AllenS, here you go..
http://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/21/biden-justice-roberts/

waterdarling said...

Freeman Hunt,
In the free world, you have to be invited, not forced, or you would not be free. If the executive did not preside, there would be no other voice heard but that of the leader. Direction and mood are set by forming a plan and facilitating the action; by encouraging other free people to participate...what is the army? the peace corp?

" A leader says "make it so," not "This is the mood I'm feeling and the direction I think I'd like to go in, so you guys work with that.""

Wouldn't it be grande if the world were so black and white...if there were some benevolent monarch that always had the best interests of the people at hand, and what was best for one was always best for another...but in reality, though we have some distinct similarities, we as people are also distinctly different. success comes differently to different people...and what is best for one is not best for another. Great educators (leaders and parents) do guide the student out of thier insecurities so that they have the ability and know how to perform a task successfully, they don't bully into action without explanation, choices or encouragement.

I thought totalitarian was an antonym of libertarian.

vbspurs said...

OT/Breaking:

Con Law profs suggest Obama re-take the Oath of Office, just in case...

Remember when Chris Wallace suggested he wasn't really president, and people jumped on him (including me)? So suddenly, people are nervous? Come on.

Revenant said...

Does anyone have posts from Sullivan from around the period in which he was in love with George Bush? It would be interesting to compare his previous crush to his current one.

It was pretty much the same. This is one of many reasons I'm glad he isn't on my side anymore. :)

Balfegor said...

Why did TDR need the bully pulpit if he could just order the country about? Because a President can't just command/order/dictate but must build support.

Clearly, people are talking past each other here. To analogise to the corporate context, some people are talking about what the CEO has to do with his employees (like the President and his administration), and some people are talking about advertising (the "bully pulpit"). I don't think there's actually any conflict in what's being said, it's just a matter of emphasis. And as far as emphasis goes, I think the correct emphasis is on what the powers of the president actually are, i.e. his power to set policy for his administration and direct his underlings throughout the executive branch to carry out his orders. The "bully pulpit" after all, is a game that any public figure can play at, not just the President (cf. Newt Gingrich as Speaker); the President's words carry extra weight only because he's in charge of the executive branch. Not because he was anointed with holy oil by angels or anything.

Revenant said...

In the free world, you have to be invited, not forced, or you would not be free.

I guess I'm not free, then. After all, the government forces me, through the use of threats and violence, to not steal things, deal drugs, or kill people.

In a free society, they'd just say "now, we feel that killing people is bad, so maybe you should try not to do it, mmkay?". Which perhaps explains why there are no free societies in the world. :)

Original Mike said...

Con Law profs suggest Obama re-take the Oath of Office, just in case...

Perhaps he should take it twice. Once with "So help me God" and once without. Just in case...

Revenant said...

In some ways, this is like Bush II's analogous peace offering -- renominating a number of Clinton I's judicial nominees who had been stuck in committee -- but better.

I think you're overlooking Bush's decision to keep one of Clinton's cabinet picks (Norm Mineta) in his own cabinet.

waterdarling said...

lol...Revenant, so true...thanks for destroying my ideological fallacy of being a free man.

perhaps better terms would have been...

In order to maintain our illusion of freedom, our president, within the realms of the law, is better to word his agenda as a "call to action" rather than a "command to action," to which even his advocates would react cautiously.

and/or

Living within our illusion of freedom, and with our strong individualist convictions, americans (or arguably humans...think of how children respond to agressive authority) would not respond well, even in a time when action was a necessity, to such a method of leadership....rendering it unsuccessful at best....

traditionalguy said...

We are a state electorial-vote democracy in the vote for the Executive Person. We are a constitutional republic based upon the division of powers scheme as amended many times in practice, in the House and the Senate. The supreme Court is the Joker in the deck, but fears the Congress a little. Then in time of war the Executive Person runs wild with the Congress' blessing until Peace returns. No wonder the Party not in Presidential office screams about the modern form of Long - no victory in sight - wars against small foes who never surrender.[Think korea... Viet nam... Osama and friends]. When Pres. Obama ends war and then Congress will arise and re-start its primary role in compromising our regional tug of wars. Is this what the War on Climate Change is all about?

Alex said...

Freeman Hunt said...

That description sounds more like a czar or king than a President in a democratic Republic.

