Re: Race

1

Funny, I was just going to post that, you softie. Great speech.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
2

That is a heck of a speech.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
3

Great speech. I wonder if this is a one-off in response to the Wright controversy or if it will become a standard part of his campaign?


Posted by: jamacker | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
4

Holy shit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
5

Damn. What a speech.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
6

Hey, he ripped off Romney's speech on religion! JK.

The difference between those two speeches is astounding.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
7

for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

He's not that different, it seems.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
8

nattar:

I didnt like that phrase.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
9

Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

Or this.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
10

I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

This is very good.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
11

I AWAIT BOB MCMANUS'S JUDGMENT ON THIS MATTER.


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
12

9.---That was a wince moment for me, but I suspect it was absolutely necessary, politically speaking.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
13

Publius at ObWi made a good point: Obama distances and rejects the weird Wright views, but he doesn't go for the full-throttle disavowal (p. claims this is the manner of Kerry or Daschle), which is both good and politically savvy, I think.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
14

re: 12

I don't think it was. He already gently distances himself from and disavows Wright's view later in the speech. He doesn't have to affirm a load of bollocks in the process.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
15

Whatever. Who was really worried about his preacher? I suppose he had to put a marker down. But the five weeks between now and PA will be more important.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
16

I'm hoping that this controversy might help some low-information voters stop thinking Obama's a Muslim. That would be nice!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
17

He doesn't have to affirm a load of bollocks in the process.

Sayeth the man from overseas.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
18

I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible

Except Canada, or the UK, or, well, probably lots of places, actually.

Unless he means, in no other country on earth would his achievements be so slighted and minimized as they have been here over the past few months. But even that, probably not so distinctive.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
19

7: Not great, but probably politically necessary. He's not running for President of the World, and we're an exceptionalist people. (It's not solely an American phenomenon, of course.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
20

15: This was a play that was more important and necessary for the general than the primary, in my opinion. If it helps in the primary, it would be among those who were waffling on electability grounds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
21

for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

Oh, America. God and Country and Optimism. The city on the hill.

Pretty conventional stuff, I think, though nicely put together -- and with a little Souljah moment wrapped up in there, too.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
22

but I suspect it was absolutely necessary, politically speaking.

that's a pretty depressing thought.

for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

And this one is stupid. Is that really politically neccessary also?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
23

"We are no greater than any other country!!" is not going to show up on many stump speeches in the United States.

Nor is "Just As Good As the Rest of the World!"


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
24

15: It's getting a lot of press from people who wouldn't vote for a black man anyway, and the media's following it because they're dumb.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
25

re: 17

What does my being overseas have to do with it? He doesn't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
26

23: Yes, this is also pretty stupid.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
27

Pretty conventional stuff

Really?? A black politician acknowledging white resentment? And steadfastly not throwing his crazy preacher under a bus?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
28

re: 23

It's not just that politicians feel they have to nod in that direction. They run enthusiastically to embrace it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
29

Had he grown up in any other country on Earth, he wouldn't be eligible to run for president of the united States.

So there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
30

"We are no greater than any other country!!" is not going to show up on many stump speeches in the United States.

But that's not the choice he faces. It's not necessary to affirm falsehoods in either direction.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
31

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened.

Kaus is on board!

(The exceptionalism stuff isn't politically necessary. It's politically conventional. It's a cheap fluff that's pernicious in the aggregate. It would be harmful to try to counteract it, and while Obama has cast himself as the sort of leader who might teach anti-exceptionalism, I wouldn't hold your breath for it.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
32

We are no greater than any other country!!" is not going to show up on many stump speeches in the United States.

The point, rather, is that in most other democracies "WE ARE GOD'S GREATEST FUCKING GIFT!" is not a staple of election campaigns.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
33

I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible

Look, people: the knocks against Obama coming into this speech were, specifically, 1) "God Damn America," 2) "For the first time in my life as an adult, I'm proud of this country," and 3) that stupid-ass lapel pin stupidity. There were more general swirlings-around of omigod is he an Angry Black Man and whatnot, but those three specific moments were getting tied together by even the most liberal media. He had to make some show of patriotism beyond the "damn, we've got a nice Constitutional document and, hey, our mountains are pretty cool."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
34

re: 32

Indeed, it's pretty actively deprecated. Seen as sinister and suspicious. Which is probably because it's sinister and suspicious.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
35

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

I found myself reading this in the voice of Cedric Daniels from the Wire. Try it, it's awesome.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
36

The point, rather, is that in most other democracies

In most other *empires*, however, it is. And that's probably a better lens through which to view it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
37

It's not just that politicians feel they have to nod in that direction. They run enthusiastically to embrace it.

He is already getting slammed about the stupid flag pin and the National anthem. Give the guy a break.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
38

while Obama has cast himself as the sort of leader who might teach anti-exceptionalism, I wouldn't hold your breath for it

"In no other country on Earth is my story even possible" is not casting yourself in anti-exceptionalist terms, it is affirming to your audience that your election to the Presidency will be the next Great Move in the American Morality Play.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
39

Yes, but it is a staple here. He's already exotic and has a foreign father and his wife made a gaffe. He's not going to be saying 'America! Almost as good as Canada but More Warlike and Without the Health Care.'

Someone might be able to say 'America, good enough', but it ain't gonna be the black guy who grew up in Indonesia.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
40

He had to make some show of patriotism

Maybe he did. But it might have been nice to do it in a less insulting manner. It's not necessary that we respect this man, is it? We could just vote for him, right?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
41

What does my being overseas have to do with it? He doesn't.

How many American Presidential elections have you watched in which the candidate doesn't tip his hat to the awesomeness of America and its (majority white) citizens? He is, after all, trying to win.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
42

for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

Can we listen to what he's actually saying, please? "Story," not "success." The assimilated middle-class-ness + black Christianity + leftish politics is what makes the story unique. That particular combination seems distinctively American to me.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
43

The point, rather, is that in most other democracies "WE ARE GOD'S GREATEST FUCKING GIFT!" is not a staple of election campaigns.

I'll bet that they do.

Did Churchill's Iron Curtain speech not include reference to the greatness that is Britain?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
44

I think that his talk about outsourcing is a simplistic way to describe the economic worries of most Americans.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
45

re: 36
And this is supposed to persuade us that it's all fine and dandy? That's part of the point. All the strutting and crowing is probably a symptom of the problem as much as it's a cause, but either way, it's infuriating.

re: 37

He doesn't have to say some of that stuff. He handles other things in the speech with some subtlety and political nous. The 'yay, we rock' stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
46

It's not necessary that we respect this man, is it? We could just vote for him, right?

Hi, welcome to democracy. Aristocracy is down the hall.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
47

Yes, American exceptionalism is annoying and pernicious, but Obama went pretty easy, given his situation, as JM and Cala explain.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
48

re: 43

A speech that happened over 60 years ago given by a man born in the 19th century? Jesus wept.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
49

But it might have been nice to do it in a less insulting manner.

Great. So he could have wrapped up the faculty coffee klatch vote. Oh well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
50

Geez people.

Have you seen another major candidate address the issues of race this way?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
51

How many American Presidential elections have you watched in which the candidate doesn't tip his hat to the awesomeness of America and its (majority white) citizens? He is, after all, trying to win.

I'm happy to agree that this is a wholly conventional and effective political stump speech, though of course the fact that Obama is black means he can say some of it in a way that his white counterparts could not. But that also means it's not some kind of awesome and deep statement about Race In America.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
52

The assimilated middle-class-ness + black Christianity + leftish politics is what makes the story unique.

I say again to you, UK. It's just embarrassing.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
53

Nor is "Just As Good As the Rest of the World!"

OTOH, Bush won in 2004 effectively on the slogan "Not as bad as Usama bin Ladin!", which is about equally unambitious.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
54

Oh, man. I'm here for Ashley, too.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
55

Hi, welcome to democracy. Aristocracy is down the hall

Um, flip? "respect" is in the post.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
56

And this is supposed to persuade us that it's all fine and dandy?

It's how the game is played here, people. I don't like it any more than the rest of you, but it's like me complaining that I hate hearing politicians rattle on about Jesus, which I do.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:18 AM
horizontal rule
57

it's like me complaining that I hate hearing politicians rattle on about Jesus

There's plenty of that in the speech, too.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
58

34: It's an empire thing. Everyone's all 'wow, we're wonderful, go us, take up the white man's burden and shove it up your ass', until your empire's gone bankrupt and someone else is the empire.

Then it is recognized as pernicious.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
59

But that also means it's not some kind of awesome and deep statement about Race In America.

Agreed. But, to my mind, the reason he had to make the speech at all is to answer various people's "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions. It's not the best position from which to assert anything much more that the safe.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
60

What a strange reaction. These are criticisms of American politics, not of Obama; the question concerning Obama is how far he can go in reasonableness while remaining viable, and again and again, he goes just about as far as possible. I do respect him, Slol, and you know he can't disavow American exceptionalism, particularly when his patriotism is under attack for stupid shit like the lapel pin and now what his pastor said.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
61

re: 56

But to those of us who live in the rest of the world, it's a damn sight more sinister than 'how the game is played here'. I realize it's probably not going to go away any time soon, at least not until you experience a bit of a catastrophic adjustment in power and self-image, but that doesn't mean it isn't genuinely pernicious in really non-trivial ways.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
62

I think Obama speaks about American exceptionalism for one reason above all: he really believes it.

He's had what he understands (rightfully, I think) to be a remarkable life. His religious beliefs are sincere, as is his story of how he came to that faith through Rev. Wright. And, after all, Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ -- the descendants of the original American exceptionalist, "city on a hill" people, the Puritans.


Posted by: Martinius | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
63

57: Of course there is. I'd also love to hear a candidate talk about the perniciousness of modern capitalism and the vapidity of modern Christianity, but it sure as hell wouldn't be a winning strategy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
64

52, the African-American story is pretty uniquely USA-based. If you're arguing that "the black church" means the same thing in the UK as it does in Chicago, I'm going to ask for a source.

Jesus, people. The man is running for President of the United States. It's fine to carp about the rhetorical staple of American exceptionalism--I'm quite grateful to know it's perceived as weird elsewhere--but if you were actually to advise a national candidate against it, I'd ask you to hand over your resignation to the campaign.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
65

Yes, American exceptionalism is annoying and pernicious, but Obama went pretty easy, given his situation, as JM and Cala explain.

Seriously. Yes, American political rhetoric is in a bad, jingoistic place. Yes, America is totally obnoxious in this regard, but the extent to which Obama generally resists pandering to it is actually quite striking, given the fact that he's trying to get elected in this country, not some other one.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
66

42: For what it's worth, variants of his particular story seem at least equally likely in Canada.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
67

he can't disavow American exceptionalism

I'm not asking him to. I'm asking him not to gratuitously reinforce it.

No, I'm not even asking that. I'm just saying I would like it, in the way I would like a pony. And that until I get my pony politician, I will just vote for him, I will not respect him.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
68

And, after all, Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ -- the descendants of the original American exceptionalist, "city on a hill" people, the Puritans.

UCC #1!!!!! Wooooooooo!!!!! With Obama and SpongeBob on our side, no one can withstand the power of our kind and reasonable liberalism!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
69

re: 60
No-one's asking him to disavow American exceptionalism.

There's a difference between disavowing it, and enthusiastically cheerleading for it. He can not do the latter, without doing the former. And I don't buy that he has to do the latter for reasons of political expediency.

"I love my country, it's a wonderful country" can be said without also tacking on "and everywhere else is a shite-hole not fit to kiss our shiny boots".


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
70

nattarGcM, you keep saying he "doesn't have to" say this stuff. That's a distinct claim from "he shouldn't". Do you have any evidence at all that that is true? We're trying to tell you he _actually does_ have to say that stuff. You may not like it, but it's true.


Posted by: mealworm | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
71

pwned by Slol.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
72

Wrongshore: on either the american exceptionalism bullshit or the middle east bullshit I certainly wouldn't advise a candidate not to toe that line --- that's crazy in the political climate. For myself, I was just noting that it is depressing that (for decades!) these particular inanities must be voiced.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
73

Did Churchill's Iron Curtain speech not include reference to the greatness that is Britain?

Since it was a speech delivered in Fulton, Missouri, I'm guessing he soft-pedalled that aspect a bit. In fact since the entire point of the Iron Curtain speech was to try and enlist US support in a permanent alliance aimed at saving our assess from the Russians, a whole load of "WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!!1!" rhetoric would have looked a bit odd, a bit like it does when your Treasury Secretary of the day goes abroad to simultaneously lecture the Chinese on free markets and borrow money off them.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
74

I'd also love to hear a candidate talk about the perniciousness of modern capitalism and the vapidity of modern Christianity, but it sure as hell wouldn't be a winning strategy.

Amen.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
75

Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ -- the descendants of the original American exceptionalist, "city on a hill" people, the Puritans.

Wouldn't that actually be the Congregationalists?

UCC is super-lefty-inclusive. Congregationalists -- say, Howard Dean -- belong to the Maidstone Club and the NYYC.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
76

And I don't buy that he has to do the latter for reasons of political expediency.

It's possible that this isn't clear from over there, but Obama's black. And the speech is in response to raised questions about his Americanness and his commitment to the US. An issue-- when raised, twenty-odd years ago, in connection with African-Americans and hippies and anti-war folks, and, hell, Democrats--which gave us Nixon and Reagan and arguably '04 Bush.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
77

Amen.

And also depressing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
78

"he shouldn't"

He shouldn't, unless he really does have to. He shouldn't, because this is, as Cala says, a pernicious belief. America has certainly had some exceptional experiences, but that does not make it an intrinsically exceptional country. And believing that it is absolves you from all kinds of important things--responsibility, planning ahead, providing for the least among you, etc.

And I don't think he really has to. He has to explain and affirm his patriotism, which doesn't, as nattarGcM says, necessarily involve saying no other country is worth a damn.

Especially as, going forward, for both economic and military reasons, making nice with other countries should be the watchword of a responsible US president.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
79

What a strange reaction. These are criticisms of American politics, not of Obama; the question concerning Obama is how far he can go in reasonableness while remaining viable, and again and again, he goes just about as far as possible.

Jesus, people. The man is running for President of the United States

I understand the difference. But the speech reminds people who are not in the tank for Obama of just how conventional an American politician he is -- indeed, how conventional he has to be, in order to stand a chance. And this grates, because we're constantly being told at the same time how different and awesome he is. Of course it'd be a huge symbolic event if he were elected, but I find it hard to see how you can simultaneously believe he's a really transformative force in U.S. politics and that he must hit all the conventional notes of that politics.

Everyone is going to be really, really disappointed when the rhetorical realpolitik they excuse now (in the belief that he will reveal his true self later) turns into actual realpolitik if he gets elected. He really does stand a good chance of being like Kennedy, I think: a charismatic leader who inspired his followers, and who accomplished next to nothing. I hope I'm wrong.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
80

But, to my mind, the reason he had to make the speech at all is to answer various people's "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions

I take it that the learning moment when anyone in American politics realises that the whole point of "when did you stop beating your wife" questions is that you shouldn't answer them, and that grovelling and waving your little flag pendant just wastes your time and doesn't advance the ball one tiny inch, is some way in the future. The myth of Bill Clinton having won an election by calculated pandering to racism seems to me to have very little evidence in its favour other than the very obviously self-interested testimony of the consultants who persuaded him to do it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
81

Is it so bad to say that our country is a unique amazing story? Sure, other countries have amazing aspects as well, but, your leader is supposed to be a cheerleader for your country.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
82

re: 76

FFS, how hard is it to understand that it's perfectly possible to say positive things about one's own country without saying negative things about all the rest?



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
83

70: This speech sounds like a speech given in the general. And in the general it's War Hero McCain, who will be American exceptionalism geared toward the aim of bombing Iran if his bowels act up. I'm not a fan of exceptionalism, but I don't think it's going away as long as we're a world power. The best we can hope is that it's directed towards good things rather than bad.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
84

And this grates, because we're constantly being told at the same time how different and awesome he is.

He's different in that he will, pretty necessarily, reshuffle the DC deck such that the Democratic Party's singular political efforts won't be merely a constant effort to woo Southern Conservatives and the people who love them. And that, at this time, would be awesome.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
85

I still don't buy that the speech is conventional, Gonerill. I can't think of another black American politician who acknowledged white resentment. This kind of "I hear you" is Obama's signature, and he does it again in this speech. I agree that his potential as a transformative figure is overblown, but even he, in this speech, plays that down and puts things in context. Again, he's going about as far as he can, given his political situation.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
86

Obama will be better than Kennedy, surely.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
87

show me another viable Presidential candidate who addressed issues of race this directly.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
88

75: Member churches of the UCC are Congregationalist, Presbyterian and other denominations. As for the ueber-lefty, the only UCC churches in Manhattan that I know of are Judson Memorial and another church in the 100s on Broadway, neither of which is likely to have a substantial overlap with Maidstone or the NYYC*, but New England UCC churches with which I am familiar are politically pretty boring, collections for hospitals and farms in Africa and Southeast Asia aside.

* We're not Episcopalians, for God's sake.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
89

Actually, here's the text of the Iron Curtain speech and it's about the worst possible example anyone could have picked. The nearest it comes to national boasting is:

"Let no man underrate the abiding power of the British Empire and Commonwealth. Because you see the 46 millions in our island harassed about their food supply, of which they only grow one half, even in war-time, or because we have difficulty in restarting our industries and export trade after six years of passionate war effort, do not suppose we shall not come through these dark years of privation as we have come through the glorious years of agony. "

I for one would have loved to see someone say "Do not underestimate the USA, we fucked up royally in Iraq and we seem to have pissed the dot com money up against a wall in about the stupidest way possible, but we are still here and in about 50 years' time we will be a great country again". Remember that this was Winston Fucking Churchill, a year after he'd lost an election by a landslide, admittedly not on the campaign trail but still with every incentive to blow cigar smoke up the UK's collective backside if he thought it was good politics.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
90

you shouldn't answer them

Which is why it's almost certain that every politician since has uttered LBJ's epigram about wishing various idealistic election strategists had, at some point in their lives, at least run for dog catcher.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
91

Not happy with the Obama/Kennedy comparisons.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
92

Sure, other countries have amazing aspects as well, but, your leader is supposed to be a cheerleader for your country.

you elected a cheerleader eight years ago, how did that turn out?

Come on guys - the claim here is implicitly that no other country gives the black people breaks like the good old U S of A. Laugh test, guys, laugh test.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
93

I was guessing dsquared. I went back and read the speech and you are correct.

I was thinking about something to do with "only Britain standing in the breech."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
94

holy missing the point, people.

There are, and have always been, two ways to use American exceptionalism: use the pretty fairy tales about America to get the public to ignore the ugly reality, or to challenge them to try to make the myths come true. They are not the same thing at all. To treat them as the same thing is really fucking obnoxious & (for people who live in other countries) politically undermines the people in America who are on your side.

The major news networks have been engaged for several days now in active attempt to enforce the bad kind of American exceptionalism as political orthodoxy: fraternizing with a black man who says "God damn America" is apparently a worse political sin than causing the deaths of thousands of Americans & hundreds of thousands in Iraqis in an unncessary war. (I didn't notice anyone now denouncing Obama's speech taking any stand on the controversy that made it necessary.)
Obama's speech was an answer to & rejection of that, which required some courage. Say "in no other country is my life possible" when arguably it's possible in Canada, England, & a few other places (none of whom I've actually noticed electing black heads of state, but never mind), & therefore he's just the same as all the others, is ridiculous.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
95

show me another viable Presidential candidate who addressed issues of race this directly.

Strom Thurmond.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
96

I still don't buy that the speech is conventional, Gonerill. I can't think of another black American politician who acknowledged white resentment.

Well, maybe I'm just sick of the God, Flag and Country stuff and it's making me jaundiced. Reading the speech again, I'm probably underestimating the advantage he has in being able to say things that others couldn't say without getting sucked in to a more familiar racist rhetoric. It's true that just being able to get some of this stuff on TV from a major party candidate is a novelty.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
97

Laugh test, guys, laugh test.

I wouldn't think the difference between speaking Truth to Power and winning would be so obscure.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
98

Not happy with the Obama/Kennedy comparisons.

The most obvious way Obama's likely to turn out like Kennedy is the one we'd all prefer not to mention, but what don't you like about them?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
99

88: No, that's my point. Maidstone and NYYC -- those places are for members of Congregationalist churches that still call themselves Congregationalist and are NOT UCC affiliated. New England is full of them, and they are WAY more WASPY than these new-fangled Episcopalians of which you speak.

(I have been to Judson Memorial many times, but for performance art and interpretive dance.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
100

and while we bitch about this, McCain keeps trying to connect Iran with Iraq.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
101

I found myself reading this in the voice of Cedric Daniels from the Wire. Try it, it's awesome.

I did that too, and was maybe halfway through before I realized what I was doing. Obama/Reddick!


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
102

It's an exceptional speech. Respectable and exceptional and more nuanced than I have come to expect from our political discourse.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
103

Gonerill, I expect that he'll be a lot like Kennedy. I'm not expecting much beyond good rhetoric. In my mind, his main selling point is that he will be less bellicose than HRC. And I do think he won't actively push bad legislation which is almost as important as getting good things done.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
104

I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's interesting to see everyone get all mcmanus-y over this. You'd think the guy called for invading Poland or something.

From where I sit, Obama's got a pretty unusual story, and if similar stories have played out in the UK or Canada, I'm unaware of it. America really does have some peculiar diversity characteristics, some of which are quite nice.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
105

75 - UCC was formed as a merger of a couple of different churches, but the main bodies were the Congregationalist Church and the German Reformed Church. I believe the UCC is organized in a congregational, rather than a presbyterian, manner.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
106

none of whom I've actually noticed electing black heads of state, but never mind

Canada and England don't actually elect their head of state. Also, while we're in the land of "never mind", he hasn't actually won yet.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
107

99 - But the vast majority of the Congregationalist community joined the UCC when it was created.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
108

For Obama to be like Kennedy, he'd have to, I dunno, approve a failed invasion of Venezuala in the first few months. And then send a couple tens of thousands of soldiers to, say, Somalia.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
109

AND GET SHOT IN THE HEAD.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
110

Also, while we're in the land of "never mind", he hasn't actually won yet.

Which, you seem to keep forgetting, is what he's trying to do.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
111

For Obama to be like Kennedy, he'd have to, I dunno, approve a failed invasion of Venezuala in the first few months. And then send a couple tens of thousands of soldiers to, say, Somalia.

No, he'd just have to get very little done, stay stuck in Iraq (which is inevitable whoever gets elected, btw) and have some Peace Corps equivalent as his major accomplishment.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
112

Okay, head of gov't. And I realize he's not been elected, but is there any black politician as prominent as Obama in England or Canda?

If Obama were born in Germany in 1960 to an African father & a German mother, would he have even been a citizen?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
113

And convert to catholicism, like Cala said.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
114

People who are not immersed in our media do not realize what the media's norms are, and do not realize that violating those norms would make the media think you are a very weird, possibly silly, possibly sinister, but not trustworthy person. Being taken seriously by the media is necessary and sufficient to be a serious candidate, in our land where the right to freedom of speech means campaigns are endless, have infinite resources for advertising, and are totally unfair. Europeans cannot imagine what it's like, and that's all that needs to be said.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
115

113: And sleep with women left, right, and center.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:50 AM
horizontal rule
116

99: I have likely been in many New England Congregationalist churches, and while they are all quite Honky McWhitey (with the occasional exception), they are not particularly snooty. Old school, yes, because the denomination is an old and aging one, but not very toney.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:50 AM
horizontal rule
117

Ghaaa, you all are a bunch of bitter, cynical, postmodern ironists.

Obama is embracing American exceptionalism because Obama wants America to be exceptional. He's invoking the positive aspects of American mythology in order to bring them into being. That's how change occurs.

You don't get Camelot by focusing on the Bay Of Pigs. You don't get a shining city on a hill by focusing on Iran-Contra. Etc.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:50 AM
horizontal rule
118

Europeans cannot imagine what it's like, and that's all that needs to be said.

Some of us live over here, and don't need to imagine it.

(Also: an exceptionalist argument deployed to rebut complaints about America's fascination with its exceptionalism. Neat.)


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
119

I shouldn't say Europeans "cannot imagine". But they can't know what it's like.

Saying that any industry should be nationalized would make the media treat you as a silly weirdo forever. Same thing with saying that the US's narrative is not unique.
(back to lurking)


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
120

(Also: an exceptionalist argument deployed to rebut complaints about America's fascination with its exceptionalism. Neat.)

You can't say that countries differ in the composition of their mainstream media without it being an "exceptionalist argument"?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
121

Dude, Ned, why even pretend? Just come out and play!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
122

112: Canada's Governor General is both black and French. Not to mention female. Admittedly, she was appointed, not elected, but I'd say she's, you know, fairly high-profile.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
123

LBJ's epigram about wishing various idealistic election strategists had, at some point in their lives, at least run for dog catcher

That wasn't LBJ, that was Sam Rayburn. And, interestingly, he wasn't talking about idealists, he was talking about the allegedly brilliant minds who wanted a war in Vietnam.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
124

Ghaaa, you all are a bunch of bitter, cynical, postmodern ironists.

Except Katherine.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
125

Obama's speech was an answer to & rejection of that, which required some courage.

It's making me sad. Saying that he'll never forget that his life story could only take place in the country it took place in -- which, okay, is supposed to flatter the patriotic impulse, but is also almost trivially true -- is all it takes to count as "saying negative things about all the rest" of the world? Especially in the context of making a twitchy electorate feel okay about all the ways in which he doesn't wear a big jingo pin? I've been really hoping that an Obama presidency might make our friends abroad think that the US represents more than just a pile of self-loving xenophobic fools, but maybe our current position really is just insurmountable.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
126

You can't say that countries differ in the composition of their mainstream media without it being an "exceptionalist argument"?

You can't say "Europeans cannot imagine what it's like, and that's all that needs to be said," no.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
127

is there any black politician as prominent as Obama in England

Yes. At least, as prominent as Obama before O became a presidential contender.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
128

One place where America is a little out of step with the rest of the world is in that just being born here automatically makes you a citizen (with a few exceptions). (This comes up on immigration boards with conservative people decrying all those anchor babies and wishing we were more like Europe because then they could deport everyone.) Obama wouldn't have been a German citizen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
129

I'm guessing Ned is making a joke. Exceptionalism to mock exceptionalism. Nah.

