May 12, 2008

I get a letter from Barack Obama.

NOTE: I've re-uploaded the video, and this should work now.


Simon said...

It really is, as the fella once said, more than one ought to have to bear.

Simon said...

And the thing that gets me - this is what passes for "eloquent"? This? This sanctimonious, pretentious (and, as you point out, Ann, internally contradictory) drivel is supposed "eloquent"? Lord above!

reader_iam said...

The entry for "cusp" is quite crisp over at the Online Eytmology Dictionary, but the kicker cracked me up, considering the context: "Astrological use is earliest."

Starry-eyed spear-sitter!

MadisonMan said...

I hate the usage There are those who say.... Name them.

reader_iam said...

The related entry "bicuspid" amuses, too, in a whacked sort of way, given the intersection of heart and teeth.

Cabbage said...

I LOL'd at the lazy bastards bit.

Palladian said...

This sounds like a commencement speech at a rural high school.

Palladian said...


Palladian said...

Yes! I can see that it's 45º!

reader_iam said...

My son has been getting HRC mail since January 2007, when he signed up on her mailing list at that event where I snapped his picture with her. But he likes Obama (who is apparently all the rage among the second-grade set at my son's school) and has been getting mail from him, too, since signing up to be on Obama's mailing list when I took him to a caucus in January 2008.

I consider political mailings--of all flavors, because we get stuff from other candidates, too--teachable moments in the (not-so-) gentle art of fisking.

Hmmmm. Fisking 101-xxx. Think I can include that in my official curriculum for homeschooling? I could list this vlog under audio-visual supporting materials.. . .

Palladian said...

I can't believe you compared Obama's drivel to Walt Whitman:

Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round,
man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your
body or of any one's body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping,
love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked
meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward
toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the
marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!

Can you imagine bland old Obambi getting up and talking about man-balls and thin red jellies and love-perturbation? I would vote for any politician who recited that list!

reader_iam said...

Palladian: I find it impossible--literally impossible--to imagine Obama utter the words "man-balls." Wow. Usually I can at least imagine almost anything. Never realized until just this second that I consider Obama a prude.

Anonymous said...

First of all, sharp jacket and earrings, Professor. Perhaps fashionable New York has gotten to you. Or maybe you always dress this stylishly. It's the first first vlog I've watched on your site, though have visited for years. Enjoyed the subtext to Obama's and Kennedy's letters (esp. Kennedy's "darkest hours.") You're a witty speaker, I imagine your students enjoy your class.

reader_iam said...


reader_iam said...

Fusty. Finicky.

Chennaul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

cusp |kəsp| noun
1. a pointed end where two curves meet, in particular

Architecture a projecting point between small arcs in Gothic tracery : Obama's a Goth

• a cone-shaped prominence on the surface of a tooth, esp. of a molar or premolar : He'll tear the country apart like a wolf shredding a steaming muskrat carcass in the snow.

Anatomy a pocket or fold in the wall of the heart or a major blood vessel that fills and distends if the blood flows backward, so forming part of a valve : Not much to say about that one... Obama has heart...valve? Obama is distended?

Mathematics a point at which the direction of a curve is abruptly reversed : bell curve? HIDDEN RACISM!!1 Or is it going to be an abrupt reversal of our fortunes?

• each of the pointed ends of a crescent, esp. of the moon : A crescent? Uh oh. The cusp of the crescent moon, teetering on the mosque dome.

2. Astrology the initial point of an astrological sign or house Are we on the cusp of the House of Obama? Will Michelle run in 2016?

figurative a point between two different situations or states, when a person or thing is poised between the two or just about to move from one to the other America is suddenly going to turn into raving 'progressives'! In his wet dreams

George M. Spencer said...

Very funny. I wonder how many variants there are of that letter. They've pegged you as a blue-collar voter worried about NAFTA.

And fergit about seeing space launches on TV. Go and see one. Unforgettable. Wangle yourself a press pass...get real close that way. Make your teeth pop out.

greenpoint said...

You look so great in that jacket/outfit!

LutherM said...

I have been a registered Republican all of my life.
In 1968, I was convinced that the United States was in trouble, and came to believe that Bobby Kennedy was at least part of the answer - so I signed up to work on the campaign. After Bobby was killed, for years I received solicitations from a number of Democrats - and never contributed a penny. I suspect that someone sold a list with my name on it, proving that "No good deed ever goes unpunished".
As for the "authors" of your letters, Teddy is the least of the brothers Kennedy, and Obama is a latter-day third-rate Bobby.

