Three good reads today

Yesterday, my dear, sweet European mother confided to me that she was pleased Obama won, because he speaks so much better than Bush.  This jived completely with a bumpersticker I just saw:  “At last, complete sentences will come from the White House” (or something like that).  I was struck again by the faith the Left right has in verbal abilities.  I happen to be very good verbally myself.  Words come easily to me.  I like them.  I play with them.  But I never make the mistake of confusing them with intelligence, knowledge, common sense, courage, or moral decency.  Neither does Thomas Sowell.

And would it surprise you to learn that Dennis Prager has some practical, optimistic takes on Obama’s election?  As I did, he opposed Obama strongly during the election.  He’s now willing to count some of the blessings that flow from that election, and to adopt a wait-and-see attitude that evaluates Obama on what he actually does (such as reinstating offshore drilling bans!), rather than on what he might do.

Lastly, Steve Schippert has an impassioned post about the way in which the disappointed Left, deprived of gay marriage by a majority of California voters, is heading to the Courts as a way to undermine a true democratic process.  The Courts being what they are, they might win — in the Courts.  I have my doubts about whether voters are going to be happy to have their will undermined twice by a bunch of guys and gals in black robes.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Thomas Sowell is spot-on in his discourse on intellectuals. All intellectuals bear close scrutiny as, more likely than not, therein ye will unmask idiots.

    The French, in particular, are infatuated with intellectualism. Perhaps because thinking great thoughts a priori is so much easier than actually doing great things or holding oneself accountable for outcomes. That accountability issue does keep getting in the way, of course.

    France’s most impactful intellectual contribution to humanity has been the secular humanistic utopianism that gave us the French Revolution, Napolean, Socialists, Fascists, Nazis and Communists (but I repeat myself). Hardly something to crow about. Intellectualism bereft of accountability is ideology. The Democrat/Left is very “French” in their outlook, in this regard.

    Thomas Sowell, in my view, is one of conservatism’s greatest intellectual philosophers. He made his name by searching for deeper understanding by observing root causes and their effects. Speaking as a scientist, whereas Sowell searched a priori for data, he investigated a posteriori for explanations. This is part of what made him a true intellectual.

  • David Foster

    “faith the right has in verbal abilities”…sure you don’t mean “faith the *left* has in verbal abilities?”

    In C S Forrester’s novel “The Ship,” one of the characters is a ship’s electrician who is borderline insane. He is convinced that since everything on the ship requires electricity, electricity should be worshipped–and he should be paid appropriate respect and homage as the high priest of this force. What he fails to understand, of course, is that everyone else on the ship could make similar arguments…the boiler crew, for example, could point out that without steam, there would be no electricity.

    Sure, verbal ability is important, but those who take a worshipful view of this skill while ignoring the existence of other important human abilities remind me of Forrester’s mad electrician.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Whoops! Thanks, David. I corrected.

  • socratease

    It’s hard to criticize Obama before he’s done anything because, well, he hasn’t done anything. His lack of experience and track record is one of the big reasons why I voted against him. Strangely enough, I think it’s also one of the reasons why he won. With little record for which he could be criticized (and what there was was effectively buried by the press), he was free to make up his positions as he went along, telling whoever was listening exactly what they wanted to hear. It’s a sad commentary on our “free press” and our electorate.

  • suek
  • BrianE

    This is part of a piece by Glen Greenwald.

    What fueled the abuses of the last eight years as much as anything else was the ongoing (and severely accelerated) abdication of power by Congress to a bordering-on-omnipotent presidency. It’s critically important that an Obama administration reverse the substantive transgressions of the Bush era — closing Guantanamo, ending torture and rendition, restoring habeas corpus, rejuvenating surveillance oversight, withdrawing from Iraq, applying the rule of law to political leaders past and present — but it’s at least as important that this be accomplished in the right way, that our constitutional framework be restored. That means restricting the President’s role to what the Constitution prescribes and having Congress fulfill its assigned duties and perform its core functions.

