February 21, 2010

Thomas Friedman is puzzled: Obama "speaks so well" yet he "can’t come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics."

Look out. Here it is again: the "he speaks well" compliment that white people bestow on black people. It was embarrassing and hackneyed 40 years ago. But still it lives.

Saying "hope" and "change" in a campaign speech isn't much like selling specific policies. Friedman blurs the difference with the notion of "explain[ing]...  politics" with "a clear, simple, repeatable narrative." (By the way, I loathe that word "narrative." It's a synonym for "story" that sounds fancier and has the advantage of not also being a synonym for "lie.")

Friedman muses over the puzzle he's constructed for himself — why Obama hasn't found the right words to grease our gullets so we'll accept what he'd like to ram down:
[I]nstead of making nation-building in America...
That's one of Friedman's phrases: nation-building in America. It implies that we haven't yet built a nation. Think of the depth of the disrespect to the Framers of the Constitution and all who have worked on their construction.
[I]nstead of making nation-building in America his overarching narrative and then fitting health care, energy, educational reform, infrastructure, competitiveness and deficit reduction under that rubric, the president has pursued each separately. This made each initiative appear to be just some stand-alone liberal obsession to pay off a Democratic constituency — not an essential ingredient of a nation-building strategy — and, therefore, they have proved to be easily obstructed, picked off or delegitimized by opponents and lobbyists.

So “Obamism” feels at worst like a hodgepodge, at best like a to-do list... and not the least like a big, aspirational project that can bring out America’s still vast potential for greatness.
Now, why would we let him do that? We would be imbeciles to accept some big abstraction and not pay attention to the details.  Friedman is talking about what Obama should have done to retain the support of voters like me who don't automatically vote for Democrats, but who thought Obama was more likely than McCain to deal with the various problems we faced in the next 4 years.

I can tell you that I am not distracted by the feeling of having "a big, aspirational project." It wouldn't lull me. It would alarm me. I don't care about the labels and generalities. I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty.

You know, what Friedman calls "a hodgepodge" or "a to-do list" would be perfectly fine with me. Just make the items on the list — or in the potgood ones.

ADDED: In the comments  american girl in italy said:
You are kidding [about "he speaks so well"], aren't you? You think this was a racist slam? Everyone in the free world has proclaimed Obama to be the world's best speaker. How many times have we heard he is the master of oratory, the world's best speaker.
Let me call in Chris Rock for some backup. (NSFW audio)("'He speaks so well! He's so well spoken. I mean he really speaks so well!' Like that's a compliment. 'He speaks so well' is not a compliment, okay? 'He speaks so well' is some sh*t you say about ret**ded people that can talk," etc.)

156 comments:

former law student said...

Obama needs elevator speeches for all occasions. To heck with subtlety and nuance.

For instance, if he advocated universal dental care, he should chant, "Drill, baby drill! Fill, baby, fill!"

Curtiss said...

Maybe if we had an overarching narrative like, oh, I don't know.....say......China, Friedman would feel better about America.

ricpic said...

I'd be willing to cut Barry some slack if he'd throw the occasional fo shizzle into the mix.

Paul said...

There is not, never was, nor ever shall be such a creature as Obama the "pragmatist". He is a died in the wool crypto-Marxist ideologue, who complained that the framers failed to include the bedrock of socialism, the redistribution of wealth, in the constitution.

Friedman's spiel is the typical "how can we frame our more enlightened viewpoint so the childish and ignorant hoi polloi can get it through their thick skulls that we are simply trying to do what's best for them".

The thought will never occur to him that the leftist vision itself is the problem. I mean it's not like he has the whole twentieth century's sordid history as a guide or anything.

Expat(ish) said...

@Ann: I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty.

Someone call missing persons....

-XC

PS - I voted for Clinton twice, I'm over the embarrassment, you should be over yours too.

kentuckyliz said...

Nation building? I thought that was a bad thing according to the lefties.

The overarching sales idea is just lipstick on a pig.

kcom said...

"So “Obamism” feels...at best like a to-do list... and not the least like a big, aspirational project that can bring out America’s still vast potential for greatness."

When are these yutzes going to understand that it's not government that is responsible for America's greatness, it's its people? People have come here to live out their dreams and fulfill their fullest potential and that is what has been responsible for America's greatness. Our country has been great because, unlike many other countries, government got out of the way and let people do their thing.

Thomas Friedman really ought to move to China and become a nameless cog in the Communist government's machine, if that's really how he sees the role of government. Because he doesn't fit in here.

Why, oh why, are so many lefties infected with this ridiculous, and dare I say anti-American concept, that we work for the government and the only good possible in society comes through top-down government directives?

Old Dad said...

Friedman is a one trick pony. Invent an overarching narrative--tranlated as bullshit abstraction--give it a clever name, and repeat it endlessly.

Obama is struggling because he's a crappy salesman. He doesn't understand his product and he doesn't understand or even like his customers. He thinks we're stupid.

Mr. President, when you've got a turkey like Obamacare to sell, you only have so many choices. The best is to go back to marketing and bitch until you get a saleable product. In this case, marketing is Congress and so good luck with that.

Or you can dress the pig up and reduce price. For example, there's got to be one good idea in those 2000 plus pages of craziness. Throw the rest of it away, rebrand it as Obamacare Lite, and sell that.

As to his condescension, let a pretty blue dog from Congress do the pitch. All the President needs to do is sign the damn thing and take the credit.

Florida said...

"... compliment that white people bestow on black people."

Uh, excuse me, Ms. Althouse, but don't group me in with those people. I happen to be white, and have never seen most white people do this.

The only people I have seen who bestow this sort of a backhanded "he smells so good" or "he speaks so well" or "he doesn't even use crack" kind of compliment are racists like Thomas Friedman and Joe Biden who expect people outside their class to stink, do drugs or only speak Ebonics.

It's their expectations that are being shattered; their inherent racism challenged.

It has nothing to do with white people in general.

Here's an aerial photo of Thomas Friedman's Maryland plantation:

http://www.sustainlane.com/reviews/what-is-thomas-friedmans-ecological-footprint/R1RJXD7QHRISP8R1CBYUC8HOISP8

I wonder how many servants he employs there?

Quite the carbon footprint for this closet racist, no?

kcom said...

Oops, I violated my own rule. I made a substantive response to a Thomas Friedman column, which is pretty much the definition of a waste of time.

Maguro said...

Friedman is such a putz. Here's hoping that Obama takes his advice and adopts "Nation building in America" as the overarching theme of his administration. What a fucking moronic piece of advice.

Franklin said...

"Saying "hope" and "change" in a campaign speech isn't much like selling specific policies."

It sold you though though, didn't it Prof Althouse?

Moose said...

Eh. I have no great love for Obama, but I think Freidman was contrasting him against W. more than calling him a well spoken Negro.

This is a bit of a reach. Nig revisited...

mc said...

It seems as though the more reality smites the left by narrowly circumscribing their aspirations the more the left reacts with the moronic assumption that the real problem is a lack of ambition and a deficit of hubris.

As I finished writing that silly sentence I realized kcom is absolutely correct.

Sigh...

Florida said...

"Obama is struggling because he's a crappy salesman."

No, I don't buy that. With all due respect, Dad, Barack Obama is an excellent salesman. He was able to market himself to a bunch of vacuous dolts like Thomas Friedman, who need to be seen shopping at the whole foods store, but who don't really read the contents on the label.

Barack Obama's problem is that he has a crappy product nobody wants to buy in the first place. And he's selling it at twice the price we can get it elsewhere.

Liberalism is the product. It can be purchased in many fine countries. One can go live in Canada and receive Obama's free health care, for example.

But I do notice when rich people in Canada want top-quality care they flee their liberal paradise for hospitals in the United States.

Obama is a great salesman. His product sucks. And nobody's buying.