He probably just hates women.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
130

You don't get Camelot by focusing on the Bay Of Pigs

You don't get Camelot, period. And inasmuch as you did get Camelot, it was because there was a Civil Rights movement. Which kind of focused on the country's problems. Ever hear an MLK speech? He had a dream that someday. He didn't have a dream that right now. Or if he did, he then woke up. And went to work to fix the country's real, acknowledged problems.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
131

Why didn't Obama go on stage and say, "I fully support Rev Wright's remarks... Let me tell you some interesting facts about American history... from the slave trade... to Andrew Jackson... to the Civil War... you damn bastards in the south... Jim Crow laws... the Spanish-American war... Woodrow Wilson was a racist... then we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan... then we needed a goddamn civil rights movement... of course MLK was shot... what the fuck was up with Vietnam... people say America is a great country, but it stinks. And for those out there who are afraid of angry black men... well I have five words for you -- BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID! Bye everyone, and oh yeah the Flying Spaghetti Monster tells all you superstitious dimwits to fuck off."

I mean, seriously?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
132

128: but the U.K. & Canada have birthright citizenship, right? Or don't they?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
133

Saying that any industry should be nationalized would make the media treat you as a silly weirdo forever

Unless, of course, you were referring to the biggest banks in the country.

Joke! fer Chrissakes, joke! With kernel of truth.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
134

rfts--I did read somewhere--I think it was in the Times Of London, which I think of as center-rightish--that Obama was the rest of the world's choice for president, given that the U.S. president affects so many people outside of the U.S. I think that it was a column by Simon Jenkins. These aren't teh neocons of the Telegraph (who, I believe, have largely been expunged following Conrad Black's ouster) or anything.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
135

but the U.K. & Canada have birthright citizenship

UK, no.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
136

One place where America is a little out of step with the rest of the world is in that just being born here automatically makes you a citizen (with a few exceptions).

Likewise Britain. e.g. Mrs OFE, born in London to an American mother and an Irish father and taken to the States 6 weeks later. British citizen.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
137

American exceptionalism guarantees that shit like this will not happen here, never mind the Franklin mint.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
138

That wasn't LBJ, that was Sam Rayburn. And, interestingly, he wasn't talking about idealists, he was talking about the allegedly brilliant minds who wanted a war in Vietnam.

Fucker, no facts on Unfogged, you un-American cheater. And Rayburn may have said it first, but I've seen it attributed to both LBJ and Clinton in circs that (IIRC) referenced idealists.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
139

Likewise Britain

Not always. Depends on the visa status of parents. Speaking from experience.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
140

Of course, Obama's mother is American so you don't need the full-on "if you're born here you're a citizen rule". But I am a staunch supporter of that rule, obviously.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
141

I've seen it attributed

Oh, that's awesome.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
142

Slol isn't quite wrong. There are a few exceptions which wouldn't affect anybody Obama's age.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
143

At least, as prominent as Obama before O became a presidential contender.

Oh, well, in that case, there have been many, many other politicians like Obama in the United States, except they've been white. So I guess he really isn't doing something unusual at all, even for this country.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
144

131: Dude, if Obama gave that speech, I'd not only vote for him, I'd phonebank, canvass, and send him every fucking paycheck.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
145

rfts, don't be sad. The world is going to have a crush on Obama like none ever seen before.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
146

Birthright citizenship, as far as I am aware, is as uniquely American as the Fourteenth Amendment.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
147

131: Really. I'm still trying to work out what was actually wrong with Wright's comments.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
148

132: UK, Canada, and the U.S., but I believe the U.S. is the only one that doesn't care about the parent's legal status at all. I could be wrong about that. Children of illegal aliens are citizens. This pisses off some people.

They're thinking more of places like Germany, e.g., requires at least one parent to be a long-term permanent resident for the child to be a citizen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
149

there have been many, many other politicians like Obama in the United States, except they've been white

You know what, pf? It does in fact depend what Obama means by "my story." If, a few months from now, it turns out he's hosed out of the nomination, or if, a few months after that, he loses the general election, he will be about as prominent as Boateng--the black Christian cabinet minister child of an African parent.



Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
150

145: That is for certain, Wrongshore.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
151

144: That would be a campaign of two. Like Of Mice And Men. And he'd have to kill you at the end.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
152

I'm still trying to work out what was actually wrong with Wright's comments.

Wrong as in incorrect? Nothing, except the Bill Clinton was worse than Jim Crow bit. Wrong as in all scary-like to the residents of Greater Honkistan? Well.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
153

137: "They desire a better country." What kind of motto is that? Passive aggressive, that's what.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
154

151: Stras says, "Tell me about the Wobblies, Barack?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
155

You all keep ignoring the same point that's been getting hammered repeatedly. It's strawman after strawman after strawman.

To repeat, no-one is asking him to get all Pilgerchomsky on the public's ass, or start spelling out painful home 'truths' in a manner tantamount to political suicide. He should just not repeat the same old shit about how y'all are fucking amazing and the rest of the world don't mean shit. Because that shit pisses the rest of the world off.*

* and right now is maybe a good time for you to collectively begin to worry about that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
156

151: Why am I necessarily Lennie, then? Just because of my misplaced affection for rabbits?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
157

BG at 134 is quite right. The rest of the world - seriously, in the corridors of power - are coming round to a "no more Repubs at any price" view, and Obama's apparent semi-rationality on foreign affairs tends to recommend him.

Hell, even I'd support him if I were American, and I think he's a slimy SOB I wouldn't trust with a dollar to fetch the milk. (But does he know anything about economics, or know anybody who does?)


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
158

a slimy SOB

Really? Why?

to fetch the milk

Unfortunate phrase.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
159

and right now is maybe a good time for you to collectively begin to worry about that

The day after the election would be a fine time to worry about that. Right now the only thing that matters is assembling 270 Electoral College votes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
160

155: And what you're ignoring is that for an American presidential candidate not gesturing at American exceptionalism is political suicide, especially when you're the guy with the Sekrit Indonesia Madrassah Tribal Albatross hanging around your neck.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
161

the rest of the world don't mean shit.

Maybe you could quote that bit? Because I just looked over the speech, and I didn't see it. (Actually, I didn't notice any references to the rest of the world, but I skimmed.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
162

great speech, true friendship and true streghth
Obama is great, hope he wins
what i recalled reading about Ashley
when i was 6-7 i got collagenosis and the doctors prescribed me to eat only 'white food' diet without anything which might exacerbate allergic or auto immune reactions which is basically everything tasting good, so my family ate that diet too for two yrs all meat, all candies, all cakes, chocolate and icecream were banned from our diet, just b/c if i would see it i would crave for it, i healed without any recurrences of the disease


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
163

A slimy SOB because he talks a pretty game and appears extremely reluctant to come down to specifics without being pressured. All things to all people. Man for all seasons.

Over here the expression "I wouldn't trust someone to fetch the milk" (used to be "bring in" in the days it was delivered) is commonplace. What's unfortunate about it?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
164

the rest of the world don't mean shit

Maybe if your leaders told you you were awesome you wouldn't be so insecure.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
165

I'm waiting for the Sekrit Indonesia Madrassah Tribal Albatross to strangle Obama's candidacy like a fascist octopus.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
166

163: black servants, etc. I know it wasn't meant to so allude.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
167

re: 164

Heh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
168

Maybe you could quote that bit? Because I just looked over the speech, and I didn't see it. (Actually, I didn't notice any references to the rest of the world, but I skimmed.)

This entire discussion is apparently because Obama didn't say "My story is uniquely American", but instead said "My story would not have been possible in any country but America".

What is it with foreigners, they're getting to be like feminists these days!


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
169

165: Fuck, and I thought when I mixed metaphors I used a blender, but here you are with the equivalent of the stand mixer of doom.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
170

re: 168

What is it with foreigners, they're getting to be like feminists these days!

You mean, 'basically right'?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
171

[Heston]Take your stinking comments off our country, you damned dirty foreigners.[/Heston]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
172

What is it with foreigners, they're getting to be like feminists these days!

Which is actually kind of the point. The phrasing touched a nerve. You might ask, hmm. Maybe there's something in this. Instead of saying, oh honey, be a sport; everyone likes a good pubic-hair-on-the-Coke joke.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
173

You mean, 'basically right'?

I think he just called you hairy-legged, ttaM.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
174

144: Yes, Stras, but he would still lose.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
175

163: sort-of-answered in 166, but to go further:

"Fetch" in that context is going to be misinterpreted over here much the same way "niggardly" was (and is), as in context the allusion to Stepin Fetchit (unintentional as it might have been) will rouse a lot of old race issues.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
176

Hasn't anyone ever heard of the criticism sandwich? The substantial, important part of the speech began with the line : But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now, and goes on for 20+ paragraphs talking about how the black ghettos of today are the direct result of slavery and segregation, etc., etc. This really good honest assessment of race in the United States is sandwiched between praise in order for it to be acceptable to the American public. Obama's speech was one big criticism sandwich.


Posted by: Grumps the Lawyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
177

Only at unfogged could this conversation be taking place in regards to this speech.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
178

Couldn't we just think of it as an irritating tautology rather than an enraging jingoistic slur, and let the rest of us get back to our crush?

Because that shit pisses the rest of the world off.

The world's crush on Obama will be so overweening that he'll be able to say shit like "We started kicking England's ass in 1776 and we haven't let up since" and y'all will just be like "It's funny cos it's true!"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
179

He should just not repeat the same old shit about how y'all are fucking amazing and the rest of the world don't mean shit.

But... but... HE ISN'T. He isn't repeating that. Are you locating this sentiment in "I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible," or somewhere else? Because this strikes me as a pretty weak example of shitting on the rest of the world. The rest of the world doesn't have a Kansas, or a Hawaii, or the same history of slavery, or the particular mix of racial tensions we have here, and it also doesn't have the same electoral system. Yes, he's saying, "So yay for America, that it might produce President Me!" but I don't buy that this constitutes an enormous implied insult to the rest of the world.

He is saying America is (in some ways) super. And I certainly understand why that kind of triumphalism seems gross. But as Katherine said, it's part of a challenge to his audience to do something positive with their existing sense that America is exceptional, and to recognize that the praiseworthy aspects of American history are interspersed with, and often a reaction to, the more shameful aspects. This means that all the RAH RAH is snuggled right up next to some pretty frank discussion of why a reasonable person would think that America sucks.

and right now is maybe a good time for you to collectively begin to worry about that.

I do, believe me, and have been doing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
180

Which is actually kind of the point. The phrasing touched a nerve. You might ask, hmm. Maybe there's something in this.

Or maybe we should just accept, with sadness, that the Obama campaign has decided to forgo the votes of foreign nationals.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:31 PM
horizontal rule
181

Hasn't anyone ever heard of the criticism sandwich?

I think you want the McGreevey thread.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
182

OK, I have no idea who or what Stepin Fetchit is/was.

There's not much of a tradition of black servants in these parts. In the empire, people hired servants among the local population, and in some places they were black. But "servanthood" isn't the basis of British racism.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
183

This means that all the RAH RAH is snuggled right up next to some pretty frank discussion of why a reasonable person would think that America sucks.

I get that. The rah rah still pisses me off.

And yes, it is all because of the 'in no other country on Earth is my story even possible' line. Because it panders to total ignorance about the rest of the world. It's laughably false.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
184

Barring the UK, Canada, and maybe France, also immigrant magnets with upward mobility, he's right vis-a-vis immigrant parents. All these countries lack the history of slavery and Jim Crow that exists here, so the parallel is a bit shallow. Maybe France and Algerians, and yes it is nice that Rachida Dati is in government, but was she elected in a popular vote? Sometimes the amnesia stateside is a blessing.

In any case, BHO is as much of an anti-imperialist as will ever come close to power here. May as well wait for a Chinese premier who thinks that calligraphy doesn't matter.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
185

May as well wait for a Chinese premier who thinks that calligraphy doesn't matter.

"Obama: 'Penmanship Counts, You Racists'."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
186

155: All American presidential candidates should campaign on a platform of discarding 300 years of political rhetorical tradition and aspiring to be a shining, post-racial, not at all racist or crappy or full of disgusting fat soccer hooligans ugly pompous fucking oafs and louche drug addicts country but instead more like the UK. And to not piss off the sensibilities of the powerfully influential inhabitants of those countries who read American websites. Or else!

Yes, I'm a lurker whose deep, deep American pride and rage at spending two unhappy weeks in London has just led me to become a troll. I blame America, gin, and Britain.


Posted by: thumbtack | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
187

Saying that any industry should be nationalized would make the media treat you as a silly weirdo forever

Unless, of course, you were referring to the biggest banks in the country.

Silly slol, we don't want to nationalize the banks, we just want to give them your money.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
188

What am I supposed to think when Charles friggin' Murray says:

I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant--rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
189

177: ha.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
190

I don't buy that this constitutes an enormous implied insult to the rest of the world.

Me neither.

And yes, it is all because of the 'in no other country on Earth is my story even possible' line. Because it panders to total ignorance about the rest of the world. It's laughably false.

Assumes facts not in evidence. In no other country could he run for President of the U.S.A. True he might be up for Prime Minister, but that's decidely different, as the Prime Minister isn't Commander in Chief of the largest and most powerful military in the world, leader of a country (or economy) as large as the US, or (on paper) even the titled ruler of the country (for which you happen to have a sovereign, of whom the PM is still a subject). PM isn't anything to sneeze at, but it certainly isn't equivalent to the Presidency.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
191

Jesus Christ, you cynical black-hearted fuckers. 180 comments about an entirely unexceptional line in a political speech by a presidential candidate that would, let's be honest, not be out of place in any speech by any presidential candidate, ever?

Wah. Obama's not perfect. I'm going to go sit in the corner and pout and not listen to his incredibly courageous speech about race.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
192

you cynical black-hearted fuckers

Racist.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
193

Thanks, slol, I needed that.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
194

It's a great speech. It had one dumb and unnecessary line. It's a great speech.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
195

What a brilliant speech. Dazzling. I really thought Obama was in serious trouble -- he couldn't simply disavow Wright, since the interpersonal connections were too deep and went back too far. The press would have stayed on it and made him crawl. On the other hand, some of Wright's comments really were noxious and people were perfecly justified in being offended by them.

So instead he just vaults over the whole thing by actually telling the goddamn truth about how complicated race is in America, about how nobody is completely right or completely wrong any more, there aren't any heroes or villains, but both sides bear scars. He acknowledged as legitimate the white racial resentment of crime, busing, affirmative action that has been so damaging to the Democratic party, but successfully paralleled it to black nationalism.

And then he embedded it all within his own personal story in a sincere and believable way. He acknowledged his own personal ties to Wright, stayed loyal to Wright as a flawed individual, while showing how he had transcended (or never really could share) Wright's ideology. Just brilliant.

He ended on the mandatory sentimental personal anecdote. But he made it a story about white agency in stepping beyond racial divisions, without for a second invoking white guilt. Just masterful.

I'm just worried it was too complex and multi-layered for our fucked-up political system. But what respect for his audience. He just brings the political game to a higher level. God, I'll become one of those annoying Obama cultists if I don't watch out.

Also, Obama needs to be the post-racial candidate; to the extent he's the black candidate it's a loss. He clearly understands that, but the Wright affair is distracting from it.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
196

194: slol was formerly an East German gymnastics judge.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 12:59 PM
horizontal rule
197

188: holy crap. Ad hominem and all that, but still -- holy crap!


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
198

188: you should think that he has decided that Obama can't win in a general election, and therefore he wants Democrats to be reassured into nominating Obama, right?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:01 PM
horizontal rule
199

Murray's always been one of the more thoughtful right-wingers. He came up back in the 80s/early 90s when they weren't all such total tools. Compare him to today's gems like Jonah Goldberg, for instance. This speech is an interesting litmus test for the right wing; if you can't see the quality here, even if you disagree with the liberal politics, you've got a real race issue.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
200

"But what respect for his audience."

Bingo. Part of what's appealing about Obama as a speaker is his excellent delivery; part of it is that he's a talented writer. But part of it is also this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
201

; part of it is that he's a talented writer

And has talented writers working for him, as well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
202

Murray is scum. Puts a pseudo-scientific patina on his racism. Herbert Spencer come again.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:05 PM
horizontal rule
203

Right, but they all have speechwriters; if he has better ones it's due to mutual recognition of talent.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:06 PM
horizontal rule
204

11:I AWAIT BOB MCMANUS'S JUDGMENT ON THIS MATTER.

And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry
of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can
we make use of? Not Angels: not men,
and the resourceful creatures see clearly
that we are not really at home
in the interpreted world


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
205

And has talented writers working for him, as well.

Ambinder says he wrote this speech himself (no idea how he knows this); I think I read something in the NYT saying that his main speechwriter is 26 years old.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:08 PM
horizontal rule
206

I think Obama probably wrote this, or at least was heavily involved in writing it. The personal angle was too dead on.

If you read Dreams From My Father, you realize that Obama had always badly wanted an older black male father figure to replace his absent father, and provide him with an alternative to the white identity offered through his mother's family. Wright clearly became that figure. The speech reflects his own understanding of this dynamic, by paralleling Wright to his grandmother.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:09 PM
horizontal rule
207

Murray's always been one of the more thoughtful right-wingers.

Hmm. I suppose you could make a case that The Bell Curve is somewhat less ludicrous than, say, Liberal Fascism, but why would you bother?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
208

Right, but they all have speechwriters; if he has better ones it's due to mutual recognition of talent.

I don't disagree. I think a good speechwriter has to be able to write in the vernacular of the candidate. For someone as--dare I say it?--articulate and thoughtful as Obama, that probably amounts to saying that his speechwriters should write speeches he would have written, had he but time.

I didn't know, per #205, that he wrote it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
209

And I don't think Obama's routine stump speeches, the ones presumably written by speechwriters, have actually been all that great. Although they are well delivered. Certainly not as good as this.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
210

The Unfoggetariat, once all whirly-eyed for Obama, has become whirly-eyed for mcmanus. Truly we are doomed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
211

I just assumed he wrote this one. He's written a whole book dealing with these topics; it's critical for his campaign; I doubt he'd farm out the drafting to a 26 year old.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
212

This thread doesn't seem to have too much momentum right now. Can we get into a discussion about prominent black politicians in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom and France that are untarnished by America's legacy of slavery and Jim Crow? That would be fun.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:13 PM
horizontal rule
213

206 is interesting.


Posted by: Pliggett Darcy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
214

211: yeah, absolutely.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
215

I suppose you could make a case that The Bell Curve is somewhat less ludicrous than, say, Liberal Fascism, but why would you bother?

Just saying I wasn't so surprised that Murray was able to recognize the quality and depth of this speech while the pure ideological hacks weren't. One thing to understand about the Bell Curve is that Murray doesn't understand how to run a regression and was way out of his intellectual depth. (Of course it was racist to draw racist conclusions from evidence he didn't even really understand). When he writes on purely conceptual or political philosophy matters you can recognize an actual mind at work, even if you'll generally disagree with it.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
216

211: I read somewhere that he did write this one all by himself.

212: Barbar is cheeky.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
217

What mrh said in 191.

Bear in mind that he said that the U.S. is unique -- unique in a positive way -- but not that "America is the greatest country on earth," which is a step up from the usual exceptionalist rhetoric. Most (all?) of us here hate the American exceptionalism crap, and I hope I'll live to see its demise. But it is a stunning speech within mainstream political discourse in the U.S.

It's sad to me that Hillary (or anyone else) couldn't get away with giving a parallel speech about gender.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
218

When he writes on purely conceptual or political philosophy matters you can recognize an actual mind at work, even if you'll generally disagree with it.

Well, I do think he got this one right.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
219

The part of the speech that jumped out at me was the was he equated the Reagan democrats to "the immigrant experience". Fucking brilliant or too clever by half?


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
220

the was he equated the Reagan democrats to "the immigrant experience".

Accurate, I think. I recall the old definition of Reagan Democrats as "ethnic whites." It has changed now, though, per (I think) Krugman, to something like Southern whites. I don't know how either relates to people who actually voted for Reagan.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
221

219: I would go with fucking brilliant.

On the other hand, maybe it would have been better if he'd called them a bunch of racist fucks too ignorant and full of hate to comprehend their own best interests. I dunno.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
222

OT, but apparently being Governor of New York requires sleeping around.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
223

I'm with apo, Katherine, and Ham-Love. Anybody who doesn't get how astonishing this was -- and how neatly it handled about a billion formerly poisonous themes perfectly -- and is instead focusing on the fact that he said, you know, America is special, either doesn't live in this country or is being totally weird for reasons that are a little hard to fathom.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
224

222: New York had to do something to wrest the Crown of Tawdriness back from New Jersey.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
225

Can we get into a discussion about prominent black politicians in countries like Canada ... that are untarnished by America's legacy of slavery and Jim Crow? That would be fun.

This doesn't make sense. The relevant population in Canada has largely travelled a path affected by the legacy of slavery in the US, it just isn't the same path experienced in the US. . Which is why I commented above that stories somewhat like Obamas, modulo the whole running for US president thing, are in some way less exceptional there than here. This is at least how I interpret the `yeah, but is he really Black enough' stuff that was floating around a few months ago which was questioning the connection Obama had to typical black communities here, given his background was really quite different than theirs.

While the two countries have similar ethnic diversity, it has shaped political dynamics differently. That being said, they are both racist countries and in that sense a highly successful minority politician is going to be exceptional in either place (which points to the flaw in arguments based on show me the equivalent person in country X)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
226

The foreigners around here cannot fully appreciate the greatness of this speech. Or, clearly, the unprecedented awesomeness of America, the city on the hill, the indispensable nation, the last best hope of the earth.

Seriously, though, you need to have been really marinated in American racial resentments to understand the minefield Obama was walking through here and how well he navigated it. He could not personally disavow Wright, yet at the same time Wright's statements were unacceptable. Obama squared that circle while acknowledging white fears and resentments and legitimate.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
227

I'm with Kraab and mrh, too. The line about Israel being blameless for problems involving Israel was kind of cruddy, but utterly, utterly necessary given race relations in this country. The line about his story not being possible in any other country is true, because race relations here have been so fucked up. It's not that we're the greatest country on Earth, it's that we've come so far.

Sheesh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
228

*as* legitimate.

Pwned by Sifu anyway.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
229

Being blind, maybe Paterson can answer that question you-all were discussing, about how long it would take to notice whether the person you are having sex with is your wife.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:30 PM
horizontal rule
230

224: did Patterson confess to threesomes with the Chuck E. Cheese mascot? Because otherwise I think NJ is still in the lead.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:32 PM
horizontal rule
231

The line about Israel being blameless for problems involving Israel was kind of cruddy, but utterly, utterly necessary given race relations in this country.

Kind of cruddy is the understatement of the month, I think. This is by far the more fucked up slip of the two, to my mind. Not only is Israel not blameless, but the US is in part (and only in part) to blame for the general state of fucked-up-edness in the middle east. This goes far, far beyond the clusterfuck in Iraq, I realize it's politically implausible at the moment, but it sure would be nice if a major politician would own up to that.

That being said, the main thrust of the speech did a pretty elegant walk through a minefield, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
232

This speech is an interesting litmus test for the right wing; if you can't see the quality here, even if you disagree with the liberal politics, you've got a real race issue.

Not necessarily a race issue; you could just be an intellectually dishonest Republican-uber-alles type.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
233

231: it sure would be nice, yes. Not happening, although Obama has actually gotten further out on Israel than any of the other major candidates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
234

Not only is Israel not blameless, but the US is in part (and only in part) to blame for the general state of fucked-up-edness in the middle east....I realize it's politically implausible at the moment, but it sure would be nice if a major politician would own up to that.

Ron Paul did just that in several Republican debates. I realize he's far from major, but still. Gotta give the guy credit.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
235

Bob is now responding with Duino Elegies? I look forward to this new phase in his commentary.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
236

183: But, ttaM, whether or not it's "demonstrably false" depends a helluva lot on what you are reading "my story" to mean. Hawaii is a pretty unique state. Kansas is a pretty unique state. Chicago is a pretty unique city. (yes, I shifted from "state" to "city" here -- that's because everybody in Chicago knows that the rest of Illinois doesn't count.) The history of race in each of these three places is pretty distinctive. What it means to be black in Chicago or Kansas or Hawaii is categorically different than what it means to be black in London or the Netherlands or Denmark. Which is what the rest of his speech then digs into -- that the legacy of slavery continues to color the ways white people look at black people and black people look at white people and where it is we find ourselves in the world. His story could not have happened in any other country in the world not because America is the Best Country Ever but because race is experience in this country in ways unique to this country. But honestly, I hardly think that this:

We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

is a statement consistent with reading Obama as a making a rah rah America is better than anyone else point. Seriously, you are pulling an isolated statement out of context and missing the broader, rather bold point the man is making.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
237

Bear in mind that he said that the U.S. is unique -- unique in a positive way -- but not that "America is the greatest country on earth," which is a step up from the usual exceptionalist rhetoric.

Not only that, but it's clearly true that America is unique in a lot of ways, which may or may not be positive. Just listen to the bitching about how whatever left-wing no-hoper seems like a pretty conventional center-right politician by the standards of the rest of the world, or how it's insane how much Americans work, or how it's ludicrous that we spend twice as much money on our military as the next thirty countries put together or whatever.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
238

236: I think that your reading is quite plausible, although it's verging close to triviality (my story couldn't have happened any other way and still be my story).

On the other hand, a lot of outside observers have been handed an awful lot of jingoistic crap by American politicianc, for decades of course, but particularly in the last 8 years. This probably makes people extra sensitive to phrases involving things like `uniquely American'. Maybe it isn't a dog whistle, but maybe it is that, too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
239

we spend twice as much money on our military as the next thirty countries put together

the next infinity countries put together, actually, pending the discovery of other planets.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
240

Yeah, I had to read the Israel line over a couple times. But they're damn near the only friend we have left at this point, and it wouldn't do to piss them off now too.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
241

Not only that, but it's clearly true that America is unique in a lot of ways

This is nearly tautological. Countries differ. The only problem comes when there is too much of a subtext of `and we do X this way, so clearly that's the right way to do it' leading to unthinking and unexamined belief of superiority (in turn, typically leading to stupid mistakes)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
242

238; In any other speech, maybe you can hear that as a dog whistle. But in a speech that boils down to a history lesson about how a significant segment of the US population has gotten seriously and systematically screwed over?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
243

But they're damn near the only friend we have left at this point, and it wouldn't do to piss them off now too.

Eventually it's going to have to happen.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
244

Maybe it isn't a dog whistle, but maybe it is that, too.

You don't need a dog whistle to appeal to voters while possibly irritating people who can't vote.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
245

242: Well I dunno. I'm not saying it is, I'm saying I can see where someone like ttaM, for example, might say 'ffs Obama, you didn't really have to put that shite in'. Even if it is just a matter of tired old phrases.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
246

Re: "in no other country on earth," people have mentioned Canada and the UK as having black people earn high offices. When was slavery outlawed in those countries? When was segregation outlawed? Was it (outlawing segregation) within the lifetimes of the black politicians in question?

79
But the speech reminds people who are not in the tank for Obama of just how conventional an American politician he is -- indeed, how conventional he has to be, in order to stand a chance. And this grates, because we're constantly being told at the same time how different and awesome he is.