Godot said...

Anyone else experiencing problems with this video? Ann appears to be speaking and moving in fast motion (um... faster than usual motion). The sound doesn't sync with the vid and it ends at 1:41 just after she begins to read the letter.

KCFleming said...

Excellent vlog.

That boilerplate lefty jargon sounds more and more dated over time. You can just hear Teddy (not Barack) bloviating in that windbaggery style of his, hitting certain words hard, sonorous -if not soporific- and knowing the words no longer have much real meaning.

Someone needs to tell the Boomers and Gen Xers that Camelot never happened, won't happen, and cannot happen. JFK was a Progressive murdered by a communist. His legacy included Vietnam and spying on MLK. He didn't write Profiles in Courage. He was unfaithful while in office, and slept with a mob moll. He probably lost to Nixon, too, were Illinois' shenanigans to be investigated.

There never was a lefty nirvana, nor a but-for era. Jophnson was as close to it as you'll ever come. The Great Society, ensconced out of grief for Kennedy, was a disaster for the US.

Camelot remains a dangerous myth.

ricpic said...

The skin, the sunburnt shade, the freckles...

How exclusionary of Walt. How lacking in sensitivity to our glorious rainbow mosaic. How unworthy of Prince Obama.

rhhardin said...

Right, the video doesn't work for me either. Audio lags picture, ends with ``as if we had been on the journey,'' with essentially three quarters of the first sentence fisked.

Ann Althouse said...

glen said..."Anyone else experiencing problems with this video? Ann appears to be speaking and moving in fast motion (um... faster than usual motion). The sound doesn't sync with the vid and it ends at 1:41 just after she begins to read the letter."

I wasn't before but I am now! Help!

Simon said...

video and audio seemed in sync when I watched it.

Ann Althouse said...

Why would it work and then not work? It's still working for you?

1775OGG said...

Just loved this video, a vchat for the ages. Especially loved the "Keystone Kops" sync of video and audio, just wonderful, seriously; very seriously! Ms Althouse should either patent that KK technique or copyright the style!

Ms Althouse would make a wonderful instructor on visual arts on emoting whilst chatting away. But, seriously folks, we need more vchatting, a great "new" tendency for blogs.

Simon said...

Ann- actually, no, it's not working now. I'm seeing the same thing you are. Weird!

MadisonMan said...

It worked for me before, but it doesn't work now.

Apparently, the Obama folks who work at youtube have gotten to it.

Ann Althouse said...

How can that happen?

1775OGG said...

Well, maybe this a warning to us all that we all need to behave or else M.O., Mrs. BHO, will bring down the wrath of BHO upon us little folk. Youtube is now a political player? How crass!

Ann Althouse said...

I'm going to try re-uploading, but YouTube might not let me do that.

vbspurs said...

Ack, I didn't see the full 10 mins version, but have the messed up Benny Hill 2 mins one.

The vlog raves really want to make me see it, especially since I see Ann is in fine form. "Dear Friend". Heh.

You should write him back, "Dear Leader" in a Kim Il Sung vein.

Ann, try uploading the video again, is my only suggestion.

I checked around the Help section, but only found this.

"If a video is cut off while it's loading an incomplete copy can get stuck on your computer, and it will never fully download. You can try again by clearing your browsers cache. If it continues to happen you might want to check the stability of your internet connection."

Since others saw the full 10 mins version, that can't be.

If this were a Ron Paul supporter vlog, they'd get all conspiratorial and snuffle foul.


JohnAnnArbor said...

I was about to mention the no-sync thing. Funny, something similar happened to me with iMovie once.

vbspurs said...

I'm going to try re-uploading, but YouTube might not let me do that.

Change the MOVxxx mpeg AND MOVxxx.THM numbers, assigning any name or number you want. Then delete the bad one from your account.

It should work. Happened to me!

I'm Full of Soup said...


Anonymous said...

Ann is it working fine when you view it independently on your own computer and not via You Tube?

I've got a You Tube addict trying to explain this to me-so ...

Supposedly if it's running weird on your own computer than your own computer is causing it and you need to free up more memory.

If it's running fine on your own computer but gets out of sink when viewing it via You Tube then it's you tube's problem

Sounds good to me-hell if I know!

Anonymous said...

