January 18, 2009

You want to know what I'd ask Barack Obama?

I'm assuming a late-night, off-the-record conversation:

67 comments:

1jpb said...

Quitting the presidency?

"No, I won't."

Not as catchy as "yes, we can."

reader_iam said...

This made me think of Joe Tynan.

AllenS said...

I'll give Obama two years before he bails. He certainly won't be president for 8 or 10 years, that's for sure.

Michael S said...

Ever read Atlas Shrugged?

(If not, now's a good time as any).

If so, what was your impression -- please be specific in your answer.

ricpic said...

The man's stinky. At least when he wakes up. His own wife says so. Save his marriage. Suggest a deodorant. For the children.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ever read Atlas Shrugged?"

No. It doesn't have good sentences.

I've read a synopsis.

madawaskan said...

That's why he's got Hillary as Sec. of State-to keep himself from quiiting.

Sheesh! Do I have to explain everything around here....

Oh and by the way do we even want to entertain the idea of Nancy slopping "up" in succession...

{You know I meant slipping ...but slopping fits better}

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, "The Seduction of Joe Tynan,", written by a man I haven't slept with.

Jason said...

Maybe that's why Obama picked Biden. The thought of Biden taking over, and the speeches the country would have to endure(!), would keep him from quitting if he got cold feet.

madawaskan said...

Nancy flockin' Pelosi-jeebus nightmare central....

Just call her-insurance.

Oh ya Biden...cripes call that doublin' down on the insurance or checkmate if you will on the I think I'll quit fantasy...

Michael S said...

"No. It doesn't have good sentences."

Sorry, I wasn't clear -- the question was intended for Barack Obama.

AllenS said...

I don't know about Obama, but I find your facial expressions, and your hand movements, not to mention your hair being tossed back and forth, so intriguing, that most of the time I don't hear a damn thing you say. So, don't be surprised when Obama says: "What? Would you say that again."

Joe the Electrician said...

Gawd, did anyone actually waste four minutes of their life on this? After a minute it was clear that -- shock, shock -- the blood-shot eyed professor was actually talking about herself. So I stopped watching. I imagine Barack would be even quicker. He has a nose for phonies, so you can forget the late night drink, Annie.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sorry, I wasn't clear -- the question was intended for Barack Obama."

Oh, funny, because the book is about a man quitting working.

Ann Althouse said...

Apparently, my hypnotizing hand and head movements did not work on Joe the Electrician. Stare directly into the screen, Joe.

reader_iam said...

Joe the Electrician aspires to be a circuit breaker. More likely, he's a bad fuse.

AllenS said...

Maybe Joe has a short.

Freder Frederson said...

If you could ask Barack Obama one question, this would be the one you would ask? A silly hypothetical about if he would quit if he discovered he really hated the job.

WTF?

1jpb said...

Thinking about the lawyer example; BHO has already quit that, to do other things.

And, regarding the suggestion that BHO could return to writing, well, he already quit that, to do other things too.

So, he would need to quit the presidency to become an auto mechanic--doesn't seem like there's any more upward mobility for the most powerful person in the world, so he'd need to search for something else w/o falling back on the things he's already quit, hence car repair.

Funny thing is that I have occasionally read about very successful folks from more recent generations choosing to be "retro-employed"--they turn away from their "big jobs" when they lose interest (and are often quite rich.) Maybe this isn't a new thing, but I've read pieces claiming that it is especially noticeable for more recent generations--and my anecdotal experience reinforces this premise.

madawaskan said...

Weird. Someone took the time to post about....people wasting their time...

Anyhoo...

Speaking of Biden I think Obama will keep his most potent enemies-Democrats- in line with the appointment of his heir apparent.

It's obvious he will be replacing Biden after four years, and moost will behave themselves in hopes of being Appointed by Obama as the next Democrat Presidential nominee.

One of my friends thinks it'll be Salazar. Obama has moved him out of the Senate so that he won't have much of a voting record weighing him down. Salazar could lock up the Latino vote for Democrats and they would be in power for decades maybe even half a century.

AJ Lynch said...

There is a first time for everything. I am with Freder. WTF?

Freder Frederson said...

Ever read Atlas Shrugged?

I hope his response is "nope, never wasted my time on that piece of garbage" and if he did read it, his response is along the lines of this

Ann Althouse said...

