June 23, 2009

Watching the press conference, racking my brain trying to think of who Obama reminded me of.

Something about the singsong rhythm and the complete absence of emotion. Then it hit me: Michael Dukakis!

ADDED: Amba notes that last September, Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece called: "Is Obama Another Dukakis?" ("Why is Obama so vapid and hesitant and gutless?... By the end of that grueling campaign season, a lot of us had got the idea that Dukakis actually wanted to lose—or was at the very least scared of winning. ... [H]aving suddenly got the leadership position, [Obama] hadn't the faintest idea what to do with it or what to do about it.")

IN THE COMMENTS: Amba says:
The absence of emotion! The way Dukakis didn't react at all to the hypothetical of Kitty being raped is the same way Obama had trouble being human about Neda!

109 comments:

Lem said...

Brilliant

Quayle said...

I was gonna say Rufus T. Firefly.

PatCA said...

I heard someone else say that today too. They were both out of their depth.

NKVD said...

Jeremy was correct - Ann is a hater. She just called Obama a "Dukakis"! How dare she? Is there any more vile name to call someone?

Ok, she did insult Dukakis by doing that, but that's just some funny collateral damage.

And leave Groucho Marx out of this discussion - he at least had a sense of humor.

Lem said...

Dukakis was a white Obama

Meade said...

"Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not bend his pace with beating."

Lem said...

The only diff is that Obama gets a pass for reasons I'm not go into because that's not where Althouse is coming from.

1jpb said...

I'm must have an especially powerful capacity picking up on slight differences, I do see differences.


Maybe Althouse's memory of Dukakis is giving him too much credit. BHO would really need to try hard to reach the Dukakis level.

Lem said...

You know Meade you are setting up a high bar for the rest of us.

I thought you were our guy at the seat of power ;)

Lem said...

Oh wait Meade was talking to Althouse?

My bad :(

Lem said...

Truth be told I'm unfamiliar with the reference.

Meade said...

Lem, I'm just trying to set a good example for all you guys to recite more Shakespeare to your sweethearts.

Normally, she swoons.

Lem said...

I'm doing a monologue again.

Ok let's get back to the topic at hand.

Lem said...

Normally, she swoons.

Meade you.. can i speak freely?

Meade said...

Especially when I use my best English accent.

bagoh20 said...

It will be interesting to watch if Obama continues to get tougher (assuming there will be any protesters left) and people are forced to defend either the policy or the person which they previously thought so stupid. I personally would love the opportunity.

Lem said...

You had a good head start.

By that I mean you had all the time and chance in the world to adjust and really get to know somebody and yet not pay a price.

My compliments

Lem said...

Especially when I use my best English accent.

I can oly imagine the mistakes i would have avoided had i had that kind of leg up.

Meade said...

Thank you, Lem.

Meade said...

I'm kidding about the english accent. The only accent I have is hillbilly. Besides, I got the quote wrong. It's "mend" not "bend." (I need to go back to first-grade google)

Lem said...

hey it's that a video blog or waht?

Meade doing Shakespeare?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Meade : Lem, I'm just trying to set a good example for all you guys to recite more Shakespeare to your sweethearts.

Well keep your hands off of "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day..." that's reserved for man-on-man love.

Kansas City said...

Althouse is good.

There probably is no difference in the views of Obama and Dukakis, but the similarity of style is brilliant analysis.

Issob Morocco said...

Sammy Davis Jr. would have been proud of the tap dancing at the presser today.

I did sense a simmering anger by BHO at the questions, as if those asking were too stupid to understand the brilliance of the One.

I wonder if the Iranian Hot Dogs will come Chicago Style?

Lem said...

We had a founding partner retirement celebration after work.

there was whine and cheese and suchi and a bunch of other things i cant pronounce let alone spell

so the cumulative posting.

not fair to you either meade.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Finally, Meade has revealed how to make Althouse swoon.

rhhardin said...

Obama's style is fairy leftism.

Lem said...

By the way. OT ogain

Meade did something the other day that it's hard to thank because it's hard to explain.
Meade made a good comment and Althouse was going to frontpageit and Meade asked not to be frontpaged because it would seem like favoritism, conflict of interest.

Thats the kind of guy Meade is.

I would love to meet you some day.

Lem said...

When somebody does something good something right is it harder to tell than if they did something wrong?

Lem said...

He's trying it on Iran, but he may have reached the limits of this technique with foreign relations.

Has he ever.

Chase said...

Regarding Obama's Justice Department defending DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act):

Good thing they did. Newest polls out:

Poll: Support for Gay Marriage Falls, but Most Favor Legal Recognition for Gay Couples

Ann Althouse said...