"Vote Obama: not transformative, but he still manages to be so much less bad than the rest that it's inspiring." What can I say? We Americans have low standards for national politics. Blame a system of government that actually has done its job of providing stability far too well -- so well that it hasn't fundamentally changed in over 200 years. Also blame federalism, the electoral college and a culture with excessive religiosity and a broad-based parochialism deeply ingrained in it.

If you're a Southern Baptist, you have to be satisfied with candidates who push for some government spending for religious education, instead of making it mandatory in public schools. If you're a small-government libertarian, you have to be satisfied with candidates who promise not to increase spending, instead of abolishing the IRS. And if you're a cosmopolitan liberal, you get downright thrilled to see a candidate who isn't as jingoistic as most and hints that he will try to change decades-old foreign policy disasters.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
247

You don't need a dog whistle to appeal to voters.

This is true. Appealing to voters through jingoism, and I'm not saying that is actually what's happening in this particular speech (but it's certainly a common feature of contemporary US politics) is just depressing from every direction you look at it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
248

Here's the video if anyone wants to watch him deliver the speech.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
249

Appealing to voters through jingoism, and I'm not saying that is actually what's happening in this particular speech (but it's certainly a common feature of contemporary US politics) is just depressing from every direction you look at it.

Another depressing aspect of Obama's campaign is his appeal to voters through optimism. Let's face it, life sucks and will continue to suck. In fact it will probably get worse. And yet Obama's going on giving speeches "inspiring" people. Like that will do any good.

It's so fucking depressing.


Posted by: Barack Obama | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
250

Yes, there are some stock phrases in this and any speech. But to call it "conventional" just seems so far off it's crazy. "Oh, here we go again, another politician talking about the long-term impacts of slavery and Jim Crow on the lives of black Americans..."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
251

This thread is making me want to tear my hair out.

"I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible" = "the rest of the world don't mean shit"

Saying that "a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam" is a "profoundly distorted" view = saying that Israel is blameless.

This is not how texts are generally read around here, unless they mention hamburgers.*

*Kidding, I actually learned a lot from that thread.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
252

208
For someone as--dare I say it?--articulate and thoughtful as Obama,

Try "eloquent." Not a loaded term at all, at least not as far as I know.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
253

I'm trying to find a way to interpret 249 that doesn't make it seem pretty silly.

250: yeah, i agree, hence the last part of 231. Obama is interestingly placed for this. He can probably push the discourse on race more usefully than any white politician in his position could, but it's a real minefield. He did a good job on race here, particularly within the constraints of the political contest he's in.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
254

This thread is making me want to tear my hair out.

I'm just going to vote for McCain and hope that he hits the UK after he hits Iran. Could happen.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
255

With regards to the Israel line, one might argue that it's a straw man characterization of Wright's statements and a problem for that reason. I haven't watched the Rev. Wright videos, so I don't know. Also, the italics on "primarily" are my emphasis, which they'd pretty much have to be in the context of a speech transcript.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
256

251: okay, my paraphrase was hyperbolic. But look, I was trying to bond with the contrarian weirdos.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
257

255 I think the problem with the Israel line is that instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam is exactly the kind of thing someone might say if they really didn't understand the problems in the middle east at all, and instead are cleaving pretty closely to Bush & COs bullshit version of the world.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
258

257 cont. and hence wonder if Obama gets it beyond thinking invading Iraq was a bad idea.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
259

Try "eloquent." Not a loaded term at all, at least not as far as I know.

Monster.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
260

Sexist.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
261

249:

Nasce da questo una disputa: s'egli è meglio essere amato che temuto, o e converso. Rispondesi, che si vorrebbe essere l'uno e l'altro; ma, perché egli è difficile accozzarli insieme, è molto più sicuro essere temuto che amato, quando si abbia a mancare dell'uno de' dua. Perché degli uomini si può dire questo generalmente: che sieno ingrati, volubili, simulatori e dissimulatori, fuggitori de' pericoli, cupidi di guadagno; e mentre fai loro bene, sono tutti tua, òfferonti el sangue, la roba, la vita, e' figliuoli, come di sopra dissi, quando il bisogno è discosto; ma, quando ti si appressa, e' si rivoltano. E quel principe, che si è tutto fondato in sulle parole loro, trovandosi nudo di altre preparazioni, rovina; perché le amicizie che si acquistano col prezzo e non con grandezza e nobiltà di animo, si meritano, ma elle non si hanno, e a' tempi non si possano spendere. E gli uomini hanno meno respetto a offendere uno che si facci amare che uno che si facci temere; perché l'amore è tenuto da uno vinculo di obligo, il quale, per essere gli uomini tristi, da ogni occasione di propria utilità è rotto; ma il timore è tenuto da una paura di pena che non abbandona mai.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:15 PM
horizontal rule
262

249: thanks for coming by! If you want to use a pseud, we'll understand.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
263

258: wingnuts are worried he does.

In general, his statements about Israel have been quite a bit more nuanced than, e.g., Hillary's, talking consistently about two states and a contiguous palestine and so on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
264

Wow, I just read the speach and I'm very impressed.

More direct, more personal, and less predictable than I expected.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
265

Ahh, that's back to the predictable Bob we all know.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
266

The predictable Bob I knew wrote mainly in English. This appears to be the aleatory Roberto.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
267

257: I agree that someone might say that who didn't understand the Middle East at all. On the other hand, this speech wasn't about the Middle East, and he needed a quick way to draw a contrast between his views and Wright's. The transcript of his Q&A with members of the Jewish community of Cleveland is one good place to look for his views on the Middle East, I'm sure you can find more in debate transcripts or what have you.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
268

257-258: Given Obama's past statements, I don't think this is accurate. This gives you some idea of the evolution of Obama's thinking on the middle east, and the motivation for this evolution (e.g. pander pander).


Posted by: Grumps the Lawyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
269

Barack Obama is an evil evil man

I will never forgive him for what he may perhaps have implicitly said about my country

never, do you hear?


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
270

267 is correct.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
271

I am here because of Ogged.

(That simple moment of recognition should be enough.)


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:01 PM
horizontal rule
272

An Israeli colleague of mine (who's generally progressive on Middle Eastern issues) was talking yesterday about the fears he had that Afrocentric rhetoric like Wright's is often associated with anti-Semitism, and that Obama's association with this rhetoric was now raising doubts in my colleague's mind about Obama. The Middle East line in the speech seems to be a dog whistle to Jewish voters.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
273

Thanks for that link, Sir K.

Having just skimmed the thread, all I can say is, you foreigners are cute when you're slighted. I just wish I could hear y'all say those things in those adorable accents of yours!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
274

The criticisms being made of that line could equally be made of the last line of the Gettysburg address.

Perhaps no one has noticed, but American nationalism is a pretty potent force. Getting people to identify their patriotic feelings with liberty and equality and justice is a feature, not a bug in the speech. If people spent all their time sitting around debating how they could one up another country by being more free or racially harmonious, I'd be pretty pleased.

This is not the same thing as saying because we are Americans, everything we do is good. It's the opposite. Maybe some other country has overcome militarism, fear, racism and inequality though pessimism and self-hatred. I'd like to hear about it.


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
275

Seriously, would it have killed the sentiment to do something like,

... I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible

(a) America made my story possible
(b) mine is an American story
(c) America gave my family a home and hope

or something similar?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:35 PM
horizontal rule
276

This is the moment to break out the time machine. Our volunteer can burst into Obama's hotel room and shout, "Wait, wait, people's feelings are going to be hurt! Thank God I got here in time to stop you from sounding like an American politician!"


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
277

I hate to admit agreeing that 275a would have been fine, but I also think that we're sort of in ceremonial deism territory here.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
278

Jesus FUCKING Christ, people. Eyes on the ball.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
279

would it have killed ... to do something like

This would be the plot of the most boring action movie ever. "If the American Exceptionalism ratio in your public statements drops below 50, this podium will explode..."


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
280

The criticisms being made of that line could equally be made of the last line of the Gettysburg address

Yes, of course. But the Gettysburg Address is not a timeless text. At the time Lincoln wrote it, for example, many Americans were slaves. Many fewer other countries were democracies. And so forth.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
281

stop you from sounding like an American politician

Can you really in good conscience tell me that any of the alternatives in 275 would have made the speech sound somehow unlike an American politician?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
282

I ask you, in what other country could a man and his wife and a rent boy preface their evenings of three-way action by dining together in a restaurant whose very name specifically invokes the awesome God we worship?


Posted by: McGreevey for VP! | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:49 PM
horizontal rule
283

In the blue states, our threeways are awesome threeways...


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
284

283: Why must you succumb to the urge which is sweeping our nation, Labs? I thought you were a blogger apart...


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:52 PM
horizontal rule
285

the urge which is sweeping our nation

You know what's totally played? The usage *-fu, with reference to things that are not kung-fu.

So says me. Also, I demand you admit that only in America could this be properly recognized.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 3:59 PM
horizontal rule
286

280

But it would be ludicrous for the 19th century version of unfogged to condemn on the grounds that well the UK isn't really less free and the second Reform Act is only a few years away anyway and European countries had already banned slavery. It would a kind of literalism that has little to do with political rhetoric or either speech.

I take your point about 275. But nationalism is not going to wither away. The idea is to link it to something worthy-in-itself. I think inspiring competition about trying to be a best damn liberal democracy is the opposite of pernicious.


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
287

Art, Obama made me do it, with his dog-whistle politics reference to "our god is an awesome god" in his 04 convention address. Only in America is hearing so fine-tuned; may it be ever thus.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
288

Every time you hear "Only in New York" when you're in New York, be sure to point out to the speaker that the claim is likely false.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
289

Cheap shot, I know.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:04 PM
horizontal rule
290

Only on unfogged do commenters point out their own cheap shots.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
291

nationalism is not going to wither away

You can have patriotism without denying other countries' claims to patriotism. In no other country on earth.... oh, the heck with it.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
292

177 gets more and more apropos.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
293

Only in America, land of opportunity,
Can they save a seat in the back of the bus just for me!
Only in America, where they preach the Golden Rule,
Will they start to march when my kids go to school!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
294

There's no reason to read 177 as a claim that this conversation should therefore not be happening here.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
295

slol, did American exceptionalism beat you up at recess or something?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
296

No, in real life I pwn American exceptionalism. I'm just trolling.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
297

Seriously?

I carp because I love. I'd like Obama to be better than obviously he is, and to help us be better than obviously we are. Better angels of our nature and all that. And the only way I see out of our current economic and military holes is, make much nicer with the peoples of the earth.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
298

Can you really in good conscience tell me that any of the alternatives in 275 would have made the speech sound somehow unlike an American politician?

No, but should I let that stop me from making my unhelpful contribution? Anyway, my tiny / not really much of a / not very well made point is that he already sounds no worse than every other American politician ever.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
299

Beggars can't be choosers, guys. Eat what's on your plate. We're Americans! People who eat what's on their plates! Not whiners!

The Scots and the Welsh have been grumbling about oppressors since Cullodon and the fall of Glendower. Their impending independence will just mean cutting out the middleman and grumbling about the US directly. ttaM and D^2 are just warming up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:14 PM
horizontal rule
300

You can have patriotism without denying other countries' claims to patriotism.

Probably not. As Strauss's wise Nazi teacher Schmitt has shown, the fundamental concepts of politics are Us and Enemy.

Citizenship is rarely optional. If you don't have at least one, your life is liable to be hellish, but the particular one you have might not be one you would choose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
301

Kobe would have given a much better speech.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
302

Dammit, Emerson.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
303

249: Prematurely presidential.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
304

Meanwhile, Joe Klein is explaining that Obama looks to Rev. Wright as a surrogate father. Thanks for the insight, Joe!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
305

Citizenship is rarely optional

You don't have to live in Minnesota, John.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
306

Minnesotan exceptionalism is pernicious and destructive.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
307

See, I'm militating to activate the constitution's Tundra Clause and attach Minnesota to Canada. We have the US's largest loon population by far, you know. Also wolves and bears.

But you know, not easy. Citizenship is an ascribed status.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:23 PM
horizontal rule
308

I guess we could be talking about different things, but I usually think of patriotism as something like "I'm especially proud of my country for reason x." It would be a weird piece of rhetoric that says, in effect, "I'm especially proud of my country for being solidly in the upper quartile."

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but the kind of patriotism that says, "I'm especially proud of my country because only its unique culture, history and geography could produce someone who loves it as much as me" seems either really unreflective (If I were French, I would love France) or chauvinistic in a pernicious way (blood, soil).

Only in America, could I indulge in such tendentious hairsplitting.


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
309

I am strongly in favor of loving entities other than countries. I'd cave in on relationships before I would on that one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
310

304: as I said in 206, I think this was once true. A major theme in the speech is how we grow beyond our parents, come to see their flaws (that was a major theme in Dreams From My Father too). On both the personal and national level. There's a reason he starts off with the Founding Fathers.

Damn, Obama has such a fine, subtle mind.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
311

Chicago exceptionalism is an adorably parochial fantasy. I have heard Chicagoans ask, "Do you have any good fish restaurants in New York?"

Today's Bizarro has a recommendation that Obama, looking to restore his political cred, might follow.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
312

I read it earlier today, but the video is so so so good. Obama is at his best when he's shaming the press.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
313

I usually think of patriotism as something like "I'm especially proud of my country for reason x."

Which is what I said in 275a, b, and c, I do think. It is possible to be especially proud of America for providing a home to immigrants, a liberal constitution within which oppressed peoples can struggle for freedom, and a legacy of inspiring rhetoric without asserting that no other country could provide same.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:31 PM
horizontal rule
314

I've only read 200-some comments so far, but I'm listening to the speech now. Looking at the written version, I was struck by the fact that MLK's line (which AFAIK originated with him) that "the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning" is recast as "an old truism." Which I guess it is, at this point.

What's weirder is that this line actually got interrupted by applause. It doesn't look like it was meant to be an applause line, because it's in the middle of a paragraph. Hm.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:32 PM
horizontal rule
315

Have been out all day and missed the main action, but those bits that ttaM didn't like really made me cringe too.

Maybe the really-fucking-annoying-ness of the exceptionalism is something that is hard to discern when you're too close to it. (I have a friend who does it about her children - "my children are great because they do X not Y", where the sentence would have made as much sense, and been just as appreciative of her children without the "not Y". I read that sentence of Obama's, and thought of her.)

I've never understood the America/Israel thing though.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
316

Scotland is pretty much above average too, as countries go. Wales, maybe not so much.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
317

Over 300 comments, and we're still stuck on the seventh paragraph of the speech? Hoo-boy, this could be a long one.

I too was struck by the "most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning" line. I respect him for that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:56 PM
horizontal rule
318

Wales is great. So there.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
319

Only in Wales, no where else in the world, would the dramatic life story of Asilon have been possible.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
320

Wales is there. So great!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
321

I had assumed that you were all arguing with McManus by this point, or hopelessly on topic, but no: you've just had a 300 on-topic comment thread on whether Obama should have said "no other country on Earth" in a speech. Apparently soup's ernestness is catching.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
322

I formed my entire impression of Wales from reading the Dark is Rising series as a kid. So for me Wales is a Land of Magic. I'm afraid to go there and find out it's all rusting factories or something.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:09 PM
horizontal rule
323

319: Yeah, in America she'd have had to become a country singer.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:09 PM
horizontal rule
324

the kind of patriotism that says, "I'm especially proud of my country because only its unique culture, history and geography could produce someone who loves it as much as me"

I think the actual context in question is "I am GRATEFUL to my country for having produced me."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
325

I am grateful to you for buying me a beer, rfts. It does not follow that no other person could have bought me this beer.*

*This is an illustration. Rfts did not buy me a beer. Which is not to say that she shouldn't've.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
326

King Arthur was not Welsh, British, or in any way Celtic. He was descended from Alans in the Roman forces. The various legends and epics are translations from their Ossete language. This has been proven by science.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:23 PM
horizontal rule
327

I can't believe people are upset that Obama didn't stuff one speech full of fringe views (in the american electorate) and try to alter EVERY stupid view that has taken hold in the american psyche. I await loud denouncements of his first hundred days in office for not outdoing swedish/dutch policy.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:26 PM
horizontal rule
328

Wales is OK.

326: Emerson, no one cares about your antediluvian Ossianonanism.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
329

Apparently soup's ernestness is catching.

It's true. I'm killing the blog, slowly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
330

My view of wales is formed by Lloyd alexander and Stephen lawhead's pendragon trilogy. I didn't read all the 'dark is rising' since my library didn't have all of them.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
331

And how hasn't anyone mentioned the theme of hte speech was really 'solidarity'?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:29 PM
horizontal rule
332

Don't underestimate the importance of soup's Ernestness.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
333

"Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but the kind of patriotism that says, "I'm especially proud of my country because only its unique culture, history and geography could produce someone who loves it as much as me" seems either really unreflective (If I were French, I would love France) or chauvinistic in a pernicious way (blood, soil)."

This kind of misses what Obama actually said.

I think cs lewis said he was anglican becasue he was english; if he were italian he'd be catholic. Obama was saying kind of the same thing.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:31 PM
horizontal rule
334

My view of wales is formed by Lloyd alexander

Me too!

And now of course we know that Cardiff is built on a time rift.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
335

I am grateful to you for buying me a beer, rfts. It does not follow that no other person could have bought me this beer.*

Sure, but you might say, by way of reassuring me that you were grateful for my timely generosity, that you would never forget that only I could have bought you such a delicious beer at just the right moment, the way that I did(n't). It would be hyperbolic, no doubt, but not infelicitous.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:36 PM
horizontal rule
336

Cardiff is built on a time rift

And full of persons with impressively omnivalent sexuality.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
337

332: My grandfather was Earnest. Maybe it skips a generation.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
338

slol:

I think you've gone stark raving mad. I'm OK with a parent saying, "My kid's the best," and I'm OK with a politician saying, "My country's the best." For pretty similar reasons.

And it's ONE LINE.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
339

It would be hyperbolic, no doubt, but not infelicitous.

It's true, I cannot pledge that if you ever buy me a beer, I will not say something hyperbolic in my abject gratitude.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
340

Over at Slate, Tim Noah says,

It's about rejecting identity politics while honoring the nobler aspirations of the identity politicians. And it's about feeling confident that positive social change can be achieved, because it's been achieved in this country in the past. That Obama managed to say all this without displaying an ounce of false piety, or bitterness, or sentimentality, or denial, or self-righteousness, makes his speech a milestone in American political rhetoric.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:42 PM
horizontal rule
341

I agree with those who read Obama as employing nationalistic tropes in an attempt to exhort America to the virtue that we pretend to. That's tricky to do without simply confirming our prior desire to believe in our already obtaining greatness, and I don't pretend to be able to evaluate whether Obama has succeeded in walking the line in this instance. But that's surely what he's trying to do.

[I hate to say this, but] I recommend Plato's Menexenus on political rhetoric. To paraphrase, it's easy to praise Athens to the Athenians or Sparta to the Spartans; what's tricky is praising Sparta to the Athenians. Then Socrates praises Sparta to the Athenians by notionally locating Spartan virtues in the souls and customs of Athens.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
342

Pay Tim no heed, Slol. he's like that.

I hate being on the same side as Noah, but I recognize this as a failing. Only when the morons join us can we win!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
343

It was a great speech. This thread has been an amusing digression.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:49 PM
horizontal rule
344

The Biblical doctrine on race:

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Did Obama mention that?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:49 PM
horizontal rule
345

Meanwhile, Joe Klein is explaining that Obama looks to Rev. Wright as a surrogate father. Thanks for the insight, Joe!

That's the NPR coverage; interesting for its spin, or more charitably, cast. Klein's admitted dime-store psychology about Obama's having taken Wright as a father figure after his early abandonment turned into some sort of pity story.

Did Napi say above: Eye on the ball, people! The speech is all about whether Obama accomplished what he needed to, i.e. fending off the Rev. Wright problem. It was a fantastic speech, but from the sound of the NPR coverage, the judgment will be that its broader themes were too subtle. Oh, boo. But yeah, how it pans out is a function of the sound bites the MSM chooses to emphasize, and they're not going to be the more nuanced ones (the sentences, they are too long, they burn!)

So while Obama's turn to a story about the racial tensions and history inflecting the state of affairs in this country is a marvelous attempt to -- how do we say it? -- expand the political dialogue, that will likely be swept aside in favor of asking your average voter and public leader whether his their concerns were addressed by this speech.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
346

I'll say it again, Jesus fucking Christ, people. The man is totally writing the book.

I can just imagine it: at the end of the season, some player -- A-Rod, just to be generous -- will have hit .475. And a bunch of you people will be all 'well he didn't even get on base half the time!'


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:53 PM
horizontal rule
347

343 is partly correct.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
348

...what's tricky is praising Sparta to the Athenians.

Weren't there many Sparta- or "Spartan mirage"-enthusiasts in Athens?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
349

I think you've gone stark raving mad. I'm OK with a parent saying, "My kid's the best," and I'm OK with a politician saying, "My country's the best." For pretty similar reasons.

But have you never noticed that the parents who think the sun shines out of their children's arses, who see no wrong in them at all, are the ones who generally have the most horrible little fuckers?

And it's ONE LINE.

A noticeably jarring line. I thought most of the rest of it was great.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
350

Oh, and the intensity of the Wright thing will burn off soon enough. The speech makes the subject toxic for all but deadender HRC supporters, and the thing will be all used up long before McCain can get any mileage other than with people who are still in favor of W.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
351

I endorse 343.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
352

346: isn't that pretty much what the New York media did do last season?

Anyhow, yeah, I think this will stand as one ofthe great speeches in American presidential politics. It's not that slol wants a pony, it's that he wants a pony in addition to the stable-full of purebred stallions.

I mean, in this thread people are basically complaining that he didn't quite live up to "I have a dream" and the Gettysburg address. People!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 5:59 PM
horizontal rule
353

the parents who think the sun shines out of their children's arses, who see no wrong in them at all

Of course the actual speech at hand is all about how the US is deeply flawed, but that it has also proved that sometimes it can face its flaws and get better.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:00 PM
horizontal rule
354

It was a great speech.

I believe this is an understatement.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:03 PM
horizontal rule
355

But have you never noticed that the parents who think the sun shines out of their children's arses, who see no wrong in them at all, are the ones who generally have the most horrible little fuckers?

You might cut the parents some slack if you are overhearing them at a hearing about whether or not they secretly want to beat their kid to death and fuck his dead mouth.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:03 PM
horizontal rule
356

Of course that pony-grubbing negative nancy had to take the wind out of my sails with 351.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:03 PM
horizontal rule
357

[quite beck's style at this point]

349 gets it.

That line and the line about Israel really stood out in what was, largely, a clever and nuanced speech and, as someone who is generally infuriated by American exceptionalism that line pushed all the right buttons to set me off on one. The reason, I suspect, most Americans don't find that sort of rhetoric exceptionable is i) they are fairly inured to it, and ii) exceptionalism -- in some less obviously jingoistic form -- is still widely believed to be basically correct.

Further, I pretty much still think that politicians declaring that their country is the best is pretty fucking suspect.

All that said, Obama, of all the current candidates, has made the most comfortingly anti-imperialist noises. Perhaps that's why that particular line pissed me off so much.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:04 PM
horizontal rule
358

I mean, in this thread people are basically complaining that he didn't quite live up to "I have a dream" and the Gettysburg address. People!

Oh, the Gettysburg address ... that this nation, under God ... of the people, for the people, by the people, blah blah ... so much American political cliché.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
359

A noticeably jarring line.

With all due respect, you're not the intended audience.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
360

355 - erm .. yeah ... whatever.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
361

357: look maybe one day you'll get Scottish exceptionalism out of an American presidential candidate, just not today.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
362

re: 359

And? Someone posted a link to the speech on the blog and I gave my opinion.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
363

re: 362

As did Asilon.

[bah, too much wine ...]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
364

nattar is unamerican!

I'm boycotting drambuie tonight!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:15 PM
horizontal rule
365

I believe this is an understatement.

For god's sake, IT WAS A FANTASTIC SPEECH! Yes indeed. You'd think that those who noticed that and mentioned it had their finger on the pulse of America. No shit, it was a phenomenal speech. I haven't been moved like that by a politician in some time.

Okay, now when the mainstream media is done downgrading it, mentioning that there were 8 (eight) American flags behind Obama at the site, and so on, we'll see whether we can elect this man.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
366

Oh, the Gettysburg address ... that this nation, under God ... of the people, for the people, by the people

Not to mention kind of Communist. I mean, all that about "the people". Sheesh. Couldn't he have just said "the folk"?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
367

364: Butterfreedom candies! Children playing Hop-freedom! Freedom-guard!


Posted by: SomeCallMETim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
368

mentioning that there were 8 (eight) American flags

And why were there not 10? or 13?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
369

360 - Tim's analogy is pretty accurate. This Wright controversy is political poison. If the media can fix the idea that Obama secretly hates America in the mind of the populace, then he's dead.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:19 PM
horizontal rule
370

In Richmond, the local radio guy was bitching about how Obama didnt mention the bad language that Wright used. Ridiculous.

I just checked out the video. Wow. Amazing speech.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
371

350: and the thing will be all used up long before McCain can get any mileage other than with people who are still in favor of W.

Yes, what I think Obama needed to accomplish politically with the speech was to at least get the salvageable media off of the endless loop. The swamp dwellers are going to push this all campaign, speech or no speech. For instance for most of the day the headline at the Fox News website was something like "Obama Doesn't Disavow Pastor", now it's "Will Speech Silence Controversy?" (they forgot to add "Not if we have anything to do with it", although they helpfully link to a dreadful article, "Before Wright Firestorm, Obama Called for Imus Firing", which attempts to equate Wright's comments with Imus's. )


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
372

I just watched the speech. Totally amazing. And good Lord, the whole speech is an inspiring college lecture about America's flaws.

Yeah I said it, good Lord.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:21 PM
horizontal rule
373

These people are aliens, folks! Aliens! Which would be cool with me too, but being an alien is an ascribed status. If you're a citizen, you can't just go say "Oh, I'd prefer to be an alien". It doesn't work like that.

You know who's really and alien? Mary Catherine!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:21 PM
horizontal rule
374

373.2 You know who's really and alien

It's rare that you get that combination in one person.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
375

And why were there not 10? or 13?

13 is an odd number; one cannot be properly flanked by 13.

10 ... I don't know what's wrong with 10. The hall was rather small, you know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
376

Oh shut up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
377

But if only he had said 'unique'! Then we'd never, ever here how black politicians weren't unique to America, by golly.

Look, we get that exceptionalism is annoying, but you have to read a lot into Obama's statement to get 'fuck the rest of the world' when the sentence is stuck in the middle of a ton of criticism of U.S. racial politics and history.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:27 PM
horizontal rule
378

We're just a bunch of harmless poor folk quietly whining to ourselves. Can people not leave us alone even here in our refuge?

No, they cannot! The owner of our little hovel, and his cronies, have to keep coming by with tidings of joy.