Hoosier already nailed it. Executive is executive. Czars and kings are executives too, the difference being that they aren't held accountable to anyone else. The President is accountable to the people, and they can elect someone else if they don't like him. The owners of the team can fire the coach. The production company can fire the director or not hire him for another project. The board can oust the CEO.

The difference is in the accountability, not in the effective style of leadership.
12:20 PM

And we're stuck with this incompetent for 4 years, barring impeachment which I pray will happen in the next 90 days.

Alex said...

We are a Constitutional Representative Republic.

2:26 PM

Wrong, we are a democracy because that is what the people want? Ask any random 10 people on the street if they know what a "Constitutional Republic" is.

Alex said...

I meant we a living in a mobocracy, sort of like Athens in 400BCE.

madawaskan said...

Revenant-

Norm Mineta?


Gawd remember Tenet?

madawaskan said...

You know the guy that bombed China's embassy.

Ooooh that Tenet had talent!

Revenant said...

In order to maintain our illusion of freedom, our president, within the realms of the law, is better to word his agenda as a "call to action" rather than a "command to action," to which even his advocates would react cautiously.

Anyone can call people to action. You don't have to be elected President to do that.

What distinguishes a President from you or I is that in addition to being able to exhort people to act, he has millions of people -- i.e., the military and the executive branch -- he can ORDER to act according to his wishes, within the limits of the Constitution and Constitutionally valid laws passed by Congress.

Bob said...

"And we're stuck with this incompetent for 4 years, barring impeachment which I pray will happen in the next 90 days"

So Alex, you want Biden as Prez? Biden? Good Lord!

Alex said...

Impeach Obama and his whole gang of criminals. Keep impeaching day and night.

Simon said...

Freeman Hunt said...
"Zach, now I can't get the mental image of Sullivan in his underwear, crawling around the tile of his bathroom on all fours, spewing vomit."

It does make a change from Sullivan, in his underwear, crawling around the internet and spewing vomitous, lacklustre prose.


AlphaLiberal said...
"It's always been weird how conservatives started denying any relation to democracy in the USA some years back. We have lost our civic consensus about what this country's identity with a large faction being overtly anti-democratic."

Are you asserting that there was, at some point, a civic consensus that this country's identity was democratic? When? There have been times when populist movements have seized the imagination and brandished "democracy" as a solution to our ills, and the aftereffects of those mistakes still linger, but I don't know that it's true that there was ever a civic consensus to that effect. The United States is a federal republic, with democratic and representative elements. Wisely, the framers were careful not to create a democracy, giving generous terms in office and providing only one popularly-elected half of one branch, and thusfar the tide has been resisted.

If any particular state wants to become more democratic in its institutions, it's welcome to do so (RFG clause notwithstanding), but that's its own lookout and I'd warn against it. When did "democracy" become the touchstone of all that is good and ideal, anyway? It's just a system, like any other. It should be used to the extent its useful and discarded to the extent it isn't. More democracy isn't always better, as you see with the persistent notion in many states that judges should be elected. And I would think that the left would be sympathetic to that point, given that a democratic system would discard many of their sacred cows (goodbye gay marriage, goodbye Miranda, goodbye abortion on demand, etc.).

Simon said...

Alex said...
"[W]e're stuck with this incompetent for 4 years, barring impeachment which I pray will happen in the next 90 days."

Oh, good lord. You're like a mirror image version of Alpha. Impeached? On what grounds? The historic bases of impeachment have been maladministration and malfeasance in office, see generally Berger, Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems (1972); Hoffer & Hull, Impeachment in America, 1635-1805 (1984), neither of which Obama has had time to do, yet. And let's not forget that unless you propose to off a significant number of members of Congress, there aren't the votes to impeach and remove Obama.

John Stodder said...

We know he can rally vast crowds to heights of emotion; which is why his decision to calm those feelings and to engage his opponents and to warn of impending challenges is all the more impressive.

Obama's good, but can he really "rally vast crowds to heights of emotion?" Crowds of supporters predisposed to love him, maybe. But could he take a neutral crowd and turn them around?

And, given the fact that it isn't 1910, what's the value of this skill now anyway? Since I've been alive, politicians mostly have spoken to us through the TV. Despite the size of his inaugural crowd, Obama quite clearly was aiming his message to TV watchers. On that medium, he has always been calming. His calm demeanor in the debates and at public appearances surrounding the economic meltdown is what finally won him the presidency. "Calming" is Obama's best card, not "heights of emotion."