"I would love to meet you some day."

Where are you? We're starting a road trip soon, and we'll have some meetups. We'd love to meet you too!

Lem said...

Obama is potentially much more dangerous to conservatives domestically. Obama is about pushing a fairly leftish agenda, but doing it with such low-key reasonableness, that it will be hard for opponents to get their ranks fired up in opposition.

Unlike Howard Dean for example.

Lem said...

Where are you? We're starting a road trip soon, and we'll have some meetups. We'd love to meet you too!

I'm in NJ very close to NYC.

Lem said...

Oh MY GOD

Tell me I may get to meet Tropper too.

Lem said...

trooper too

Lem said...

Jeter to Trooper ;)

Meade said...

Lem, my friend, email Althouse and ask her to put you on our road trip map. Maybe we'll drive the bus into your town this summer. And thanks for the kind words.

Jason (the commenter) said...
"Well keep your hands off of "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day..." that's reserved for man-on-man love."

Consider it done, man. The "Procreation sonnets" are all yours, bro.

Lem said...

I'm there or I'm not square? comes from "Be there or be square"

hey is that homophobic?

I'm lost.

bagoh20 said...

Even though I was much more liberal then, I considered Dukakis weak and wrong, but never dangerous like I feel about Obama.

The current lack of examination and challenge by the press allows Obama to do enormous damage with little debate. Dukakis never would have had that. This is truly extraordinary.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

If you're coming to LA, My home has empty bedrooms with bath. 1 mile from the beach. Even running water and dogs.

Meade said...

"Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness? I know what he's up to, and I'm sure most of you do too, and have encountered it in everyday life.

But what is it?"

He's halfway between everywhere and nowhere.

Meade said...

Thank you kindly, bagoh20. We'd love to do a meetup in LA!

Lem said...

But what is it?

Is he maaavelous?

Anthony said...

>bagoh20 said...
It will be interesting to watch if Obama continues to get tougher (assuming there will be any protesters left) and people are forced to defend either the policy or the person which they previously thought so stupid. I personally would love the opportunity.


Circumstances change and polciies may change with it. A policy that is followed when protests are rather peaceful may change if the government cracks down. While I think the president (who I did not vote for) is doing the right thing, I recognize there may be changes of circumstances.

Lem said...

and have encountered it in everyday life.

I hate it when people are obscure like taht :)

AST said...

He has always struck me as the kind of student who learns to reflect his professors back to them both in style and content and who do well gradewise without ever really learning much beyond the surface.

He makes all kinds of factual gaffes yet nobody seems to mind because he has such an authoritative tone in everything he says that you have to stop listening and ask "Did he just say . . .?"

Anthony said...

>He has always struck me as the kind of student who learns to reflect his professors back to them both in style and content and who do well gradewise without ever really learning much beyond the surface

That was me in law school. Can I be president next?



>He makes all kinds of factual gaffes yet nobody seems to mind because he has such an authoritative tone in everything he says that you have to stop listening and ask "Did he just say . . .?"

I guess I need to work on that authoritative tone.

smitty1e said...

My lying eyes saw 'he' instead of 'it' for a moment, and I read "The he hit me: Michael Dukakis". I thought, "Such violence!" ;)

traditionalguy said...

Theo... The style you are witnessing is a complete assurance of power arising from an inside fix for him put in by power brokers. He can be sweet and reasonable in tone, but he will never give an inch to another's view point.Why should he? The Iranian situation has surprised everyone. There is no fix put in to control it. He wants to ignore it. Something more powerful than Obama and his friends had planned for is happening in Iran. even the MSM guys are rattled by this new unprepared Obama. Reporters are not good at religious faith suff now that their One looks rattled. Oh for the good old days when Bush was his foil and he walked on water. I wonder what book Chavez will think Obama needs to read next?

Issob Morocco said...

Theo Boehm said,

'Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness? I know what he's up to, and I'm sure most of you do too, and have encountered it in everyday life.

But what is it?'

Unbridled Egotism or How I Learned To Be President Without Having To Really State A Coherent Policy Statement.

Brett Rogers said...

I was going for the fly that Obama swatted. But you said Dukakis... but I was close!

amba said...

That is so funny, because just a couple of hours ago I was looking at old Obama-McCain posts on my blog and I found a reference to someone describing him as a "dusky Dukakis"! Here it is!! I titled a post after it! And it was -- Hitchens!! The date: 9/23/08. And here's something else, we were just discussing on Twitter, Obama's unreadiness:

Interesting: Hitch thinks Obama started out in the primaries running to set up 2012, and was caught unprepared by the events and enthusiasms that propelled him into the lead.