I expect his bankruptcy anon.

ricpic said...

The vast potential of Hayzoos and Shakeena? Yes yes, I know that's racisss, but when does a lifetime's empirical evidence begin to count against "the dream?"

former law student said...

Lefties think that the US is as worthy as Iraq to have the nation rebuilt. Roads, bridges, and schools all over the country need replacing. Water and gas lines in many cities are over a century old. The bridge on highway 43 in Minnesota, the levees in New Orleans during Katrina, water main breaks all over the country.

But W. was the first to come out against nation-building in foreign countries:

I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America. Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do and when it gets overextended, morale drops.

He [Gore] believes in nation building. I would be very careful ...

I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in national building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders.

former law student said...

But I do notice when rich people in Canada want top-quality care they flee their liberal paradise for hospitals in the United States.


Do you? Name six rich Canadians you have noticed fleeing their liberal paradise for medical care in the US.

former law student said...

It seems as though the more reality smites the right by showing that cutting taxes leads to massive deficits and deregulating banking leads to economic disaster, the more the right reacts with the moronic assumption that the real problem is high taxes, overregulation, and a lack of commitment to true conservative ideals.

EnigmatiCore said...

I never saw any evidence that Obama was a pragmatist other than him claiming to be pragmatic.

His record in the Senate had not suggested a pragmatist. Further, the people who are drawn to being community organizers tend to not be mild centrist pragmatists but instead driven progressive activists.

Did you not write that you wanted McCain to be more principled and consistent (ergo, less pragmatic and more of an ideologue)?

Oh, well. Water under the bridge. We will see what happens by 2012. I don't see any indication that Obama will go the Bill Clinton route should his party suffer the same sort of setback that Clinton's faced in 1994. I get the sense he'll double-down, instead.

The fun part is talking with the most liberal of my friends. They think Bill Clinton was a great president, yet they think it would be a tremendous mistake for Obama to triangulate as Clinton did. In fact, they suggest they would be very dispirited if that happens.

Quaestor said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
I loathe that word "narrative." It's a synonym for "story" that sounds fancier and has the advantage of not also being a synonym for "lie."

A bit behind the curve. It is now.

Old Dad said...

fls,

Post hoc arguments about tax cuts are silly coming from the left or right.

I base my tax cut argument on bedrock principle. I'm perfectly capable of pissing my own money away. I shouldn't have to pay thieves in Washington to do it for me.

Maguro said...

I guess some wise man in DC (Carville?) has decided that "collapsing infrastructure" is now the issue that's going to save the Democrats. The talking points have been issued and we'll see a concerted effort to convince people that Obamacare and Cap & Trade are the only things that can prevent further bridge failures.

edutcher said...

It isn't POTUS that "speaks so well", it's TOTUS. They don't seem to understand that whole business of "consent of the governed". The peasants are supposed to bow down and submit, not resist.

kentuckyliz said...

Nation building? I thought that was a bad thing according to the lefties.

Only if you're trying to save a country from Communism. If you're trying to subvert it, then they love it.

Florida said...

"Obama is struggling because he's a crappy salesman."

No, I don't buy that. With all due respect, Dad, Barack Obama is an excellent salesman. He was able to market himself to a bunch of vacuous dolts like Thomas Friedman, who need to be seen shopping at the whole foods store, but who don't really read the contents on the label.


He was selling to people who wanted to be sold. I remember some Hollyweird type several Presidential elections ago who, when asked who Tinseltown would support, said something to the effect of, "We'll just wait until we find somebody we can fall in love with...". That's what happened with Barack the Magic Negro, although, if you really think about it, it wasn't so much a sale as a seduction of people aching to be seduced (or screwed, if you prefer) - consider all the sexual images at the time.

former law student said...

Lefties think that the US is as worthy as Iraq to have the nation rebuilt.

You confuse nation with infrastructure, but, then, you are one of them.

american girl in italy said...

"Actually, the thing that most baffles me about Mr. Obama is how a politician who speaks so well, and is trying to do so many worthy things, can’t come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics — when it is so obvious."

'Here it is again: the "he speaks well" compliment that white people bestow on black people."

You are kidding, aren't you? You think this was a racist slam? Everyone in the free world has proclaimed Obama to be the world's best speaker. How many times have we heard he is the master of oratory, the world's best speaker.

This is the type of stuff I have heard for three years: http://tinyurl.com/yac4r74

"Last night our president delivered his first official state of the union address: he was brilliant. Years from now speech instructors will be playing tapes of his speeches for their students; in fact; it’s probably happening already on many college campuses. Years from now books will be written compiling many of his speeches; some given even before he became one of the most historic of all our presidents. From here on in Barack Obama will be the standard by which great speakers are measured. He is undoubtedly one of the best public speakers ever (especially from a prepared script)."

But you found offense with what Friedman wrote? Seriously?

Expat(ish) said...

@FLS: well the premier of Newfoundland most recently.

I have several people I work with in Toronto and Vancouver and they have all crossed the US border to get health care at least once.

One of my other co-workers has a US policy on his mom so that when she need a hip replacement surgery she can get it more quickly. They've already put the $5K USD deductible in the bank.

So, yeah, one man, five or six examples, no google.

Plus, of course, any Canadian consuming advanced drugs, and certainly almost 100% of modern biotech drugs, are using US healthcare as we paid for 100% of the R&D.

Did you think that Glaxo paid for their AIDS drug at $0.01/dose in Africa?

_XC

american girl in italy said...

former law student said...
But I do notice when rich people in Canada want top-quality care they flee their liberal paradise for hospitals in the United States.


Do you? Name six rich Canadians you have noticed fleeing their liberal paradise for medical care in the US.

Berlusconi did it.

From Inwood said...

Repressive-China worshiping Tom F, now a racist.

So, who knew?

Tom Friedman is "weird"!

I have a running battle with some of my friends who are enamored with Tom Friedman.

I once said (& I stand by it) that he couldn't write an English sentence as well as MoDo & that he was as silly as she with his comparisons.

How they sneered. Saying that I "equated" their guru with a silly HS gossip columnist.

I got them when Tom said that if it makes sense to stop digging when one is in a hole it makes less sense to do so when one is in three holes. Huh?

I said that no one could from then on "equate" him to MoDo, She wins.

And as some wag said "I'll believe in GWT/AGW when those who say that they do begin to live their personal lives as if there was GWT/AGW.”

So as Florida, @10:20 AM, shows with his reference to Tom's spread, Tom Friedman the know-it-all columnist, a hypocrite who married into a shopping-center developer family (you know the developers the environmentalists say are defoliating & despoiling our planet)lives on an 11 acre spread with a 10,000+ sq ft home with beaucoup rooms & beaucoup energy usage. (Big Carbon Footprint). He yearns for some benevolent dictator to save us from ourselves, but not from himself, & preaches that we all have to march on Washington to get something done about GWT/AGW, OOPS Climate Change.

Do as I say….

Now last week's TF column was on whatever is happening to the climate as all 50 states see some snowfall.

Tom said:

Here are the points I like to stress: 1) Avoid the term ‘global warming.’ I prefer the term ‘global weirding,’ because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes.

See Breitbart

http://bigjournalism.com/chorner/2010/02/17/tom-i-me-mine-friedman-responds-to-the-global-warming-deniers-hilarity-ensues/

Tom I, me, mine Friedman responds to The Global Warming Deniers Deniers, Hilarity Ensues

AllenS said...

There was supposed to be a new bridge built over the St. Croix river replacing the current ancient bridge between Holton, WI and Stillwater, MN. It ain't been Republicans holding the project up.

Joan said...

When Friedman said the Obama agenda included deficit reduction I had to stop reading: Wait, deficit reduction? What?

Does anyone take Friedman seriously? This is the guy who regrets that our government isn't more like China's.

Mikio said...