Weird-it is now working perfectly at your You Tube site but not here.

vbspurs said...

Yeah, Madawaskan, thanks! It's working when you click on Ann's Youtube area.

I'm sure Ann will update it, but here it is.

Ann, I know you will do this, but if I were you, don't leave the older sped-up version on your account. You know there are people out there, who are truly nasty...

*starts to watch*


blake said...

George said...

Very funny. I wonder how many variants there are of that letter. They've pegged you as a blue-collar voter worried about NAFTA.

Back when it was a bigger deal, I personally created templates that had over 30 different versions.

1775OGG said...

Actually, I just watched the full, unFU'ed version, on youtube and it's great. The Keystone Kops version is there too and I thought both should stay out there; but Ms V is correct; trash the KK version.

Anonymous said...


Then the problem is with Blogger isn't it?

Gawd I hate technology.

Personally I think it's the-

Curse of the Clumbers....

vbspurs said...

Curse of the Clumbers....

Oh, just awesome.

1775OGG said...

Google, the "parent of blogger, is getting weird. I don't believe they actually want people to continue to use their software; probably because we're nasty humans and they're "them!" Have problems with Google Reader(GR) and when I tried to go out to Ms Althouse's blog via my favorites, went to GR instead. Got to her blog with much hard work, added it under just "Althouse" and it worked via my Faves; very weird.

Might be that we're now quickly approaching Dec 21, 2012 faster than previously thought so head for the bunkers and wear your tin-hats. Beware of "them" or else switch to non-Goggle stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

I've re-uploaded it, so it's working now. Hopefully, it won't screw up again.

vbspurs said...

- "This Hope thing comes and goes" (quick dirty look at the camera). LOL!

- Lazy Bastards. LOL!

- "That's gotta hurt. Sharp. The cuspid, stand on that". LOL!

- The slow acid-drip of "Gimme that ballad". HEHE.

- Hey that description of the states that are United in America is pretty cool. Plus, it was a direct mush-slap at the "United Kingdom" at the time. William Pitt the Younger wept.

- "I get chills when I read that". (What, you didn't look at the most iconic moment in the post-war?? OMG. Smack. Dirty hippie girl)

- I want a Teddy Kennedy accent! Can't be worse than any recent ones I've heard.

From the first low catty purr after "Barack Obama" to the high Tony Soprano sardonic tone heard best during "ah, he's running for President", I loved it.

I think I've seen a vlog from you before, but if this is like the others, I cannot wait for the next one.


vbspurs said...

I just "made" my boyfriend watch this with me, on the phone, as it were -- he's still on with me as I type.

He liked it, and even suggested you expand it to a funny Leno-reading-ads vlog idea, Ann!

Oh, just as I was about to post he said you were "hot for words". The cusp thing, you know.

So there you are, ladies and germs, and unbiased first-time reader of Althouse's opinion.

Everyone should get their SOs to watch this.

P.S.: Ballot, not ballad. Ack.


Agnostic Monk said...

Ms. Althouse,

Great Jacket! Will hear this once I get home.

blake said...

Oh, that was good.

Is this the first real vlog you've done in Brooklyn?

PWS said...

Ann, you seem a bit loopy. Was this vlog after some wine?

Also your outfit and hair look great! You look very attractive!

I think you should take a picture with the outfit from this vlog and replace your current picture which I don't find too flattering.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, you seem a bit loopy. Was this vlog after some wine?"

Absolutely not.

vbspurs said...

I think you should take a picture with the outfit from this vlog and replace your current picture which I don't find too flattering.

Wow, really? I love it. Her "lines" are wonderful.

vbspurs said...

Errr...I think a woman like my mother would think "laugh lines". Just to make sure, I meant her aesthetic lines -- the long neck, her haircut, the oval of her face. Those lines.

Can't be too careful, commenting on another woman.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Love your analysis re: 'hope and Iraq.' To me the line about King reminds me of the Depression era song; 'Once we built a railroad..' but also insidiously it chills 'I am the son of the King and now the King. Stand back and know your place.' Perhaps too harsh, Ann, but let me be reminded regarding your tear, referred not to King but to Hope and Obama, in a softer tone of the poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins:

to a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.

In researching for this comment, I ran into a great discussion of the style of Gerard manley Hopkins.

Kansas City said...

Entertaining and informative video. Comment that "yes we can" should appy to Iraq is great and McCain should use it.

