July 25, 2007

Giuliani's warns us off "this touchy-feely, let-me-try-to-figure-out- how-you-do-psychobabble-on-somebody."

Sure, of course you don't like it. Because it's so especially interesting in your case. When the candidate says, don't go there, go there.

Or is it the other way around? When the candidate says go ahead and look there, you actually should look there? As in: "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored."

Anyway, I think an aversion to touchy-feely, let-me-try-to-figure-out- how-you-do-psychobabble seems pretty neurotic.


Brent said...


Is there any possibility in which you can see yourself actually voting for Giuliani?

If he and Hillary are the nominees, will you be able to honestly consider him for President?

How about Romney? McCain? Thompson?

I know that you are generally open-minded on the campaigns - it took a while for you to rule Kerry out - but surely there are several candidates that you now know that you just will not vote for.

Or is everyone so far still a semi-malleable candidate?

hdhouse said...

Two New York candidates for president would drive the south to revolution. The idea that Mike Bloomberg can just plop down into the election at his whim should further drive a lot of people crazy.

If you think Hillary is hell on wheels wait until you get to know this guy. And he really doesn't care. He really doesn't.

Ann Althouse said...

I've said before that I like Giuliani. He is my current favorite among the candidates.

I also think he's the one Republican in the running who has the intellectual agility to spar with Clinton.

Simon said...

I think a "let he who is without damage cast the first psychoanalysis" approach is apt. Everyone is damaged, so it seems to me that as long as your damage doesn't get in the way of the job (or if it seems less likely to than the other candidate's), it shouldn't be a big deal.

Of course, personal failings can be relevant. When someone's personal failings start to seep into their job, they become fair game. A President who lies under oath about one thing can reasonably be willing to lie under oath about anything. But while a President who cheats on his wife with an intern may be a failed human being, it doesn't per se make him incapable of doing the job. Ditto divorce and Guiliani's other personal issues.

I appreciate the point that it's a good general maxim that what a candidate doesn't want us to look at we should scrutinize closely, but that principle has limits, and I don't think it's neurotic for him to say this amateur psychoanalysis shouldn't be taken seriously. We live in serious times, and it is unserious to think that divorce should keep a serious candidate out of serious office. Perhaps politicians should be held to a higher moral standard - if only there were any of us qualified to be the keeper. "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Simon said...

"[Giuliani]'s the one Republican in the running who has the intellectual agility to spar with Clinton."

How about this guy? I realize he's not in the running (yet), and I guess my previous comment may reflect frustration that he won't and can't be the candidate sparring with Clinton. But imagine the debates! I think it'd be fascinating to see those two doing the kind of debate that Sarkozy and Royale had in France.

Sloanasaurus said...

Two New York candidates for president would drive the south to revolution.

And you know this because... what... because you are from the south? Or is it just something that you hope will happen.

Sloanasaurus said...

The press, being liberal, tends to care more about process rather than results.

Thus, it's not surprising that they care about Giuliani in this way.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think it'd be fascinating to see those two doing the kind of debate that Sarkozy and Royale had in France.

Except this will never happen. As much as Clinton is a big spending liberal relative to conservatives in this country, she is right-wing compared to Royale. We Americans tend to forget in all the outrageous rhetoric spewing from the democratic leaders, that our Democratic party is generally more conservative than the mainstream conservative parties in Europe.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon, I see two problems with bringing up Gingrich there.

1. Is he "in the running"?

2. "agility"

KCFleming said...

Re: " I think an aversion to touchy-feely ...seems pretty neurotic."

I enjoy the rejection of the Oprahfication of all things. It's not neurotic, but manly.

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

Simon, just re-read what you said about the lying and agree with what you said, so never mind my deleted comment.

hdhouse said...

Ann Althouse said...
Simon, I see two problems with bringing up Gingrich there...

you failed to mention lunacy. he is Cheney without morals.

Kirk Parker said...


Does this mean you abominate Bloomberg the politician? Really??? A point of agreement between you and me--what's this world coming to????? :-)

And I'll say it again about Gingrich--he wouldn't be a match for Hillary, because he appears to be a guy who likes and cares about ideas and intellectual stuff, without actually being very good at it. So he did acceptably well with stuff like his recorded "rediscovering America" series, when that's considered in isolation, but against a live, thinking opponent in debate--not so well.