Friedman didn't add race, YOU did, Althouse. And then you falsely accused Friedman of it. Lying, racism, and hypocrisy all tied up in one. Typical conservative.

Neil S said...

My favorite part was at the bottom of Friedman's column - "Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd are off today." Seems that Tom is tryin to fill all three roles today, and succeeding admirably.

phlyarologist said...

How long until Friedman posits what America really needs is a President-for-life, to make sure the high speed trains run on time? Let's start a betting pool!

w.v. hillereh

scary

Quaestor said...

former law student wrote:
Name six rich Canadians you have noticed fleeing their liberal paradise for medical care in the US

I wasn't challenged, but I'll zoom in anyway. Newfie premier Danny Williams springs immediately to mind. Then there's MedCan in Toronto. They have six clients, I'll bet.

wv: bleper -- a censor dedicated to the elimination of words containing ee

american girl in italy said...

by the way, i am not defending or a fan of friedman, i am just SOOO tired of the left calling everything racist, and this sounds just like something coming from msnbc or something.

"Here it is again: the "he speaks well" compliment that white people bestow on black people. It was embarrassing and hackneyed 40 years ago. But still it lives."

AllenS said...

Name 620 Mexicans who come to the US for medical care. I dare ya!

WV: cheatie

Jim S. said...

Here it is again: the "he speaks well" compliment that white people bestow on black people. It was embarrassing and hackneyed 40 years ago. But still it lives.

I don't think people who emphasize Obama's well-spokenness are subconsciously thinking, "Wow, a black guy who speaks well! Who da thunk it?" I think they're just drawing a contrast between Obama and the (unjustly) perceived illiteracy of Dubya.

Oligonicella said...

"I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty."

There was never an Obama the pragmatist, only the ideologue lefty.

Mikio --

"Typical conservative."

Althouse is not a conservative. See above quote.

Lem said...

I didn't know Friedman had a hood pass.

Peano said...

"I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue ...."

There you go again. I wonder whether you'll eventually understand your error: Scratch a pragmatist -- any pragmatist -- and you'll find an ideologue underneath.

AJ Lynch said...

The flaw in Friedman's "vision" is people are not buying the 5-6 planks in Obama's platform.

Today's American responds to a hierarchy of needs which includes the chance to work hard to own a home, the availability for a decent education, the ability to save for a secure retirement, strong national security, employment and training opportunities. Lastly, they want fairness and freedom from excessive govt and taxes.

Obama and Friedman don't get that cause they know better. So they construct super-complex and inefficent, wasteful plans to re-order America.

Mom said...

FLS, I used to live near the summer home of a very-wealthy Canadian couple who told me that a major reason they had a summer residence in the States was so they could have a home base for the US medical care that they frequently used for themselves and their children.

John Lynch said...

Why are people so hung up on "narrative"?

Narratives are not reality.

Reality is the President's problem. We are down about 10 million jobs, if you also account for population growth. No "narrative" is going to cover that up.

EK said...

“I loathe that word ‘narrative.’ It's a synonym for ‘story’ that sounds fancier and has the advantage of not also being a synonym for ‘lie.’”

I like that!

Anyway, I generally agree with the commenters here who have suggested that there never was any real substance to “Obama the Pragmatist.” That was simply an image cultivated by Obama the leftist ideologue as a candidate so that he could conceal his true colors and win the election.
As for Friedman’s desire for a narrative, I suspect Obama has had one all along: America is an irredeemably racist, imperialistic, and unjust nation that must be made to undergo a radical transformation along more postmodern, European-style social democratic lines. The narrative is both clear and simple. Unfortunately, it’s not really repeatable, is it? It’s not a narrative that is going to win the votes of people who are not true believers—people like Althouse, for instance. It’s far too sweeping, too ambitious in scope, for that. Nor is it something you can disguise by simply recasting it as “nation-building.” Friedman doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp of how unpopular his suggested theme would really be if Obama were to take it up in earnest. I expect that Obama understands, though. About the best you can do with it is what Obama is actually doing: soft pedal the whole thing and hope that too many people aren’t paying attention.

Rick Moore said...

As I recall the main knock on Bush was he couldn't speak clearly and stumbled over his words. Some even called him stupid.

And yet, none of us had difficulty understanding what his goals and objectives were or where he wanted to take the country.

Obama can't do that.

The Crack Emcee said...

Translation:

One idiot talking about another.

Why you'd pay attention to the dumbshits of the world - even if they have a column in the NYT - puzzles me.

Fred4Pres said...

Tommy Friedman, of the manor born.

Or married into.

charliemax said...

What's wrong with "heads I win, tails you lose."

Turtledove said...

If only Obama would be more like the "enlightened" Chinese. Then he could just drive tanks over the Tea Party protesters.

Mikio said...

Oligonicella said...
Mikio --

"Typical conservative."

Althouse is not a conservative. See above quote.


Wrong. She's deemed a conservative blogger even by other conservative bloggers for a reason -- because she is. She didn't vote for Obama. She voted for her own blog gimmick. She does nothing but attack, mock, and complain about him on this blog and her making a big to-do about having voted "for" him has given the impression over the past year or so of a more balanced outlook and bonafides behind the complaints. And her fellow conservatives eat this up. Sure she has to put up with reminders of "Well, you voted for him," but these are water off a duck's back and as meaningless to her I'm sure as getting called fat is to a proudly trim and fit person or getting called dumb is to a confidently smart person because she knows they don't apply. She didn't actually vote for him the way they think. She just has to keep the real reason a secret.

EDH said...

I may have to disagee with Althouse on this small point.

By the way, I loathe that word "narrative." It's a synonym for "story" that sounds fancier and has the advantage of not also being a synonym for "lie."

I think "narrative" in this context is a useful pejorative to describe an unorignal thought, the refuge an in-the-tank partisan speaker will seek when confronted with uncomfortable facts.

A "story" connotes something much more original and personal, even when recounted in the third person.

I suppose a closest approximation between the two would be "story-line."

Flexo said...

Obama "speaks so well" yet he "can’t come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics."

And Sarah Palin speaks like a blithering idiot, yet she can come up with two clear, simple repeatable words to explain ObamaCare and derail it -- death panels.

twinsdaddy said...

Tom Shales, Eugene Robinson, Tom Friedman and now the National Enquirer is under consideration...to paraphrase the pirate in the "Princess Bride".."Pulitzer....I don't think it means what you think it means".

Old Dad said...

Mikio,

When did they start teaching mind reading in junior high?

Mikio said...

Old Dad -

Obviously you don't want what I said to be true, so for you it never will be. It's much preferable for Obama haters like you to think Althouse's incessant complaining about him is all Johnny-come-lately stuff and you feel smugly satisfied for having "known" all along what this law professor is only still "discovering."

Jim said...

fls -

"Do you? Name six rich Canadians you have noticed fleeing their liberal paradise for medical care in the US."

How much time do you have?

Pretty much all the Canadian celebrities move to the US to enjoy all the joys of the best healthcare their riches can enjoy.

Just try Googling "Canadian celebrities" and we can talk about how many of them choose to remain in Canada to take advantage of their wonderful healthcare as opposed to moving to the United States and taking advantage of ours.

Oops...That's more like 600, and not just 6 so that's probably a lot more homework than you were ready to do.

Jim said...

mikio -

"Well spoken" is just about the most common "code word" for "uppity negro" that there is. Remember how offended Obama's supporters when even members of the Democratic Party used it?

Now we're supposed to believe that the same people who are telling us that "professor" is some sort of super-secret racist code word don't understand the implication of claiming that Obama is "well-spoken"?

Sorry. That pig's not gonna fly.

XWL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikio said...

Jim said...
mikio -

"Well spoken" is just about the most common "code word" for "uppity negro" that there is.