    The thrust of the article was about whether the senate should heed any advice by Obama whether or not to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship or even kick him out of their caucus. The point he was making is that it is Senate perogative and they should discount any opinion by Obama as a method of re-asserting legislative authority, which led him to the larger point about abuse of power by the executive branch in executive orders.
    What jumped out to me was the phrase “applying the rule of law to political leaders past and present”. If that doesn’t send shivers, it should. It is very clear what the left wants. They want Bush and Cheney’s heads delivered on silver platters. I suspect that they will give Bush a pass, and settle on Cheney.
    I’m praying right now that I’m just being overly sensitive to the rhetoric of the left.

  • Oldflyer

    I like the way Bush speaks.

    I can understand what he says. There are no qualifiers to his statements to lend ambiguity.

    More importantly, I can believe what he says.

    Obama speaks, and I then ask my self: “what did he say?”, and “what did he actually mean?”, and “how much of it can I believe?”.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Obfuscation, Old Flyer…a hallmark of “Intellectualspeak”.

  • Deana

    Oldflyer –

    I, too, like the way Bush speaks.

    He doesn’t try and impress – he’s just straight forward. And I know when he says something, he means it.

    But when I listen to Obama, I feel as if he’s working to sound impressive or poetic. And there is nothing wrong with sounding that way but he seems to try to sound that way quite a bit.

    And it goes without saying that I simply do not believe him all the time. He does not inspire confidence.

    Deana

    P.S. Does anyone think that the Democrats will make a serious attempt to go after Bush or Cheney?

    I mean, we are being told all day long that this is THE MOST DIFFICULT transition any president has had to make since Abraham Lincoln. There are two wars and a struggling economy plus all of these wonderful things that Obama has in store for us – do they really want to spend time doing this?

    I hope not. I think it would not be wise for them to spend their time and effort on something that will not be viewed positively. But it worries me.

  • suek

    >>…we are being told all day long that this is THE MOST DIFFICULT transition any president has had to make since Abraham Lincoln.>>

    So difficult in fact, that after a private tete a’tete with the President, in the privacy of the Oval Office, Obama goes out and leaks details (the details he wanted leaked) of the conversation.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t blame Bush if he just put the kibosh on any further meetings with the man who only keeps his mouth shut when it suits his purpose.

  • BrianE

    Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn’t raise his standards, he will exceed Bush’s total before he is inaugurated.

    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2008/11/josh-marshall-cannot-believe-what-john.html

    The comments to this quote at Althouse are quite supportive.

  • Deana

    suek –

    You and I both know President Bush won’t do that. To that man’s everlasting credit, he consistently puts the safety of this country above all else and would rather take a beating in the press than defend himself, even when he had plenty of ammunition to use to do just that.

    Yet another reason why I admire him.

    Deana

  • Deana

    Brian –

    I am willing to give Obama a little latitude here in the early days.

    Until last week, he had never held a job where what he says and does actually mattered. I’m serious. He has always been surrounded by people who completely agreed with him and helped protect him from the consequences of his speech and actions.

    And then, when it came to his campaign, the press jumped on the bandwagon and ensured that nothing he said or did was scrutinized in the least. Even they admit it.

    Now it’s game time. And people are going to be paying attention. Only this time, a sense of reality is going to sink in and replace the passion and euphoria that helped gloss over his missteps and mistakes.

    He is simply going to have to learn that everything he says and does will be gone over with a fine tooth comb. And there will be consequences.

    I think he will learn that but it is going to take some time.

    But yes, I do agree with Althouse – Obama is not off to an overly impressive start on this issue.

    Deana

  • BrianE

    Actually that quote was from Powerline, and she repeated it. I’m not sure she shares the sentiment– merely being provocative.
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2008/11/022038.php
    I remember when Clinton was first elected, he made some offhand comment about foreign policy that nearly sent the world on high alert. He too learned that when the President speaks, the world is listening, and they don’t understand “thinking out loud.”

