December 30, 2009

"Ooh, baby, baby, it's a wild world. It's hard to get by just upon a smile..."

Cat Stevens sang that:



And we were talking about smiling. Do you use that tremendously effective device, the smile? It's hard to get by just upon a smile, but it could work as part of a repertoire. Here in Wisconsin, the smile is deployed. And go to Indiana. You'll find some heart-melting smiling amongst the Hoosiers.

But what of people who don't rely on smiling? There are places — maybe places where they call Wisconsin and Indiana "fly-over country" — where people not only don't try to get by just upon a smile; they don't smile at all. And they mistrust those who do rely on smiling. Do you think those people are surly? They think you are unsophisticated. For example, Dick Cheney doesn't smile.

Oh, yes, he does!




Uh! Wow. Now, I need to rethink this. Hmmm. Not sure I know what to do with that smile. Don't try to get by just upon that!

Hey, Cheney is getting blogged like mad today. What the hell did he say?
“[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe.... Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society.”
Obama wanted to smile at the whole world:



But it's hard to get by just upon a smile.



You can become President just upon a smile... and not much more. But then what do you have?



You're not the world's nice guy. It's not a cocktail party. It's real, and we're the United States.
"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."



Back to Cat:

54 comments:

F said...

What in heaven's name turned him into a Muslim? What's the attraction? I just don't see it. F

David said...

Cat got your tongue.

SMGalbraith said...

Fabulous post.

traditionalguy said...

How far you can go politically on a smile is only as far as your sold out suppoters and the weak minded "Swing Voters" stay enchanted by your loving smile accompanied by nonsense. In the O's case it was until the moment that Sarah Palin said the words "Death Panels" about Trig Palin's future that everybody suddenly snapped out of a mesmerised state. The MSM was the hardest to get the new message thru to, but after the Going Rogue was rolled out that changed too. Now the NYT this week has had two columnists in effect saying about ObamaCare, "You lie" and about Obama "You are a lifeless dud". It will be a very interesting time to live in in 2010.

Ann Althouse said...

Cat Stevens became a Muslim back in the 70s. From Wikipedia:

"While vacationing in Marrakech, Morocco, Stevens was intrigued by the sound of the Aḏhān, the Islamic ritual call to prayer, which was explained to him as "music for God". Stevens said, "I thought, music for God? I’d never heard that before – I’d heard of music for money, music for fame, music for personal power, but music for God!"

"In 1976 Stevens nearly drowned off the coast of Malibu, California and claims to have shouted: “Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.” He says that right afterward a wave appeared and carried him back to shore. This brush with mortality intensified his long-held quest for spiritual truth. He had looked into "Buddhism, Zen, I Ching, Numerology, tarot cards and Astrology".[18] Stevens' brother David Gordon brought him a copy of the Qur'an as a birthday gift from a trip to Jerusalem.[10] Stevens took to it right away, and began to find peace with himself and began his transition to Islam.

"During the time he was studying the Qur'an, he began to identify more and more with the name of Joseph, a man bought and sold in the market place, which is how he says he had increasingly felt within the music business.[25] Regarding his conversion, in his 2006 interview with Alan Yentob,[41] he stated, "to some people, it may have seemed like an enormous jump, but for me, it was a gradual move to this." And, in a Rolling Stone Magazine interview, he reaffirmed this, saying, "I had found the spiritual home I'd been seeking for most of my life. And if you listen to my music and lyrics, like "Peace Train" and "On The Road To Find Out", it clearly shows my yearning for direction and the spiritual path I was travelling."[42] Stevens had been seeking inner peace and spiritual answers throughout his career, and now believed he had found what he had been seeking."

I don't think he's a bad person, and "Wild World" is a beautiful, beautiful song that still rings true.

Ann Althouse said...

The subject of the post is the value of a smile.

EnigmatiCore said...

I know you have said that you miss Bush, but I miss Cheney.

I believe the demonization of him is reprehensible.