So it doesn't matter if it's true that Obama is more articulate than than most, even most white politicians, no white person can ever express such a sentiment about a fellow human being if that person happens to be black without being considered having made a racist remark according to the likes of you and Althouse? Talk about PC police, geez. That's another conservative hypocrisy -- political correctness. Don't get me started.

madawaskan said...

He isn't a great speaker-he just sounds "good" to Biden, Reid et al. Somehow that was translated by the press into- He's a great orator. I fell something up my leg! For awhile I forgot he was black![ quotes all Liberals btw-which tells you Liberals really don't listen to him or to content.]

He's not. He's boring as hell because he'll say whatever is put out in front of him.

And, people who voted for him thinking there would be some kind of check on him with Reid, Pelosi and more importantly a Liberal press are sadly mistaken.

About the only one trying to point out his contradictory statements is Victor Davis Hanson.

Obama is a bad speaker because he lacks conviction he doesn't believe in anything other than perhaps- himself.

If everyone wants to believe the myth-Obama the Great Orator go right ahead-but you're starting off with a shotty premise.

madawaskan said...

Correction: make that I *feel* something up my leg!

AJ Lynch said...

EDH:

Yes that's it..Susan Molinari.

former law student said...

I'd like to thank everyone who provided concrete examples of Canadian health care bordercrossers. The Danny Williams case is especially egregious.

The article I found was from the beginning of the month. Perhaps the professor could blog about it?

PWS said...

Ann, I'm not detecting much neutrality here. I don't think you're a righty but I don't recall any critique when the Bush Administration shoved down our gullet: torture, listening in on conversations w/o a warrant, letting government atrophy so it wasn't ready for Katrina, etc.

And what is Obama selling that is so unAmerican, so distasteful? Let's help everyone be healthy? Let's honor the Constitution while maintaining our security?

Obama has made it farther into his term than Bush w/o an attack.

Quaestor said...

PWS wrote:
Ann, I'm not detecting much neutrality here.

Pot, meet kettle...

Bruce Hayden said...

I think President Obama, and all his minions and sycophants maybe really thought that he was bipartisan and moderate. After all, he probably is by their standards. It is just that a distinct majority of America does not live in the biggest cities or work in academia. And he sounded so calm and collected when McCain starting running every which way during the banking crisis.

As has been pointed out above, by now most of us realize that the reason that Obama can't come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics is that the only simple repeatable narrative would be that he wants to push us as quickly as possible into a Fascist type (as contrasted with a communist type) socialist Utopia. And that the people he has around him are so much smarter than the rest of us that they are far better able to plan out our lives for us than we are.

Somehow that narrative just doesn't sell to much of the American public.

For a narrative to work for very long, esp. with today's communications, is for it to hold a fair amount of truth. So, for example, his cutting spending isn't resonating, since it only applies to maybe 13% of the budget. And his bi-partisan health reform summit isn't going to work as a gimmick, since the Democratic Congressional leadership has announced that they are going to Rahm reform through, utilizing reconciliation.

And, so, by now, a lot of the American public has gotten to the point that they distrust pretty much anything that he says. This happens to some extent with most Presidents, but happened in record time with this one. So, any clear, simple, repeatable narrative he or his people might come up with now is going to be subject to intense scrutiny and suspicion.

It might have worked if he had been honest from the start. But slamming through the "stimulus" bill that only stimulated government employment and paychecks, or blaming the omnibus budget he signed with the 8,000 on Bush(43), when it was drafted and passed by Democrat controlled Congresses, etc. have not helped his reputation for honesty. And this is especially true when it comes to "health care reform", where just paying for the legal uninsured who can't afford coverage would have been a fraction of the trillions being proposed. Throw in all the broken promises, and he has a serious credibility problem.

PWS said...

Quaestor, I don't understand your comment. I don't claim to be neutral as Ann does.

Quaestor said...

Neutrality is lefty code for "Shut up, you old meanie! Your logic and facts injure my self esteem"

Example: net neutrality

Peano said...

John Lynch said..."Why are people so hung up on 'narrative'? Narratives are not reality."

Some are reality, some not. But narratives are how we make sense of a huge chunk of the reality we live.

You say, "Reality is the President's problem." I agree. And if you explain your sense of that reality, your explanation will be a narrative. Try explaining it without relating a narrative and you'll see what I mean.

If you loathe the word narrative, as Ann does, use story instead. If you loathe the false stories created by charlatans like Obambi, tell a more accurate story. But don't imagine that the events of our time -- or any other time -- can be grasped without resorting to the narrative form.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

I have to take issue with your premise that saying someone speaks well is racist. There are lots of people who speak so well, especially actors and those trained in public speaking and broadcasting and they come in every color, every ethnicity.

The problem is Obama has one of those trained-sounding speaking voices, but he only speaks well when reading lines. He is horrible off teleprompter. And just like actors and broadcasters, most of the time he lulls with the sound of his voice to camouflage that there is no substance or even original ideas being said.

snarfo_99 said...

Hey, let's vote for the Republicans. I think it's great that they ruined every financial instrument in the country and everything they've had to say on the subject since indicates definitively that they intend to keep on with the same old policies that got us here in the first place.

Hey, so what if the country is on the verge of ruin. All we need are a few fifty year old bromides from the Gipper and everything's going to be great again!!!

Idiots.

Michael Redbourn said...

"I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty".

Obama was a member of the New Party (communist) just 13 years ago and until it got shut down by the courts.

This information was readily available and anyone that voted for OB without knowing it, was lazy and didn't check him out.

http://www.ourchangingglobe.com/obama-now-linked-to-far-left-new-party/

Ellen K said...

Well at least this compares with the president's presumption that if Americans were just as smart as he was we would understand his legislation and support it. Part of the problem with Washington is that it has become the dinosaur graveyard for Ivy League graduates that can't find honest work. They assume their old school ties confer infallibility which is particularly ironic when you look back to see that the majority of the leaders who supported bad loans in the public and private sector sport these degrees. This is also a backhanded comment every bit as dismissive as Obama's campaign comment about conservatives in the middle of America clinging to religion and guns. It's as if once you cross the Potomac the entire nation is engaged in a mass revival of "Deliverance." This attitude of ignoring or denigrating the opinions of middle class, flyover state America is the Big Disconnect for this administration. Repackaging bad legislation with new paint and tires is not going to get us to buy it. As for Obama the candidate, don't you wonder if some of the questions posed about his background now were asked back when he began to run if he would have made it past the primaries? It was a media moment, wherein the media loved the casting of the young, hip, black guy against the old, grouchy white guy-sort of an updated take on "Dennis the Menace." But now after the fact more and more who voted for Obama are expressing voters' remorse. Maybe next time you will ask more serious questions and expect more substantive answer. As for me, I didn't bite at that bait.

janemariemd said...

It turns out that "Obama the Pragmatist" is really only that way about his political career, and really only when his back is against the wall. Then, he throws people under the bus, and/or makes deals to ensure his political survival.

Bob Schena said...

And your evidence for this.."I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty" was....what? There was none, of course. Just a phantasmaghorical projection by you and millions of others. The rest of us are left to shovel up the mess after the parade goes by.
Thanks....Bob Schena

infinitely_ltd said...

I realize we're not China, but China's had thousands of years to perfect nation-building, while we're barely into our 14th month. Cut us some slack, Mr. Friedman. "Always with them negative waves, Moriarty!"

Still, i did find something cheery at the end of Mr. Friedman's article. The very last line:

"Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd are off today."

WV: comica: just short of completely comical. e.g., "today the white house reported (insert comica here)..."

Kensington said...

"I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, not Obama the Ideologue or Obama the Lefty."

Obama the Pragmatist is the guy who says "well, if we can't ram healthcare "reform" through via the respectable process, we'll have to ram it through via the sneaky, duplicitious process."

Michael said...