"If you could ask Barack Obama one question, this would be the one you would ask? A silly hypothetical about if he would quit if he discovered he really hated the job."

My goal would be to have an amusing, wide-ranging, free-associative conversation... something I suspect you have no idea how to do.

HelenParr said...

What if the Supers just quit being Supers?

This subject has been explored thoroughly in a movie called "The Incredibles." If you could get over your Pixar hate, you would probably like the sub-theme of fashion.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you could get over your Pixar hate, you would probably like the sub-theme of fashion."

Ah, maybe I will!

Freder Frederson said...

My goal would be to have an amusing, wide-ranging, free-associative conversation... something I suspect you have no idea how to do.

Boy, you can write some stinging insults. I am hurt.

Freeman Hunt said...

I am hurt.

There, there. How about a hug? Only catch: It's from me.

Theo Boehm said...

All of the Presidents I've read who've written about it say that they understand they are going to lose their friends, be hated, etc. For many, it will be a Hell on Earth, and they know it. It's almost impossible not to be. Yet they've often pursued the job with an insane intensity that had long since driven out any possibility of normal human existence.

Hate your job? This occupation really transcends such a notion, although it is not a silly hypothetical to talk about it. I tend to think of this in both historical and personal terms. It is the intersection of human lives and the wretched structures of civilization that's interesting.

More than occasionally, kings, emperors, and even Doges of the Serene Republic of Venice hated their lifetime jobs, and therefore their lives, with all sorts of bad consequences that we think of as the normal operation of history.

Louis XIV said on his deathbed that the "profession" of King was a satisfying one if one were prepared to work at it, which he certainly did. He understood that there were many who were not, but that he had a tremendous life doing what he was suited for.

Fredrick the Great was not naturally suited to rule, being a bel esprit, more at home with his flute and French poetry. He attempted to run away with his gay lover when he was a prince, and his father beheaded his friend before his eyes as a warning that there was no exit. Fredrick eventually came to so completely identify himself with the Prussian state that there was nothing remotely human left in the end. He became both a monster and a pathetic human tragedy.

The advantage of our system is that the President can only be destroyed for 8 years, which is enough to not quite wreck most people, and generally not turn them into the wizened horrors that many of the crowned heads of Europe became, although we do a pretty good job compressing the process.

At best, our Presidents should adopt the attitude of Eisenhower, who said, "I'll do this damned job if it kills me." The question I'm interested in is WHY it should kill, and whether this might not be part of an argument for a Parliamentary system.

William said...

"Does it feel good if I put my hand there?"

fcai said...

That clip reminds me of the Seinfeld episode about the woman with man hands. Dang, grrl, those are some seriously huge meat hooks you are wavin' around there!

I was ask Obama "Menthol or regular?" Or, alternatively, "Have you resumed smoking crack yet?"

Ann Althouse said...

@fcai, it's an optical illusion, set up for comic effect.

XWL said...

"The advantage of our system is that the President can only be destroyed for 8 years"

Don't be so sure, if Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) gets his way, we'll be able to re-elect President Obama as many times as we desire.

(but, I think term limits should be expanded beyond just the presidency, and terminal limits would be even better)

Jeff Angelo said...

"If you could do one major thing tomorrow without winning the support of the American people or getting it through Congress--just because you felt so strongly that it was the right thing to do, what would it be?"

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rose said...

"Who really wrote your book>"

"Why won't you release your college records?... Birth Certificate... etc. etc etc."

"Does your record spending Annenberg Challenger money give us any indication of how you're going to be spending the nation's money?"

"How did Michelle really get her $300,000 a year position?"

"Are you proud of giving money to ____ fill in the blank after receiving campaign donations?"

"Tell us how ACORN really works..."

So many questions that ought to be asked - and answered.

But all you'll get is a Chauncey Gardener generality that can be splashed all over the front page as if gold has dripped from his lips.

garage mahal said...

I want to see his birth certificate. The real one this time please.

Big Mike said...

We've had presidents who basically quit the job well before the end of their term. The US of A survived, though in the case of Buchanan, just barely.

The one president who did resign gave us Gerald Ford (mediocre on the best day of his life) and then Jimmy Carter (in a dog fight with Buchanan and Useless Grant for worst president of all time).

Not a good idea for a president to quit.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I don't have sound here, but here are five questions I posted to BHO's transition site.