Joy -- but not for us.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:30 PM
horizontal rule
379

I have more respect for Obama after this speech than I did before. And I cringed at the exceptionalist lines, don't think he'll be able to transform American politics, and have been lukewarm about this whole campaign (but favor him over Clinton).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
380

But seriously, Obama should have said "where else but in America -- or possibly Canada -- could my story be possible. That's why when I look at the Stars and Stripes, I'll always think of that wonderful word: 'flag.'"


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:34 PM
horizontal rule
381

And when I look at the Canadian flag, I think "98.5% cane sugar"!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
382

I think "pancakes!"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
383

one cannot be properly flanked by 13.

One can be phalanked.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
384

"where else but in America -- or possibly Canada -- could my story be possible. That's why when I look at the Stars and Stripes, I'll always think of that wonderful word: 'flag.'"

Sadly, that would have made me love him more. I blame Dave Foley and Phil Hartman and their subversive Canadian humor.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
385

And why were there not 10? or 13?

Because 8 is the number of the U.N.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
386

I have more respect for Obama after this speech than I did before.

Agreed. The Israel/Islam statement was the only bothersome thing (quoted above in ttaM's 9).

I see that ttaM's probably off now, but his 357:

The reason, I suspect, most Americans don't find that sort of rhetoric exceptionable is i) they are fairly inured to it, and ii) exceptionalism -- in some less obviously jingoistic form -- is still widely believed to be basically correct.

It's the former, for most of the people around here, I'd think.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
387
O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

What I want to know is, where does Canada get off calling itself the True North? I mean, okay, maybe Minnesota's North isn't quite as True, but surely Siberians have a seroius claim here.

And that whole "God" thing sure is irritating. Keep your own damn land glorious and free, is what I say.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:44 PM
horizontal rule
388

Further to 384: I also would have laughed if Obama had come out with a guitar and played "Only A Pawn in Their Game." Again, I blame Hartman.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
389

The speech is awesome in the reading. Not as much in the delivery. More lecture than oration. Speeches, I think, are an outmoded form of communication.


Posted by: Anita Martini | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
390

by the way, I love the fact how the American commentariat of Unfogged, who are basically Democrats to a man and woman, have suddenly become experts on what is the best way to win elections for President of the USA. It's like hearing a long lecture on "Victory Secrets of the Chicago Cubs: Baseball's Greatest Team Tells You How To Capture the World Series".

If it's patriotism and America-firstism that does the trick, then why don't you select a candidate who's a multiply-decorated war hero, stick about a thousand flags on him and get him to launch his campaign by doing a salute and saying "Reporting for duty!". How did that work out?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
391

one cannot be properly flanked by 13.

Six on one side, six on the other, the last in his hands, being used to bayonet foreigners.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:47 PM
horizontal rule
392

Winnipeg is the coldest city in the world except for Ulan Bator and maybe a few chickenshit little Siberian cities. The claim is valid.

But not for B.C. (Lotusland). Those motherfuckers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:47 PM
horizontal rule
393

It's like hearing a long lecture on "Victory Secrets of the Chicago Cubs: Baseball's Greatest Team Tells You How To Capture the World Series".

As opposed to hearing the same from the Welsh.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:47 PM
horizontal rule
394

Calling spirits from the vasty deep again, dude?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
395

390: He got beat by a guy who was more persuasively an America-firster.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
396

Oh, yeah, the use of the word "perverse" - in the context of the middle east - and so close to that Giuliani "people perverted" ad struck me as much worse than the bland "where else but in America?" sentence. A reminder that he is, after all, the democratic candidate who said social security is in crisis, used mailers similar to ads that ran against healthcare in the 1990s, tossed out the phrase "trial lawyer", etc.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
397

He got beat by a guy who was more persuasively an America-firsterfister.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
398

If it's patriotism and America-firstism that does the trick, then why don't you select a candidate who's a multiply-decorated war hero, stick about a thousand flags on him and get him to launch his campaign by doing a salute and saying "Reporting for duty!". How did that work out?

He lost to a guy who was not a war hero but was perceived to be even more patriotic and was definitely more exceptionalist and militarist. Thanks for asking.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
399

396: Muslims are the new Souljah.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
400

387: Also they say their hearts glow an' I been there and it en't true.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
401

Amerian exceptionalism humbug.

Obama wants cats & dogs to live together in solidarity. Yes, he is a monster.

You don't think I'm serious, you are forgetting that Dostoevsky's The Idiot was a formative experience of my youth.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:55 PM
horizontal rule
402

where does Canada get off calling itself the True North?

It's on, Canadians. Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut vs. Alaska on the frozen field of battle, winner take all. Fine by me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
403

Winnipeg is colder than Edmonton? Also, some of those Siberian cities have disturbingly - if you think of how they got that way - large populations.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
404

bob, look at this thread. You've won. Everybody recognizes Obama for the budding tyrant that he is. Your work here is done.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
405

I don't think Winnipeg is colder than Edmonton. Edmonton's a lot further north.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
406

393: Fantastic timing for trying that one, boyo. Do you work for the Democrats?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:00 PM
horizontal rule
407

I wonder if it matters how you perceive the circumstances to which Obama was responding? If you think Obama's speech was meant to win converts, then perhaps the slol/ttaM/asilon/etc. criticisms have more force. I think it was essentially a defensive move made to ensure survival. As such, it seemed like a pretty good one. Hewing to pro-American rhetoric, even where the language seems, apparently, to slight the rest of the world, strikes me as the right thing to do. We'll have to wait to see if it works, per parsimon.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:00 PM
horizontal rule
408

From ObsWi.

I am very, very glad that our generation, at least, is prepared to elect him president.

Posted by: Katherine | March 18, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Every time I start to like Obama, I then encounter an Obamabot of hate & division and my suspicions return


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:01 PM
horizontal rule
409

by the way, I love the fact how the American commentariat of Unfogged, who are basically Democrats to a man and woman, have suddenly become experts on what is the best way to win elections for President of the USA.

WTF? Supporting candidates who have lost in the past means ones views on how to win should be ignored? Do you even disagree with the claims made in this thread about what helps to win in American politics?

I'm feeding the trolls again, I guess.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
410

Even the Chicago Cubs know that they are sure not to win if they attempt to hit the ball by farting at it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:03 PM
horizontal rule
411

406: Americans beat six nations when they roll out of bed. See you in China.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
412

Edmonton apparently gets some Pacific moderating influence.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
413

Only Republicans are qualified to analyze American presidential politics. Although since 2006, Democrats' statements on Congressional politics are provisionally worth paying attention to. As were Democrats' statements on presidential politics between about 1992 and 2000. This is a principled appraoch, and not something that shifts with the political winds.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
414

All I know is that I was told that -30C wasn't that cold of a New Year's, and I saw the icicles wearing toques.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
415

Obama has reached out to racists, rednecks and Republicans, but not yet to Democrats, blue-collar workers, the Left, or AARP members.

Not an omission, but part of a plan.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
416

An icicle tiara at a white-tie event in a ballroom made of ice would be awesome.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
417

And cold!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
418

Average annual temperatures, Siberia and elsewhere. Tomsk is coldest. Ulan Bator is colder with an average annual temperature of -1.3 °C .

Canadian averages

Winnipeg's stats need some tweaking to get them as low as Tomsk, which apparently has a population of half a million.

It may be that my factoid has died. Damn you people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
419

Not an omission, but part of a plan.

Bob, you're making me laugh. Skilled troll, you old coot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
420

Winnipeg is colder than Edmonton but Regina gives them a shot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
421

Damn you people.

One day, one of use will give a speech distancing ourselves from Emerson.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
422

us


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
423

/earnest
I think some people are detecting something chauvinist and even sinister in phrasing that's really an artifact of on the one hand, the tropes of classic political rhetoric and, on the other hand, the idiosyncratic (if exceptional is too loaded a term) political history of America.

I will defer to people who know more about this, but it seems to me there's a genetic lineage from Pericles' Funeral Oration to this speech by way of the Gettysburg Address. The speeches are all an exhortations of the form that the present conflict should help us live up the ideals of our political community.

The Funeral Oration is the most egregious (from a certain perspective) in more or less implying that almost all political virtues are Athenian virtues (Sample: "Taking everything together, I declare our city is an education to Greece"). The Gettysburg Address is less hyperbolic, but obviously it wasn't a historical certainty that democracy would die out if America didn't use the Civil War as an opportunity for a political reawakening. Obama's speech is subtler, but apparently still gets under some people's skin. But I'm thinking the "only in America" bit came with the, "let's use the Ferraro/Wright imbroglio to talk frankly about the racism that persists in America and how we can overcome it" structure.

On the second point, as far as national mythologies go we don't have "our ancestors, the Gauls"; we have the Founders who believed in universalism (at least as far as rhetoric was concerned). This can pretty easily shade into America is teh bestest, George Washington told me so. This needs to be guarded against, but I'm sort of incredulous to the charge that Obama is pissing all over other liberal democracies.
/earnest


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
424

O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.

Actually, PF, "in all thy sons" is now deprecated in favour of the gender-neutral "in all our hearts." But anyway, the real significance of this anthem lies in its insistent repetition of the highly defensive, "We stand on guard for thee." We learn this defensiveness in school, by the way: they may seem friendly and tell us to "have a nice day," but never forget that they want our land/oil/water/cedar shakes and shingles.

Yes, patriotism is problematic, and to outsiders, almost always looks at least a little bit silly. And sometimes looks like something rather more threatening than just 'silly.'

I'm reasonably confident that Obama does not have hidden designs on Canada's cedar shakes and shingles industry. And though I really did feel a surge of irritation upon reading the "in no other country on Earth" line, I'm not really going to hold this against Obama, because I think I get why these gestures are necessary. What's a little more irksome, however, is reading a defense of this exceptionalism from people who should know better.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
425

eb, that made me laugh out loud.

at least he didnt baptize any of our babies.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
426

387: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meLpuF9UMvk


Posted by: ULTIMATE CANADA! | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:26 PM
horizontal rule
427

I get why these gestures are necessary.

explains

a defense of this exceptionalism from people who should know better.

No?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
428

415: One Fat Englishman awhile back (another alien) said that Obama gave him a Blair vibe. Make people feel good without committing yourself to specifics.

Beggars, choosers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:29 PM
horizontal rule
429

I suddenly realized that Obama's biography, his racists grandmother, explains his hated of old folka at home and evewhere else.

Katherine's generation will trade us codger's SS for an Ipod or whatever the kids call their gadgets, but at least they will do it across the racial & partisan devides.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:35 PM
horizontal rule
430

iPod? Codger, please. We're all getting hybrid xbox elliptical machines.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:38 PM
horizontal rule
431

True story: I spent some years working in an office in the U.S. South where at the beginning of each hockey season, a co-worker insisted on observing the day with a ceremony that featured food, drink and his off-key rendition of O Canada !

This hockey fan was a black man.

I say: Only in North America !!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
432

Katherine's generation will trade us codger's SS for an Ipod or whatever the kids call their gadgets

You should be so lucky. It's soylent green for you, codger.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
433

What's a little more irksome, however, is reading a defense of this exceptionalism from people who should know better.

It gets worse.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:42 PM
horizontal rule
434

The Canada Song, by Bobby Gimby (aka the Pied Piper of Canada, which is a bit creepy, really).

427: Honestly, no, it doesn't. You can say something like, 'What my candidate said is problematic, but I understand the necessity of his saying it, even as I deplore the conditions that have created said necessity;' or you can say something like, 'How dare you suggest that something said by my candidate is problematic, and what's wrong with you, anyway? don't you love freedom and justice and the better promise of the American way?' There is a difference.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:42 PM
horizontal rule
435

I'm reasonably confident that Obama does not have hidden designs on Canada's cedar shakes and shingles industry.

In no other country on Earth will the song O Bamada! become a national anthem.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
436

You're in luck! No one did the second thing. This thread is sure frustrating.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
437

Obama has reached out to racists, rednecks and Republicans, but not yet to Democrats, blue-collar workers, the Left, or AARP members.
What exactly are SEIU's workers? Members of the wine-sipping elite? Or maybe they're all angry white Reaganites, just like this guy.

Find a better way to troll. This one's lame.


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
438

431: Black people have natural rhythm, but they're tone-deaf.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:46 PM
horizontal rule
439

I want to correct the record. We will be attempting to explain our connection to Knecht, not Emerson.

Emerson will be easy to explain. Knecht. Not so much.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:46 PM
horizontal rule
440

438: Tone Loc and Def Jef are not representative of an entire race.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
441

Has no one ever heard a stump speech before? It's a genre, there are rules. You can't just get up in front of a crowd of people who you are exhorting to vote for you for president and be all "Race, race, race, racy, racy race, Gunnar Myhrdahl, race race race!" Whatever you want to talk about, whether it's the deficit or the price of pork bellies or the sacrifices of our veterans, you have to laden it all down with a whole bunch of feel good nonsense to inoculate the audience against your New Ideas, because of which they might have to Think Something. What do you people want, an unreliable narrator? Differance? Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick! Of course he's going to namecheck the Euro-American colony in the Levant! What Democrat has a chance if he alienates the broad mass of American Jews?

Sigh. I work to hard to live in a world this awful. I'm going to become a mendicant. Please give me your leftovers when I hold out my begging bowl to you.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:49 PM
horizontal rule
442

Quite the mordant mendicant.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:50 PM
horizontal rule
443

433: What Taylor calls 'patriotism' predates (by many centuries) and is not at all synonymous with American exceptionalism.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:51 PM
horizontal rule
444

It was a joke.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
445

"too", obviously. If it were "to", I think I would be working to pain to live in a world this awful.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
446

Has a single comment earnestly defended American exceptionalism?

I can't believe I'm dignifying this thread with a response.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
447

we are the best, ogged. Why fight it?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
448

445: "pedantic" is almost an anagram for "mendicant'.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 7:56 PM
horizontal rule
449

The Lur are always the worst chauvinists in any country that lets them in.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
450

You can say something like, 'What my candidate said is problematic, but I understand the necessity of his saying it, even as I deplore the conditions that have created said necessity;' or you can say something like, 'How dare you suggest that something said by my candidate is problematic, and what's wrong with you, anyway? don't you love freedom and justice and the better promise of the American way?' There is a difference.

This should be addressed to Katherine's 94:

There are, and have always been, two ways to use American exceptionalism: use the pretty fairy tales about America to get the public to ignore the ugly reality, or to challenge them to try to make the myths come true. They are not the same thing at all.

I don't intend a 'let's you and him fight' scenario, of course. But the claim is that Obama's reference, and indeed his entire speech, is an appeal to the US to continue to try to achieve its promise, which I take to be its claims to equality and unity in the face of diversity and so on. The speech clearly is such an appeal; whether it's annoying to suppose that it's uniquely American is another matter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
451

This has just been a long series of overreactions. The pro-Obama people (incl. me) have been reacting as if people who are objecting to the "no other country" have judged the entire speech based on that line, when those objecting to that line have not actually done that. Other people have over-reacted in other ways.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
452

Predictable response to 451: That's ridiculous!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
453

Other people have over-reacted in other ways.

Other foreign ways.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
454

ULTIMATE CANADA!

I was thinking, "That link had better be O Canada at that Oilers game, or I'm going to have to look it up and link to it."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:06 PM
horizontal rule
455

Other foreign ways.

I thought that went without saying.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
456

Haven't read the entire thread yet, but in case nobody's mentioned it. Canada's population is about .33% black.


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
457

In some respects Winnipeg is the coldest city on earth.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:08 PM
horizontal rule
458

In some respects Winnipeg is the coldest city on earth.

The technical phrase you're looking for is "For some values of 'coldest'."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
459

Winnipeg is the coldest three-syllabled city on earth.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
460

Canada's population is about .33% black.

And he comments here!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
461

433: Dammit.

Vanderwheel, if you're going to link to Taylor or something with some substance, please provide a more explanatory linking text than "it gets worse."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
462

I don't know if we can really predict that Liberia under Charles Taylor is what we have to look forward to under Obama.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:11 PM
horizontal rule
463

456: Actually 2.2%. The national breakdown put blacks in several categories, apparently including "American" and "Canadian". The "visible minorities" are tallied below the national minorities.

458: For some values of the word "city", and for some values of the word "cold", Winnipeg is the coldest city on earth and full of Ukrainians.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:13 PM
horizontal rule
464

Having watched the link in 426, I now want to listen to a North Stars game circa 1985.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:13 PM
horizontal rule
465

461: For example, "If you're not a lightweight poser, read this".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
466

I'll defend Aerican exceptionalism.

We are the fucking worst country in history. "Banality of evil" should be our national motto.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:15 PM
horizontal rule
467

466: Belgium & Portugal were much worse countries that Merka, despite the fact that one of them was only a pretend country.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:19 PM
horizontal rule
468

Too punchy. How about "Celebrating 19 20 years of culture, art, community, schemes for world domination, and killer penguin death squads. Be a part of something megalomaniacal."?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
469

Apparently in Canada "visible minority" does not include native Canadians, Metis, or Inuit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
470

Still studying fascism. At least the Nazis had the minimal shame to attempt to "scientifically" justiify their racism. At least the Nazis tried yo disguise the extermination camps.

The Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee were cause for national celebration in America.

Yeah, we are exceptional.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
471

I can't believe I'm dignifying this thread with a response.

Honestly, Ogged, I don't understand this. This thread strikes me as pretty tame. And nobody is threatening to make an appearance on Faux News and denounce Obama as a secret Muslim who is even more secretly a Cotton Mather Puritan (so: Christian! dammit) who [gasp!] suggested something about America being a city on the hill. But, and not that this has any relevance whatsoever to the American presidential electoral process (which, it doesn't), but references to America the exceptional do tend to irk those with reference points outside of America. Is it really so awful for a handful of people (the vast majority of whom are not even directly involved in the American presidential electoral process) to comment on the hows and whys of this irksomeness?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
472

What the fuck, mcmanus? Can we just concede you dislike me & move on? (& I really don't care if you now say, "no, really I actually think you're actually a good person"; you pretty obviously don't really think that.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
473

Far be it from me to rain on your sunshine, Bob, but "worst country in history" is going too far. Maybe not all sweetness and light, but not exactly Myanmar, for a modern example. And our capacity for harm is far greater than we have shown, which I think counts for something.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
474

Belgium does not exist


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
475

Of course he's going to namecheck the Euro-American colony in the Levant!

I'm pretty conventionally pro-Israel, at least by the standards of Unfogged, but this did strike me as both gratuitous and extreme.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

I mean, okay, I'm willing to accept that maybe the problems in the Middle East aren't primarily rooted in the actions of Israel (like I say, I'm very pro-Israel relative to the rest of you lot), but Obama might as well be quoting Podhoretz when he says that Middle East conflicts are " emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."

That's crazy-talk - at least on merits - though minneapolitan is no doubt correct that it's politically useful language.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
476

Norilsk (pop. over 1000,000), Yakutsk (pop about 200,000). Tomsk is warm.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:25 PM
horizontal rule
477

there are too many zeros after Norilsk. Over 100,000.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
478

I lived in Winnipeg when I was 2-3 years old. It's pretty freaking cold. I wore a Red River coat, which I (perhaps accurately, perhaps not) vaguely thought had something to do with the porridge.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
479

471: 'What my candidate said is problematic, but I understand the necessity of his saying it, even as I deplore the conditions that have created said necessity'

Far be it from me* to speak for ogged, but this is what the people from the U.S. have been saying. Over and over.

*"Far be it from me" is the new "I hate to say this."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
480

Honestly, Ogged, I don't understand this.

We know but we don't hold it against you, because you're just a Canadian and can't be expected to understand. McGrattan, on the other hand, is simply being churlish.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:34 PM
horizontal rule
481

You know what else, Bob? Name me a fucking country with a conquered aboriginal population that is even around. (hyperbole for argumentative purposes only, spare me the first nation crap about Canada) Most of the time, you kill every last one of the fuckers so that there is no one left to tell the story. So many tribes, gone. How many of Tacitus' germanic tribes are still with us? Boo hoo, we had a chance to end slavery in 1776, but we didn't. Because we would have lost.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:34 PM
horizontal rule
482

You know, who builds a city on a hill, anyway? You build 'em down by the water, or near the river.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:35 PM
horizontal rule
483

Is it really so awful for a handful of people (the vast majority of whom are not even directly involved in the American presidential electoral process) to comment on the hows and whys of this irksomeness?

I thought so. It was a great speech on the toughest issue in American politics, but we spent 500 comments on a tangential topic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
484

TLL: Objectively pro-genocide.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
485

I mean, I'm not mightily annoyed or anything, but it was a great exercise in getting distracted.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
486

You build 'em down by the water, or near the river.

Or both, where the river meets the sea, if there is a natural harbor.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
487

You know, who builds a city on a hill, anyway?

The Italians built a bunch of 'em.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
488

472:WTF, Katherine, do you think you get to say hateful vicious things and still play the fucking victim?

I am very, very glad that our generation, at least, is prepared to elect him president. ...Katherine

At least I make no claims to self righteousness and moral superiority.

And I admire your work and dedication, but consider you the most dangerous kind of martinet and do-gooder. No, I don't like you or your passive-aggressive crowd of saints at Obbsy Wings.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
489

TLL: Objectively pro-genocide.

No witness or reparations that way. The things they teach you kids at empire building school, I mean really.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
490

I also can't believe that people respond to McManus. I am a great big ball of incredulity today.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
491

We know but we don't hold it against you, because you're just a Canadian and can't be expected to understand.

I'm not sure that's it. I think our neighbor to the North is worried by it's "black gap," and the response is a function of that.

You build 'em down by the water, or near the river.

Sure, that would be easier. But we built it on the hill for your convenience, to make it easier to see.



Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
492

WTF, Bob. No black candidate has ever come close to winning one of the major parties' nominations before. To deny that this is a generational shift, you'd have to be craz--

Oh, right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
493

Well, the Hallstatt culture built cities on hills.

"Let's face it" and "Like it or not" are also good substitutes for "I hate to say this".

Actually, it's only the Gauls who disappeared. Under the leadership of Arminius, the Germans held off the Romans and survived quite well, eventually turning into Hitler.

Arminius was the original for "What do you mean 'we', white man". He was a Roman citizen of German descent who destroyed three Roman legions by leading them into an ambush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
494

My mistake, Ogged. Here have a plate of credules, you look peckish.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
495

Well, the Hallstatt culture built cities on hills.

I think my point has now been made.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
496

481

"... Name me a fucking country with a conquered aboriginal population that is even around. ..."

Mexico for one, Bolivia for another.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
497

I also can't believe that people respond to McManus.

At least he's had to step the trolling up to direct personal attacks to get bites.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
498

"... Name me a fucking country with a conquered aboriginal population that is even around. ..."

Hey, some of us even graduated to being classified as white.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:47 PM
horizontal rule
499

But are you white enough?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:48 PM
horizontal rule
500

500!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:48 PM
horizontal rule
501

Is it really so awful for a handful of people (the vast majority of whom are not even directly involved in the American presidential electoral process) to comment on the hows and whys of this irksomeness?

just wait till i use this logic to explain why a thread abotu some feminist issue should be full of comments about how men find some parrallel issue irksome


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:48 PM
horizontal rule
502

Hey, some of us even graduated to being classified as white.

For now.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
503

I mean, I'm not mightily annoyed or anything, but it was a great exercise in getting distracted.

What a surprise, since Unfogged is normally scrupulously on-topic. I, too, worry that our legendary focus and weighty political impact will be sapped by distractions and negativism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
504

498: Irishman, eh?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
505

since Unfogged is normally scrupulously on-topic

It has been, actually, for at least a couple of years.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:51 PM
horizontal rule
506

The Irish are the last survivors of the once-proud Hallstatt Culture, which dominated most of Europe for centuries. It was the building cities on hills thing that brought them down.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
507

497:Fuck you, Katherine made the personal attack, by implying that any opposition to Obama is based on age & prejudice, condemning tens of millions of Clinton voters.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
508

505: Not from any fault of mine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
509

THANK GOD OLD PEOPLE TRUST WOMEN MORE THAN MEN

IT'S ABOUT TIME MY GENERATION HAD ITS SAY


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
510

Mary Catherine: It's like a football thread, and people pop up to point out that it's not a real sport because all the players are testosterone-crazed steroid freaks (true) or that everyone else in the world calls soccer football anyway (also true).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
511

On probation.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:55 PM
horizontal rule
512

492:WTF, Bob. No black candidate has ever come close to winning one of the major parties' nominations before

You troll yourselves.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
513

Can we judge yoyo's intoxication level by the number of typos? For example, his earlier comments, completely sober, while 501 shows he's well on his way. We need some sort of Internet sobriety test to be sure. Maybe typing the alphabet backwards?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 8:59 PM
horizontal rule
514

I'm trolling myself right now. It doesn't feel as good as I thought it would.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:00 PM
horizontal rule
515

better not be think of Arthur C. Clarke while you do that, Walt.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:01 PM
horizontal rule
516

511: I think the Irish got early release when the probation pens filled with all the other filthy foreigners. From Asians to Lurs, the pens are full.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:01 PM
horizontal rule
517

You troll yourselves.

All the time, my friend. All the time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
518

But are you white enough?

Positively the quintessence of paste-colored, near-translucent whiteness.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:06 PM
horizontal rule
519

Now maybe we could discuss the treatment of gender in this sentence:

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened.

Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
520

What was actually most interesting and surprising to me in Obama's speech was this:

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.

On the one hand, these are Democratic talking points; in the context of the speech, however, a little surprising. It's not clear to me whether it's part and parcel of the "bunch of bad apples" story about the errant bastards out there who must be reined in, or whether it's actually an indication of will to shift away from the corporate-driven culture and economy at large. It's an open question.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
521

it's actually an indication of will to shift away from the corporate-driven culture and economy at large

I think you should trust that it's not. It's all neolibs, now, I think. He's just a leftier flavor of neolib than the DLC/HRC crowd.

(Obviously, I could be wrong.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:10 PM
horizontal rule
522

519: black men have less economic opportunity than black women, no?

For example, so many are unemployable because they have been in the criminal justice system.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:12 PM
horizontal rule
523

'neolib' is about as useful a lense to look at obama through as 'hamiltonian/jeffersonian'


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:12 PM
horizontal rule
524

338: I think you've gone stark raving mad. I'm OK with a parent saying, "My kid's the best,"

I'll go you one further and say that I'm deeply skeptical of any parent who doesn't at least occasionally say that their kid is "the best." This is not saying the kid is flawless and really isn't literally saying the kid is, in fact, superior to all kids in all ways. It's the sort of puffery bred of affection that every kid should get a little of once in awhile.


Posted by: Di | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:13 PM
horizontal rule
525

the asnwer to 513 is no, btw


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:13 PM
horizontal rule
526

Canadian exceptionalism.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
527

Oh, I see the blockquoting failed there.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:17 PM
horizontal rule
528

Québécois exceptionalism.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:19 PM
horizontal rule
529

521: I tend to agree.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:20 PM
horizontal rule
530

I tried to find an equivalent to Hulk Hogan's "I Am A Real American" song, with "Canadian" in place of "American". It doesn't look like anyone has done that parody yet. But I did find this.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
531

530 should actually link to .