I don't actually think he does speak that well. One, off the cuff he talks in circles. He's not nearly as clear as Reagan, or FDR, or Churchill or Mark Twain or any number of other people who knew how to zing straight to the point.

Secondly, his speeches are filled with rhetorical flab-- all that false choices crap, all that "I didn't come here to do X," etc. He has a PR guy's grasp of how to fill airtime with sonority more than a brilliant politician's sense of how to get them on their feet.

What was the old Greek or Roman saying-- "When Demosthenes spoke they said, how beautiful he speaks; but when Pericles spoke, they said, let us invade Sparta." I'm sure I totally bungled history there, my apologies, but you get the idea.

infinitely_ltd said...

Bob Schena said: "And your evidence for this.."I voted for Obama the Pragmatist, .....was....what?"
Here ya go Bob:

Pragmatist: "I give me a solid B+"
Ideologue: "While grades are not a complete reflection of presidential success...A+++"

Pragmatist: "I'd rather be a really good one term president.."
Ideologue: "..the last sun king reigned for 72 years..."

BTW- I like the way phantasmagorical projection rolls off the tongue. Nice one!

WV: bipartisan: We did it my way.

Ian Kinzel said...

"Obama the ideologue"? What ideologue? We're talking about a president who:

*Converted over a third of the original stimulus package into tax cuts to appease Senate Republicans, watering down the bill's effectiveness by nearly a third;

*Abandoned the health care public option at every opportunity, thereby increasing the cost of the health care bill - all the while giving the GOP tort reform and sale of insurance across state lines;

*Has dithered on repealing DADT for over a year;

*Capitulated to Republicans in proposing a non-defense discretionary spending freeze, which will cost us MORE jobs down the line...even though it's defense spending and mandatory spending that are fueling our deficit; and

*Escalated the war in Afghanistan, and actually increased defense spending beyond Bush-era levels.

Just think about it...there's a reason why Democratic turnout was so low in the Massachusetts Senate race. Liberals are fed up with th Obama administration, because they see the president caving in to conservatives time and time again without ever getting anything tangible in return.

As a self-professed liberal ideologue, I can say with 100% certainty that Obama is not one of us. Any notion of Obama as an "ideologue" is merely a caricature, without any basis in fact. Anybody peddling this myth has no interest in telling or learning the truth.

kcom said...

"Secondly, his speeches are filled with rhetorical flab-- all that false choices crap, all that "I didn't come here to do X," etc."

Did you hear that along with Michelle Obama's vegetable garden they also built a barn out back of the White House to take delivery of all the straw the president needs. Those straw man arguments he's forever constructing don't make themselves. Fortunately, he has whole barnful of raw material to work with when he needs it.

madrid said...

It required an especially disturbing denial mechanism to vote for Obama!Hope and Change are classic textbook populist disraction and independent voters like yourself bought it hook,line and sinker.This is only going to get worst,so organize and deal w/it!

Paul said...

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...The problem is Obama has one of those trained-sounding speaking voices, but he only speaks well when reading lines.
<<
I'm not an Obama fan, but did you watch him at the Republican retreat, answering questions extemporaneously? I didn't agree with all he had to say, but he said it well. I do agree that his speaking manner gets grating after a while. There's this rising and falling inflection in every sentence--I don't know how to describe it exactly--that's very repetitive. When he says things like "It must be done, and it will be done," he sounds like Ramses in the "Ten Commandments." (Rameses: "So let it be written, so let it be done.")

Also, Obama DOES have a "narrative" on health care. Every time he's questioned about why it's so unpopular and why he can't get it passed, he says, "What keeps me going is all the stories I read in the letters I get . . . " and then tells a few sad stories. That's the narrative--people's sad stories.

traditionalguy said...

The Obamphenoma are so very puzzling to Friedmans of the media world who assume that Obama wants to see a successful USA. Of course by watching the results, Obama wants to rig the USA for total demolition in every way he can. Once you view Obama's actions within that setting, you can see Obama as the smooth pragmatism that the the Professor sensed in him. He will get the job done, so help him Karl Marx.

Penny said...

Friedman may be coming at this from a liberal's point of view, but his conclusion is no different than that of a conservative. The conclusion is that Obama is NOT doing a good job.

Ben said...

In some ways I think Obama is a worse "speaker" than Bush. Yes, Obama uses bigger words and more complicated structures, and obviously loves the flourish. But he seems chronically incapable of expressing simple points that appeal to our universal values. For all of Bush's malapropisms and awkwardness, you could usually understand what he was saying and why.

Obama's rhetorical heroes -- JFK, FDR, Lincoln, et al -- were all masters of making style and substance resonate (as was Reagan). When they used dramatic prose, it was almost always to emphasize a very clear argument for an easily understandable position. Obama, on the other hand, seems to have neither a coherent position nor a compelling argument for it.

damikesc said...

FLS, ask UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar how great his care in Canada was.

As for Ann being a conservative, that is laughable. I can buy Libertarian, but conservative? Anybody who buys that knows little about conservatism. She doesn't seem enthralled by social conservatism.

But thank God the current batch of progressives can comprehend that disagreement is not identical to hatred.

Peano said...

Ian Kinzel said ... "As a self-professed liberal ideologue, I can say with 100% certainty that Obama is not one of us."

You confuse means with ends. Obama has made his ideological ends clear: Massive redistribution of wealth, massive new government power over people's lives, etc.

You can (and obviously do) disagree with Obama about the best way to reach those ends. But if you think he compromises with Republicans because he shares their philosophical principles, you are living in some weird, parallel universe.

corpesmen said...

He speaks so well from a teleprompter...kind of like a high tech writing on you hand although someone else writes it for you. Ask any Corpes men
Stinky (BO) is actually a poor auitor if its off the cuff and he doesnt have the box in front of him. A lot of ahs and stammering.

Chad said...

Ann, I don't understand what you think it is that Obama is trying to do that is unexpected. It seems to me that the Democratic bills working their way through Congress are almost exactly the type of thing one should have expected, and therefore you voted for in 2008. The health care bill consists of nothing more than long-overdue baby steps that would still leave us (by far) with the most right-wing health care system of any advanced nation (if you disagree, kindly point out the health care system that is even further right). The next push is on energy, where nothing that has a remote chance of passing will put us even where Europe or Japan have been for decades, nor be anywhere near what scientists are calling for. Indeed, pretty much everything Obama and congress has proposed has been a great centrist muddle.

damikesc said...

Nice to see Chad not spending one moment asking if the assorted health care systems actually working well and providing the advances the US churns out but, rather, obsessing that our care doesn't suck too.

That most people oppose your goal might be a problem. And if the Dems decide to go the reconciliation route to pass ot, it will die just as quickly.

Joe said...

I don't think Obama speaks well at all. It's yet another thing people seeing what they want to see. As Michael says without a script, he talks in circles, with a script he says very little. And he has a very annoying cadence and his voice rises and falls in weird spots.

damikesc said...

Ill go ahead and say it. Obama might be the dullest speaker we have had as President. Speeches just blend together into meaningless gabber. He's an overly wordy high school graduation speaker.

traditionalguy said...

The narrative is that Obama wants the USA to live peacefully in a world where wars cost money better spent on public welfare entitlements. OK, that's standard left wing democrat interest politics. So please explain why Obama for no reason seems dedicated to pissing off the Chinese by sending massive arms sales to Taiwan and symbolically fight the Chinese in the Dalai Llamas ongoing insurrection against China. The same time he has his Agencies skewer the Toyota company while leaving the US open to suspicion in Japan that the head of GM is out to screw Japan. That is very pragmatic of Obama IF you assume Obama wants to destroy what the last 6o years of American diplomacy has done to strengthen America's influence in the Orient.

former law student said...

FLS, ask UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar how great his care in Canada was.