Reading that letter out loud shows the emptyness of the Obama campaign. The letter said nothing of substance. It said not a single thing that Obama would do as president. It is almost enough standing alone to cause a thinking person not to vote for him.

Pop-it-Philosophic said...

Snark. Gotta love it.

titusisdreamingofhog said...

I got the same letter-hugs.

John Stodder said...

Love the vlog. Posted a longer comment but it got eaten.

In essence, wherever Obama varies from his "Yes We Can" rap, we know he's pandering. Iraq and NAFTA are the two primary departures.

Also, I took a little offense that he boxcar'd the moon landing and MLK in the same phrase. The two are both great, but one was essential to the fulfillment of the Constitution, completing the work of Abraham Lincoln in consecrating the union, while the other was a flying robot.

titusisdreamingofhog said...

What's with that lamp in the back?

I know, I know it is a rental but come on.

Simon said...

Echo Victoria.

Palladian said...

Funny that the Messiah of Hope and Change invokes the moon landing but wants to torpedo the space program in favor of pouring the money into some indoctrin... I mean education program.

Some "progressive".

Chip Ahoy said...

Egg shell ants.

Let's see, you gave Russ Feingold money thinking that would end solicitations? You're waaay too smart for that.

Your hope/never false + yes we can vrs. success in Iraq takedown is a perfect gem. May I have it? Thank you. Of course you already realize hope refers to his own candidacy and yes we can refers to his own electability and that is all.

I like the way these appeals suggest generous amounts in specific convenient check-writing increments. {supportive anecdote} Immediately outside the grocery store a young man dressed entirely in urban baggy with hair net and impeccably white Nikes, loitering if you like, approaches me abruptly and asks, "Hey Man, you got $10.00 ?" As it was, I happened to be long on cash but not for his lazy ass. {/supportive anecdote}

Incidentally, 45℉ is cold? Must be the humidity. It was 29℉ here and nearly ruined the tomatoes I moved outside. It's 34℉ again tonight, and I no longer care for it one single bit. I can't get started with the flower boxes until I have confidence it won't continue to dip.

This is my all-time favoritest vlog, even though all such letters I get are ripped in half and tossed directly into the trash without the faintest chance of ever being read. Witnesses to this have burst out laughing.

anarkus said...

Ms. Althouse,

Great Jacket but really boring vlog. This is Barack's speech in that letter you received which is getting really familiar now. Your points were interesting but most of it was boring.

vbspurs said...

To Simon: Hellooo-hellooo... ;)

Kansas City, to take up your letter of substance comment, here is a Cindy McCain email to me (yes, to widdle me!). How did she get my email addy, I wonder though?

I'd love to see a Ann vlog Fisking of this (dated 8 May 2008). Let's see what you guys think of it yourselves, with my comments below.

Dear Supporter,

I like it. It's not mawkish and presumptuous like Dear Friend.

Sunday is Mother's Day and in our family, as well as in so many others, it is a day to give thanks to the mothers in our lives.

Despite the obvious gender role appropriation for the female of the couple (Cindy not John) to handle the "mother" topic, which doesn't bother me since I'm a traditionalist anyway, it's straight-forward so far.

Our family is especially thankful for John's mother, Roberta McCain. At ninety-six years old, she is still as active and delightful as ever and even joins us out on the campaign trail from time to time.

I love this. Old broad is 96 years-old and she's still out campaigning for her little boy, and they're "thankful" to her.

Recently, she and my husband, John, sat down to film an interview about his childhood. From this interview, our campaign has put together a special Mother's Day message from our family to yours. I hope you'll take a minute today to watch it by following this link.

I think I can spare A MINUTE, Cindy, but hurry it up now. Get to the punch line.

Our family has been blessed with seven wonderful children: Doug, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy and Bridget.

A progenitor indeed, 7 kiddies. And very Irish, very normal relatable names at that -- except Sidney. Who's nicknamed Sid anymore?

As a mother, I want to see that my children have every opportunity to succeed in life. When my husband, John, approached our family about running for president, I thought about the pros
and cons of going back out on the campaign trail.

A bit wishy-washy, but since we know the answer was "go ahead, John", it shows a reserve filled with abnegation.

In the end, I knew that as a mother, I wanted my sons, who are both serving in the military, and my daughters to live in a country led by a president - a commander in chief - with the experience and courage to address the big issues our children will face in the future.