Simon said...

I acknowledged that he isn't (yet) in the running, but I'm somewhat heartened if you think those are the only problems with bringing him up. ;) What do you mean by "agility" in this context?

Guiliani's recently provided at least some reassurance on judges, and as mentioned before, I think there's a serious argument that Guiliani's incentive structure make him the candidate most likely to adopt federalist stances, which nudges me back towards his camp.

I don't disagree, but I fail to see what their substantive policy views resemble Sarkozy's and Royale's has to do with whether they can carry out a debate in a similar format. I didn't mean that they would adopt the same policy positions, that would be absurd! Or do you just mean that Sarkozy and Royale were politically further apart than are Gingrich and Clinton? Perhaps (but not certainly) on some hypothetical absolute scale, but certainly not in the relative terms of the parameters of American political discourse. I think they could have an exceedingly enlightening and intelligent debate that would positively benefit the country to see. An election between two articulate candidates who read books -- "My Pet Goat" doesn't count -- delineating and advocating real policies and visions that are different and arguing their merits. What a concept! :)

Jane, I didn't see it, but glad you agree. :) There is actually a missing word in there, but I think it still scans - I meant to say that a "President who lies under oath about one thing can reasonably be thought willing to lie under oath about anything," and of course that really is a major problem for a President, in a way that human weakness isn't per se.

Hey said...

I'm not sure if intellectual agility is the right description for his talent. Romney is creative, very smart, and quick to turn around situations.

What you are really getting at is their relative experience in fast, high-volume, high-stakes debates/arguments. Giuliani is a famously successful senior prosecutor and knows how to handle lawyerly tricks in debates and media wars - nevermind that he's been a serious political actor since at least the early 80s. Romney doesn't have the length of experience there - Consulting and Private Equity are challenging and competitive in different ways, with much less focus on head to head verbal combat and media manipulation.

Laying this down to "intellectual agility" forces us to get inside their heads and assert intellectual superiority when we are especially ill-placed this. Perhaps this would be possible when dealing with similar candidates - two criminal lawyers, perhaps - but definitely not when evaluating people who come from very different careers that reward very different behaviors.

Simon said...

I just don't think that theory stacks up. Whenever I've seen him in situations requiring extemporization he's seemed eminently up to the task. By contrast, you mention Hil, but I haven't seen her giving answers in such a context (at least nothing deeper than a thirty second soundbite during a debate) and the whole idea of it seems foreign to her reputation as scripted, controlled and message-disciplined.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think they could have an exceedingly enlightening and intelligent debate that would positively benefit the country to see.

I see your point Simon. I am not sure if Clinton would ever engage in the kind of intellectual debate you are talking about. She is a politcal animal and not known for her intellect. Gingrich would be a good choice for that. It would be nice to hear a Democrat actually attempt to articulate intellectually (say in a debate on taxes) why they think the government would be better at creating assets than the private sector. Instead Democrats just bloviate... "the children need help!" "The rich need to pay their fair share." Blah Blah...none of this means anything. If the government taxes the rich and then creates a crappy asset with the money, how does that help the poor in any way? It doesn't. The only thing it does is make the rich, less rich.

Revenant said...

Psychoanalysis is pseudoscience. You might as well study Giuliani's horoscope or read his palm -- you'll get the same quality of information out of it.

On the other hand, if people who know Giuliani say he's got a short temper, that's not "psychoanalysis". That's just personal experience.

Richard Dolan said...

"I think an aversion to touchy-feely, let-me-try-to-figure-out- how-you-do-psychobabble seems pretty neurotic."

Neurotic? What's neurotic about Rudy's desire to keep the conversation focused on his strong points, rather than the messy personal stuff? There's nothing in his attempt to do so that suggests any emotional instablity. Instead, he's just being perfectly rational.

And, not to put too fine a point on things, but the sort of psychological "analysis" that gets applied to political candidates (all of them, not just Rudy) has nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with hatchet-jobbery. (He's been getting a lot of that from the NYT and elsewhere lately.) On this one, Rudy was responding to Romney's touchy-feely ads, full of cute grandkids and the like, and Koch's earlier effort at a book-length put-down that Rudy was a "nasty man."