Brock Lesnar went hunting in Canada after being told by US physicians he had mono. He refused a CT scan the US physicians wanted to run to make sure. (A true Republican would be suspicious of unnecessary "defensive medicine" tests, right?)

But while he was hunting, Lesnar had an attack of what proved to be diverticulitis. Lesnar's beef with Canadian health care, according to the Vancouver Sun, was that the clinic in Brandon, Manitoba (pop. 41K) lacked an MRI machine.

So, Lesnar's experience teaches us that rural outposts do not contain full-service hospitals.

Recovering Lutheran said...

A "clear, simple, repeatable narrative" - like "Four legs good, two legs b-a-a-a-a-a-d", perhaps?

Better a mindless chant rather than getting the unwashed heathen rabble up in arms over higher taxes, decreased quality of care, death panels, rationed care, and other "hodge-podge of details". Don't the proles know what's good for them?

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Congrats on the RCP link love!

ImTheShaggyOne said...

As soon as I read "speaks so well" the first thing I thought of was Chris Rock. I'm so happy you posted that. Hahahaha.

Californian said...

I like this site.

Duscany said...

I don't know what's racist about saying someone "speaks well." No one would consider it racist to say Rush Limbaugh speaks well and Ron Paul does not. I guess when someone is (half) black like Obama, you just can't mention his speaking ability, even if it's only to lament how little he does with it.

Peano said...

"Here it is again: the 'he speaks well' compliment that white people bestow on black people."

Oh, my. This really is a gratuitous invention, Ann, and a most unbecoming piece of psychologizing on your part. For shame.

Ian Kinzel said...

Directed at Peano:

What "massive redistribution"? The only redistributive scheme I can see so far is a prospective 4.6% income tax increase on the top bracket - and given the way Obama has folded on everything else, I wouldn't be surprised if even that changes a year from now.

Whether it's the health care bill, or cap-and-trade, etc., I can't think of anything Obama's pushed with any vigor that wasn't originally the product of some bipartisan compromise. Just look at the work Tom Daschle has done with Howard Baker and Bob Dole to put together a hypothetical health care bill; it looks almost exactly like Obama's proposal.

If that makes Baker and Dole massive redistributionists, too, then you are the one living in some bizarro fantasy world revolving around anti-government paranoia. Give me a break.

md4palin said...

Chris Rock is a racist idiot.

President Bush was called stupid, moron andretarded because he was not a great public speaker.

Speaking well does not = intellegence and competency.

and Obama cannot speak well unless he has the text in front of him on a teleprompter.

OBAMA READS WELL.

Bill said...

Actually, what the "speaks so well" characterization brought to my mind was the remark distinguishing classical orators:

When Aeschines spoke, they said, “How well he speaks.” But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, “Let us march against Philip.”

Kip said...

former lawstudent - start with this one, just the latest high-profile Canadian to come to the US when health care is life or death. genius.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/759760

g2loq said...

Mooslimes have a very special fine tuning in store for Friedman's circumcision.

This is where he lives in Bethesda:
http://tinyurl.com/yc2ffk4

NAJs have learned nothin' from history.

tim said...

i'm buying my daughter a teleprompter for her birthday! (do you know if they come in pairs?)

Big Mike said...

First of all, Obama doesn't speak really well. He has weird pauses where you'd expect a continuous narrative, and his second-most heavily used word, after "I" has to be "um."

Secondly, as regards Obama's politics maybe it's best that he "can't come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative ...," because from what I can infer from his politics, he is well to the left of the mainstream American voter and his polling numbers would only drop farther and faster.

Finally, as regards healthcare, I'd like to know whether either Friedman or Obama even understands everything that's in either version of the bill. So why are they pushing it? How do they know it's any good?

AndyfromChapelHill said...

It takes 3 years after college to become a lawyer.

To be trained as a manager and executive with a MBA from a top 20 school, it takes 4 years in college, 3-5 years of on-the-job work experience and two years of 70-hour work weeks in B-school.

Obama has never been trained to be a decision maker and he has never been in an executive position before.

He simply does not know what to do to fullfil the office of the POTUS and has no education or experience to guide him.

pete in NY said...

You can stay "s..t" with all the expressiveness and polish of a Shakespearean actor but it is still "s..t".

Despite the teleprompters people reject Obama's message because they reject his policies and ideology.

It's the content , stupid!

Alex said...

Shorter Friedman - "all style, no substance".

John Galt said...

"Last night our president delivered his first official state of the union address: he was brilliant. Years from now speech instructors will be playing tapes of his speeches for their students; in fact; it’s probably happening already on many college campuses. Years from now books will be written compiling many of his speeches; some given even before he became one of the most historic of all our presidents. From here on in Barack Obama will be the standard by which great speakers are measured. He is undoubtedly one of the best public speakers ever (especially from a prepared script)."

A better review comes from Dennis Miller on his daily radio show "Obama is a guy who just keeps talking until he thinks of something to say".

Barak Obama has been an empty suit from the git-go. He's no salesman. He and his Chicago crew pulled a "sting" on the U.S. voters better than any movie starring Newman and Redford could do.

Obama is a card trick artist who can't even do a 3 card molly the right way.

Chuckleheads like Friedman strut around with their self-congratulatory airs, thinking they are the sharpest guys in the room. The ability to write and construct sentences does not imply that the person is intelligent.

Americans want a leader with common sense, good judgment and the ability to build confidence that they demonstrate through their actions, not through a bunch of flowery language read off a teleprompter. Bad thing is we have to wait 3 more years to have a chance to find someone to fit the bill.

Peano said...

Ian Kinzel said... Directed at Peano: What "massive redistribution"?

Ah, Kinzel, now you confuse accomplishments with goals. I didn't say that Obama had achieved redistribution. I said it is clearly one of his ideologically driven goals.

You have to read the words, Kinzel. All the words. If you don't like his means, fine. If you're unhappy with what he has achieved, fine again. But his goals are all born of a far-left ideology.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yes. I'm sure the Framers feel so disrespected by the Interstate Highway System that Eisenhower implemented and ongoing efforts to keep that and our other physical infrastructure from falling into disrepair.

They must have put something really strong in your crack pipe this morning, Althouse!

And BTW, nice way to piss on the study of history with your arrogant dismissal of the concept of narrative.

jckc44 said...

"(By the way, I loathe that word "narrative." It's a synonym for "story" that sounds fancier and has the advantage of not also being a synonym for "lie.")"

After reading your aside (which I found quite insightful and amusing) about the word "narrative," one of Joseph Goebbels most famous quotes came to mind.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

I'm not trying to be demagogic, but it does make you go, Hmmm.

DavidD said...

Obama’s supporters call him a pragmatist like that’s supposed to be a good thing.

From The Ominous Parallels, p. 53:

Thinkers for decades had been saturated with the Kantian view that facts “in themselves” are unknowable, and with the voluntarist view that action has primacy over thought. As a result, a growing chorus—helped along by Schopenhauer, Marx, and Nietzsche, among others—began to suggest that men should dispense with any concern for facts or reality. Ideas, it was increasingly claimed, all ideas, are merely subjective tools designed to serve human purposes; if, therefore, an idea leads in action to desirable consequences, i.e., to the sorts of consequences desired by its advocates, it should be accepted as true on that ground alone, without reference to the (unknowable) facts of reality.

This new approach reached its climax and found its enduring name in America, in the writings of William James. James called it: pragmatism.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

And Joseph Goebbels also: ate food, walked and talked, possessed DNA (at least insofar as anyone knows), and wore clothes.

I suppose anyone else who does the same will be subject to the same damn, ridiculous reductio ad Hitlerum that jckc just performed.

Are you proud of turning the study of history into fodder for Nazi-obsessed conspiracy theorists, Ann? What does historiography, personally, mean to you? Anything at all? Do you even know what it means? Or are historians as contemptible to you as scientists are? Is their methodology just as mysterious and foreboding?