David said...

Yeah, as I started reading it that Malkin woman was smiling at me.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Obama. Carter. Nixon.

Interesting that when one thinks of Obama, one does not think of JFK, who also had a wonderful smile. Just Obama and two other presidents who are tainted with failure.

Richard said...

Rush Limbaugh's been taken to a hospital in Hawaii with chest pains. Say a prayer.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

I don't know, Ann. I don't there there is any value to the value of a smile. You got y'er right-wingers all riled up over the last few days and they ain't gonna go nowhere with something as wussy and lefty and Woodstocky as "the value of a smile", especially with a Muslim dude at the top. Plus all that facial hair! I'll bet your right-wing readers really hate facial hair.

So please permit me to digress to Cheney. He is one admirable dude. He made some mistakes, sure, but he learned how to do the job of protecting Americans against Muslim terrorism, and now he's the most experienced leader in that regard. We really need his expertise!

The Rightists in this country would rather concern themselves with their War on Gay Marriage and their War on Obama rather than the War on Terror. It all seems weak and pathetic. Sometimes it seems that Cheney and Christopher Hitchens are the only ones that get it.

FIRE NAPOLITANO! REPLACE HER WITH CHENEY!

(And please Dick, if you are reading this, know that some of those who dissed you in the past now realize that they were all wrong and would really like to have you back! Thanks for standing up for America.)

Ann Althouse said...

@Richard There's a new post on Limbaugh.

jlgollin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LonewackoDotCom said...

1. Here's Dick Cheney laughing at how he didn't tell the rubes back home about his involvement with a certain powerful group.

2. IN is the pits. Want smiles? Go to ME.

3. The studio version of this Cat Stevens cover was taken off their album after the Rushdie bit.

4. It's always worth recalling who tried to reduce BHO's chances of becoming president and who didn't or showed great incompetence. All major r/w bloggers, pundits, party officials, etc. etc. fall into the second category. For instance, over a month before the election I tried to get several major bloggers to help promote my highly effective technique to block Obama from becoming president. None of the clowns (listed at the link) helped. Instead, they just kept putting on a show. I later offered non-partisan reasons to oppose Obama. Instead of getting any help with that, the incompetents did things like tell conservatives why they shouldn't vote for Obama.

edutcher said...

A smile is only as good as the person behind it. In the last year, Ann's smile has been irresistable to a lot of people because of the joy behind it.

I used to work for someone whose smile was only with the mouth and went on and off like a loose light bulb. She wasn't trusted by those of us in the trenches. If the smile is false or superficial, it doesn't take long for it to become known. That seems to be Obama's problem these days.

Freeman Hunt said...

Great post.

"You're never fully dressed without a smile."

victoria said...

Cheney's smile give me the heebie jeebies. Creepy. Like that uncle who wants you to sit on his lap all the time.

Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Telling you David, she gives me the creeps too.

Vicki from Pasadena

Joe said...

I was skeptical about his new version, but it's very good. Too bad Allah couldn't have commanded him to sing His praises.

richard said...

This post is like a jazz improvisation. I was not sure where it was going. The ending with the cat makes me smile.

Lem said...

Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand - Smile

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'm noticing there's a lot of similarities between this post and the teachings of groups like HAMAS and Islamic Jihad.

For instance, on here as on other conservative sites, people are admonished for not being sufficiently fearful and suspicious of their enemies.

Similarly, groups like PIJ and HAMAS, admonish their followers for not showing sufficient hatred for their enemies.

But other than that, it's pretty much the same mindset.

Did anyone else notice that Stevens' lyric says "it's hard to get by just upon a smile"?

I think "just" is an operative word here. Smiles, as long as they are accompanied by other attributes, do not mean naivite. Smiles do not mean failure in themselves. He's talking about smiles that aren't accompanied by anything else.

Maybe a Venn diagram would be helpful.

Juba Doobai! said...