Well, Rudy doesn't have cute grandkids; and even his son doesn't seem to like him much (to say nothing of the son's mother). But Presidential candidates tend to be drawn from the type A personality pool, and a strong personality that rubs many the wrong way (including the occasional offspring) is thus hardly unusual. From a political perspective, nothing is going to change any of that either. So the only thing for Rudy to do is use those negatives to emphasize his positives. That's what he's doing here, in a nice example of political jujitsu.

Rudy's whole appeal is the opposite of touchy-feely stuff. So why not be a bit dismissive of it and the psychobabble that goes with it? The very word conjures up excuse-making liberals who are "soft on crime" (the Twinky defense! root causes!), the sorts who prefer more feminine and mothering qualities (I feel your pain!). Rudy is all about the opposite of that -- he wants to project the masculine, stop-whining, take-no-prisoners, I'm-in-charge-and-will-protect-you sort of thing. Rudy is counting on convincing enough of the mommy voters out there that, in this election, they really ought to prefer the daddy candidate, even if they might not want to cuddle up with him. And the daddy candidate here is him, not Obama and certainly not Ms. Hillary (although she's trying pretty hard, much more so than the other Dem candidates, to appeal to the daddy voters).

If Rudy wins the nomination/gen'l election (and it would be fine with me if he does), it will be because he pulled that off. Dumping on psychobabble, and pointing to his ability to be as solid as a rock, even as crises were erupting in his personal life that would have distracted a weaker person, is all part of that message.

KCFleming said...

My least favorite genre of writing has to be the "analysis" of a politician by a psychiatrist who has never met the man. Amazingly, the results always confirm and conform to the selfsame shrink's own political leanings.

So-called journalists attempting to ply this same parlor trick are not surprisingly less adept at pulling it off, but are no further off the mark for the effort.

From Inwood said...

Two issues here with Rudy & a side bar by Prof A:

First the Rudy Issues

(1) Is anything & everything in Rudy’s life fair game?

(2) Will dismissing it all as psychobabble work?

(1) Yes.

(2) No. His life is real & the fact that some (many, most?) Rudy critics engage in psychobabble is funny & sophomoric, but facts is facts & Rudy has a lot of facts which must be overlooked by his supporters (& a lot of facts which will be dismissed by his detractors). And has similar personality traits to Hillary & Eliot Spitzer, which his fervent detractors, psychobabblers or not, conveniently overlook in these worthies.
Finally, Prof A has side-barred or let this thread be side-barred into whether it’s neurotic to dislike psychobabble.

It’s um, grown up to dislike psychobabble. (Pogo you’re correct but so un-PC!)

It is, however, neurotic to think that your enemies are not gonna single you out for special criticism & not gonna attack you hypocritically for traits they overlook in their favorites (Hillary & Spitzer). It’s nothing personal; it’s politics, to paraphrase The Godfather.

But I don’t think that Rudy is neurotic; just trying to change the subject & to get people to focus on the external world & this country’s place in that world & its future, if all that is not too taxing for people who feel more comfortable in examining their feelings, examining their selective feelings, that is.

Will Rudy be able to explain his life choices to a majority of voters? He may have to since the MSM is gonna pound him, cf. Prof A’s Gary Hart analogy. And even his supporters will begin each paean with something like “even tho Rudy has a lot of anti-Cultural/Social Conservative baggage,….

Stay tuned.

And, the moving finger posts & having posted moves on. Having stopped to answer Simon, I see that Rich Dolan has now answered.


Newt, while the equal of any Dem intelligence-wise & governing-wise is crawling with nasty-wise clues for the psychobabblers & unlikable facts for the rest of the world, which clues & facts the MSM is not adverse to bringing out in grown-up prose or psychobabble, while at the same time ignoring Hillary’s (or Spitzer’s) similar baggage, to use a key psychobabble phrase.

Right now, Hillary’s attacking Barack for being naïve or ingenuous & Rudy is defending himself by a side bar & Newt is making nasty about his opponents. Advantage, Hillary.