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:22 PM
horizontal rule
532

hey, my link worked despite the words that make up the link having disappeared. Two wrongs make a right.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
533

Hey, some of us even graduated to being classified as white.

My (Ontario, Canada) birth certificate lists my "racial origin" (there's no category for "race," it's just "racial origin") as not "white" or "Caucasian" but "Irish." Ha! as if that should considered be a meaningful "racial" category. But then again, ha! as if anything at all should be considered a meaningful "racial" category.

So, yeah, Canada is so predominantly white that, until very recently, the "racial" categories (Irish or Scottish or French or so on) mostly only had to do with people who are now unquestionably and unassailably considered white (though, certainly, Irish and French people were not really considered "white" when those categories were first formulated). And Canada is also a deeply racist country, and without even the excuse of the history of slavery and Jim Crow and so on, if not justify, then at least to explain its racism.

So: I don't think Canada has anything to teach the US about diversity and tolerance and etc., and I'm certainly open to the possibility that it's actually vice versa. And I love New York! if that counts, which maybe it doesn't. And yet. There is something about the "only in America" thing that rubs not-Americans the wrong way. Is it really not okay to talk about that, even it not accompanied by invidious comparisons which implicitly assert not-America as better or morally superior or what-not?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:24 PM
horizontal rule
534

And I am in a heightened state of rage right now, as I read the liberal economists' answers to the finance ripoff of America. Inflation/cheap dollar is gonna lower your standards of living about 30% over the next few years, folks, and it is not only a delberate plan, DeLong and Thoma are applauding the strategy.

While Paulson gets his hundreds of millions.

What is the solution from these fucking process liberals? Same as the solution to every other problem, like torture and wars of aggression and executive overreach:more and better rules & regulations. More process liberalism to restrain those with contempt for process liberalism.

The motherfuckers don't give a shit for your rules & regulations, so liberals just really end up up enabling the assholes as they fuck the vulnerable. Process liberalism is just ego and cowardice in the face of unredeemable evil.

Over and over and again and again and again...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
535

As long as we're drawing our cultural signifiers from beer ads, there's always Real American Heroes.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:27 PM
horizontal rule
536

I guess after the treatment of the sources of racial resentment among black and white Americans, I'm left wondering. Part of Obama's point is to say that there are legitimate interests that lie behind that resentment in both cases, even though there are unreasonable parts and expressions of it in both cases. But it's not always clear which are the legitimate interests and which not. So, for example, the line I quoted above seemed to me to buy into a patriarchal frame that says that men should be able to provide for their families, and when they can't, the family falls apart. In a way, that might be descriptively apt, inasmuch as [black and other] men have bought into the patriarchy. But Obama also doesn't do anything to distance himself from that frame, either in the immediate or broader context.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
537

||

Too serious, everyone!

I don't see bad movies in the theater often, but I saw one Sunday night. "The Bank Job" is atrocious.

|>


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
538

If I may press onward, the patriotism angle (not to be confused with chauvinism) is relevant. Obama, not just in this speech, is taking a turn back toward national solidarity in a form that's been granted little more than lip service in the last few decades. Whether this is a good thing, again, is a question.

I'll try to find the Samantha Power interview article in some UK newspaper that Mary Catherine linked to not long ago; to the extent that Power was speaking for Obama, there were some interesting things about his take on state sovereignty.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:32 PM
horizontal rule
539

Is it really not okay to talk about that

Of course it's OK. It's just that we're having a truly amazing moment here. Something none of us has ever seen, and only 5 years ago was unimaginable.* In the midst of which carping about trifles, or about ponies, sounds pretty petty. Given the context of where the campaign coverage has been for the last 3 days, unimaginably petty.

*I'm not saying and have never said that the man is Jesus.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:33 PM
horizontal rule
540

Process liberalism is just ego and cowardice in the face of unredeemable evil.

Whereas sitting at a computer and insulting people actually trying to do something positive takes true courage.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:38 PM
horizontal rule
541

Ogged's incredulity incredules for me.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
542

Whereas sitting at a computer and insulting people actually trying to do something positive takes true courage.

It takes a lot of sittin', gettin' chicks to hatch.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:42 PM
horizontal rule
543

536: It was a speech with specific intent--make sure his candidacy doesn't sink--not a magic incantation. He wasn't going to right any wrongs with it, nor was he offering up an academic article or even a position paper. It was a very good speech. But it was also, per Gonerill, built out of conventions of long standing. I wouldn't look too closely for indications of his thoughts about gender issues, etc.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:46 PM
horizontal rule
544

You know, who builds a city on a hill, anyway?

Depends on whether you want the water or want to be able to pee on the dude that lives next to the water, plaiting daisies.

Given the context of where the campaign coverage has been for the last 3 days, unimaginably petty.

This is really it. American exceptionalism is a pain in the ass, but this is a speech made by a major politician who assumed his audience was bright enough to talk to about race. This never fucking happens. What's the opposite of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

And as far as exceptionalism goes, I don't think it's a solely an American trait.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:46 PM
horizontal rule
545

And I love New York!

Yeah, yeah. And some of my best friends are Canadian.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
546

Napi, which is the incredible moment, Obama's speech, or the election in general?

(And I can't find the Samantha Power interview link; I think it's stuck in the 900 comment long Comity thread, so the hell with that.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
547

Obama's successful candidacy.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:50 PM
horizontal rule
548

There are, and have always been, two ways to use American exceptionalism: use the pretty fairy tales about America to get the public to ignore the ugly reality, or to challenge them to try to make the myths come true. They are not the same thing at all.

Truthfully though, both are dangerous. The notion that the American ideal implies a unique and speciall civilizing mission -- even when it is used to challenge people to make improvements at home -- can easily slide over into Wilsonian imperialist idealism abroad.

But Obama's got to plug into that, it's part of American politics. It's just not acceptable for a presidential candidate to talk about America in a cosmopolitan and realistic way, as one flawed nation among other flawed nations. Even when a lot of people know damn well it's true. Obama's got enough on his plate being running for President as a half-African guy named Hussein.

The guy's not a saint charged with fixing it all anyway, he's a politician, for fuck's sake.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:52 PM
horizontal rule
549

being


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:53 PM
horizontal rule
550

The guy's not a saint charged with fixing it all anyway, he's a politician, for fuck's sake.

Well, sure. I'm fine with that. I'm just not willing to testify on behalf of his premature beatification.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
551

539

"... Something none of us has ever seen, and only 5 years ago was unimaginable.* ..."

Things like this give me just a bit of sympathy for mcmanus. What exactly was so unimaginable?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:00 PM
horizontal rule
552

MC, that strawman is getting beat up something awful.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:01 PM
horizontal rule
553

539 is true, but I've decided this thread is the antiparticle to Obama's speech, and the ridiculous, weirdly bitter carping is reminding me how amazing the speech actually was. Neat!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
554

What exactly was so unimaginable?

Five years ago, hell. Even now I find it hard to believe that a black man has gotten over 50% of the votes in the primaries of a U.S. major political party.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
555

Come on, MC.

548: I'd be more worried if I didn't think every country did this. E.g., Canada's nice. Their people are nice. They're so nice they'll make sure they spend tons of time telling you how nice and peaceful and lovable they are. So, so nice. So nice they feel real bad about electing Harper.
Not like you. You're not nice. No one is as nice and as self-sacrificing or as nice. Except they won't say that. Because they're nice.

(Yes, been on one too many immigration boards lately.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
556

Can we push McManus out of the boat yet? I'm sick of this bullshit.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
557

nor was he offering up an academic article or even a position paper

I don't think he would have had to do either of those things to avoid the thing I'm gesturing towards. Cp. slol's 275.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:08 PM
horizontal rule
558

Black first term senator from Illinois, who'd opposed the war, wins the Texas caucuses in heavy turnout against a well known well funded well connected opponent. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. I'm often accused of insufficient imagination, so there's that.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
559

556:Fuck you, I was called up at #11

I am on dozens of blogs and comment on very few, but they don't get their jollies spontaneously insulting me. I bever enter a thread without a fucking invitation.

But I am the insulter. Fucking lying hypocrites.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
560

Amen to 552 and 556.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
561

I swear to God, sometimes I think I'm the only person here who actually lives in America. This wasn't just Obama musing about the US and race. Cable news went ape-shit over Jeremiah Wright. This could derail his campaign. This could put John McCain in the White House. The Republicans have their story: Obama is a black man who hates America. Of course he has to go out of his way to talk about the awesomeness of America.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:16 PM
horizontal rule
562

And the cowards do it under cover of pseudonyms like ds and mcmc and "zippy the comment frog"

This is my real name. I would give more information, but somebody last week tried to use my name and email address to get information from my internet provider.

Flippanter? Nah, wouldn't be any of the nice people here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:18 PM
horizontal rule
563

561 gets it right.

Obama has gone down 10 points in the Pennsylvania polls in the last week because of this.

Better that he get derailed now in favor of HRC than later.


Posted by: ardent reader | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:18 PM
horizontal rule
564

548, realize you're speaking to Katherine in 94.

But yes to this:

Truthfully though, both are dangerous. The notion that the American ideal implies a unique and speciall civilizing mission -- even when it is used to challenge people to make improvements at home -- can easily slide over into Wilsonian imperialist idealism abroad

That's a concern.

Look, I'm not sure how this country can manage to address its extraordinarily fraught racial issues without just the kind of rhetoric -- which is an attempt to form a new national identity -- that Obama's trying to provide. It seems to call at once for a sovereign pride that we know can become problematic in its own right. Is it at all possible to engender that with respect to domestic concerns, without it spilling over into foreign policy?

I'm clearly getting tired.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:21 PM
horizontal rule
565

554

"Five years ago, hell. Even now I find it hard to believe that a black man has gotten over 50% of the votes in the primaries of a U.S. major political party"

Douglas Wilder was elected Governor of Virginia in 1989. So it doesn't seem unimaginable for a black man to get a major party Presidential nomination almost 20 years later. Still against the odds but hardly unimaginable.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:21 PM
horizontal rule
566

I'd be more worried if I didn't think every country did this.

But Cala, what I'm saying is precisely that every country does this, more or less, and sometimes more and sometimes less, in accordance with its particular and historically contingent circumstances. Which basically gets to the root of my problem with American exceptionalism.

And I'm not even saying that Canada is "nice," because, well, really we're not, at the end of the day.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
567

I swear to God, sometimes I think I'm the only person here who actually lives in America.

I think most of the Americans get and agree with what you're saying.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
568

561: which is basically what people were saying back around, oh, comment 10 or so.

it seems unfogged threads that try to stay on topic for 550+ posts are pathetically inept.

i blame my own slide into earnestness, and ban myself.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
569

JBS, it's not just a black man getting the nomination that's difficult to imagine. It's the way it's playing out, and the particular tack.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:28 PM
horizontal rule
570

Douglas Wilder was elected Governor of Virginia in 1989.

It is, in part, both because of what happened during his second shot at the polls and because the next elected African-American governor (that is, the second since, I think, Reconstruction) was elected a year and a half ago, that Obama seems so improbable. African-Americans don't win statewide elections; a good shot at winning a national one (should he get the nomination) still counts as surprising.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
571

Next I invite McManus to come on up to Boston and get his ass kicked. Then he says he can't be arsed, but if I come down to Austin he'll be happy to kick my ass. Then I say I'm on my way. Then he says, oh yeah I've got a gun motherfucker. Then I say What a coward!!11! And he says No you're the fucking coward!1!!! Then I say--

Oh wait--this isn't the martial arts forum??


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:31 PM
horizontal rule
572

that is, the second since, I think, Reconstruction

There have only been three ever. The other one was Pinckney Pinchback of Louisiana. He didn't get elected, though. He was state senate president pro tempore and became lieutenant governor when the sitting one died in 1871. Then the governor got impeached the next year, elevating Pinchback to the governorship, which he held for all of thirty-five days.

So really, not even during Reconstruction.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:39 PM
horizontal rule
573

I like McManus, almost always find his comments interesting, and think people should lay off. Especially with the personal shit. You judge a blog by the quality of its trolls. At least I do. Don't drive them off.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
574

Also, Wilder won by less than half a percent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
575

Who here is exempt from personal attacks?

Also, I'll be curious to see what HRC's campaign does to respond to this. Her whole campaign fits very neatly into a political narrative of "Oh, la-la, we don't see race! Some people might, but not us, even to the point that we don't recognize racism because it's so weird to us that anyone would even think that!" And Obama is calling that bluff here, by putting actual racism and race-based anger and bitterness on the table for discussion. People who are used to pretending not to see race are really, really awkward when you try to have conversations about racism.

Most of America does see race, in one way or another, and, as Obama says, we talk about it, but not in "polite company." My friends and I can talk about race, as long as we feel we're among the like-minded. My extended family certainly talks about race in a different way. When we think we're among "our own," however defined, we know these things are important. And Obama's touched a nerve here by suggesting that these conversations are useless griping unless they're willing to be tested against other people's perceptions of the situation. And not having a public conversation where these grievances are aired leads to suspicion and further divisiveness.

He's not saying you can't have those "private" conversations with the like-minded, but that if it's just baseless griping, are we sure our enemy is who we secretly think it is?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
576

Oh hai. We were called upon lately to muse upon what was righteous and good about Obama's speech, instead of worrying about anything in it. Few wished to speak of its media reception or its effect upon the electorate.

So we moved on, with a few hitches, a few random expressions of disgust at the entire thread. There was some groping about. A few seized on mcmanus, benighted soul who doesn't deserve it at all.

Remaining parties became bored and irritated, yet could not let go, for lo, it remains a worthy topic, and so found something new to say (yeah), or sought to settle old grievances.

it seems unfogged threads that try to stay on topic for 550+ posts are pathetically inept.

It's not your earnestness, soup, it's the topic, and if you ban yourself, I will be sorely sad. There was a lot to talk about with respect to Obama's speech, actually, but I suppose it needed a moderator, or at least some consensus over what was interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
577

I tried to go to sleepv earlier and couldn't manage to drift off. So, instead, I'm reading this unfogged thread. The benadryl is finally starting to kick in, but I think that this thread may finally put me to sleep.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:52 PM
horizontal rule
578

And it's particularly touching when he uses the example of his grandmother having one of those "among family" conversations about race, saying that she fears black men, that directly bears on her grandson. Obama's uncommon social-racial positioning here allows him not to be sidelined as having only participated in one kind of racist discourse; he's been included in the white racist discourse too.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:53 PM
horizontal rule
579

How can we have 500+ comments on this thread? We drove all the black people away already, didn't we?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 10:56 PM
horizontal rule
580

"The Bank Job" is atrociously watchable. Interesting, likable characters, a far-fetched, but not insultingly far-fetched plot, good moments of suspense. I'm not really sure what would bother you about it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:00 PM
horizontal rule
581

575: I think HRC lets it all slide, beyond saying something anodyne. She can't disagree with it with much force (esp. if there are under the table plans to win PA by a lot in ways that we'd rather not know about). She can't praise it too much, because she still hopes to win. So she says, "Nice speech," and then gets back to fighting for votes in PA. A week from now, this speech won't matter much, and there will still be four weeks to pound away in PA.

A few seized on mcmanus, benighted soul who doesn't deserve it at all.

Oh please. I'm going to need to see the note from the doctor.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:03 PM
horizontal rule
582

My racist relatives enjoy nothing more than sitting around having a hushed-tones talk about the "truth" about blacks or arabs or whatever, always followed by "And you can't say this stuff nowadays because of 'political correctness.'" White racist assholes like my relatives love the term "political correctness" because it's their excuse for being cowards. A few times, I've tried suggesting to them that, if they have all these really deeply-held beliefs about race that are so important to them, maybe they should be a lot more open about sharing their ideas with others in public. The reason one doesn't say these things isn't because "it isn't talked about" but because racists are cowards who suspect, deep down, that they could easily be proved wrong, but they like jerking themselves off to their wrongness anyway.

...the overlap between religious dogmatism and racism here not being totally beside the point.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:04 PM
horizontal rule
583

You know who's at least as bad as we are, America-haters? The Nacirema, that's who.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:10 PM
horizontal rule
584

He's not saying you can't have those "private" conversations with the like-minded, but that if it's just baseless griping, are we sure our enemy is who we secretly think it is?

I don't understand the "are we sure our enemy is who we secretly think it is".


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:12 PM
horizontal rule
585

581: "I did not have a chance to see or to read yet Sen. Obama's speech. But I'm very glad that he gave it. It's an important topic. Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history, and they are complicated in this primary campaign.

"There have been detours and pitfalls along the way. But we should remember that this is an historic moment for the Democratic Party, and for our country. We will be nominating the first African-American or woman for the Presidency of the United States, and that is something that all Americans can and should celebrate."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:13 PM
horizontal rule
586

PGD--re: mcmanus: "Especially with the personal shit--To read an "I'm glad my generation at least supports Obama" comment as "Hillary supporters are old and racist and I will take away their social security!!!" you have to already personally dislike & assume bad faith on the part of the person who wrote it. And it was on another damn blog, but he didn't comment there because he prefers to take shots at me here. I don't especially want to start personal, hostile pile ons against mcmanus. Really, though, it's not actually much fun to be constantly attacked because you've become someone's personal online archetype for the all evils of procedural liberalism, Obama supporters, and kids today.

But apparently there is no way to respond that doesn't make it worse.

On a more feel-good note, here's one foreigner who liked the speech today.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:22 PM
horizontal rule
587

And if someone doesn't want the fairly tame insult in 540, he she or it might want to rethink dishing out the kind of thing in the excerpt I quoted there.

That said, an attempt at violating bob's privacy -- see 562 -- is certainly beyond the pale.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:33 PM
horizontal rule
588

Katherine, I would like to read the context on ObWi that mcmanus quoted in 488:

I am very, very glad that our generation, at least, is prepared to elect him president. ...Katherine

Or should I look for that myself?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:35 PM
horizontal rule
589

Are we still doing Winnipeg? One Great City!, The Weakerthans.

The driver checks the mirror seven minutes late
the crowded riders' restlessness enunciates
the Guess Who suck, the Jets were lousy anyway
the same mood every day
and in the turning lane
someone's stalled again
he's talking to himself
and hears the price of gas, repeats his phrase
I hate Winnipeg

The performance is in London, but the whole audience sings along on the refrain. They hate winnipeg too!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:41 PM
horizontal rule
590

There is no context to the ObWi comment. I will point out that in 408 mcmanus declares observing that Obama has more support among the younger than the elderly to be a vicious personal attack against him due to his age, then in 437 he bitches about Obama not reaching out to old folks.

As for deserving the abuse, I think that it depends on which side of the "amazingly gifted troll or just mentally ill" question you come down on.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:44 PM
horizontal rule
591

the comment.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:45 PM
horizontal rule
592

Vanderwheel, if you're going to link to Taylor or something with some substance, please provide a more explanatory linking text than "it gets worse."

I realize you don't get my jokes. That one was addressed specifically to Mary Catherine.

What are you complaining about, anyway?


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:52 PM
horizontal rule
593

That's the whole comment, parsimon. It is empirically true that Obama does better among younger voters. I think the giant, persistent gap in how he does among different age groups is related to age, yes. How very ageist of me. Yeah, I also think it is obviously also related to generational attitudes about race, but if my generation is better on that score, it's because of things that other people fought for before I was born.

There are young blogger types who like to congratulate themselves about how much more effective their generation is than those hippies from the 60s. You will not find me doing that. So far, we've been distinctly less effective: neither generation stopped the war, theirs tried harder & more of them were involved, & we have no counterpart to the civil rights, feminist, or environmental movements. I've read an awful lot about the 1960s left, the civil rights movement, the RFK campaign, etc, & basically--I wanted my generation to make its own attempt at something like that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-18-08 11:58 PM
horizontal rule
594

564 gets it.

He's calling for solidarity on class (well, everyone up through petit bourge) instead of racial. Its like a super basic thing anyone who posts here shoudl recognize; the part that made his speech good was how he packaged that into her personal narrative. And given his basic 'hope' value, which should also be obvious given the fear->reactionary raod we've seen the last decade, he's got to tie it into something good. You can't convince people of new ideas if you don't have some way of getting them to think you share an identity. And all the people who think of themselves as 'world citizens' are already voting for him.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:04 AM
horizontal rule
595

Katherine, what, to you, is the value of conceiving of it as your generation that's making the attempt?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:06 AM
horizontal rule
596

Ari, our resident drama queen, got it exactly right over at his joint:

And this speech, it seemed to me, also wasn't about style or soaring applause lines. The point for Obama today was to answer hard questions directly, to use language and ideas to persuade an audience to ponder a very difficult subject along with him. I believe that he did that. In addition, as I noted earlier tonight, I hope that Obama has begun to usher in a new era in which such a thing becomes common, in which our leaders rely on rhetoric and critical thinking when they speak to us. In short, I hope that Obama makes a habit of this kind of thing. If he does, perhaps we can all remember that words and ideas really do matter, that can be, sometimes at least, the mainspring of our history.

Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:11 AM
horizontal rule
597

It's NOT just my generation making the attempt. But he does have the support of the majority of voters my age; whether he has the support of older voters remains to be seen.

It was a pretty generic "who knows where this campaign is going but I'm glad it's gotten as far as it has" comment. And was received as such at the blog where I made it. If you want to read it in the most uncharitable way possible & ignore me when I say that isn't what I meant at all, could you at least do it where it was originally posted?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:24 AM
horizontal rule
598

593: That's the whole comment, parsimon. It is empirically true that Obama does better among younger voters. I think the giant, persistent gap in how he does among different age groups is related to age, yes. How very ageist of me.

Okay, having read the context, an early reply to a publius post that had nothing to do with the age spread among voters, I'd say it's combative and defensive. I don't know why you'd spring to that.

But it really doesn't matter. If McManus is getting you down elsewhere on this issue, don't let it get to you. If there are other arenas in which this generational dispute is live, such that your comment made sense, let me know where I might get up to speed on that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:31 AM
horizontal rule
599

It's getting me down HERE. It didn't occur to anyone to think I was making a generational attack anywhere else.

Fuck this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:33 AM
horizontal rule
600

My 598 posted before I saw 597. I'll read more before I say more.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:36 AM
horizontal rule
601

No, I get it now: you meant: I'm glad our generation is on board with Obama, now if we can just get everybody else on board as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:40 AM
horizontal rule
602

What's the opposite of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

The first thing that came to mind was getting past the bunker line at Omaha. The second was the Dash across France, but crossing the Delaware would work (although I would just say Trenton, since that's the actual victory). All that works if you are some kind of Nazi American scum.

But Cala, what I'm saying is precisely that every country does this, more or less, and sometimes more and sometimes less, in accordance with its particular and historically contingent circumstances. Which basically gets to the root of my problem with American exceptionalism.

Which is that... Americans shouldn't engage in patriotic exceptionalism like everyone else? Or that some other country's patriotic exceptionalism is true and therefore American exceptionalism is wrong?

As it stands, the argument made way above was that Obama's remark grated because ever so obviously any other country could (or maybe has, it wasn't clear) elected someone with a parent from a different racial group and religion from the majority of that country to head of state. In actual fact, as far as I recall, that has not happened. England has not ejected Elizabeth Regina and elected Lenny Henry King. Nor has a comparable figure been elected in France, nor Italy, nor Sweden, nor Spain, nor Portugal and so on ad nauseaum. And not no PMs either.

So, were whatshisname to actually be elected President the line in his speech would be true, but (heh) dependent on the timing. On the other hand, other countries have elected women (so Hill could not make a comparable claim), and other countries have accepted foreign monarchs (such as William & Mary or George the I) although monarchs with claims to the throne. The only instance I can think of where an actual foreigner with no claim to the throne has been elected monarch (as opposed to conquering a country) in Europe was when the Swedes selected Bernadotte... but Bernadotte was white. And a Christian of some sort.

There might be some exceptions I have overlooked (which would render Obama non-unique), but the exceptions would come either from South American countries (Brazil, Mexico or Bolivia) or from colonial states in Africa (such as South Africa).

[You could go back to the Romans, who had non-Roman Imperators, some of whom may have been black, but they tended to acquire the laurel by force.]

Bob: We are the fucking worst country in history. "Banality of evil" should be our national motto.

Except for all the other countries, bob. You can throw out Europe (all the various colonial empires), the Russian Empire, China, India and large parts of Africa. Which leaves few countries (various South American countries, perchance?) to be better than the United States. That doesn't mean the US is good and holy, it merely means the US has achieved the same level of awfulness as everyone else has, as far as I can tell.

max
['In the awfulness sweepstakes we're not only not exceptional, we're really pretty mediocre.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:45 AM
horizontal rule
603

586: The "at least" in that sentence is doing all the work.

"I'm glad my generation is supporting Obama" might carry some similar meaning, but is fairly innocuous & banal. The insertion of "at least" can only be intended to create an insulting contrast.

I am tired of dealing with slick, disingenuous people who argue in bad faith and claim victimhood.

My more general point is the barely disguised rage and ressentiment of people who use high-mnded platitudes as a weapon against outsiders. It is the basis of all religions. And cults.

You recognize cults and negative movements by a close reading of their statements Some experts simply count the number of "nots". I just glanced thru the Obama speech and on a quick read notice many negative formulations.

"I am not a ..." He is not... She is not..." It's that simple. "I am a lover" vs "I am not a hater." One includes, the other excludes. Try counting the number of "nots" (or contractions like aren't) in Obama's speech.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:46 AM
horizontal rule
604

Somewhere about 50 comments ago: But it's not always clear which are the legitimate interests and which not.

And the cool thing about ambiguity in your campaign speeches is that if you get elected, you get the bully pulpit and the ability to do a lot on framing which interests are legitimate and which are not.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:55 AM
horizontal rule
605

I know what I meant. But if you don't want to deal with me, please don't. I would be perfectly content never to mention your name or never respond to a comment you write here on any other blog ever again, if you'll do the same. (I'm not trying to drivev you off--I don't mean don't comment here or at OW. I'm saying: don't quote me or mention me by name as an examble of how Obama & his cultists are trying to destroy social security, or at least respond on the blog where comments are made instead of posting them elsewhere as an example of how terrible a person I am.)

Frankly, I should probably do this whether it's mutual or not.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:55 AM
horizontal rule
606

The British put Gordon Brown, a Scot, not an Englishman in 10 Downing.

Brown's Church of Scotland, and he actually takes it seriously.

Apirana Ngata was acting Deputy PM in NZ.

David Lloyd George didn't speak English as his first language -- he was Welsh.

Napoleon didn't speak French until he was what -- 13? 14?

Patrice Macahon was (prob.) Catholic, but that's one Irish name.

Sarkozy's not a very French name either, after all.