This perversion of how an understanding of human history is achieved is simply deplorable. And given the naked political motivations behind it, execrable.

former law student said...

to the manor born

The shopping mall company Friedman's inlaws built up from nothing over the past half-century went Chapter 11 a year ago.

The bursting of the RE bubble sinks all boats.

The Simon-DeBartolo shopping mall empire may buy them out however.

Until then, spend your surplus cash at a General Growth Properties mall near you, so that Friedman does not have to sell hot dogs part-time from a cart in Times Square.

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...History is written by the victors, and we are very close to narratives becoming the only truth permitted. Have you ever noticed how fast the Muslim paranoid style of psyops coming out in middle eastern groups rewrites of every news narrative we hear about 6 hours later? Palin even practices leadership via FaceBook now. And, BTW, General Eisenhower while he was briefly President only built a network of military roads. It is so funny when a long slow truck convoy from Ft Benning going to Ft Stewart or Ft Bragg on the Interstate makes people mad? The civilians are the ones interfering on someone else's road.

former law student said...

to the manor born

The shopping mall company Friedman's inlaws built up from nothing over the past half-century went Chapter 11 a year ago.

The bursting of the RE bubble sinks all boats.

The Simon-DeBartolo shopping mall empire may buy them out however.

Until then, spend your surplus cash at a General Growth Properties mall near you, so that Friedman does not have to sell hot dogs part-time from a cart in Times Square.

Nietzsche said...

Has anybody considered that B.O. doesn't WANT to come right out and admit his "narrative" since it would reveal that the upshot is to get reliable and responsible citizens to keep paying in order to permit irresponsible behavior to continue. Take healthcare. B.O. wants a healthcare system that admits people who have "preexisting" conditions, but under his plan, there should be no such people---everyone, once this gets going, is supposed to be required to have health ensurance. Of course there are very slight fines and no mechanisms for collecting them in the bills. Therefore, once again, it seems the real upshot of B.O.'s healthcare is to reward the irresponsible! The reliable and law-abiding citizenry are to pay so that the others can keep getting on and off healthcare when it suits them--and the healthcare companies are required to permit this! The same can be said of cash for clunkers, bailouts, and the rest.

former law student said...

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Ex:

Death panels
Obama is a socialist
ACORN helps madams open houses of prostitution staffed with underaged Central Americans

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Ritmo...History is written by the victors,

Years after the victory of any given war, many parties are permitted to provide evidence possibly lost or overlooked. And sometimes immediately during that war.

And is there such a thing as non-military history to your mind?

In most of the things history looks at, there are either no clear winners, or victory is a moot point.

and we are very close to narratives becoming the only truth permitted.

Do you know what the word "narrative", provided in a historical context, even means?

Have you ever noticed how fast the Muslim paranoid style of psyops coming out in middle eastern groups rewrites of every news narrative we hear about 6 hours later?

You'll have to clarify. What is this even supposed to mean? There's a lot of paranoia and conspiracy-mongering in the East, as there is on Fox News. But I don't listen to either. On the other hand, al Jazeera is starting to provide the East with its own, half-way respectable news organization. But as I said, you'll have to clarify what you mean by this statement.

Palin even practices leadership via FaceBook now.

If you consider her whipping up a conservative-populist fringe "leadership", and the middle school environment provided by Facebook, "politics", then I'll grant you a point. But I don't subscribe to those definitions.

And, BTW, General Eisenhower while he was briefly President only built a network of military roads. It is so funny when a long slow truck convoy from Ft Benning going to Ft Stewart or Ft Bragg on the Interstate makes people mad? The civilians are the ones interfering on someone else's road.

Do you have evidence that Eisenhower signed the bill with the intention of excluding civilians, or is this anti-civilian swipe just a way to let off some needed snark?

Graham said...

Ian Kinzel is disingenuous.

He would point out that a tax increase from 96% to 100% is merely a 4.2% increase.

Kaz said...

I think what Friedman is trying to say is:

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Kirk Parker said...

"Obama is a guy who just keeps talking until he thinks of something to say"

Huh? I thought that was Biden.

Knumb said...

Obama doesn't speak well, he reads a teleprompter well.

Further, when in his political career was he pragmatic? Doesn't pragmatism imply accomplishment?

Maybe, after the last few clowns, the US will start electing presidents based on their records, not their promises.

(Shh... don't tell anyone... politicians will say anything to get elected)

Revenant said...

The remark wasn't racist.

It was, however, much closer to BEING racist than the last thousand or so remarks Obama's associates have insisted were racist. :)

Estragon said...

The massive redistribution is being programmed into the future with huge unsustainable debt, at greater ratio to GDP than we needed to pay for WWII.

Democratic liberals have been portraying themselves as centrists and/or pragmatists since McGovern went down in flames on a straight liberal campaign. In that sense, Obama's posture was not unique. It only becomes different because of the degree to which his policies contradict his rhetoric.

I must hand it to Friedman, though: to make as much money as he has as a commentator on political subjects with so little actual insight to offer is brilliant marketing - like that which gave us President Obama.

From Inwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
From Inwood said...

Failed, if I may use his first name, that is, tries to sidebar:

The shopping mall company Friedman's inlaws built up from nothing over the past half-century went Chapter 11 a year ago.

fls Big Lie: he wants us to think that, QED, Tom has reduced his carbon footprint.

Maybe Tom'll move to Canada. Except that he'll come back here for his medical treatments.

Here's a version of fls's "name six people...." game:

Name six relatives of Tom Friedman who, as a result of Chapt. 11 (not Chapt. 7, fls probably wasn’t a, um, student of the difference), have reduced the size of their respective carbon footprint to the extent that hypocritical Tom F would have all Good People do.

fls Big Lie: that he, fls, was ever a student of anything other than Leftist propaganda.

Oh, & those ACORN Videos, I guess he failed to study Evidence also.

And fls doesn't like it when Conservatives come up with a memorable description like Death Panels. Dems have these descriptions trademarked, right?

And Strawman alert: we’re supposed to be happy that tho The One is a far-out Leftist, he's, well none dare call him Socialist. How about far-out Leftist, but Pragmatist? Huh? Was fls out ranting when Bush 43 was called a racist warmonger, or was that just an acceptable bit of exuberance?

sub said...

Who cares if he reads well from a teleprompter? If the sound of his voice is pleasing? Is that what people now identify as "great" communication? Ronald Reagan "spoke well" via the words chosen, his delivery, but subsequent actions that supported the content of his message were the all important aspect. Obama reads well, but in terms of mettle he is all over the place. He has broken so many promises, one doesn't even know where to begin. Aa a communicator and a leader, this guy is a zero.....

Bill Eastland said...

For me, I find Obama one of the most boring speakers of this generation. 'Hot air' comes to mind. For contrast, I direct readers to view the vids of George Will and Glenn Beck at CPAC this last weekend. No teleprompters, no tennis match. Will was disciplined and prepared. He had notes but hardly referenced them. His speech was informative, funny, inspirational and it kept your attention. Beck's style was that of the great speechifiers of the pre-electronic age. It was dramatic, emotional--and riveting. No notes, all from his head. Obama can't hold a candle to these guys. Every Obama speech sounds canned, even when the rhetoric soars. But after a bit, you realize he really hasn't said anything--there is no there there.

James said...

Hmmm..so Canadians flock from to the US for health care do they?

http://medicinesocialjustice.blogspot.com/2009/12/tommy-douglas-and-canadian-health.html

kentuckyliz said...

According to Harry Reid, Obama can turn on the negro dialect when he wants to.

rhhardin said...

ret**ded

I'm trying go guess which bodily function this is.

g2loq said...

I found it, I found it!
A guy called Ezra Klein. The mooslime will fine tune his circumcision, soon.
Here:
http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=01&year=2008&base_name=obamas_gift

........Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence...
... sob!