Hitchens had him nailed back then!

Also, earlier today I was imagining that someone would call me a racist for calling Obama a "café au lait Carter," and how I would retort that since we were so justifiably proud of electing a black president, it had to be OK to mention it. That makes two nice alliterative epithets.

amba said...

The absence of emotion! The way Dukakis didn't react at all to the hypothetical of Kitty being raped is the same way Obama had trouble being human about Neda!

dclemens said...

The question of the day is: can Obama grow a pair or will he remain Wright's bitch, Ayers's bitch, and Michelle's bitch? On Fathers' Day he apologized to his daughters. Talk about battered wife syndrome.

amba said...

Hitch even has pictures of Obama and Dukakis side by side!

amba said...

Theo Boehm said: Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness?

He's a disingenue?

Freedom's Truth said...

Obama, the no-accomplishment Senator turned Presidential revolutionary, combines the foreign policy fecklessness of Carter, the old-style LBJ tax-and-spenderism of Mondale, the cultural liberalism of Dukakis, the dishonest pandering of Clinton, and the elitist goofiness of Kerry.

Oh, and if you close your ears and squint and drop some acid you can almost see/hear MLK Jr.

He's the "more cowbell" of American Liberalism. This is why he sets so many liberal legs tingling.

One thing that Obama has which makes him more dangerous than the other Democrats mentioned: HUBRIS. Combined with the above is deadly combination.

somefeller said...

I wouldn't cite that Hitchens article as a particular source of political wisdom. His view of the state of the campaign from the article, written in September of 2008: "And yet, and unless I am about to miss some delayed "groundswell" or mood shift, none of this has translated into any measurable advantage for the Democrat."

Yeah, he certainly missed it.

Penny said...

I don't know if he sounded like Dukakis, but he sure sounded like a man who was saying something he was convinced to say instead of a man talking from his heart.

bagoh20 said...

"He's the "more cowbell" of American Liberalism."

How dare you!

Darcy said...

There is a meetup road trip map?

principlex said...

If a sociopath is a person who cannot relate to other people because there is some emotional disconnect whereby he thinks everything is about him, then I think Obama is working overtime for that designation.

When the reporter asked him about McCain's comment, etc., this was not an entry point for Obama to elaborate on his latest position regarding the people in Iran who are fighting for their freedom. Rather he immediately went to dissing McCain, et al, with "I won. I'm the president."

How lame is that?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O. said...

But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness.

I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer, and, which is more, a householder, and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!

Michael McNeil said...

If you're going to LA you might want to stop by Santa Cruz County (facing Monterey Bay some 80 miles south of San Francisco), which also has terrific beaches as well as the southernmost of the magnificent redwood forests, as well. Since you're a professor, have you ever seen the U.C. Santa Cruz campus?

Mark said...

"Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness?"

Grifter.

I am Mr. Danny Van Persie. A Staff of Post Bank Branch here in the Netherlands. I desire your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($14.5 million) immediately to your account. I will send you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will receive 40% of the above mentioned amount if you agree to help me execute this business.

(Pulled randomly from my spam folder.)

Pogo said...

I am reminded of Zelig, the human chameleon, at his core a tabula rasa for the left, on whom one projects the longings of modern liberals.

His own counsel remains obscure, if there be one. Lacking knowledge -other than political manuevers- and passion, he exhibits none. This is frequently mistaken for calm and an unflappable nature.

JAL said...

We're starting a road trip soon

Oh goody! I was concerned that the road trip bit the dust with the advent of the rutted road to Alt-House.

Can we stick pins in the map as you go? Map. Map. Where did that map go? Here.

Wow. Look at Meade's comment! (Blush.)

Anthony said...

But didn't Hitchens in the end vote for Obama? Quite a few "neocons" did. I think even Anne Applebaum did (or at least she said she did not vote for McCain, her actual vote, if she did actually vote, was a bite obscure).

Ultimately, I think Obama appealed to a certain intellectualism that made some high brow conservatives like David Brooks or Christopher Buckley swoon with delight.

madawaskan said...

I dunno-shoot me -but for awhile now I've been reminded of The Hall of Presidents-at Disney World.

Pogo said...

He made me swoon, with nausea.

My reaction was more accurate.

EnigmatiCore said...

The real comp is Jimmy Carter.

Freeman Hunt said...

Hillary is not Tracy Flick. Obama is Tracy Flick.

Jim C. said...

Definite similarities. Of course, O has a better voice and a smoother delivery. And he's taller. And he's black.

Blogger Theo Boehm said... Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness?

The con? The okey-doke?

garage mahal said...