In short, Andrew Sullivan is so stupid now, he doesn't even understand the appeal of the politician with whom he has fallen so deeply in love.

Palladian said...

"Impeach Obama and his whole gang of criminals. Keep impeaching day and night."

Oh not this nonsense already.

Palladian said...

"Zach, now I can't get the mental image of Sullivan in his underwear, crawling around the tile of his bathroom on all fours, spewing vomit. Why did the man post that?"

Sullivan loves to post things about himself shitting and vomiting. Back when I used to read his twaddle, I remember that he posted something about having diarrhea on at least one occasion.

Freeman Hunt said...

Your description I responded to was more in keeping with an autocrat than an American President. ... Because a President can't just command/order/dictate but must build support.

No, you just don't get it. Just like any executive, there are issues where the executive must build support. That isn't unique to the Presidency. That's also part of carrying out his vision. That's even part of the vision he commands his subordinates to help him carry out. There are also plenty of issues where he most certainly does dictate, which Rev has already explained.

Leading doesn't mean that you don't listen to anyone or that you must act like a bully. But it does mean that you have to be decisive, you have to issue commands, you have to assume responsibility, AKA you have to LEAD.

You're equating the normal functioning of legitimate authority with tyranny.

Freeman Hunt said...

I bet Zach is right that he wanted to name drop Hitchens. That makes sense.

SMGalbraith said...

Whenever we parse/analyze Presidential speeches, I'm always reminded (yes I am) of the comment by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who probably attended more Cabinet meetings than anyone in history (under 4 or 5 presidents, and in various cabinet posts).

Moynihan was asked if, during these meetings, there was ever a discussion of political philosophy, of a JS Mill or Burke or other statesmen.

"Hell no, we were just trying to make it through the day", he replied.

My hunch is that when things get difficult, all of this talk about "hope and change" will be jettisoned as President Obama just tries to make it through the day.

madawaskan said...

John-

If you mean calm as in boring us out of our gourds-well then ya have a point.

Damn is this dude boring.

Obama is possibly the most overexposed male on the planet.

Hell he's the American media's Lay Di - by the time they are done with him I fully expect to know his waistband size and wether or not he's in possession of all his bicuspids.

As for Sully and Hitchens it has long been known that Andy has a huge raging crush on Christopher.

Shanna said...

I fully expect to know his waistband size

Somebody today said that he was 32/40 (?).

I am already massively tired of the Kennedy comparisons already. Who in the Hell would want to be a Kennedy? Lots of death and tragedy. I guess the money would be nice.

waterdarling said...

Revenant, I was refering to a "successful" vs. "unsuccessful" method of leadership as a president addressing a population, not what distinguishes a president from a layperson, or how a commander in chief addresses a military...perhaps I should have been more clear.

I was refering to the initial quote ... "He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we've been waiting for."
...this being an effective way of "leading" a not-entirely-free people. :)

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Mental image horror: Sullivan and Hitchens naked, making out, and spooning.

Sorry.

SMGalbraith said...

Somebody today said that he was 32/40 (?).

Really? I'm just about 6'5 and I wear a 36/36.

He can't have a 32 inch waist and 40 inch legs. I don't think.

That's a giraffe.

traditionalguy said...

As a traditionalist, I want to express that the Jacksonian Tradition that has made the POTUS into a democratic Office in actual practice. It has allowed the President the power of the willingly offered service of the People to a Trusted and strong Guardian who stands up to their Enemies, domestic and foreign. We subconsciously Know we need such a Leader, and we will to serve Him/her as the organising principle of America. Then the constitutional roles of the House/Senate and the Supremes is only a supporting cast. But, let that Leader lose his Mojo and be seen as a bum and suddenly His/her constitutioal role is quickly limited again by The Law and the House/Senate rises up and smacks that Leader. Think Nixon in Watergate... Reagan in Iran-Contra... and W after Iraq seemed to be a big waste before the Surge worked. So the President's power is always subject to the Peoples opinion of him/her. Then there was Clinton's intern trouble + Paula Jones' case adding Perjury, but the people never turned on Sweet Old Bill. Lets see how Obama does.

Palladian said...

"Mental image horror: Sullivan and Hitchens naked, making out, and spooning."

And between the cigarettes, the cheap scotch, the testosterone gel, and the beagles, imagine how that would smell.

madawaskan said...

I'm tellin' ya Sully practically tongued Hitch's tonsils on C-Span...

madawaskan said...