Man, I think Dick Cheney is HOT!!! Smoking!!! He's got that soft voiced thing going for him and that hard look that says "I'm the meanest sum'bitch y'ever run across an' doncha fergit it!" He never seems to lose his cool, and even when he does (remember when he told Leaky Leahy to feisigh thoin fein in the Senate), he didn't get mad. When Cheney smiles, he doesn't look warm and cuddly, he looks even more dangerous. Like this limerick: "There was a young lady from Riga/Who went for a ride on a tiger./WHen they returned from the ride/With the lady inside/And a smile on the face of the tiger!" That's Dick Cheney.

Obama, on the other hand, when he smiles he looks like a danged $3 bill. My sister's mother-in-law used to smile like that. All teeth and a downward look as if she was ever so humble. Man, talk about nasty!!! She made the shark in jaws look like a guppy!

I'll take unsmiling Dick Cheney over Cheshire Cat Obama any day of the week.

Lem said...

For instance, on here as on other conservative sites, people are admonished for not being sufficiently fearful and suspicious of their enemies.

From the late Ron Silver December 12th, 2007

You injure yourself, and in that first moment, there is nothing in the world but your pain. You grimace, curse, and wish the hurt would just go away. But what’s worse than feeling pain, is not feeling it when you need to. People who have CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis) live each day with the possibility that something they can’t sense is killing them. Pain, though unpleasant and sometimes debilitating, is at times, necessary. It is our body’s way of warning us.

For the rest of the essay go here.. remember, you are not afraid.

Anthony said...

Does the former Mr. Stevens's smiling peacefulness extend to Salman Rushdie?

Lem said...

Brasilero says that on here as on other conservative sites, people are admonished for not being sufficiently fearful and suspicious of their enemies.

Ron Silver

Since 2001 it has become apparent to me that many people are indeed afraid. It has also become apparent to me that the people who are most afraid are behaving hypocritically and cowardly. I do not make these assertions lightly. It’s a horrible thing to call a person or persons cowardly. A little less so with hypocrisy, a little bit of which attaches to all of us. Cowards, in that the fear of confronting the real enemy who wishes us harm is displaced by ranting against a liberal democracy where they know no harm will come to them.

Ritmo Brasileiro is a coward.

The Crack Emcee said...

"He had looked into 'Buddhism, Zen, I Ching, Numerology, tarot cards and Astrology'. Stevens' brother David Gordon brought him a copy of the Qur'an as a birthday gift from a trip to Jerusalem. Stevens took to it right away, and began to find peace with himself and began his transition to Islam."

Typical nutjob.

bearbee said...

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief. ~William Shakespeare, Othello

Nice sentiment but when the government undertakes massive confiscation (redistribution) of wealth, it is tough to retaliate with a smile.

TheGiantPeach said...

Does anybody have a mental image of Woodrow Wilson smiling? I searched for some photos, and there were a couple. He's smiling as he throws out the first ball at a Senators game. And in another photo, he's doffing his hat with an antic smile when his boat is docked upon his return from Versailles.

I just don't think Presidents smiled much a century or more ago. Maybe people in general didn't.

The first President whom I picture smiling is Harry Truman. You probably have the same picture in mind when you think of him. The President, unexpectedly given another four years, holding up the Chicago Tribune with the "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" headline and grinning.

Maybe the television era popularized smiling by Presidents. Or maybe it had something to do with nuclear weapons -- the world truly gone wild. Politics had become so serious, so much about life and death that nobody could stand it unless there were a curtain of inanity to shield out the wildness... hence, the phenomenon of smiling Presidents.

bearbee said...

Both Roosevelts seemed to smile and Taft.

But how do Presidents actually FEEEEL?

TheGiantPeach said...

In the cases of Taft and TR, I think their moustaches did most of their smiling for them.

As for facial expressions masking true Presidential feelings, there is a picture taken on the day of Wilson's inauguration where Taft and Wilson are standing next to other (though not looking at each other) and laughing heartily. I suppose it was as uncomfortable a moment as could be for both of them. They were jovial because the country required it of them.