Yeah, he certainly missed it..

He endorsed Guiliani, at least at the Freedom from Religion seminar I attended here in Madison during the tail end of the primaries. My mother and I sat right next to him at an empty restaurant next to the Concourse hotel (name escapes me) for dinner, and let me say the stereotype of Hitchens being a belligerent drunk is well founded. He sent the bread back because it wasn't crispy enough, and asked this poor waitress if she "could make it happen this time", (apparently he requested crispy bread the first time), and at one time had at least three drinks at his table while reading some newspapers. Wine, Scotch, and a mixer of some sort. Would have been a great time for her to have him autograph her book "God is not Great", which she brought for him do so, (and who she adored for many years) but she was so disgusted with him at the seminar we had to leave before it ended - and knowing my mom I'm surprised she didn't walk over and beat him over the head with it.

AJ Lynch said...

Today, I heard someone disparagingly decribe Obama's preparation for foreign trips as the Google Method.

Is that due to his overconfidence or a suspicion that Obama is too disinterested to do the hard work?

Pogo said...

Yeah, however it ends, Obama will be smilin' real big, and I'll discover the accounts are short and the cupboards are bare.

AJ Lynch said...

Pogo:

Obama will just claim he found them like that and it's Bush's fault! Heh.

Stephanie said...

I dunno-shoot me -but for awhile now I've been reminded of The Hall of Presidents-at Disney World.

The Hall of Presidents is currently closed for "improvement."

They needed to find a more robotic looking animatronic ...

Mark Daniels said...

Ann:
I touched on Obama's coolness and the post-JFK Democratic Party penchant for such coolness here, in a post inspired by one by your son.

onparkstreet said...

I saw a funny comment at HotAir today about the President trying to take credit for the students (his Cairo speech encouraged them), while not 'meddling'.

"Obama has now created or saved the Iranian revolution."

Or, something close to that - I can't find the exact comment to link. Made me laugh.

Honestly, I kind of feel for him. He's pretty inexperienced - I hope he's a fast learner....and that he gets some better advice.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness? I know what he's up to, and I'm sure most of you do too, and have encountered it in everyday life.

He is a salesman.

Having been in that profession (sales) you learn the technique of reflecting back upon your target(prospect) their own prejudices and desires in order to get them to agree to do what YOU (the salesperson) wants them to do. BUY already. By giving them their own flatteringly enhanced reflection they feel smart and magnanimous and will take your suggestions as their own.

A good salesperson is quick on the uptake and quickly adapts their presentation to reflect the prejudices of the customer/target.

If you are selling shoes and the customer shows an inclination for being a tightwad....you expound upon the thrifty virtues of the shoe.

If they are status oriented....you stress the exclusivity of the shoe and how everyone will envy them for wearing the shoe.

If they are into technicalities....you explain the detailed and exacting construction put into the manufacture of the shoe.

And so on and so on.....

They are all the same shoe, but you the salesman are gearing your presentation to the target audience.

Obama is a salesman, but his quandry is that he is trying to sell the same crappy shoe to a very diverse target audience....and many of us are just not buying it.

Levois said...

Reminds me of Robert Redford in the film, The Candidate.

JAL said...

Been trying to find the exact quote from one of the books, but he SAYS that he is a blank board (a whiteboard? something like that) that people can project their hopes and dreams on.

Sometimes it's right out there.

People hear him say things that, because they are bland, are adapted by the hearer to fit what they want-need-desire. But some of those people are now checking the score card instead of their leg tingle.

It's just hard to admit you've been had when you've worked so hard to elect American's first bi-racial president.

former law student said...

racking my brain trying to think of who Obama reminded me of.

Something about the singsong rhythm and the complete absence of emotion.

Obama has the same delivery as half of my law professors. He's an analytical type, not a man of action. I cannot think of a parallel President within living memory. Perhaps candidate Adlai Stevenson came closest.

Obama is the Avery Dulles of the Presidency.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Meade : Consider it done, man. The "Procreation sonnets" are all yours, bro.

When I read the sonnets I think of Pygmalion. The author starts out doing his job, trying to get a patron to have kids. The author builds up a personification of the patron until he falls in love with his creation who spurns him and then is tormented by even more imaginary characters.

David said...

wow, if Obama is like Dukakis, anyone who voted for Obama must feel like a complete idiot around now...oops, sorry ma'am.

David said...

I'm sorry again, I'm sure "Ma'am" was disrespectful. After all, you've worked hard to be a blogger and I should therefore refer to you as "Blogger".

avwh said...