Apparently I missed Althouse, Insty, etc. posting questions of a similar quality to change.gov and then encouraging their readership to go vote them up in an attempt to actually hold politicians accountable.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

"Why won't you release your college records?... Birth Certificate... etc. etc etc."

Yes, and then you can tell him that 9/11 was an inside job!!!!!1!!

Palladian said...

"My goal would be to have an amusing, wide-ranging, free-associative conversation... something I suspect you have no idea how to do."

Oh I think there's ample evidence of that based on his previous comments.

The Crack Emcee said...

My questions would be along the line of Rose's - with a bit extra:

"You're from the Saul Alinsky school of 'community organizing,' and Alinsky dedicated his book Rules For Radicals to Satan; and all the NewAge cultists refer to you as a 'Lightworker' - a name for Satan - what are we to make of all this? And why haven't you asked them to stop?"

That, plus my questions about Oprah, should get "an amusing, wide-ranging, free-associative conversation" going.

Thanks for this, Ann. You've got a good blog, so it's nice to see who's behind it. Believe it or not (and most wouldn't believe it from my blog and online persona) we could be friends.

dbp said...

Here is how I imagine Obama answering Althouse's question:

Althouse, that is a question I gave a lot of thought to before I ran. I kind'a hope, (heh, there's hope again) that I will like the job, but I really don't expect to.

I suppose what is needed is someone who doesn't love the job, because let's face it, someone who loves exercising power, is probably not the sort of person who should be in charge. On the other hand, we don't want someone in charge who has to agonize over every decision--they will be indecisive and never get anything done.

The people elected me to lead and I will do so as long as I am able to do so in an effective way. I asked for the job and now having been given it, I could not in good conscience quit it--even if I hate it.

dbp said...

Now I (Barry) have a question for Althouse: Is there anything that could make you give up blogging? Like if I appointed you to the supreme court or as AG, would you agree in advance to not blog once in office?

Theo Boehm said...

I did my little historical/constitutional piece upthread, which is not as personality-driven as it might be. My interests are more institutional. I think it's possible to consider a change in the Constitution that might make the President into a Prime Minister, etc., but as a practical matter, it's impossible to envision a new Constitutional Convention that would be anything but a disaster and the end of the United States and everything it has stood for.

Too bad, because there are things, such as the intolerable nature of the Presidency and what it does to the occupants of the office, that I think need fixing. I'm interested in what the Constitutional experts around here think might be done, realistically, that could decompress the Presidency a notch or two.

Frankly, I'm much less interested in the specific personality and personal issues of the occupant of that office. They become interesting afterwards, when they become a narrative, with a beginning, an end, and perhaps something we can take away.

It's often hard to make out the effects of personality, and it seems a little odd to even talk about it while great events are underway. We might have thought Bush's first term was going to be a Seinfeld Presidency, about nothing, but everybody knows Obama's term is portentous in the extreme. So, the main thing I want to know is whether he is going to be up for the job, and, if not, what in hell are we supposed to do?

Ted said...

The question is not IF there will be an interdiction of Obama’s Presidency by the Supreme Court, the questions are WHEN and HOW that interdiction will transpire — that is, if the USA is to continue as the Constitutional Republic that now exists.

ricpic said...

And the light shone.
And the people bowed down before the light.
And the light ripped a giant fart.
And the people called it ambrosia.

The Crack Emcee said...

ricpic,

That shit cracked me UP!

ricpic said...

Glad you liked it Crack Emcee, but Rose wins the thread, hands down.

Ann Althouse said...

dbp said..."Here is how I imagine Obama answering Althouse's question..."

Very well imagined!

"Now I (Barry) have a question for Althouse: Is there anything that could make you give up blogging? Like if I appointed you to the supreme court or as AG, would you agree in advance to not blog once in office?"

Since I am smart enough to be a Supreme Court justice, I am smart enough to know that at this stage of the game, blogging is what I'm meant to do. If at some earlier point in life I could have escaped sex discrimination, the hippie movement, and a love-hate relationship with art, it might have been. But now, no, no, never.

blake said...

That just raises further questions!

Synova said...

(but, I think term limits should be expanded beyond just the presidency, and terminal limits would be even better)

Terminal limits... you get elected to congress, serve for no more than 20 years... and then they shoot you.

Synova said...

I sort of skimmed, skipped, through Atlas Shrugged.