OK great so we know that waistband thing sorta...

Fruit of the Loom I presume?

Palladian said...

Here's a few images to really get your imagination flowing, Zach:

Sullivan wearing his CPAP Frank Booth mask, screaming "Mommy! Baby wants to fuck!" while stuffing a shred of velvet into Hitchen's eager mouth...

OK, I'll stop now.

John Stodder said...

He can't have a 32 inch waist and 40 inch legs. I don't think.

And if the numbers were transposed, Sullivan would lose all interest in Obama.

Revenant said...

I was refering to the initial quote ... "He can set a direction and a mood, but he invites the rest of us to move the ball forward: in a constitutional democracy, we are always the ones we've been waiting for." ..this being an effective way of "leading" a not-entirely-free people.

All Presidents have behaved in that manner. This is nothing new.

bagoh20 said...

As a CEO for over 25 years I can tell you that leadership involves both inviting and commanding depending on the need. Some people (or government entities) respond better to command and some to convincing. Command is subject to error of action and convincing fails from lack of action or weak action. They also both have their advantages. The argument is really kinda silly, like what is better right turns or left. They both suck, but try getting somewhere without them both.

vbspurs said...

That's a giraffe.

But that IS Obama, no? I mean, I think his hero-worship of Lincoln is rooted in the subconscious fact that like Lincoln, he looks like he has Marfan's Syndrome.

Compare this photo of Obama, to another Marfan's Syndrome sufferer, Pharaoh Akhnaten.

Uncanny.

Cheers,
Victoria

SMGalbraith said...

But that IS Obama, no? I mean, I think his hero-worship of Lincoln is rooted in the subconscious fact that like Lincoln, he looks like he has Marfan's Syndrome

I'm not a fan of pyschobiography. I mean, how can one prove anything?

It's all, well mostly, conjecture.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Somebody today said that he was 32/40 (?)

No, that's Kim Jong Il. Someone should make a chart to help us keep track of which claim belongs to which beloved leader.

campy said...

He can't have a 32 inch waist and 40 inch legs. I don't think.

The 40" appendage wasn't a leg ...

1jpb said...

bagoh20,

Sounds good.

But, the reason I prefer non-ball-busting is because a lot of the folks who need their balls busted should probably be fired.

Early on I was more willing to look past abrasiveness and stick-in-the-mudness if folks were otherwise competent. No more. These folks should be fired--not commanded. They sap time and energy, and they can inhibit the ability to extract "buy-in" from others.

Now, if I find myself commanding and ball busting an alarm goes off in my head because I'm doing something wrong--either folk(s) need to be terminated or I need to adjust my own communication/leadership.

But, that's my style. Even though I've done well, I'm sure there are other effective approaches. I'm always interested in hearing what works for others.

traditionalguy said...

Check out your followers' attachment styles and lead each accordingly. But the POTUSA is not our direct leader so much as he/she is our Delegated Hard Ass in whom we trust that He/she will not abandon us. That's why Palin does make the grade but the courageous McCain never did.

Revenant said...

Regarding executives who lead by suggestion rather than by issuing orders:

My experience has been that a non-trivial percentage of executives use the "suggestion" approach because it covers their ass. If they "suggest" that you do X and doing X turns into a disaster, why, they never TOLD you to do X. On the other hand, if it works they can relate to the higher-ups that X was their idea all along.

Executives need to give their underlings room to make decisions, certainly. But if they don't make it crystal clear that the buck stops with them, that's probably because they're trying to figure a way for the buck to stop with you. :)

Nichevo said...

I had always understood it was genteel to pose orders in the form of requests, but they have the same force. A slip might happen to anyone; it ought not happen twice.

Methadras said...

AlphaLiberal said... Methadras:

We are a Constitutional Representative Republic.

It's always been weird how conservatives started denying any relation to democracy in the USA some years back.


Hey moron, want to tell me again where the word "Democracy" is in the Constitution? It isn't even in the D.o.I. Otherwise get your facts straight or shut the fuck up. Your idiocy is never boring, however you trying to pretend that we are something we are clearly not as a country.

To wit, you twit, James Madison said about a Democracy or a Democratic government (to which we are not), “There is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”

Even John Adams said that Democracy can merely grant revocable rights to citizens depending on the whims of the masses, while a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights. The word has been used into meaninglessness. You are a user of that word, which in this case should render you meaningless.

Methadras said...

I think you just described a Chupacabra-pus.