Stalin, Trotsky, et alia were neither ethnically Russian nor Orthodox.

I mean, none are directly comparable to Obama, but all nations are different, and clearly it isn't impossible to imagine a future Algerian President of the Fifth Republic -- suppose Zidane went into politics?

Of course, they're not blacks, but then again, attacking European countries for failing to forcibly import a large slave population seems a bit perverse. And, by the way, PM in Britain and other Westminster systems is directly comparable to President of the USA. In point of fact, the PM in Britain has far more power than the President does in the US, so should be counted as extra, if we're going to have such a daft argument.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:10 AM
horizontal rule
607

592:

I realize you don't get my jokes. That one was addressed specifically to Mary Catherine.

What are you complaining about, anyway?

It's a night for answering. Let's see: you addressed the comment to MC, but dummy, it was a link to a topic of general interest. Taylor's been mentioned here recently by several of us. I complained because you didn't make clear why anyone should click on the link, since it might easily have gone to a 3-panel badly drawn comic depicting something or other. So hey. Give a person a break. Be part of the conversation or don't.

Finis!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:12 AM
horizontal rule
608

it is also worth reminding that Obama is not actually President yet and thus "in no other country could my story be true" actually means "in no other country could a black person go to law school and be elected to the legislature after being selected for what looked like an unwinnable campaign and fluking a victory"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:47 AM
horizontal rule
609

To continue the theme in 606.

Michael Portillo (secretary of defence under the last conservative government) -- father a Spanish immigrant.
Michael Howard (home secretary under last conservative government and former leader of the conservative party) -- father a Romanian Jewish immigrant.
Keith Vaz (former minister for europe under current government) -- born in Aden, parents from Goa.
Baroness Scotland (current attorney general) -- born in Antigua, parents Dominican.
Baroness Amos (former Secretary of State for International Development, current leader of the House of Lords) -- born in Guyana.

I could go on. The point being that the knee-jerk reaction to Obama's claim that 'nowhere else on Earth' isn't based on a failure on my part to recognize the ways in which the US is exceptional. But the certain knowledge on my part that in the specific ways that Obama was alluding too -- the possibility for immigrants and members of racial minorities to prosper and run for high political office -- the US isn't exceptional. We've talked about immigration and social mobility before but the US doesn't have anything like as high a rate of immigration as some other countries, nor does it have as high a level of social mobility. So, my button was pushed.

As Keir has already pointed out, Max is wrong in 602, with Sarkozy being a case in point.

That's not to say that there wasn't good stuff in the speech, ffs.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:05 AM
horizontal rule
610

596: Drama queen? Really? Oh, fine.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:05 AM
horizontal rule
611

The American exceptionalism stuff wasn't great, to be sure. But it was a pretty small pander and in a very long, and very bold speech that dealt with the most complicated and politcally charged issue in the United States. The speech was honest, grown up, and founded on Obama actually knowing things about history. If he was insufficiently nuanced on the issue of the U.S.'s non-uniqueness, I'm willing to forgive him.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:09 AM
horizontal rule
612

re: 611

Sure, and I can see there's lots of good stuff in the speech, some of it very cleverly weighted in some issues that are fraught with difficulty.

But people shouldn't be offended that a non-American would be pissed off by something that an American politician says that seems 'business as usual' when it comes to how America sees itself situated vis a vis the rest of the world becuase that is one of the things that we, as non-Americans, care about.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:13 AM
horizontal rule
613

Oh, I'm not offended at all. I completely understand. And the exceptionalism stuff really is stupid, if you ask me. But it's there for a reason, I suppose. And again, it's just such a small part of a big speech that I tend not to focus on it too much. Also, I'm half Canadian. Wait, I have no idea what that means. But it's true.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:15 AM
horizontal rule
614

but dummy, it was a link to a topic of general interest.

That was, to my mind, another reason for linking to the article. So, as the upshot of my apparently antisocial comment, a number of people might have clicked on and read something relevant to the topic under discussion, by an author of recent interest to several commenters.

Very sorry for your trouble.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:23 AM
horizontal rule
615

Belgium & Portugal were much worse countries that Merka, despite the fact that one of them was only a pretend country.

Shit, Portugal has been abolished? I'm supposed to be going there next week!

Personally, I don't really care what Obama says in speeches, since I'm completely tone deaf to political rhetoric and he could have read out the ingredients on a tin of cat food for all the emotional impact it would ever have on me. But is there any evidence that this speech has worked, in the sense of covering the man's arse on the issue that prompted it? The MSM seems fairly ambiguous, and the punditocracy seem fairly split. Maybe he only inspired the choir and Charles Murray, who will presumably not vote Dem. in the general.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:18 AM
horizontal rule
616

It was an 11am speech. I would say it was aimed at (a) telling the media to STFU about Wright [I would say successful] ; (b) inspiring and assuring his supporters that he can take a punch [I would say remarkably successful -- he responded to a classic "denounce yourself" trap for liberal politicians by giving a wordy 40-minute speech and it was awesome]; (c) it's a perfect thing to point to if somehow someone is genuinely "concerned" about the Wright issue. Obviously a lot of people are just looking for a reason to oppose him and he can't reach those people but he can knock the wind out of their sails, and I think this was definitely a success in that regard.

Theory with only indirect evidence to support it: there are multiple commenters in this thread who donated a kidney to Tony Blair in 1996. Would explain a lot, huh?

Obama talked a lot about understanding white resentment and black resentment, but he did say anything about British resentment? So he has only himself to blame.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:21 AM
horizontal rule
617

Theory with only indirect evidence to support it: there are multiple commenters in this thread who donated a kidney to Tony Blair in 1996. Would explain a lot, huh?

I get that this is supposed to be some sort of snark. But I don't understand what it's saying.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:39 AM
horizontal rule
618

Bob is probably right about this:

And I am in a heightened state of rage right now, as I read the liberal economists' answers to the finance ripoff of America. Inflation/cheap dollar is gonna lower your standards of living about 30% over the next few years, folks, and it is not only a delberate plan, DeLong and Thoma are applauding the strategy.

I've tried to raise the topic two or three times so far, to no avail.

Obama's speech was good for what it was. It's no surprising that non-Americans were annoyed by the exceptionalism, but they don't vote.

It's true, however, that insofar as Obama has tipped his hand on the major economic questions, he's a neoliberal. We're in the middle of something terrible (even mainstream people are talking 1929) and at this point we have no idea how he'll respond.

There's nothing at all wrong with giving a good candidate critical support. Or even with opposing him or her for specific reasons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:43 AM
horizontal rule
619

Theory with only indirect evidence to support it: there are multiple commenters in this thread who donated a kidney to Tony Blair in 1996. Would explain a lot, huh?

probably true. Don't worry though, I am sure that you lot have absolutely nothing to learn from how Blair turned out, you are Americans after all.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:46 AM
horizontal rule
620

Theory with only indirect evidence to support it: there are multiple commenters in this thread who donated a kidney to Tony Blair in 1996. Would explain a lot, huh?

Possibly. Never trusted the bastard myself. To quote a mate from Gordon Brown's neck of the woods, "I cannae trust a Scotsman who pretends he's nae a Scotsman".

However, prolonged exposure to Mr Tone has led me to recognise certain symptoms. Look, you people should work flat out for Obama - he's the not-McCain candidate. If he wins (assuming he's nominated), whatever you get will be better than the alternative. But reading these threads, many of you, a cool, sophisticated crowd by your own estimate, come across like dewy-eyed ingenu(e)s on the subject of BHO. And if you are dewy-eyed ingenu(e)s, he will break your tender hearts. Promise.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:05 AM
horizontal rule
621

Never trusted the bastard myself.

Ditto. Still voted for him in 97 on 'not Tory' grounds. But not since.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:08 AM
horizontal rule
622

What 620 said. The speech was good as long as it stayed on topic so to speak, but the two sops to American exceptionalism and zionism are danger signs that signal that Obama is far from the maverick fresh choice he's being sold as. Still the best mainstream presidential candidate of course.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:15 AM
horizontal rule
623

At the risk of sounding like Outraged Sensitive Guy in a sexism thread, I'm not the least bit gulled by Obama. He's a politician. If he gets elected to the presidency, he'll do some fucked-up things. If he stays in the Senate he'll do some fucked-up things. That's how politics works. You don't even have to be a cynic or an anarchist to assimilate this fact. However, I think there's a very good chance that, in the kinds of day-to-day decision-making and power-wielding that have made GWB so destructive, Obama will actually turn out to be a net positive. I'm pessimistic about his ability to turn things around w/r/t the war or other over-arching issues, but I'm irrationally exuberant about his ability to nominate the right people to his cabinet, and to federal judgeships; as well as to sign the right kind of executive orders; not to mention his ability to provide some space for radicals to be radicals again, without any of this sham Popular Front stuff that we've unwisely engaged in for the last 7 years.

PS This is not 1929. Neither politically nor economically. Not by a long chalk.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:16 AM
horizontal rule
624

I think a lot of people believe that resentment politics are a quite powerful and negative force in America, and that Obama is likely to change that for the better. This is basically the explicit rationale for the Obama campaign.

Naive? Maybe but not to the extent that I need to hear about my "tender heart" from people in oh-so-sophisticated political climates.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:23 AM
horizontal rule
625

The Beggars Not Choosers Law of Politics may be universal.

Et tu, Minne? Koolaid?

Unless what you mean is just that if the Democrats elect a President and solidly control Congress (a possibility), the important debates will be withing the party, rather than within the Republican Party (as now) or between conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans (as under Clinton).

As for the 1929 question, I've read that the Bear Stearns bailout is just the first of many, but that it has already stretched the Fed's capacity to the limit. (And I don't want to hear about theoretical possibilities; unless there's a McManesque massive change in the American political structure, I expect the recovery to hold the malefactors and the rich harmless, whatever cost may be for the botom 80 or 90% of the population).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:28 AM
horizontal rule
626

We're at cross purposes, Barbar, because we be entering a period when resentment politics is needed. Sweet reason can't do everything.

People here seem to think that the disasters McManus talks about are imaginary, but the front pages of the newspapers (and the econ blogs) are sending out troubling messages.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:31 AM
horizontal rule
627

Obama is likely to change that for the better.

Possibly. He's certain a million miles better than McCain. Of all the current candidates, he's the one towards whom I have, as an outsider, the most positive feelings. None of which prevents me from being annoyed at specific things in particular speeches that he makes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:34 AM
horizontal rule
628

John, you may want to drop McManus's name from your points: I don't see the value-added.

Now the crazy irrational Obama cultists are believers in sweet reason? If the class distinctions between the rich and everyone else in America are so damned clear, then what's preventing the many from rising up against the few? Economics professors?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:42 AM
horizontal rule
629

I just scanned the Google News reports on the speech. I don't know how good their sample is, but the majority of the stories ranged from positive to very positive. The negative and mixed stories include Goldberg (!), Kristol (!), The Assyrian International News Agency (!!), and two local reports from Richmond and Tennessee.

Maybe it's just an establishment switch away from Bush toward a Democratic establishment figure, but that's a good thing. Somewhat peripheral issues like race (yes, you heard me right) can be something like bellwethers or straws in the wind telling us which way someone is going to fall on the big issues (war, taxes, etc.) A lot of people probably would have slammed the speech if they wanted McCain as President.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:46 AM
horizontal rule
630

The Bear Stearns bailout amounts to like $30 billion, maximum, right? Sure, $30 billion here, $30 billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money, but "stretched to capacity" doesn't sound plausible. dsquared?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:47 AM
horizontal rule
631

If the class distinctions between the rich and everyone else in America are so damned clear, then what's preventing the many from rising up against the few?

Now THIS is where you need to refer to American exceptionalism.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:51 AM
horizontal rule
632

Barbar: I'm neutral between McManus and the Unfoggedetariat. In many respects he is less stupid than the rest of you.

Yes, the crazy Obama cultists, many of them, are hoping for one sweet man to solve America's problems without confronting them. That's crazy cult behavior. Obama may be better than I fear. I certainly hope so.

Your meathead anti-radical cliches are musty, and I suspect that they'll look increasingly stupid as time goes on. I actually did raise some substantive questions, which you wisely ignored since you don't have any idea what's going on either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:53 AM
horizontal rule
633

But reading these threads, many of you, a cool, sophisticated crowd by your own estimate, come across like dewy-eyed ingenu(e)s on the subject of BHO.

To whom, and to what, are you referring? This strikes me as a strawman of the same family that MC keeps thrashing.

Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer. Is he the Second Coming? No one thinks that.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:55 AM
horizontal rule
634

631: Or if you're a little political naif, you may want to refer to race.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
635

Now the crazy irrational Obama cultists are believers in sweet reason?

Rather the believers in sweet reason and the crazy irrational Obama cultists find themselves contingently on the same side for the time being. This is probably good for everybody's health.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
636

609: UK - first black cabinet member 2003; US - first black cabinet member 2006. (On the other hand, Michael Portillo. First cabinet member about whom "something of the night" is apposite, a feat still unmatched by the US.)

But yes, I'm as willing as the next person to take lessons in republicanism from citizens of a monarchy that's governed by a parliamentary tyranny, why do you ask?


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:57 AM
horizontal rule
637

you may want to refer to race

The role of race in American politics is part of the exceptionalism, no?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:57 AM
horizontal rule
638

Ack, 2006 should be 1966. Robert C. Weaver at Housing and Urban Development.

Self-banned for a pwn goal.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:58 AM
horizontal rule
639

What I heard was different, Minne.

I'm a non-economist not in finance just trying to read the tea leaves, so I'm your classic peasant with a pitchfork on these questions. I don't really apologize; a lot of this kind of stuff seems to happen when the financial system is made so complicated with new financial instruments, etc., that no one understands how it works until someone cracks the puzzle, loots the system, and drives it to collapse. Somehow or another even Nobelist economists got snockered at LTCM.

My level of trust of economists and people in finance is, of course, zero. They're all players one way or another, and they tell you what they're paid to tell you. DeLon and Krugman are relatively nice for economists, but they have their own axes to grind.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:59 AM
horizontal rule
640

Yes, the crazy Obama cultists, many of them, are hoping for one sweet man to solve America's problems without confronting them.

This is not the first time I've had a discussion with you where you've ignored what I am actually saying, John. But please, go on about my anti-radical cliches (like racial issues are an obstacle to the welfare state in America -- please chop off my head, I'm just asking for it).

And no, I don't know what the government should do about the economy. Maybe if I had... I dunno, listened to Bob McManus then I would have more insight into the matter.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:01 AM
horizontal rule
641

attacking European countries for failing to forcibly import a large slave population seems a bit perverse

Who's attacking European countries? And given that the comment came in the middle of a speech about *the lingering effects of slavery*, well.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
642

I responded to 628, Barbar, which was thoroughly annoying. I had deliberately named MacManus because, as I said, he can be right when everyone else here is wrong. And you made your silly little point about him, and added another silly little rhetorical question, and I responded.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
643

The role of race in American politics is part of the exceptionalism, no?

Um, could you explain?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
644

The rhetorical question was a way of re-stating the first sentence of 624. But no, I guess your way was a lot better: "Barack Obama is our saviour and will magically solve all of our problems. Amen."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
645

643. There are several factors in American public life which distinguish it from that of other countries, and make superficial comparisons dangerous. The historical importance of racial issues, proportionately to other countries, is one such. Is this wrong?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
646

627- No one is really an outsider when it comes to US imperialism.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
647

645: um OK, I'm not sure what your point is now, something like America is truly an exceptional country because it's a racist backwater? Anyway, as a tender-hearted naif I appreciate the lessons.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:17 AM
horizontal rule
648

dsquared?

I don't want to come over as an asshole or anything, but I just cannot answer any of these questions; it's not even ethical.

Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer

oh do please, give me a fucking break.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:22 AM
horizontal rule
649

I think that Obama is the best we're going to get. The exceptionalism lines would have to be there in a speech by any American Presidential candidate. But that's a function of America's imperial status and its misunderstanding of itself. In other words, it's a bad sign when America, dominant as it is, demands that kind of line.

Given Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the American health care system, the American prison system, the Bush Administration's global warming policies (and everything else about the Bush Administration), for the rest of the world American exceptionalism rings false and leaves a bad taste.

For me Unfogged is a back room where people can say what they actually think, not our public face. I fully expect to be campaigning for Obama once he's nominated.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
650

Barbar, I'm not sure why you're trying to pick an argument. I probably don't significantly disagree with you on the issues here. American is no more or less racist than any other country. However, historical contingency has led to the issue of race being more pervasive for much longer in American political discourse than in, say, German, where the question of the treatment of the Turkish minority has minimal impact on electoral politics, or Britain, where discussion of racial issues is generally disguised as immigration policy.

For what it's worth, I ascribe no moral value to countries whatsoever. I don't believe that doing so is useful. If you believe otherwise, we can't speak a common political language.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
651

As I said, I don't trust anyone in finance, since they regard it as unethical to tell me anything.

Not a dig at Dsquared personally. That's the way the world works. Information is a commodity, and the truer it is the more expensive it is, and I can't afford much. Hence the pitchfork and torch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
652

Obama: might he be uppity after all?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
653

re: 636

Jesus, fucking jumping christ. Are (some of) you people fucking touchy or what?

"Your country isn't particularly different from others vis a vis the opportunities they afford to immigrants and minorities" was my point. Not "my country is better than yours" or "...and my country is superior in this regard". How fucking hard is that to understand? For fuck's fucking sake.

And, on this particular point, I'm factually right.

I'm not trying to give anyone fucking lessons in fucking republicanism.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
654

"than in, say, German, where the question of the treatment of the Turkish minority has minimal impact on electoral politics"

Don't expect this to last, though. The Schroeder citizenship reforms (and the CDU/CSU efforts to block them) have produced a significant uptick in residents taking up citizenship. It may have contributed to the CDU's precipitous drop (12 percentage points) in last month's elections in the state of Hesse. Don't be surprised if there are enough immigrant German citizens to tip things nationally in 2009.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
655

Further to 636, Howard not Portillo is the one about whom 'something of the night' was said.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
656

Oh I'm just picking a bit of a fight because of the patronizing "tender hearts" comment. I'll stop being a child now.

And yeah, American exceptionalism is stupid and pernicious in many, many ways. Just seems silly to bang on about it regarding this sort of speech.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
657

I'm not trying to give anyone fucking lessons

I, on the other hand, am offering lessons in fucking for my standard consulting fee of $5500/hour.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
658

The Bear Stearns bailout amounts to like $30 billion, maximum, right?

Plus another $200 billion in special loans to provide liquidity to the investment banks. What are the banks using to secure those loans? Mortgage-backed securities, baby ! What could go wrong?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
659

As I said, I don't trust anyone in finance, since they regard it as unethical to tell me anything.

None taken - we don't trust each other when there's money at stake - that's why we employ so many accountants and lawyers. It's also why it's unethical to answer questions for free - you might be dealing with someone who doesn't understand the fundamental market convention of untrustworthiness.

(also, my friendly neighbourhood regulator has just sent out a press release reminding us regulatees that they are going to be having a bit of a push on the enforcement of the rules against spreading rumours and dealing on the back of them (summary of those rules: don't), so I am doubly keen to not do so, even accidentally).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
660

and everywhere else is a shite-hole not fit to kiss our shiny boots

y'all are fucking amazing and the rest of the world don't mean shit

Should the author of these statements really be lecturing other people about being fucking touchy?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:49 AM
horizontal rule
661

re: 660

Point taken.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:49 AM
horizontal rule
662

John @ 651: Have a read of this. It seems to cover most opinions.

Doug @ 654: I never expect anything to last. Why should it?

Barbar @ 656: My "break your tender hearts" was provoked by the people at the top of the thread who were reacting to the speech as if it was 1972 and they'd just discovered Springsteen. I do't give a shit what Obama says about anybody to get elected. He's only a politician (but one who should probably be elected).


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
663

653: See also.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
664

655: Dang, wrong night.

661: Dang, comity.

662: Dang.

666: Damn?


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
665

DSquared, here's what you do. Quit your job, take your millions and start an organic heritage turnip farm, live off that, and in your spare time broadcast the truth about finance to the masses. And you could also buy a stock of pitchforks and organize little street theatre groups.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
666

What did the fish say when it hit cement?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:01 AM
horizontal rule
667

Why is a mouse when it spins?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:02 AM
horizontal rule
668

What's the difference between a duck?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
669

What's love got to do, got to do with it?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
670

The FT piece was not really reassuring. For one thing, "Don't panic!" is always an alarming message, no matter how it's delivered.

Deleveraging will take its toll - but on whom is unclear: I have a fair idea of on whom. My brother, for example, who's trying to refinance some of his exorbitant loans. If he hasn't done so already I suspect he'll go out of business, especially if consumer demand goes down.

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, was blunt in telling UK consumers last month that higher energy and food prices represent "a genuine reduction in our standard of living" and urging people to accept "that's not something that we can offset by just demanding higher wages, because all that will do is lead to another round of higher prices".: Not a cheery statement at all. Is he right?

And of course, the FT is finance, and everyone they interviewed is finance. Very smart, knowledgeable people who have axes to grind and lie all the time.

But at least they're not populists, because populists are bad people and always wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:13 AM
horizontal rule
671

Not a cheery statement at all. Is he right?

John, you were grown up at the tail end of the log boom. You tell me if he's right.

I didn't send you there for comfort. If you ignore their op-ed posturing, the WSJ and the FT are as close to honest as anybody in this wicked world, because they're paid to be.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
672

log s/b long


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
673

I've tried to raise the topic two or three times so far, to no avail.

Learn to take a hint.

Barbar: I'm neutral between McManus and the Unfoggedetariat. In many respects he is less stupid than the rest of you.

Lots of people have thought that. Right up to the point that mcmanus decides to cut off their head to wear as a hat.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:23 AM
horizontal rule
674

I think we can achieve comity around 602 being wrong in all respects. For example, Peru elected Fujimori.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:23 AM
horizontal rule
675

Yes, I was born, like Huckleberry Finn, on the tail end of a Mississippi River log boom like this one.

In all seriousness, I initially thought that you were saying something like that, and asked myself, "WTF?"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
676

Every additionall hundred comments in this thread I think Obama's speech was that much better. By this point it's up there with Bill Murray's "cats and dogs living together" from Ghostbusters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
677

673: What hint? "Don't try to talk to morons"?

I like talking about cock jokes and booty as much as anyone, but my guess is that Bear Stearns is a pretty big deal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
678

I told McManus to fuck himself only last week, and Stras too. But the alarmists are right, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:29 AM
horizontal rule
679

but my guess is that Bear Stearns is a pretty big deal.

Less big than it would have been two months ago, when the stock was at (IIRC) $80. Wasn't the whole thing $250 mil.?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
680

But at least they're not populists, because populists are bad people and always wrong.

Makes me wish Edwards were still in the race. The investment banker-types seem right - you don't bail them out, the system crashes, and that doesn't do anybody any good.

But there's no political conversation about the people who don't deserve to be screwed this way. And precious little conversation about sanctions for those who made usurious loans.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:32 AM
horizontal rule
681

the tail end of a Mississippi River log boom

He meant, of course, a bog boom.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:33 AM
horizontal rule
682

like Huckleberry Finn

Talk about your American exceptionalist baloney. That book could have been written in any number of countries with big long rivers.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
683

Question to the hive mind. It is 2009, unemployment stands at 9%, 4000 businesses are failing every week, and interest rates are already at 1.25. By disengaging from Iraq, President McClinbama would take an additional n billion dollars out of the economy, where n is a higher number than you think.

What should the President do?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
684

yeah, Tim, it's cheaper to buy people out when they've lost almost all their value. There are a lot of real killings to be made out there! Buy, buy, buy!



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
685

676: additionall

New wonder drug that increases math ability. Larry Summers has been signed as spokesman for a campaign targeted at young girls.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
686

684:

Look, you may well be right. An economic meltdown would, obviously, be a very big deal. The problem is that we're not, most of us, technically adept enough to discuss the likelihood of meltdown (and no one's adept enough to know what's going to happen). You'd end up with a bunch of people staring at someone's back and asking, "Is that a freckle or malignant cancer?"

If it's '82, that's going to really suck in a way that a shocking number of people seem to have forgotten. If it's the stagflation seventies, I'm going to think it sucks even worse, though apparently a lot of people here didn't mind it much. And if it's worse than that? Well, we can't even imagine. Which means you end up with discussions that parallel ones that start, "Assume President Obama's a secret Muslim; how would he impose sharia?"


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
687

684: here is my favorite Bear-Stearns fact. In 2006 they gave out $2.6 Billion in bonuses, about 10x their nominal sale price. (But I still cannot make sense of what really happened with them, why the $2 price and why the stock is trading 3-4x that price now.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
688

683: The Democratic President should take the blame for everything, institute austerity measures, and spend his days watching people on TV explain that Godlessness, Negroes, queers, and Socialism made it happen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
689

686: Except that one discussion would be a paranoid fantasy, and the other discussion would be a clumsy attempt to grapple with an enormous reality.

I really wish that Dsquared would start his turnip farm.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
690

686: And if it's worse than that? Well, we can't even imagine

What? Why not? It'll be just like The Great Gatsby!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
691

(But I still cannot make sense of what really happened with them, why the $2 price and why the stock is trading 3-4x that price now.)

Part of the scam is that JPMorgan is trying to steal Bear Stearns, and the market suspects that Bear Stearns shareholders aren't going to let it happen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
692

688: "Queers" should be capitalized to, out of respect for the enormous contributions that Queer-Americans have made to our unique American society during its history.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
693

Somewhat peripheral issues like race (yes, you heard me right)

This amazes me.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:49 AM
horizontal rule
694

The US needs a good dose of populism. That said, the issues involved are pretty complicated.

Bear Stearns is a big deal. How big a deal is unclear. If it was a single investment firm that fucked up, it's not that big a deal. If a bunch more are actually insolvent, everyone panics, and the credit markets seize up, then we're fucked. Then unrelated businesses that rely on bank finance start going under, and it's time to party like it's 1929.

Mortgage-backed securities aren't worthless. At the moment, while defaults are up, not everyone is going to default on their mortgages. They are hard to use as collateral because they are illiquid. The Fed is the one actor in the financial markets who is unaffected by liquidity.



Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
695

Except that one discussion would be a paranoid fantasy, and the other discussion would be a clumsy attempt to grapple with an enormous reality.

mcmanus's paranoid fantasies about Obama are almost certainly meant as clumsy attempts to grapple with reality. We don't know how enormous the economic reality will be. Maybe it's all just a bad dream. (No, probably not.) If we're lucky, maybe it will be like '92. Maybe it will be much, much worse. But we don't know. And given our lack of knowledge--should we torture if there's a ticking time bomb?--getting to "paranoid fantasy" pretty quickly seems like a pretty good bet.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
696

675: For the record, that's a West Coast log boom. "Like this one" means "Made up of logs floating on a river, as this one is".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
697

695: Tim that's totally unintelligible. You're actually advocating crawling into bed and putting your head under the covers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
698

¦¦

If minneapolitan (467) wants the latest skinny on the dissolution of Belgium, it's up at CT.