But advantage is in the eyes of the beholder & so far only wonks & the terminally neurotic 24/7 political junkies are paying attention, so no harm. But can a leopard change his spots? Does the public want to see the softer side of Rudy? Is there a softer side of Rudy? Is there a softer side of Hill? The MSM will never let you know about Rudy.

And I agree with you on your important substantive point that Giuliani has recently provided at least “some” reassurance on judges.

And finally, I agree with your comment to Kirk about Hillary being “scripted, controlled and message-disciplined” tho, so far, on “nothing deeper than a thirty second soundbite during a debate”. And Rudy’s the guy who can call her on soundbites, tho the MSM may do a Lazio on him & say that he was beastly to the “poor woman”. And he may come across as too Brooklyn, too Manhattan College for Ellis’s whining neurotics.

Rich Dolan

Your recent post sounds great to me, except that "dumping on psychobabble" itself is not so great. Dump on the subject of the psychobabble. Better: Parade your strengths & dump on your opponents' "baggage".

PatCA said...

"The press, being liberal, tends to care more about process rather than results."

They keep trying to figure out why they still haven't swept away the ancien regime with their utopian wonderland.

And I agree with Simon and Pogo--Rudy is positioning himself as a manly candidate against the feminizing of culture of the last 30 years. Bravo to him.

Hey said...

Psychiatry has no place in politics. We'll all throw "he's crazy" epithets, and there's a utility to that gloss on a candidate. But involving actual medical practitioners or those who claim to be scientific researchers in politics gets too close to Stalinist practices far too quickly.

Just this year there was the "study" ( from Berkeley, I think, but my Google Fu is weak today) that "proved" that conservatives were damaged as children and were violent and selfish while liberal kids were nice, happy, pleasant children who lived in cotton candy houses, or something like that. Any attempt at science that studies the actions of human consciousness is inherently weak - all creatures dissemble, especially humans. Letting this "science" get into ever woolier territory and further and further away from disinterested observation of double-blind studies of processes that can reliably be described though numerical models (preferably mechanistic or only slightly stochastic ones) defames not only that "science" and politics, but Science and empiricism itself.

From Inwood said...


The moving post….

You're spot on.

My next least favorite is the political "consultant" whose talkinghead criticism is that my candidate has a psychobabble flaw, certified by his/her prejudiced & unprofessional shrinks, whereas his/hers has none.


if their candidate has a higher SAT score than mine: “my candidate is smarter than yours, nynna, nynna, nynna” ,

whereas if my candidate has the higher SAT score: “your candidate is weird” (cf. Robert Bork)

Now here on an earlier Rudy thread they’re claiming

“when it came to actually governing, [Rudy] was a mean-spirited, divisive control freak.”

Aren’t we also talking about Hillary here?

They picture Rudy as an incompetent despot with anger-management problems, shown by his “bulls**t” remark of 15 years ago (15 years ago! Joe McCarthy lives!). Some would disagree.

Seems that the Liberal & “Moderate” snap psychobabble judgment & snap response on Rudy is that he is guilty of snap judgments & snap responses (unhinged screamer) & we need a careful, calm guy at the top who can say the words we think he/she should say & not say the words we think he/she should not say. Oh, BTW, we are annoyed at pols who speak in bromides & lack depth. Unless they’re our bromides, which contain multitudes.

Some pols, political “pundits”, & shrinks opposed the 1980s rampant NYC crime in principle, but also opposed all specific Rudy-sponsored steps proposed or taken to fight criminals. They were called “moderates”. That is, when they were not being called “thoughtful”.

PS No inane comments from Kerry supporters to the effect that Kerry's Swift boating was 30 yrs prior to the 2004 election & QED I'm inconsistent. For instance Joseph Welch's associate wasn't a commie in the 50s & had disavowed his earlier hijinks; Kerry has embraced his long ago merry hijinks; they were & are his raison d'être.

Roger J. said...

Guiliani seems to come closest to my social positions (fairly liberal), and my security concerns (fairly hawkish). I don't mention fiscal issues, only because Presidents are not much in control of finances, this country having adopted mostly a monetary approach to the economy a generation ago.

Were it an all NY all the time general election, I think Rudy will come accross as more approachable than HRC; I happen to like his speaking style--informal and colloquial as compared to Ms. Clinton's which grates on me about as hard as the current President's. I havent looked at Rudy's negatives, but since HRC's negatives are constantly bandied about, that might make her task more difficult.