Mikio said...

Right-wingers parrot the teleprompter meme because it's code for their attitude about black intelligence in general. It's a collective feel-good wink-wink-nudge-nudge superiority joke among them whether they recognize it or not.

Nevermind that Obama alone schooled the GOP so effectively without a teleprompter a few weeks ago Fox News had to cut the broadcast short because it was too embarrassing for them.

Such facts contradicting right-wing parrot talk are an inconvenient truth about their ridiculously errant worldview.

rhhardin said...

Right wingers seem to feel okay about Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams...

Mikio said...

Right wingers seem to feel okay about Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams...

Emphasis on the word "seem."

american girl in italy said...

So your defense is quoting Chris Rock who insults people with Down Syndrome?

Now, I agree with Chris to a point - I am reminded of a story Oprah did years ago about an AA lawyer who took a job at an elite club, and the guests asked why he was a waiter because he was so well spoken. Or when Biden called Obama articulate, or when Reid said Obama didn't have a negro accent.

But I don't think the example in this story fits those situations. As I said, Obama has been hailed as the world's best speaker by almost everyone on the planet. (personally, I don't think he is... he can read a good speech, but most often he is boring, and says uh way too much.)

The example I linked to above, http://tinyurl.com/yac4r74
the writer hailed obama the best speaker in the world, and he is African American. Are white people not allowed to acknowledge Obama's great speaking ability?

From Inwood said...

James @ 2/22 @5:39

We can Google too.

See, for instance, contra your citation:

Number of Canadians on waiting lists for referrals to specialists or for medical services–875,000.

It would appear that Canadians with sufficient financial means are seeking medical treatment in a country where such waiting lists exist only in the the fond dreams of single-payer advocates.

And what about the Canadians who don’t have the money to come here for care? I guess they just pray that their illnesses don’t kill them before the vaunted Canadian system can fit them in.


http://www.healthcarebs.com/2007/09/03/canadians-running-to-us-for-health-care/

Yes, there are commenters on this site who argue with this article (there are no comments on your article's site), but here's a supporting one damning Canadian Healthcare:

Canadians, and other peoples more civilized than we are, can afford to be smug about their “rational” healthcare systems to at least some extent because the “irrational” American healthcare system exists. Their richer citizens can come here for care, thus decompressing what otherwise might be a powerful voice for change. Non-American companies can invent healthcare products, knowing that a market exists for selling those products at a profit - it exists here. Most importantly, American ingenuity percolates to other nations over time (often at famously discounted prices), so there is indeed continued medical progress in countries like Canada. It’s just that this progress is subsidized by the American taxpayer.

If the great American engine of healthcare progress should finally fail (by, say, adopting a Canadian-like system), healthcare will change radically not only here, but all over the world.

From Inwood said...

Mikio @8:15 AM 2/22/10

Go to a dictionary & look up the word

"Meiosis".

Mikio said...

Inwood -

Mikio @8:15 AM 2/22/10

Go to a dictionary & look up the word

"Meiosis".


I know what he meant. I was responding to his dose of sarcasm with an equal dose of it.

infinitely_ltd said...

Mikio,

Left-wingers parrot the racist meme because it's code for their attitude about black intelligence in general. It's a collective feel-good wink-wink-nudge-nudge superiority joke among them whether they recognize it or not. Noted examples: "left-wingers" Bill Clinton, Harry Reid, Joe Biden.

Nevermind that MSNBC cut their broadcast of the president short when he told people to turn off...MSNBC. Because it was too embarrassing for them? Why not go ahead and lump ALL networks as right-wing?

Such facts contradicting left-wing parrot talk are an inconvenient truth about their ridiculously errant worldview.

One could say any or all of those things, if being accurate were unimportant. But, one is aware that those are stereotyping statements, and that's prejudicial, and one wouldn't do that.

WV: yolonsis: typical right-winger's idea of the president's greeting when meeting Lonsis.(see Mikio)

LordSomber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
From Inwood said...

Mikio @11:13 AM


"Meiosis".

I know what he meant. I was responding to his dose of sarcasm with an equal dose of it.


Sorry, you failed.

Mikio said...

infinitely_ltd -

Left-wingers parrot the racist meme because it's code for their attitude about black intelligence in general. It's a collective feel-good wink-wink-nudge-nudge superiority joke among them whether they recognize it or not. Noted examples: "left-wingers" Bill Clinton, Harry Reid, Joe Biden.

Your attempt to cite three exceptions does nothing to refute my generalization about right-wingers.

Nevermind that MSNBC cut their broadcast of the president short when he told people to turn off...MSNBC. Because it was too embarrassing for them? Why not go ahead and lump ALL networks as right-wing?

Your attempt to cite one seemingly anti-Obama moment on MSNBC as if I would form a generalization from it that they’re right-wing compared to the daily and nightly onslaught from Fox is really lame.

Such facts contradicting left-wing parrot talk are an inconvenient truth about their ridiculously errant worldview.

Wrong. They did nothing of the kind because they never left the station. See above.

One could say any or all of those things, if being accurate were unimportant. But, one is aware that those are stereotyping statements, and that's prejudicial, and one wouldn't do that.

And here you reliquish responsibility for your prior remarks claiming they’re not really accurate leaving you saying basically nothing because I just showed they completely failed to mirror what I said.

William said...

"He speaks so well" referring to Obama's rhetorical skills which reminds me of Elmer Gantry's talents.

Bad ideas are not good ideas just because they sound good.

Logic is a bitch which even Obama's rhetoric can not assail.

Revenant said...

The thing I like about "american girl"'s claim:

Everyone in the free world has proclaimed Obama to be the world's best speaker.

... is that it means that the Best Speaker in the Entire World can't convince the American people that the Obama health care plan is a good idea. :)

Charles said...

Maybe Tom hangs out with these people too much.

http://www.blackpeopleloveus.com/

david said...

I have to post a comment. Before you decided to vote for Obama did you not do any background on him. I live in Canada and quickly found out the only thing going for him was that the MSM swallowed his PR. There was all kinds of clues that he was a non-performer. and he was too close to some really strange and dubious people and he had a typical profile of a con man. McCain was no prize but at least what you saw is what you got.

infinitely_ltd said...

Mikio,

I didn't "attempt to cite three exceptions", I cited three examples, of "generally" acknowledged "Left-Wingers" with embarrassing moments of comments on the president's race. And, the point was that three specific examples is not an indictment of ALL left-wingers. As for refuting your generalizations...generalizations tend to refute themselves, that was the point of my entire comment.

As for relinquishing responsibility for "my prior remarks", they weren't MY remarks. They were essentially your remarks, with the obvious changes of wingery, news networks, etc. I did make the point of saying "One" could say those things, if "One" didn't mind being inaccurate, precisely to point out that "I" wasn't making them. I thought that was kind of understood, and I take responsibility for thinking that. I was simply curious to know if the point of your generalizations was to convince anyone of their validity, their intelligence, or even, through their reasoned approach, to sway the open-minded to your view..or, none of the above. I can't say that my curiosity has been satisfied by your reply, but that's as much a reflection on my perception as on your response.

I could have said, "Mikio--what's your point?" And, you might have told me. And, so, perhaps I've learned something after all. I do appreciate the time you took to respond.

mc said...

Former Law Student and Mikio make the perfect couple.

Who will step up to provide for them and protect them while putting up with there childish loathing?

Righteous liberals demand benefactors!

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american girl in italy said...

Revenant said...
The thing I like about "american girl"'s claim:

trust me, i don't believe him to be a great speaker. he, at times, is a great reader. but he is a terrible communicator.

i also think it is funny that Sarah Palin is trashed for being a terrible speaker, and it is a-ok.

but people call obama a great speaker, and it is racist...