Tom Grey said...

Ann, thanks for a GREAT post which, as has been mentioned, it wasn't clear where it was going. The final video with Yousef / Cat was fantastic; good AND unexpected.

He's a serious, Gandhi like pacifist/ spiritualist, who, after choosing his own 'found way' is willing to live with the principles AND the interpretations of those principles.

None of this "Catholics for Free Choice (=abortion)" crap. True catholics oppose abortion, or are not fully Catholic (except the Kennedies?).

True Muslims accept the fatwas of their chosen Grand Ayotollah, or they aren't true Muslims -- I think. In fact, I'm not sure whether Cat is Shia or Sunni, nor whether the fatwas of one apply to the other, or to what degree individual Muslims can disagree with which fatwas.

I know Protestants can pretty much disagree on everything political (so Episcopalians can have Lesbian priests) and still be Christian (tho many don't want Mormons to be accepted as Christian). There's too little discussed about actual religious differences between various Islamic beliefs.

But wait, I remember (Monty P...) 'this was supposed to be a happy ocassion.'
So now I smile, again. Thanks.

class-factotum said...

I just don't think Presidents smiled much a century or more ago. Maybe people in general didn't.

I think people had to hold their poses for a lot longer 100 years ago (because the exposure took longer) and it's easier to hold a solemn expression than a smile. That's maybe why you don't see people smiling in old photos.

AllenS said...

I wonder what Cat Stevens thinks about gay marriage? Does it make him smile?

AllenS said...

Who's more tolerant, Dick Cheney or Cat Stevens?

Porkov said...

It may (or maybe not) take 43 muscles to frown but only 17 to smile. What makes me smile is Dr. John singing "Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive."
In the day when Cat Stevens was seeking spiritual truth Sufi was the way to go. Cf. "Jewel of the Nile."

Chris said...

It's a grin, not a smile!

Marshall said...

I've refused to listen to Cat Stevens, changing stations if a song of his comes on, since he expressed support for the death edict against Salman Rushdie way back when. On another note, the song you might really want here is Smiling Faces by The Undisputed Truth.

rhhardin said...

He's aged beautifully musically speaking.

I don't see a modern version of Into White though, my favorite back then.

Something by the Dixie Chicks reminded me of it, owing to the violin part probably, Cowboy Take Me Away.

Grant Valdes said...

The question of the year: "What the **** is Obama grinning about?"

SH said...

I prefer my Cheney with a scowl. Reminds me of Churchill… of course, Churchill was a better writer and had several other accomplishments (plus a few bigger failures)… but the scowl and common sense ability to see what’s actually going on… when other others don’t… and don’t want to hear about it… and are going to give you trouble for telling them… yep… similar.

Christy said...

A hero of mine, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, became a Sufi, but one has to wonder if he had a political agenda in doing so. He didn't smile much in photos, but then there was that long exposures problem.

Some of us just don't have wonderful smiles. Do you know how devastating that is for a southern woman? No amount of deviled egg plates can make up for the lack. I can manage a warm and loving look, a good grin, and a truly excellent come-hither expression, but never a fabulous smile. Does Julia Roberts have that 100 watt smile because her heart is pure? Well. Maybe. But she also has that gloriously large mouth. I have a tiny Clara Bow mouth. No matter how much I practice in front of a mirror, I cannot manage a Miss America smile without looking like I'm in pain. Or like I'm about to take a bite out of the photographer.

I so envy those who don't even try.

SMGalbraith said...

Interesting that one of the last photos of Lincoln is the only one I've seen that has him smiling.

Lincoln.

Whitman used to pass him regularly on the street and noted that the only time he saw Lincoln smile was during the 4th of July celebrations held after Gettysburg.

He didn't smile much apparently but he did like to tell jokes.

Smilin' Jack said...