¦>


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
699

697: How would you know what I'm advocating, given the first sentence. I'm saying don't freak out just b/c you like to freak out. You don't know how big a deal this is yet; people who follow this as a profession don't know how big a deal this is yet.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
700

Mortgage-backed securities aren't worthless. ... The Fed is the one actor in the financial markets who is unaffected by liquidity.

Yah. This is right. I don't know how this all plays out, but it's hard to find fault with the Fed. I suppose it's not a coincidence that Bush chose - for once ! - to put someone competent in a job.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
701

Vlaanderen will actually have about 6 million people. I did not know that. I thought it would be much smaller.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
702

Yeah, what gets me is my grandfather fought the First World War so those ingrates could have a country, and now look at them.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:00 AM
horizontal rule
703

John, you may be right that at the end of day the fundamental political divide is between capitalist and everyone else, and Obama's campaign is just one more (successful) trick to distract us from that fact. You may be right about that. I have my own worries. The man has clearly spent a lot more time in his life thinking about race and identity and resentment than about, say, health care policy or the proper role of the Fed.

But even the political junkies among us are always dwelling on the superficial -- on press coverage, on symbolism (remember what you said about Power's resignation!), on narratives. That's what it means to be a politics junkie -- it means a very close familiarity with various competing narratives, and a very vague idea about actual policy details. What should Obama do if we're in Great Depression II in 2009? I have no idea, neither does anyone else here. I don't even see alternatives to choose between.

Given all that, I think the mistrust of Obama, while based on something real, is also based on a bit of goalpost-shifting. Almost everyone here is obsessed with political narratives and knows very very little about policy, and that's always been the case. But it's good goalpost-shifting.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:02 AM
horizontal rule
704

700: As I understand, the securities are backed by the very same worthless mortgages that caused the problem in the first place.

Tim, you don't even want to talk about it at all on grounds that no one here is an expert except the guy who won't talk. Number one, when has not being expert every stopped anyone here? Number two, if someone doesn't like what I'm saying, they can say something different. Number three, a reading of the FT link at 662 gives a good outline, though the lines obviously have to be read between and no one is committing him or herself.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
705

Also, inflation is a big deal because people hate it, not because its economic consequences are that bad (I'm talking 7% inflation, not 20,000% inflation). The Fed is almost out of bullets in the sense that soon they won't be able to lend money without increasing inflation, but inflation is preferable to meltdown.

At least out of context (I didn't read the article) Mervyn King's comment is rather bizarre. If rising prices cut your real wage, of course you should demand a pay raise.

A cheap dollar is probably good for working Americans, since it will create manufacturing jobs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
706

Barbar, I am an Obama supporter and have been since Edwards dropped out. But nothing has happened to make me less pessimistic, or to make me believe that Obama knows what's going to hit him, or that he will react appropriately when the shit hits the fan.

"The worse, the better" is a bad rule in general, but at this point, the worse things get on Bush's watch, the better. Because they're already gearing up to make sure that the 2009 Democratic President will be blamed. Democrats shouldn't cooperate with any efforts to deal with the problem if they're just going to kick it forward ten months.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
707

Walt, I think you'll find that conventional wisdom among financial economists is that if rising prices cut wages and you demand more wages this will push prices up further and create an inflationary spiral, leading to loss of control over the money supply and yadda, yadda...

It should be noticed in this context that very few financial economists, certainly not the Governor of the Bank of England, are on minimum wage.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
708

The mortgages weren't worthless, they weren't worth as much as they were listed on the books at. Now there's a lot of uncertainty as to what they're worth, they're hard to sell, so no one wants to hold them in case they are hit with a crisis of their own.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
709

I imagine it's a matter of concern in America that the attritional process that has left these last three candidates standing took place before anybody realised that the economy was going to be a big deal, so none of them have been asked to demonstrate much expertise in that area. Do Clinbama have access to people who can write them a line very, very quickly, or are all the working (non-academic) economists on the other side?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
710

though the lines obviously have to be read between and no one is committing him or herself

This is the "Once upon a time" of paranoid fantasies. I'm not saying you're wrong, and I'm not saying your worries are silly. Just that we don't (or I don't) know much.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
711

speaking of scam, these credit cards are so annoying scam
i got a bill from the lord and taylors, they charge me 32$ when i never even activated their card
i did a purchase two months ago and payed all at once, coz i never liked to have any debts on a credit card
and now they say i never payed a fraction of the full cost which they put on the card, they should inform me if they did! and it got increased since then due to two months late payments, i feel like i'm being robbed :(
what will happen if i won't pay, will i go to jail?
i shouldn't agree to open the credit card then may be for the discount they said was available
well, i got that discount, now i'll repay it, so it's that balanced universe, though i could avoid the negative feeling if there were no stupid credit cards


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
712

707 - Is that true? I thought the wage-price spiral was out of fashion, and that conventional wisdom was that the government controlled the money supply, so that inflation was generally the government's fault.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
713

At least this ridiculous thread has finally veered off-topic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
714

Fuck you, Sifu, I'm taking this thread back on-topic. Obama's speech was good, but not as good as Hugh Grant-as-PM's speech in Love Actually.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:20 AM
horizontal rule
715

710: Yes, but I want to know more, and you don't. Read the goddamn FT, you ostrich. Things don't go away when you pretend they're not there.

It's not just me and McManus, Tim, and it didn't really come out of the blue. Atrios has been talking about it for some time, and DeLong and Krugman are now pretty alarmed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:20 AM
horizontal rule
716

700: As I understand, the securities are backed by the very same worthless mortgages that caused the problem in the first place.

To add to Walt's 708, the Fed didn't take the worst ones - there is some real possibility (maybe even a likelihood; I don't know) that the assets are worth something in the neighborhood of what the Fed is lending.

As for the Tim-vs-Emerson debate on what constitutes useful discussion, I'm with Peggy Noonan: It would be irresponsible not to speculate.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
717

712. IANAEconomist, but my understanding is that this is sort of. As Krugman pointed out the other day,

When the Fed is worried about the state of the economy, it basically responds by printing more of that green paper, and using it to buy bonds from banks. The banks then use the green paper to make more loans, which causes businesses and households to spend more, and the economy expands.

I don't see how it can do that and restrict the money supply at the same time.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
718

log s/b long

THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
719

BTW, will somebody tell read she's not going to jail. Unless she is.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
720

Fuck you, Sifu, I'm taking this thread back on-topic. Obama's speech was good, but not as good as Hugh Grant-as-PM's speech in Love Actually.

Walt is high. The best speech EVAR was Al P's speech in Any Given Sunday.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
721

Things don't go away when you pretend they're not there.

Nor do they yield themselves up to you just because you learn a few technical terms. Krugman wrote a book about this at one point.

Again, people should discuss this as taste suits. But I don't think they have some sort of responsibility to speculate.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
722

Juan Williams is a complete tool.

That is all.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
723

I thought Obama's speech was way better than the big speech at the end of Chicken Run.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
724

I imagine it's a matter of concern in America that the attritional process that has left these last three candidates standing

I initially read this as "the artisanal process." Hand-crafted candidates, just like the pioneers used to make.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
725

re 606: Of course, they're not blacks, but then again, attacking European countries for failing to forcibly import a large slave population seems a bit perverse. And, by the way, PM in Britain and other Westminster systems is directly comparable to President of the USA. In point of fact, the PM in Britain has far more power than the President does in the US, so should be counted as extra, if we're going to have such a daft argument.

Ay carumba. That was my daft argument, and you've made a dafter one in return. My argument was made in response to the concept that "in no other country on earth" is -- and can only be understood as -- insulting to other democracies. I was attempting only to point out a few very specific ways in which the offending phrase is syntactically correct and non-insulting. Say all you want about the PM having more power, but the PM only exists by the will of the Monarch. Any power there vested could easily be taken away within the absolute power assumed by the monarchy (not without a revolt, I'm sure, but still). President and PM are not the same thing, therefore, "in no other country on earth" is accurate.

But is it an attack anyway? If one acknowledges that forcibly importing a large slave population is a bad thing, and then points out that the current state of race relations in the country that did it is still affected by the poison in that old well, and *then* says, "in no other country on earth," is that not in fact a backhanded compliment towards that country? "In no other country on earth" is the history of slavery and race so intwined that this is even an issue. Obama's rhetorical device is "we shall overcome," rewritten to say, "we *can* overcome, right now!"

I still fail to see the insult towards other countries.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:39 AM
horizontal rule
726

The greatest speech ever was Calgacus' address before the battle of Mons Graupius. That was fictional, too.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
727

I am high, and must correct myself. The best speech ever is of course the President's speech from Independence Day. Yes, now July 4th is everyone's independence day.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
728

Juan Williams is a complete tool.

I love you, Kraab!

(M/tch & BR, I am not afraid to say it!)

I might have a slight anger control issue bc I was screaming at my radio this morning about Juan "Fox News" Williams.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
729

721: I will never, ever, understand you, Tim. Your wonky veneer of CW reasonableness conceals a festering pit of random lunacy.

Everyone is saying that this will be big. They're mostly talking about how big, what the specific effects will be, and what, if anything, can be done about it. Certainly anyone interested in the Presidential contest would be a little curious about what kind of world the next President will be facing.

This isn't speculation any more, either. It's gone mainstream, sort of like Nirvana with "Nevermind".

One of the possibilities coming out of the mainstream stuff I've read is that the adults really aren't in charge and that nobody has much idea what next: i.e., the McManus hypothesis.

This is all emblematic of mainstream Democratic politics, though. Certain topics should not even be discussed, in the same way that certain kinds of hats should not be worn, because people who do discuss these things or wear these hats are tacky and uncool. That Is Not Done.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
730

Are Belgian beers now either Flemish beers or Walloon beers?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
731

Read, you won't go to jail, but your credit rating will suffer, so if you want to borrow money for a car or house or whatever, you will pay a lot more. Try talking them down on the telephone-- ask the first layer person if they are authorized to waive the charge. If they say no, politely ask to speak to a supervisor. Stay polite, mention that you'd like to keep using the card, express surprise at the charge for the reasons you write here, see what happens. You'll at least get it reduced, possibly to $0. Then pay whatever you agreed to. Ignoring it is a bad idea, contesting any other way is an incredible hassle. Not especially fair, but if life were fair, there would be no hunchbacks.

What a great speech, and as a trite observation, one more chink in big media-- being able to get the speech on youtube is so much better than commentary. I wonder if there's a way to track how many watch the whole thing; I know many publishers who put stuff online mention that few readers click through to page 2 of anything lengthy.

Also, for american exceptionalism, staff in my nearby late-night beer stand (plastered with keno coupons) say "thank you and god bless america" with what I suspect to be sarcastic intent.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
732

John I'm not sure anybody -- even the really knowledgeable insiders -- has any sense of how big it might be. I think that's part of the problem; the risk pricing that's been built into the market the past (many | several) years is totally broken, but nobody knows how broken, nor do they have a sense of how to fix it so they can price the risk accurately. So nobody really knows what's going to happen, except that it won't be good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
733

Are Belgian beers now either Flemish beers or Walloon beers?

I don't see how they can determine that until they can get a government which can agree who goes where. At the moment they are virtual beers, which pop in and out of existence two by two when you least expect it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
734

The answer is no. It will still be Belgian beer


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
735

owever, historical contingency has led to the issue of race being more pervasive for much longer in American political discourse than in, say, German, where the question of the treatment of the Turkish minority has minimal impact on electoral politics

Could that also be because, by and large, the Turkish minority in Germany are not citizens with the right to vote?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
736

Google's been down for about 15 minutes. Never seen that happen before.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
737

I will never, ever, understand you, Tim. Your wonky veneer of CW reasonableness conceals a festering pit of random lunacy.

So lay it out, big guy. What's going to happen? Give probabilities where available, and break out effects by region, income band, and industry.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
738

My "break your tender hearts" was provoked by the people at the top of the thread who were reacting to the speech as if it was 1972 and they'd just discovered Springsteen.

Yeah. We said "that was a good speech." ogged already had his cock out. It's so great that comment 7 was there to save us from whipping ourselves into a frenzy and sacrificing a small child.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
739

I fucking hate you people. I take *one* day off from the internets, am awakened at night by Mr. B. listening to Obama's (great) speech, stay up to listen to it because it's such an awesome speech, think "I bet I missed a good discussion on Unfogged about this," check in the morning and realize there's over 700 comments which I am NOT going to get caught up on.

Also, yes, the "in no other country in the world" is dumb, but it's boilerplate. Let. It. Go.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
740

save us from whipping ourselves into a frenzy and sacrificing a small child

Didn't stop me, Miss Half-assed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
741

thank you, LW, it was a good advice
i cancelled the card before reading your comment, pity, so now have to pay the bill, well, i'll get over it :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
742

739: on the other hand, you didn't miss a "good" discussion, per se.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
743

Also, yes, the "in no other country in the world" is dumb, but it's boilerplate. Let. It. Go.

You say you didn't read the thread, but you summarized the entirety of it here. It's really amazing how little additional content there was in the first 600-or-so posts.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
744

Also, yes, the "in no other country in the world" is dumb, but it's boilerplate. Let. It. Go.

Seems like you are pretty well caught up with at least the first 500 comments...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
745

737: Do you understand what you just did? I asked a question, and you got all huffy and demanded that I answer the question.

MacManus would tell you the answer! You pretend not to like that, but really that's what you want.

What I expect is inflation, unemployment, and stagnation for 5-10 years. I have no idea about the international consequences. If the Democrats are in office I would hope that they would ameliorate the worst effects on the average American, take steps to reregulate, and punish anyone guilty of anything (probably very few). Certainly taxes on the high brackets should be raised.

I think that the Econ profession should be purged, and a lot of them ridiculed until they start crying. That profession seems to have no quality control or ethics standards at all.

The reason these questions came up is because they are highly relevant to Obama or Clinton's job if they're elected, and we're talking about Obama / Clinton.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
746

743-4: See? I am Unfogged. In all its tiresome, long-winded glory.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
747

For God's sake, people. Can we let this one go by Maundy Thursday?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
748

745: But to go on, I was hoping that someone else might have something to say. And a few people did.

And to go on further, I think that this will probably be one of the big issues of the next ten years, and will severely crimp the Democratic President's chances of doing much good. I fear that even to patch the leaks and soften the blow may take more gumption and activism than Clinton or Obama will be able to muster.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
749

665: DSquared, here's what you do. Quit your job, take your millions and start an organic heritage turnip farm, live off that, and in your spare time broadcast the truth about finance to the masses. And you could also buy a stock of pitchforks and organize little street theatre groups.

an intriguing idea, but I'm finding it hard to see how it turns a profit.

Also [...] is dumb, but it's boilerplate. Let. It. Go.

hooooooo boyyyyy, is that one going to Come. Back. To. Haunt. You ...


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
750

749.last: nah.

I actually find it interesting how off-target I find dsquared's trolling in this thread. Generally I'm pretty sympathetic, but on this particular subject it seems like he just doesn't have a very good grasp of American Presidential politics, even compared us Democrats.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
751

Only in America would we believe that a very stupid thread would be over by Holy Thursday.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
752

An intriguing idea, but I'm finding it hard to see how it turns a profit.

Dsquared immediately zeroed in on the plan's carefully-concealed weak spot. People in finance are cunning, which is why they're all billionaires in one currency or another.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
753

When someone else strikes it rich on organic heritage turnips, that motherfucker will rue the day, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
754

John, a little ethnic sensibility if you please? The term is "cunt" not "motherfucker".


Posted by: Arnot Welsh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
755

sensibility s/b sensitivity. (American is not my first language)


Posted by: Arnot Welsh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
756

it seems like he just doesn't have a very good grasp of American Presidential politics, even compared us Democrats.

It's probably because I keep thinking about what a disappointment Blair turned out to be, and "It's Different This Time". After all, he's promised to start a vital national debate, and that certainly can't be dismissed as all talk.

Do you know, if you read through that book of Peanuts cartoons to the very end, Lucy actually lets Charlie Brown kick that football?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
757

756.1: and surely analogies between different people in different countries at different times running for different offices will hold.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
758

705:

The Fed is almost out of bullets in the sense that soon they won't be able to lend money without increasing inflation, but inflation is preferable to meltdown.

Maybe, maybe. If the Greenspans can slow bleed the middle class for decades, as they have done so successfully, I am not so certain a period of collapse & social unrest is not preferable.

If rising prices cut your real wage, of course you should demand a pay raise.

Not gonna happen, nor are the Keynesian social welfare programs gonna be at all easy to enact. Which is the point, and the plan. The Neo-Keynesians (as opposed to the Post-Keynesians) have been seduced by a partial implementation of their program. Globalization, weak dollar, light inflation, fiscal disciplne. Of course Brad DeLong would love high marginal taxes, infrastructure investment, and a strong safety net, but he isn't going to get it. Or not enough to balance the pressure on real wages.

Neo-Keynesianism fails precisely for the reasons the Marxists predicted:it can be politically gamed by Capital.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
759

Sifu, the onus for supporting the idea that Obama is a paradigm breaking politician must surely lie with those who believe it. Show me, I'm not from Missouri.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
760

Of course, Obama's a brand new paradigm, and the USA is an exceptional country completely unlike any other. The internet has "changed the rules", I hear. After all, the man said that black people have experienced terrible problems but it was all in the past and they ought to get over it. It's a whole new world.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
761

It's probably because I keep thinking about what a disappointment Blair turned out to be, and "It's Different This Time".

Do people think Blair was preferable to whichever Tory candidate was on offer, or just as compared to their dream candidate?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
762

Is economics everything? Of course not.

But if you think the "Exceptional" American people are going to endure $10 gasoline in a period of declining real wages without at least a grudging acceptance of Imperialism in the Middle East you apparently do believe Americans are exceptional.

Desperate Americans = Dead Muslims

I'd rather have guillotines. Seriously.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
763

759: why? Are you planning to vote for somebody else?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
764

760: not what I was saying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
765

re: 761

It's quite hard for me to say, these days as my perspective is completely skewed by my total festering hatred of everything he and his party have done since about 2000. There were a few things done in the 1997-2000 period that were pretty good, though. Although there's a case to be made that the good things he did in that period were largely preexisting commitments made during the Smith leadership [people who have better knowledge of the internal workings of the Labour party probably know more about this than me].

That said, John Major, his predecessor and rival for the 97 election, doesn't seem to have been an utter bastard either. I couldn't have contemplated voting Tory in 97 for basic tribal reasons, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
766

Don't mind Tim. He's too young to remember Reagan. He barely remembers George H W Bush. In his young world, Blair and Clinton are the reality standard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
767

I knew I was right about the kidneys. Ding ding ding.

"Great speech." Oh the horror, some British snark was desperately needed.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
768

re: 767

I didn't love Blair pre-97, either. I thought he was a slimy wee shit. So the kidney-snark can die a death, eh?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
769

768: What sort of exceptionalism is it if you think you're the only commenter from across the pond needing to explain to the poor naive Americans that Obama is not the Messiah? Look around you; you're hardly unique.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
770

724, 728: Juan "Fox News" Williams hatred. I third it.

Not that it was ever in doubt, but I think the role of Fox in this whole shebang (and their followup) has cemented their place as a crudely racist organization. (Last I looked they were still running with the article which assumes moral equivalence between Rev. Wright's and Imus's comments and declaring Obama a hypocrite for his support of Imus's firing.) How does Juan countenance the clear agenda (and means to which they will stoop to further it) of that organization?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
771

re: 769

Well, OFE and myself have both stated we didn't really rate Blair pre-election. I can't imagine Dsquared did much either. So who are these kidney-selling people?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
772

I think what's hard for non-Americans to appreciate is exactly the nature of race relations here, which is the background against which we're interpreting Obama's speech. Which is understandable, since the nature of race relations here is deeply stupid.

Bob, why would light inflation bleed the middle class? Seems to me the main victim there would be Wall Street.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
773

Stirling Newberry explains the war. I was going to cut & paste a bunch, and it is a shorter piece, but fuck it. Just the conclusion:

For the rest, they are ready to march into the next trillion dollar swindle, because, let's face it, after being accommodative to Bush, Bernanke will, on the day a Democratic President takes office, become a sudden and swift convert to the religion of inflation fighting.

It's a fucking plan, people, and President Obama will be a chump or a revolutionary. But it's gonna be a nightmare. Good God, I hate Republicans.

And sorry, racism is low on my agenda. Class leaves it in the dust.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
774

cemented their place as a crudely racist organization

Not just Fox News.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
775

In case Katherine comes back, my 595 was to "I wanted my generation to make its own attempt at something like that" in your 593, and was asked in only slightly skeptical curiosity.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
776

Well I'm not sure how Blair was a "disappointment" if he wasn't rated.

Anyway, enough with Obama's speech already; let's go back to the more substantive topics we usually discuss, like whether Samantha Power's resignation makes Obama look weak, or if the Clinton campaign is taking advantage of racism, or if the Clinton-Obama fight is good or bad for the Democrats, or if Obama's followers are cult members, or if Obama will be the next Mussolini, or if Obama plans on turning old people into food to feed the hungry masses during the upcoming Depression.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
777

explain to the poor naive Americans that Obama is not the Messiah?

Seems someone has to do it. Even if he was as good & as pure as some of his followers believe (and he shows no sign of being close on either count) and he wins the nomination and then election (by no means certain), the economic and political state of things mean he's very unlikely to make great strides, even assuming he tries (which seems a jump). There's only so much anyone can do, let along a fairly bog-standard center-rightish Democrat. Looks from the outside like a lot of people are setting themselves up for a world disappointment. It would be historic just to have a black man sitting in that seat. If he can shift race relations a bit, that's a lot.


Posted by: Real I. Teigh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
778

D2 et al., you don't have to believe that Obama's a genius who will save the world to be pleased at hearing an intelligent speech about a major American cultural problem from a presidential candidate.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
779

I did. And furthermore, if we had a time machine here to settle this argument, I would bet decent money that you and OFE did too (there is a lot of false memory syndrome on this one, as with the death of Princess Diana). We all fucking did. Do you remember what it was like on that day when he won? It was amazing. Then it all started to go to shit.

The reason we were all gooey over Blair is that we were coming out of the back end of many years of a horrible, awful, disgusting, incompetent right-wing government. We'd got ourselves into a psychology where we were honestly doubting whether we'd ever win again.

And then along comes this supremely self-confident bloke, making big speeches and seeming to kick all known ass. A few old farts were grumbling that all the asses he was actually doing something about kicking were on our side, and that he seemed to be throwing out a little bit more ideological baggage than was strictly necessary, but who listened to them?

We were totally, totally, fucking overcome by rock star syndrome and lost all of our objectivity. Of course, this is a lot different.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
780

772:Bob, why would light inflation bleed the middle class? Seems to me the main victim there would be Wall Street.

You misread me a little. It wouldn't, balanced with high taxes on wealth and an every-enlarging welfare state. That was, as I understand him, the Keynes strategy of stealth socialism.

But without the redistributive parts of Keynesianism, you get asset inflation and ever higher costs of wealth pricing out everyone below the top.

Wage inflation is not the answer.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
781

D2 et al., you don't have to believe that Obama's a genius who will save the world to be pleased at hearing an intelligent speech about a major American cultural problem from a presidential candidate

But apparently you do have to believe that he is something other than the latest neoliberal smile-n-suit to come down the track, and that is setting the bar too high for me.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
782

779: the Blair story you are describing sounds a lot like Clinton in 1992, which I think is well within the memory of many if not most of the American commenters here.

I actually am hoping that Obama turns out a bit better than Clinton, but who knows.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
783

We were totally, totally, fucking overcome by rock star syndrome and lost all of our objectivity. Of course, this is a lot different.

Well, at least the US has sane standards about how long a head of state can serve. If Blair was thrown out in 2002 as he should have been, wouldn't the damage have ended up being much less?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
784

you do have to believe that he is something other than the latest neoliberal smile-n-suit to come down the track

I guess we're all supposed to out-jade each other, but I think he is. That's a separate question from whether he'll be able to get anything done.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
785

Did you guys just get helicoptered in, or something? We've discussed how Obama might secretly suck here At Great Length since he won Iowa. Based on those dicussions, I can give you the complete list of people here likely to have their hearts broken by Obama: Katherine, and Ari. Everyone else seems conflicted.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:02 AM
horizontal rule
786

We were totally, totally, fucking overcome by rock star syndrome and lost all of our objectivity. Of course, this is a lot different.

If you could go back, would you rather a Tory win, perhaps in some mcmanus-ian hope for heightened contraditictions?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
787

779.last: true enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
788

re: 779

Actually, I really didn't. You'd lose the bet. That's not to say that I didn't look forward really enthusiastically to a Labour government, but I grew up in a fairly old Labour area and my girlfriend at the time was fairly 'up' on Labour machine politics.

So, re:

A few old farts were grumbling that all the asses he was actually doing something about kicking were on our side, and that he seemed to be throwing out a little bit more ideological baggage than was strictly necessary, but who listened to them?

I was one of those people listening to them. Not through any amazing insight and wisdom on my part*, but just because that was sort of the milieu I had my toes dipped in.

Plus, I had a fairly active distrust of middle class English people. The edges of that have been smoothed off by years living in England, but circa 96/97 I had a chip on my shoulder the size of the Bass Rock. He didn't tick the right boxes for me in terms of charisma. I hoped that he'd do good things in terms of policy, but I wasn't won over by him personally.

Ditto the Diana thing. I got into a hellish argument at work on the day of her funeral about it.

* I've certainly been suckered by other politicians and their 'promise'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
789

Obama plans on turning old people into food to feed the hungry masses during the upcoming Depression.

You strike me as exactly the kind of idiot the rest of us are pissed off at. Stripped of your middle-school sarcasm, something like that strikes me as a pretty reasonable topic. I've spent a little timehere trying to raise the reasonable topic, and Tim was highly offended? Why?

Because MacManus annoys you? Because I annoy you? Because topics raised by annoying people should never be discussed in polite society? MacManus annoys me too, but for me thinking about politics is not like deciding which HS crowd I want to hang out with.

And for the tenth or twentieth time, I'm supporting Obama but have very serious doubts which are explainable in terms of my understanding of the last 20-30-40 years of American political history.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
790

Wait, you mean Obama's not the son of the Most High? Glad we got that cleared up. Now I'm moving to Canada!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
791

785: Indeed, you may recall hearing the ringing slogan "Be disappointed by someone new!" Right in this very blog!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
792

No, but I would have tried not to be so gushingly embarrassing about him, and would probably have hoped for much less of a landslide so he didn't have quite such a dominant position in the party.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
793

re: 783

Blair was elected in 97. So, if he served two terms, he could theoretically have still been in office in 2007 [UK terms being up to 5 years].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
794

And sorry, racism is low on my agenda. Class leaves it in the dust.