I see HRC getting the democratic nomination at this point but really dont know if Rudy can get the hard core Republican base in the primaries.

Interesting times ahead.

Simon said...

"And I agree with you on your important substantive point that Giuliani has recently provided at least 'some' reassurance on judges."

I had in mind particularly the recent Pajamas Media op/ed piece he penned, but at the risk of sounding self-important, I think my more important substantive point is the point about federalism incentives, which I expanded on here (didn't have time to link upthread).

blake said...

I don't know if it's neurotic, but it seems like to produce a result opposite to the (ostensibly) desired one.

Dewave said...

Anyway, I think an aversion to touchy-feely, let-me-try-to-figure-out- how-you-do-psychobabble seems pretty neurotic.

I think it's a sign of a healthy mind not too obsessed with ones self, and productively engaged in other more worthwhile pursuits :)

Invisible Man said...

I think it's a sign of a healthy mind not too obsessed with ones self, and productively engaged in other more worthwhile pursuits :)

Personally, I believe that their is a big difference between being self-aware and not. Our current President is a great example of this. While, I'm not looking for someone who spends every waking minute analyzing their thought process, it's good to know that every once in a while they question themselves as to whether they are making the right decision. Guiliani seems much closer to Bush than any other candidates in this respect, at least to me.

Anonymous said...

Several here seem to think that HR Clinton could/would survive in an unscripted debate with an adult sporting an IQ above 80. What real-world evidence is there to support this fairy-tale view? Not that I doubt it or anything...

From Inwood said...


I'd read Rudy's article in PJ Media, but it is beyond what I understand is the main point of this thread: Whether Rudy’s approach to what he characterizes as psychobabble, is (a) neurotic (or whining accordingly to the late Prof Ellis) & (b) counter-productive?

I thought I was just agreeing with you about something Rudy said which would please Social Conservatives who are put off by his, um, messy personal life & approach to abortion. And to me comments by the MSM upon this Rudy, in the absence of jargon, not psychobabble & are fair.

I’ve now read your article, but I respectfully suggest that this is not the thread for a Federalism discussion. I would note, peace, that a learned discussion like yours about Federalism is sleep-inducing on the campaign trail, whereas the PJ Media article is a clear & non technical explanation, to non-lawyer voters on either side of that issue, of who Rudy believes should make law. And it's beyond bumper sticker.

Nor, IMHO, is Rudy’s point in the article about Tort/Trial lawyers cogent here, however much I might agree with it & no matter that all who understand the problem would agree be they Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Libertarian, Independent, Moderate, etc, in short anyone not in thrall to the Tort/Trial lawyers or anyone who thinks that Edwards is Robin Hood.


Kirk Parker said...


My opinion of Hillary is, for the most part, the same as yours--tight scripting, and all that--but the little exchange on "would you meet with any old dictator" showed that maybe she's learning a bit. So I think a Newt-Hill matchup might be more of a real contest than I would have assumed previously.

And note Newt's liabilities in such a venue are exactly the opposite of hers: liable to go off on a giraffe tangent at any moment, or cite the Tofflers, or who-knows-what!

But sure, I'll grant that I overstated it by quite a bit in my original comment.

Simon said...

FI -
Well, I suppose we are the guests of a federalism neurotic this evening. ;) There's a link, at least. ;)

From Inwood said...

P Rich

You ask:

"What evidence is there to support the view that Hillary Clinton could/would survive in an unscripted debate with an adult sporting an IQ above 80? "

Good but, with all due respect, perhaps irrelevant question.

IMHO, you are vastly underestimating her & voters’ desires. She is scripted but focused. She is not a potted plant & comes across as rather intelligent, probably because she is rather intelligent. More important, the MSM continues to ignore her foibles & missteps so that after any debate she’s declared the winner to the public. Cf. Lazio in 2000. And her 2008 Dem opponents are far beneath her in skills & I would suggest intellectual capacity, witness (also noted by Kirk) Barack the other nite when she, quite above the 80 IQ line, trumped his amateur “I’ll talk with any loony calling himself a leader anytime, any place”.