I wouldn't cite that Hitchens article as a particular source of political wisdom. His view of the state of the campaign from the article, written in September of 2008: "And yet, and unless I am about to miss some delayed "groundswell" or mood shift, none of this has translated into any measurable advantage for the Democrat."

Well, until late Sept., that WAS the state of the race...until the economy tanked with the Lehman Bros bankruptcy. That was very late Sept., and the nosediving economy & stock market was the game-changer that gave it to Obama.

former law student said...

wow, if Obama is like Dukakis, anyone who voted for Obama must feel like a complete idiot around Dnow
...
Well, until late Sept., that WAS the state of the race...until the economy tanked with the Lehman Bros bankruptcy. That was very late Sept., and the nosediving economy & stock market was the game-changer that gave it to Obama.

Do you folks not remember that Obama was running against Grampa Simpson and Bible Spice?

A Romney-Jindal ticket with its demonstrated fiscal and executive competence could have beaten Obama. Not a duo of "Hey, kid -- get offa my lawn" and a chick who shoots wolves from small aircraft.

Penny said...

Blogger Theo Boehm said... "Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness?"

Obama is a "change agent" with all the power of the presidency to back that up.

The country is here (mark the spot), and he wants the country to be WAY over there >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

That "pretend-reasonableness" tone plus sing-song rhetoric is the mode he moves into when the masses whine enough to slow him down. At that moment, he is more the busy, customer service rep than salesman, change agent, leader or president. He's standing in place, holding our hands, and dammit, he HATES that. The man has mighty big plans, and little time to spare.

Ralph L said...

It is odd that so many people became emotionally invested in a cold fish. W was the anti-Clinton, now O is the anti-W, and I don't mean their policies.

rocketeer67 said...

He makes all kinds of factual gaffes yet nobody seems to mind because he has such an authoritative tone in everything he says

President Ron Burgundy, but not funny.

paul a'barge said...

Remind me again ... everyone who voted for Obama, raise your hand.

former law student said...

everyone who voted for Obama, raise your hand.

The disdain of the Right for the born-again conservative made Obama inevitable, because the bulk of votes go to the lesser of two evils. Enthusiasm doesn't accompany every vote.

MamaM said...

His technique of pretend-reasonableness?

Deception

It's been in use for years.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil...those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight"

Pauli said...

At least BO's head would look better popping out of the tank.

Ann Althouse said...

"There is a meetup road trip map?"

There will be. Right now, the only sure stops are Denver and LA (from Madison). If you want to promote somewhere in that general path (we'll make some kind of loop), speak up!

Michael McNeil said...

… and a chick who shoots wolves from small aircraft.

Please provide evidence that Sarah Palin actually engages personally in a) piloting small aircraft, while b) shooting wolves whilst doing so. Best I can tell, she's merely governor of a state that permits such culling of the wolf population.

And, considering that a) wolves in Alaska aren't at all endangered, while b) wolves there take a considerable cut of the moose, caribou, and deer populations, that quite a number of rural Alaskans depend on as an important element of their food supply, it's really a matter of keeping food on (poor) people's tables.

One would think that Democrats and others would find that ideal of some considerable value, but I guess not.

Just Lurking said...

"Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness? "

In a word, phony.

As a bi-racial kid he probably felt awkward most of his life. He could not pass for white, but he was not truly black. He probably felt the need to constantly prove himself wherever he went. Therefore he learned to be a phony; doing and saying what he needed to, in order to be accepted. ( Like changing his name to Barry, then changing it back.) He became good at it, and he knows it.

But he has a tell in his carefully controlled poker-face facade. The way he has to remind people over and over that HE is not being inconsistent, that HE won, that HE is the President. In those instances he is angry or haughty. When you touch the raw nerve of his deep-seated insecurities, that's when you get an emotional response.

Darcy said...

Thanks, Althouse! I'd very much like to make one of the meetups, so it's just really a case of knowing somewhat in advance where they're going to take place. I'm east of your travels looks like, so I don't expect you to come this way, unless there is another meetup in Ohio, which I was sorry that I missed.

Denver and LA might be too far, but who knows?

bearbee said...

In a word, phony.

Survivalist

Someone reared in an insecure, unsure, chaotic environment becomes agile, adaptable and defensive with a need to control every aspect of ones surroundings. A cool, confident demeanor is a part of the armor but nerve endings remain close to the surface. Ability to read and anticipate the actions of others is essential.

Just Lurking said...

"Survivalist".

Good point.

I hope his survival skills can keep him from cracking up when things start to get ugly, and they will. No president is exempt from criticism. Will he be able to keep it together if his poll numbers sink?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

@Darcy We'll make it back to Ohio, I'm sure.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.