YAHTZEE! I don't know one person who can fault this paragraph, holy crap. 2 sons in the military. Take that you lame Code Pinkos.

I know that person is my
husband, John McCain.

Yes, we all know that is your husband's name, Cindy.

(Mind you, Ann often refers to her ex-husband and sons by their full names, so maybe it resonates with her?)

It would be such a special Mother's Day gift to me and Roberta to see the man we know and love elected as our next President of the United States.

That's nice. But your target audience count themselves lucky to get roses and a breakfast at McDonald's for Mother's Day. Don't get all above-your-self.

I hope you will take some time today to watch the video message of John and Roberta. After watching the video, I ask that you consider making a campaign contribution of whatever you can to our campaign.

Money makes the world go around.

I also hope you will take the time this Sunday (and every day)

The emotional "every day" is OTT.

to show your love and thanks to the mothers in your life. I especially want to send special greetings to all those adoptive parents and foster parents.

Very deft.

It even, perhaps unwittingly, but undeniably includes all those Heathers-have-two-Mommies parents.

Thank you for your time; your support is deeply appreciated. Happy Mother's Day!

Yours Sincerely,

Cindy McCain

Good signoff.

And an exquisitely Republican message extolling the virtues of extended families, civic and filial duty, without appearing overbearing.

This is not the ringing phrases of a very clever Valedictorian, nor is it the monotone Betty Crocker Bake-Off winner acceptance speech.

It hits the spot. What say you?


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

It hits the spot.

Okay, I'm back. :P

I was thinking about why each of these campaign messages would possibly "hit the spot" towards their intended audience.

The most obvious answer is, they know the buttons which each voter's Party Affiliation needs pushed.

As a Republican, many of us need to be assured that family, military service during time of war, generational input (as well as the unspoken values of traditional gender roles, deference for authority and age, plus patriotism) is offered as part of the Senator's candidacy.

We need, and we got.

Democrats, which Althouse is deemed to be by her Russ Feingold contribution, need to be assured that America's linear history is progressive, in all its senses. It started off one way, but through the intervention of activists, it bettered itself. It was an idealistic, but not mistaken take on American history.

The most important message of that mailer was that this country is now culminating in the person of Barack Obama.

With your support, the thread that binds you, he can reach that fabled promised land of both King's dreams, and the Kennedyesque challenge of reaching for the moon.

Of course, one is a campaign soliticiation, and the other is a Mother's Day message. They're bound to be couched in different phrases.

(Yet don't confuse Cindy McCain's molasses and satin message with what is also an appeal for money)

But it's curious to note that Obama's letter was more historically-minded than McCain's.

The usually forward-thinking Progressives are harkening back to a time that was (or they imagined it to be), whereas Campaign McCain reminds you of the here-and-now -- unless you count Roberta McCain, a bridge of her own to America's past.

I think, though Ann was spot on in her Fisking IMHO, that both these camps are waging an effective campaign and know their electorate well.

I'd be curious to see what Hillary's message would've been. I suspect it would've been more "pol-sy", and negative.


reader_iam said...

Anarkus: Good grief--McKinney 2008?!? Boy, that's special: "I firmly believe that the crisis facing our country today is such that we now have to do some things we've never done before in order to have some things we've never had before. Explain, please, what things we have to do. That should be interesting for both you and me.

(Oh, and do spare me an explanation of "things we've never had" before. Too easy and obvious. Cut to the chase. Don't bore.)

M. Simon said...

Loved your riffing on "There Is Nothing False About Hope"

So I blogged it.

Not many words. The most important ones were:

I ♥ Althouse.

Kansas City said...

It is true that the subjective assessment of these letters is greatly influenced by how you view the candidate. But for what its worth, I thought the Cindy McCain letter was pretty good as a mother's day message with some historical information about John McCain and their family, whereas Obama's letter was supposed to be a message about why he should be president. From my perspective, McCain conveyed what the letter intended, while Obama spoke in vacuous terms about why he should be president.

vbspurs said...

From my perspective, McCain conveyed what the letter intended, while Obama spoke in vacuous terms about why he should be president.

But isn't that the point, Kansas City? Well, to put it another way:

Maybe Republican supporters need a substantive rundown of facts, whereas Liberal friends are most moved by stirring phrases which appeal to their ideals rather than concrete lists of what they will do or offer, specifically.

BTW, thanks for reading my late postings. :)