Better Q:

"What evidence is there to support the view that Hillary Clinton could/would survive in a meeting with a thug leader of another country or a terrorist where the MSM can’t convince the thug or terrorist that he’s lost & should admit it?" (Hint: remember JFK & what Khrushchev concluded from their first face to face meeting.)

I think that Rudy could run rings around her in the format of a Presidential debate if he hides his Brooklyn edginess, which plays so well in NYC but not beyond. Cf., again, Lazio, who, I think, is not even from Brooklyn, tho he is from the Island. (No nasty e-mails, please; I have that NYC edginess also. But I know that it doesn’t play well outside the NY Metro area.)

But I digress. You’re saying that Hillary could well slip if faced with a debate non-scripted crisis. I agree, but will this happen? Will there be any question or opponent’s answer that would cause her to lose focus? Would the MSM not do Bork job on Newt even if we think he beat her?

And I think that not only is she harsh & strident, she’s more so than even your average NYC resident who didn’t go to preppy schools. (Aside to hdhouse: I wouldn’t see her as a NYC-ite if you’d blindfolded me. She doesn’t speak or act like one.) And, like you, I don’t buy the propaganda that she’s “brilliant” but, to my surprise, in 2000, & yes this is completely anecdotal & unscientific because my sample is too small, she was much beloved or worshiped by women I know in NYS & out, even those who were nominally Republican or perhaps Reagan Republicans. And they just didn’t see her economic policies affecting their corporate husbands as I think they might’ve had their hubbys been in small businesses. And some of these women were govt employees or making money from govt things which makes them life-long Dems.

BTW, I argued all 2006 with a “staunch” Republican (right, he’s really an economic conservative & social liberal) friend about Gov. Spitzer & he kept telling me that he didn’t care about whether all those notches in then Atty. Gen. Spitzer’s gun were real trial victories or easy consent orders; to him “Spitzer is this generation’s Tom Dewey”. (He's from NYC but no longer lives in NYS.) I haven’t yet talked to him about Spitzer’s latest, but he doesn’t read blogs or the WSJ (or the NYPost)so he’ll just plead ignorance or disinterest. Tho he won’t vote for Hillary.

This Spitzer effect, I suggest is analogous to the Hillary effect. Again, from my unscientific, anecdotal perspective & from what I read, too many women think that she’s been a “brilliant” senator, having been responsible for the passage of all the good legislation & the defeat of all the bad legislation since she was elected. (OK, no one will quite agree to this characterization when put so baldly, but they’ll stick with “brilliant” & “hard working”.) So to many educated women with IQs far above 80, she is Woman, whose time has come. Where I saw Lazio the winner of the 2000 debate, they saw that “this one’s for me; I am Woman.”

And many guys (again unscientific sample) saw her beating her opponent in 2006 in the Senate debates. (I can’t even think of his name.) I agree with that. Tho she was speaking bumper-sticker-ese.

And many people are tired of the War & Republicans & may be watching these debates just to make sure she doesn’t do a pratfall, which I think she won’t.

From Inwood said...


Cute. And your point is?

Certainly citing Prof A in a footnote is not psychobabble, or any other kind of babble, but it is sleep inducing for voters & I doubt that any Presidential debater will be citing footnotes, neurotic, whining, whatever.

From Inwood said...


Maybe I spoke too harshly about Federalism not resonating. (Tho not about the fact that it was not part of this thread.)

See Ron Brownstein in the LA Times today:


"He proposes letting the states decide on social issues such as abortion and gay rights."

In which article Brownstein says:

"But[Rudy's] most innovative domestic idea casts him as a peacemaker on the social issues that have divided the nation since the 1960s.

"Giuliani argues that the best way to reduce tension about social issues is to allow states, rather than the federal government, to take the lead in responding to them."

Hope he & you are right.


Simon said...

FI - there's a significant normative case to be made for federalism, and I think it's very healthy that Guiliani's out there arguing it. And as the LAT notes, his incentive structure gives us reason to take him at his word.

hdhouse said...

Kirk...no actually. I think Bloomberg is by far the best of the lot. I would vote for him in a heartbeat if he ran. He is the best NYC has ever had...my opinion of course...but I think he is the real deal.