I remember thinking, at the time, that the attitudes that Rand portrayed were fantasy... and then, every now and then, I read some perfectly serious assertion that it's morally wrong to favor your own children, that altruism demands an absolute absence of personal interest, that it's morally questionable to want to benefit from your own labor or want your children to inherit, and that the highest moral good is laboring to give what you create and what you earn to people who have nothing to do with you.

And I think, wow... Ayn Rand was right.

SkaReb said...

From a comment above:

"How did Michelle really get her $300,000 a year position?"

Lo and behold I find out today that Michelle's old position has just been done away with. I suppose she was the only person in the world who could do that particular job...strange, though, that a 300K 'job' was just sooo important that they have done away with it.

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

Me, I've always read thoroughly and comprehensively. Call it a curse. (You ought. It is. I have.) Throw stones, if you like, in response.
I read every book Ayn Rand wrote before I graduated high school. (Years later, I researched and read her other, non-book writings, along with the ancillaries.) But then, I read, before graduating HS, bits and pieces of but more often comprehensively stuff that all sorts of people wrote; and, if not before then, then before I graduated college. And if not then, then shortly thereafter. (Then there were those many, many things that--thanks [I Think; i think] to mom & dad, I read before I reached high school, and even before junior high). I'm rethinking all of that, these days. Maybe less really IS more. Certainly the less said is the better.

Joan said...

Atlas Shrugged was tedious, We the Living was gut-wrenching. Most horrifying of all were Rand's biographies -- read the one by Nathan and then the one by Barbara Brandon to get two good, long looks at the woman. (shiver)

Anyone have any suggestions for getting YouTube audio to play? I've uninstalled and re-installed Flash multiple times now -- that usually does the trick, but this time, no go. It's very frustrating. You look great in the video, Ann -- wish I could hear it!

blake said...

Joan,

What browser are you using?

Joan said...

Blake - Firefox under Windows Vista. I tried it last week under IE and there was no audio there, either...

blake said...

Lots of people have different solutions for this but what has worked for me is installing the FlashBlock plugin for Firefox.

What it does is make it so that you have to approve any flash before it runs. It seems to be the quantity of flash programs running at once that causes the problem.

Then you can set it for allowing all flash from a particular site (like YouTube, which only uses Flash for the main video).

The Crack Emcee said...

Hey ricpic,

I forgot to tell you - I had to immortalize that shit - you can see it right here.

Hilarious.

Joan said...

Thanks, blake -- I'll give that a try.

Kirk Parker said...

Theo,

Dude, you really had me there, I was totally with you--until you had to go and ruin it in that last, brief paragraph. Parliamentary, eh? You have go to be kidding. That's why we have Europe and the UK, isn't it?

As far as your subsequent question, the answer's really simple: the more we devolve Federal power, the more bearable the job of President will become.

Simple, isn't it? Unfortunately, as Clausewitz observed of war, so too in politics the simplest things are very hard.

Shrikeback said...

I think Joe the Electrician is a phony. I mean, does anyone believe that the President has a nose for phonies? Excuse me? Being a politician is about being phony. Yes we can. The audacity of hope. Phony as a three trillion dollar bill.

Ann said...

What's your favorite verse in the Old Testament and favorite verse in the New Testament?

Robert Cook said...

"Ever read Atlas Shrugged?

(If not, now's a good time as any).

If so, what was your impression -- please be specific in your answer."


Tendentious horseshit, ineptly-written rape porn and comic book philosophizing for brainless and emotionally stunted would-be kings.
A 1000-page penny dreadful, a bible for whining crybabies who have it all but want more.

Whittaker Chamber's 1957 takedown of it in NATIONAL REVIEW remains the classic demolition of this lunatic hissy fit in prose.

Scott M said...

That just raises further questions!

Hermes Conrad ftw.

pinkmonkeybird said...

One of the persistent criticisms of Barack Obama the candidate is that he'd never really stuck to any job. He's always been a climber. He's always felt unfulfilled with the job at hand, and seeing another job up the next rung, campaigns for that job.
This is in stark contrast to a personality who we are convinced possesses a true conviction for public service, such as Sen. John McCain or the late Sen. Paul Wellstone or Pres. Ronald Reagan.
So I would suggest that your question is unnecessary. We already know that Barack hates his job.
Next job The One has his eye on? Pope.