  • Charles Martel

    I remember how Bill Clinton used to walk around trying to sound eloquent, a la JFK, except that everything he said had that self-conscious air of, “How will these words play to high school history classes 20 years from now?”

    Unfortunately for Bill, utterly nobody today can spontaneously remember anything that he said unless it was about blowjobs.

    The difference between him and Obama is that Bill’s ejaculations took place during a relatively benign patch in U.S. history. So, when The One comes to us in this ominous time with his mellifluous offers and intonations, keep in mind that in modern German and Old English the word “gift” means poison.

    It’s best to look under the wrapping.

  • Deana

    BrianE –

    Yes. The world is listening. I’m convinced that an awful lot of folks whom we don’t want as friends have been listening to Obama very closely. More closely, in fact, than a lot of Americans who voted for him.

    And now the likes of Hamas, Assad, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, etc, are coming calling and they expect Obama to do what he said, just like the people who voted for him.

    It strikes me that it might be somewhat difficult for Obama to learn what should and should not be said and how. What is in one’s heart and mind has such a huge impact on what comes out of one’s mouth. I suspect that Obama and his staff know that what needs to come out of his mouth his not always what he has in his heart and mind.

    Deana

  • BrianE

    Deana,
    What you are describing is the tightrope Obama has been walking. He has said a lot of different things to different people, never being explicit, being unnecessarily vague, allowing each group to read into each statement whatever meaning they wished. What exactly does he believe? When is he speaking from the heart?

  • Deana

    Brian E-

    Who knows?

    All new presidents are unknown to a certain extent. But at least with Reagan and to a lesser degree, both Bushes, we KNEW what they believed. They outlined their governing principles as well as specific ideas during their campaign.

    We got none of that from Obama. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

    And this is what makes me nervous because everyone is going to want to see what it is he stands for, where he draws his lines. Americans are willing to wait and see but something tells me that countries who don’t share America’s values won’t “wait and see.” They’re going to test him out.

    Deana

  • Danny Lemieux

    Deana and BrianE – Before your discourse, I was worried sick about Obama and the consequences of what his not knowing what he does not know. If the consequences of your discourse is to sow panic, you’re doing it.

    Cut it out, already, will ya?

  • Ymarsakar

    Brian, I believe his heart will be Axelrod, his advisers, and his corrupt cronies in his cabinet. That’ll be his one and only heart, Brian.

  • suek

    Do we have Obama the narcissist for president, or do we have Obama the ideologue?

    If it’s the narcissist, he’ll do whatever makes him feel “great” or what he _thinks_ makes him look great.
    If it’s the ideologue, we’re in deep trouble.

    In either case, we’re in trouble…the question is only how deep the doo doo is.

  • Deana

    Sorry, Danny! Didn’t mean to sow panic.

    These are just things that have been going around in my brain recently. It probably isn’t good for my health, or anyone else’s for that matter.

    I keep vowing to adopt a wait and see approach. I want to give him a chance. But every day, I wake up and see something else that makes me really concerned.

    Today, I woke up and read that apparently, Obama’s team was busy meeting with Hamas, the same Hamas that the U.S. State Dept. classifies as a terrorist organization, BEFORE the election!!

    Obama and his aides did this, even though he promised throughout his campaign that he would, “only talk with Hamas if it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and agrees to abide by past agreements.”

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/reported-obama-hamas-contacts-bode-ill/

    This is just crazy. Nuts.

    BUT! I DO think there might be a silver lining to a lot of this. For example: An awful lot of Jewish Americans voted for Obama. I think they are going to be disappointed, significantly, before this is all said and done. Perhaps in the future, they won’t be so willing to support Democrats en masse.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Deana,

    Unfortunately, we can have a “I told you so” attitude, but the damage will have been done.

    Regarding your last point, I think that you are optimistic. Let’s see what Bookworm has to say.