"I thought, music for God? I’d never heard that before – I’d heard of music for money, music for fame, music for personal power, but music for God!"

Too bad he never heard Bach--could have saved himself a painful circumcision.

There are some people you really don't want to see smiling--Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Walken.

Opus One Media said...

Cheney smiles the smile of the insane.

SMGalbraith said...

I'll say it again: this really was a great post.

People can just run with it.

With a frown or smile.

Penny said...

Save your money; spend your smiles.

crypticguise said...

Cat Stevens is just another dilettante who decided that it seemed like a good idea at the time to convert to Islam. Of course he never bothered to read the Koran, Hadith or Sira.

Now, Cat you can't ever have any friend who is a kafir (non-Muslim). Ask your self-proclaimed prophet Mohammad the cartoon-0-phobe. It is stated over and over again in the Koran, Hadith and Sira.

Yes, Cat you are an asshat. It is written. Inshallah.

TheGiantPeach said...

I have another hypothesis about why Presidents of previous eras are not photographed smiling much. I think before the wonders of modern cosmetic dentistry, most people simply did not have regular and flashing teeth that could make a smile a potent part of an esthetic arsenal. If teeth became misaligned, tobacco-stained or broken, they stayed that way, and all that anybody reasonably expected of their teeth was that they functioned and did not cause undue pain. People hid their teeth, because they looked better that way.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Ron Silver

Since 2001 it has become apparent to me that many people are indeed afraid. It has also become apparent to me that the people who are most afraid are behaving hypocritically and cowardly. I do not make these assertions lightly. It’s a horrible thing to call a person or persons cowardly. A little less so with hypocrisy, a little bit of which attaches to all of us. Cowards, in that the fear of confronting the real enemy who wishes us harm is displaced by ranting against a liberal democracy where they know no harm will come to them.

Ritmo Brasileiro is a coward.


Far be it from me to question the wisdom of an actor-pundit such as the late Ron Silver, but I don't recall ever ranting against my country's liberalism or democratic system. You must be confusing me with the conservatives here.

You also must have felt pretty embarrassed to have projected the accusation that both I and Silver note back onto me. But like all projections, it was misplaced. I don't fear Muslims. (And BTW, how many do you know... personally? How well do you know them? How many times have you visited a part of the world where they are the majority and how much did you familiarize yourself with their culture and language(s) while you were there?

Thought so. Dumbass hypocrite.)

But pointing out Lem's infinite capacity for stupidity and hypocrisy is beside the point. The point is that while I'm not afraid, I'm certainly bothered. I'm bothered by idiots who assume that belligerence by alien empires will reform a civilization, or mollify it, or make its most ardent firebrands more amenable to Western norms. I'm bothered by someone who hasn't yet come to understand the wisdom of intelligent engagement, who obsesses about immigration quotas, and believes our president to be a failure for having enough of a brain to see things differently.

But why am I going on like this? Surely if there were a more intelligent citizen-pundit here he would have taken up the cause Lem purports to take to me. But, then, they probably would have actually read what I wrote, thought it through, and not thrown up a knee-jerking non sequitur in response, that tries to make its case by plagiarizing the thoughts of an actor, no less. But this is unsurprising. After all, Lem is known for getting drunk beyond all recognition and posting until daybreak.

Next time that happens would be a good time to welcome one of those "moments of clarity", Lem.

hdhouse said...

cat stevens might well be the most talented person on the page....ooops. skipthe "might well be" and substitute "is".

and who is that old fart with the sneer? snidely cheney? rightous richard or upright dick?

geeeze, if he were more of a tightass he would make diamonds out of coal.

ron junk said...

Regards your last photo (Chenny scowling), couldn't find any of Obama or Carter scowling? Just wondering.

Penny said...

"geeeze, if he were more of a tightass he would make diamonds out of coal."

Now THAT'S something the R&D people at Preparation H should be exploring.

No telling what celebrity might want to put their face on that.

bearbee said...

Smiling Lincoln