This reminds me of my boss the other day talking about how it didn't matter whether my firm hires men or women, as long as they are talented employees. There is something about whether or not you are an old white guy that affects what makes it on the agenda.


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
795

I've spent a little timehere trying to raise the reasonable topic, and Tim was highly offended?

I'm not offended, Emerson. I just disagree with you about something. I understand that's offensive to you, but what can I do short of submission, and therefore acceptance of sharia?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
796

I am close to Katherine's position on Obama.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
797

The absolute key to understanding what's exciting about Obama is race relations in this country. Absent that, talking about what he will or won't do makes no sense, unless you're a crazy old racist commie like Bob.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
798

792 is pretty much what I'd say. I'd have liked him to have lost the vote in 2003 about the Iraq war and been forced to resign, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
799

I'll add you to the official list, Barbar. Like your compatriots, on the event of Obama's election, you will receive a get well soon card sent January 20th, 2008.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
800

[UK terms being up to 5 years]

Weird. Five years seems like a natural term length, what with our base-10 numbering system and all. And yet, an odd number of years still looks very strange when I read it, since pretty much every office in the US has either a 2-, 4-, or 6-year span.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
801

Blair was elected in 97. So, if he served two terms, he could theoretically have still been in office in 2007 [UK terms being up to 5 years].

Ah, he was only the leader of the Labor party from 94 on. Never mind.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
802

Stripped of your middle-school sarcasm, something like that strikes me as a pretty reasonable topic.

Did the previous discussions of that topic turn up anything more than vapor?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
803

For all those carping about Obama's line about American exceptionalism and saying that his candidacy could just as easily happen in Canada or the UK, please help me out here.

Now, I'm just a stoopid American, so bear with me, but did I miss the many Canadian or British top level campaigns where a black man was the nominee of a major political party? French campaign? German? Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

So I guess there IS a certain exceptional quality to this year's campaign in America. Sorta sucks for your "argument", though.

FWIW, I am not big on a exceptionalism from any country (Deutschland Uber Alles and all that rot), but in the words of a great wise man:

"Lighten up, Francis."


Posted by: Jeff Boatright | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
804

781: No you don't. You just have to recognize that that particular speech, in topic and style, is *rhetorically* part of an impressive (and yes, American) tradition of great civil rights speeches, and that we haven't had many of those since MLK was killed.

Which doesn't mean that Obama, if elected, will be the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln, or that he's going to Transform the Nation. It does mean that it's a great speech, and that I for one really enjoyed listening to it, and found it moving.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
805

re: 800

One feature of the UK system is that the term length isn't fixed. The government is free to call an election when they think they are best placed to win. You could argue that's rigging the deck a little.

But they can't go longer than five years, so five is the maximum term length.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
806

No, but I would have tried not to be so gushingly embarrassing about him, and would probably have hoped for much less of a landslide so he didn't have quite such a dominant position in the party.

People gush; English reserve is one of those things we jettisoned two hundred years ago. It doesn't mean all that much. You badly misunderstand the US if you think a black guy can be in a very dominant elected position, even in the Democratic party. A reason to prefer Obama to HRC is precisely a concern about DLC dominance in the party. Obama's infrastructure is still aborning.

I think you're not paying attention to what people here have actually said.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
807

Tim, you very persistently argued, in a series of comments which eventually became sarcastic, against the idea that the issue needs to discussed at all.

If the word "offended" bothers you I suppose that I could find some other, less offensive word to label your pointy-headed know-nothing attitude.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
808

802: We now have two votes for the proposition that we there's no point in thinking about the possibility that we're approaching a financial crisis, or about what steps should be taken if we do, or bout whether we think that Obama will take the right steps: Tim and (I assume) Barbar. Perhaps there should be a show of hands.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
809

Tim, you very persistently argued, in a series of comments which eventually became sarcastic, against the idea that the issue needs to discussed at all.

No tears, Emerson. Not now. If I'm sarcastic, it's probably because I think you're being mildly ludicrous ("that's totally unintelligible," "Things don't go away when you pretend they're not there," "a festering pit of random lunacy"). And occasionally sarcastic, even: "yeah, Tim, it's cheaper to buy people out when they've lost almost all their value. There are a lot of real killings to be made out there! Buy, buy, buy!" Which is understandable, as that's part of the house style.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
810

Indeed, you may recall hearing the ringing slogan "Be disappointed by someone new!" Right in this very blog!

Ahhh, but that was Before The Speech, when the world was a very different place. The current state of play appears to be either:

Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer

(#633 above)

or the view that simply by the symbolic blackulosity of his person, he will transform race in America, despite the fact that the actual content of that speech was the "Stuff White People Like" version of the censored version of Martin Luther King, with all the "content of character" bits left in and all the other bits taken out.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
811

789: because McManus is a crazy old man and is annoying as hell. Yeah, shocking I know.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
812

D2, I know that bitter cynicism is as deeply entrenched in the British character as an enjoyment of self-exposure is in the American one. But ffs, you surely know how vanishingly rare it is for major US politicians to even *acknowledge* race and racism.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
813

810: It depends on what he is supposed to be a "materially different alternative" to, no? He's certainly different than McCain and, I believe, certainly different than HRC. Those are options.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
814

or if Obama plans on turning old people into food to feed the hungry masses during the upcoming Depression.

It could be Muslims instead of old Americans.

For me, this is the question. I may be crazy, but I think the crunch may be very close to that bad.

It will be trillions bad, multiple trillions bad. Shit, we are already approaching a trillion dollars, and the collapse has barely started. We will not be able to borrow it, the rest of the world is about tapped out(double digit inflation in China & ME). Obama sure doesn't act like he is willing to put Republicans against the wall in order to raise the necessary taxes (unless they are regressive taxes, like a VAT). So that leaves eliminating the transfer payments as the only solution left. Or creating one last bubble by moving the Trust Fund to equities, and then eliminating them.

How else am I supposed to interpret Obama's rhetoric?

I should stop. So many think this election, this round of politics, is about race & war. Been there, done that, forty years ago almost exactly. Didn't work then, won't work now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
815

Fuck, man. Unfogged is starting to depress me. We're not allowed to be excited about a pretty damn good American politician without our clucking wiser brethren in the UK making fun of us?

Fuck off.

I'm sick to death of the McManus/dsquared/whoever-else line that one is either a whirly-eyed Obamaniac whose critical facilities swoon in a moist puddle whenever Barack Himself speaks, or a clear-eyed cynical realist.

It's possible, for the 1000th time, to support Barack Obama for president without being a "cultist." It's possible to like the speech without endorsing every word in it. It's possible to talk about American politics without being a complete dick.

No, wait. I might be wrong about that last one.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
816

Tim, your only point so far is the know-nothing point, which is a very bad one. You're not supporting it now either, you're just reiterating (but without annoyance!) your objections to the fact that I ever said anything. I still have little idea why you're so determinedly know-nothing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
817

John, I have no problem talking about our upcoming financial disaster, except that I don't know anything about it. But even then, yeah people should point out that it's important because it is.

I can't stand McManus because of his insane and inane ramblings about Obama hating old people and being the next Mussolini and maybe being so popular that he'll be able to impose sharia law. I'm not fucking caricaturing his positions, this is the stupid bullshit that he says.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
818

mrh for president!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
819

You all are making it very easy for me to ignore the blog and get work done today.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
820

Could someone please close this freaking thread already? kthxbai


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
821

Huh, 811 was me but 802 wasn't.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
822

797:Does anybody remember the learning curve of Martin Luther King?

How he by the later 60s moved from racial equality to economics.

You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry... Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong... with capitalism... There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.[11]
...MLK

And then he got shot.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
823

On the other hand, Cala makes a compelling point. I'm outta here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
824

I still have little idea why you're so determinedly know-nothing.

As opposed to you, who are apparently relying on the economic analysis of one bob mcmanus, himself a protege of S. Newberry.

I've said a couple of times that people should discuss it if they want to discuss it. I don't know what, short of some sort of reeducation camp, you want more than that. Make a claim--worse than '92, worse than 82, worse than the seventies, worse than the Depression; pick--and then see if someone cares to argue about it. Right now you've offered (a) it will be bad, or (b) mcmanus's "blood in the streets" theory. I don't know what you want people to do. I think it may be bad, I have no idea how bad, but I don't think it will reach the blood in the streets point.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
825

Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer

Like Tim, this seems to me like an odd place for dsquared to draw a line. It seems obvious that equating Obama with either Bush or McCain would be bad faith. No?

I think one could make a good faith argument in favor of Obama's essential similarity to Hillary, but is that dsquared's point? He won't say.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
826

I've enjoyed this thread immensely but it seems to be winding down so I'll just say:

1) If your reaction to Obama's speech (and his overall campaign) is to call him a disingenuous son of a bitch, then you are a bit too committed to your self image as a cynical sophisticate.

2) Bob "let's institute a draft and occupy the Middle East with a million soldiers" McManus is the standard of radical leftism? How the fuck did that happen?


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
827

Everybody's worrying about Obama not being some perfect fantasy leftist. I'm worrying about his campaign imploding around the race issue, muddying up Hilary in the process, and letting McCain win in November.

I don't spend much energy comparing Obama or Hilary to the ideal President who lives in my head, and a whole lot comparing them to McCain and wondering who we're going to end up with.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
828

826.2: I have been explaining that for five years.

There was going to be a war. "No war, No More war" served nothing but ego. It was not the moral position.

If there was going to be a war, and there was going to be a war, low American manpower guaranteed it was going to be an air war and a war of atrocities. As it turned out to be, a bombing war that killed Iraqi women and children to save American soldiers. A massive American ground force might have prevented that.

Since you oppose a massive American ground force in the inevitable war, I can only presume you are objectively in favor of bombing women and children, but think you are capturing the moral high ground.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
829

As opposed to you, who are apparently relying on the economic analysis of one bob mcmanus, himself a protege of S. Newberry.

Tim, you ignorant slut: Krugman and DeLong are saying it's pretty serious. The Economist is saying it's pretty serious. No one is very explicit. And none of them is being very forthcoming about exactly how serious, or what next. There's a lot of plausible deniability floating around.

But thank you for confirming that you you choose your ideas according to the personal appeal of the people you hear them from. If MacManus said water was wet, you'd presumably deny it.

Ideas are like fashion accessories. If they're out, they're out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
830

To be fair, there was a moral position that might have prevented the invasion of Iraq.

It was getting Bush and Cheney out of office in 2002. I won't go into details, but I would have approved and participated in that effort. Of course, if you try to..., be sure you...etc.

I have not much use for people who think they can stop radical evil by wishing real hard and hugging their enemies, but y'all already know that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
831

I'm worrying about his campaign imploding around the race issue, muddying up Hilary in the process, and letting McCain win in November.

The danger is not that *Obama's* campaign will "implode" b/c of race. It's that racists will shout so loud about The Black Candidate!! that the entire fucking *election* will *ex*plode b/c of race.

And if Clinton gets mud all over her because of it, it's her own damn fault.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
832

Everybody's worrying about Obama not being some perfect fantasy leftist.

I'm worried about whether Obama will be able to handle either the withdrawal from Iraq or the financial crisis which seems to be approaching. And second, whether when the chips are don't he won't be another Blair. There's no perfect fantasy leftist in play.

And yeah, I've worried all along about whether the Obama-Clinton pissing match, or race, will help elect 100-Year McCain.

Whether or not America ever moves left, I plan to stay about where I am, and for me, a neoliberal is not really a good thing.

But I do support neoliberals! On the Beggars-Choosers principles.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
833

: Krugman and DeLong are saying it's pretty serious. The Economist is saying it's pretty serious. No one is very explicit.

Exactly what distance do you see between the above and "it may be bad, I have no idea how bad, but I don't think it will reach the blood in the streets point"? If I'm not more specific, it's because I'm aware of the limits of my knowledge. What's your excuse? Pick a position beyond "other people are saying it's serious, but not what that means" and see if anyone disagrees.

If MacManus said water was wet, you'd presumably deny it.

If you believe "blood in the streets," say so. Commit.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
834

828 is totally, totally insane. Pointless, tiresome, yes, but also just fantastically loony. I'm in awe, a little bit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
835

I would have approved and participated in that effort.

What's the left wing equivalent of the 101st Flying Keyboard Squadron? The People's Front of West Blogistan?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
836

834: the 828-830 combination is what gets me. It's like the alley-oop of lunacy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:38 PM
horizontal rule
837

The acute crisis will probably be over by the time the next President takes office. Either the banking system will implode, or it won't. (I'm guessing it won't, because the Fed has shown itself willing to be very aggressive to prevent it from collapsing.) The next President will have to deal with our new much-changed circumstances.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
838

It's like the alley-oop of lunacy.

It's time for Long March Madness! Get in your brackets!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
839

Thanks for that, apo. Made my day.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
840

836: who would have thought bloodthirsty pacifism could be executed so elegantly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:44 PM
horizontal rule
841

Sir Kraab in 722 Juan Williams is a complete tool.

Totally, and I knew that Will would agree with you. I was actually thinking of Juan Williams' segment on NPR when OFE asked whether Obama's speech did what it needed to do politically. If Williams is any indication, it may not have. "It was a great speech, BUT Wright was a man who...[most awful thing]. Did Obama do enough to distance himself from that? Is it fair to compare he white grandmother's fear of black men to that?"

Maybe the non-Fox news people have a different take.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
842

Weird, I enjoyed this thread as well; a microcosm of unfogged, complete with positioning (kewl kid or not? eh? eh? denounce the thread, eh?). Declaring "This is a stupid thread" is usually kind of obnoxious. Out-jading indeed.

I imagine things continue to be this heated about Obama because we educated types are so afraid of having our intelligence insulted, of being taken for a ride. Passionate endorsement is so risky; suspicion and ironic detachment are a safer cultivated environment. Isn't that one reason the dirty fucking hippies, or 60s radicals, are scorned? Yeah, so it's unsettling to consider actually believing in some guy who's making promises.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
843

It is a stupid thread, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
844

836:Just about one minute ago I read Obama repeating the old cliche about repeating behavior yet expecting different results.

We have had people crying "No more war" for thousands of years and the women & children keep dying.

Jesus and Gandhi didn't stop any fucking wars.

Lenin and Trotsky stopped a war. And then were attacked by the people who love Jesus.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
845

Shorter 844: Since we've been unable to eliminate hunger in the world, I propose we start salting farmland forthwith.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
846

Aaand he wins the crazytime dunk contest, too!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
847

The basic thought behind 828 isn't crazy. Making aggression cheaper in terms of US lives really isn't helping anything.


Posted by: Siv Illian | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
848

But apparently you do have to believe that he is something other than the latest neoliberal smile-n-suit to come down the track

Well, he's got a really great smile, which has already engaged millions of new voters who would otherwise have not gotten involved in the election. Voters who, for the most part, be counted on to endorse an expansive view of gay and reproductive rights, and who are not as jaded as most of the commenters in this thread, which is a good thing. The exciting thing about Obama is not that he is substantively different than Clinton (I thought the consensus was that he was slightly to the right of Clinton on economic issues), it's that he has the potential to engage enough new people in the political process that the Democrats will have enough votes and momentum to push back against the disaster of the last eight years. Is there likely to be disappointment? Yes. But if Clinton gets the nomination, well, time to tune out again.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:01 PM
horizontal rule
849

Cryptic Ned, the routine is getting old.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
850

833: Tim, no one is saying how bad it is. That's what's worrisome. So what I'm committing to is that we should try to figure out how bad things will be. A big banker in the FT says major inflation and no pay raises to compensate for them. A mainstream guy in one of the best papers in the world. That approaches blood running in the streets.

If you don't want to talk about it, STFU. (In case you forgot, this is happening becauseof your #673. If you just weren't interested, you would have kept your mouth shut then and at every point thereafter. But what's going on is that you refuse to talk about anything that seems MacManuslike to you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
851

837: What I'm saying is that the new much-changed circumstances could face the new President with a brutal set of choices, and that beyond that, the Republican attack machine will blame him for every single thing he does. So the easiest thing for him will be to let the burden fall on people the Republicans are not defending. I.E., Democrats.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:06 PM
horizontal rule
852

I'm weak. I said I was leaving, but I can't avoid rubbernecking.

the women & children keep dying

I absolutely hate this expression. We're supposed to be untroubled if men die? Sexist.

(bob, no need to respond. I'm picking on this as a common expression, not you.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
853

Tim, no one is saying how bad it is. That's what's worrisome.

I've got no economic expertise, so this isn't a rhetorical question: might that be because nobody really knows?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:08 PM
horizontal rule
854

Yes! But that means that they think it might be pretty bad. Usually they just say readjustment, fundamentally sound, blah blah blah.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
855

810: Good speeches matter. Broaching difficult issues, usually ignored by presidential hopefuls (at least those who have an actual shot at, you know, winning), matters. Rhetoric matters.

In other words, sure, he might be just the latest neo-liberal whatever-you-said. Or he might not. We won't know for quite some time. Now, though, we do know that he gave a brave and complicated speech, a text written by an adult for adults, the kind of thing we don't usually see in the discourse. We're supposed to think that he sucks after that? Please. Learn a bit more about the history of American rhetoric and then get back to me. This was a big moment, no matter what happens next. (Which isn't to say whatever happens next won't change the meaning of the speech and where it sits in the history books.)

795: If it turns out that Obama really does suck, and that he's just another neo-liberal whatever-D2-said, yes, I'm going to be bummed. Fortunately, I'll be able to come here for heaping plate of I-told-you-so. In the meantime, though, I'm going to admire the man for giving the best speech about race that this country has seen in decades. As noted above, absent any other considerations, that's not nothing.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
856

845:Ok, you don't like Lenin. How about Scandanavia, maybe France? They ain't gonna go to war no more. They did it peacefully. Ok France maybe not so peaceful.

You eliminate the class that profits from war. It's the only way. I don't care how you do it, as long as you do it soon. No 500-yr plans of love and hope, please.

The war is always class war. MLK understood that before he died, also.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
857

Just as a quick reminder for people: Reagan took office in the midst of the worst recession since WWII. The recession was very deep but the rebound started by 1982, fueled by unprecedent deficit spending. By 1984 it was "morning in America" and Reagan won in a landslide. Coming into office at the beginning of a recession is not necessarily a bad position to be in. It doesn't get blamed on you and your re-election campaign usually happens during the recovery.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
858

854: well, sure. But saying "yes, very bad. As of now we have no idea how bad" is sort of the beginning and end of the conversation, John. What's the point in speculating about things nobody has any clue at all about? It's not even like the other things we speculate ignorantly about on this blog: nobody has any fucking idea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
859

853:I know. It's gonna be really bad.

Trust me.

And with that, I'll go walk the dogs in the swimming pool formerly known as Dallas.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
860

France still has a class that profits from war, bob mcmanus. Wars in Africa rather than at home, but still evil.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
861

Broaching difficult issues, usually ignored by presidential hopefuls (at least those who have an actual shot at, you know, winning), matters

I'm gonna eat a nice big steaming bowl of "broaching" soup for my lunch tomorrow, although I may also need to pack a sandwich, because broaching is not very filling. Here's a free piece of financial advice; money talks and bullshit walks.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
862

857: I'm hoping that the Democrats manage to hang this one on Bush. On the one hand, they'll get a bigger majority. On the other, the Republicans will be discredited enough that their resistance can be steamrolled.

Are the Democrats setting that meme up? Do they realize that they'll be facing a crisis? Are they making sure that Bush and the Republicans get it hung around their neck? I'm not sure.

Reagan pulled it off, but that's one reason why he's recognized as a political genius. (In early 1983 I met a guy who was firmly convinced that Reagan had brought unemployment down.) Obama may be a political genius. I just hope that he's already thinking about this stuff.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
863

Serious question, dsquared: do you prefer Clinton to Obama?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
864

and just to unpack #861 in case it was too cryptic, that speech raised this, discussed that and broached the holy fucking shit out of t'other, but in terms of concrete "so what do we do?", the actual conclusion was "hey American black people, feel your pain, but fundamentally you're going to have to suck it up". It's the apotheosis of #18 on the "Stuff White People Like" list; Awareness.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
865

859.2 may he the least-likely-to-be-honored request of the decade.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
866

What's the point in speculating about things nobody has any clue at all about?

Because they might dominate our lives for a decade or more? And of course, speculating about things can be the firt step on the way toward finding a clue.

It's sort of bittersweet having my prejudices about Democrats confirmed, because along with it comes the awareness that I'm completely unpersuasive. If I had continued to speak to the converted in small leftist groups I would have been no more totally ineffectual than I am now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
867

858:Shit, I could link you to death. I have already mentioned, and it has been an estimate for years, that it will mean at minimum about a 1/3 drop in the American standard of living in the near term. The only question is how the losses will be distributed.

You can start on this blog.

Confirmation of the Confiscation of American Prosperity

Now I will go.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:30 PM
horizontal rule
868

864: the thing is, just broaching these subjects in the context of a presidential campaign is groundbreaking. Backwards, sure, but here we are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
869

I have a sinking feeling that I'm responding seriously to a joke, but:

Krugman predicts recession until 2010, likens now to 1987, not 1929 or worse. The Economist has I think never expressed optimism about this month's financial situation, despite all the glorious capitalism. It's not clear exactly what fraction of the US will have mge debt exceeding home value; some fraction of those will walk away, causing more uncertainty; perhaps an abandoned exurb or two, but not a barter economy or engineers working in scrapyards. Give housing prices another 8 months for a consensus on the size of the problem to emerge, I say. So a bad time to be looking for work, but really, so was 1988, and there was still work to be had-- just not great work.

calculatedrisk.blogspot.com is good reading for mortgage + sometimes housing analysis and especially background. Roubini and Setser are both sources for bounded pessimism. Obviously, anyone who really believes that economic disaster is coming
can buy gold futures at $3000/oz for nearly nothing and profit from the prescience. Few are doing so; realizing this should temper a reading of this month's hysterical headlines. A few more alarming months, maybe a year or two of recession, some lasting readjustments from more expensive oil.

I am afraid that mcmanus is an entertainer on this topic, great taste in poetry notwithstanding.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
870

Does anyone who finds the unfoggedariat's enthusiasm for Obama excessive prefer Clinton? I'm completely serious. I'm totally getting ignored here (which I can usually put up with), but I'd like an answer to that question.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
871

What's the point in speculating about things nobody has any clue at all about?

Well there was a thread at, IIRC, Archive Megan's which led into a discussion about how people who fantasize about tangential stuff all the time are more use in a crisis than people who just wander through the world looking at the scenery, because they've already thought about what they'd do. I think there was a link to a study of reactions to an earthquake in Turkey which illustrated this.

Speculate, Sifu. You might just accumulate.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
872

No one knows how bad it will be because none of the investment firms have any incentive to report their true financial condition, and lots of incentive to lie.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
873

864: "hey American black people, feel your pain, but fundamentally you're going to have to suck it up"

I'm pretty sure the conclusion of his speech wasn't "black Americans, suck it up." Yeah, Talk may not be sufficient to solve the problems, but it is necessary. You know, I was hungry the other day, too, d2. I broached this issue with my waitress, who then raised it with the kitchen, and together they addressed my problem. But it all began with a simple, yet profound, broaching.


Posted by: di k | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
874

873 -- (What did I have? Broached eggs, of course!)


Posted by: di k | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:39 PM
horizontal rule
875

I agree about Obama's speech being a great and meaningful speech. I also think that the doubts expressed about the exceptionalism in the speech are valid, but these valid doubts are about America -- Obama had no choice. I also am supporting Obama for President and will end up campaigning for him if he's nominated. I also don't completely trust Obama, either as to whether he understands the crisis I think he's facing, or as to whether he will handle it right. The next democratic President needs to take the Republican machine completely out of action, root out their people in government, and reverse their policies, and Obama doesn't seem to plan to do that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
876

A big banker in the FT says major inflation and no pay raises to compensate for them. A mainstream guy in one of the best papers in the world.

Of course a big banker's favorite option would be for working stiffs to suck it up and get used to being peasants. That "get used to thinner gruel" line gets floated by capitalists every time there's a slump. In crisis lies opportunity--the opportunity to redistribute wealth upward.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
877

966: well fuck you too, dude. If you really think it's some kind of dramatic failing to fail to speculate about whatever given scenario that is vanishingly unlikely to happen, I don't know what to tell you. I agree that what's happening to the economy is hugely concerning, and something that we'll be dealing with for years, but a failure to have any idea of the shape of it is a product of the shape not being visible, not of a failure to idly speculate from ignorance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
878

BG, my views on Clinbama don't count, but I imagine they align pretty closely with Emerson's. At the outset of the campaign, I thought Clinton looked quite impressive, but in the last couple of months I don't reckon she's got the chops.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
879

966: well fuck you too, dude.

Will the thread reach 966? Probably. Beware, future 966 poster. Beware the wrath of Tweety.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
880

861: Like Tweety, I've often appreciated your comments here. But in this thread, you've totally missed the boat. Again, you seem to have no clue about the modern history of political rhetoric in the United States and, more broadly, about where the issue of race sits in the context of American electoral politics. Giving a speech like this was courageous and could be, depending on what comes next, transformative. Is that the same thing as uplifting the poor or closing the racial divide? No, of course not. But it's better than nothing and opens the door to much more.

That Blair burned you and that you feel ashamed for having bought into his promise interests me not at all. Because past performance is no guarantee of future results.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
881

877 is midirected and terribly written. Flight delays + airport bar = grumpy, not-so-clear Sifu.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
882

lw: The world is full of hysterics who've already panicked. Gold is probably already overvalued.

We're not headed for a barter economy, or engineers working scrapyards, and not even Bob is saying so. (A 1/3 drop in standard of living is a long way from a barter economy.) But we could end up like Japan in the 90s, with a decade of economic stagnation, rather than just a recession that goes away.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
883

870: Michael supports Clinton, as I recall. Beyond that, I'm not sure.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
884

869:some lasting readjustments from more expensive oil.

The last readjustment came under Reagan. Thirty years of declining real wages, slashed domestic social programs, asset inflation and financialization, the beginning of the ridiculous wealth inequality. This stuff is harder to fight if it happens slowly.

Calculated Risk is good on mortgages and interest rates Fed policy, but they don't talk about energy. Barry Rittholz is good on inflation. The oildrum is the energy place, and angrybear studies politics and the economy. Newberry is all meta.

But don't listen to me. Be happy. We may get a black man in the White House to make the ramen taste better.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:53 PM
horizontal rule
885

The war is always class war. MLK understood that before he died, also.

Yup, and his last words were, "Fuck non-violence!
Kill the bourgeois!"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
886

864: Interesting; someone said way upthread that America wants a cheerleader (caveat: other countries may as well). It sounded grotesque at the time, but consider how many US political candidates have been dismissed as nothing but boring policy wonks: boring, boring, we don't want to hear no stinkin' policy proposals! You just killed your candidacy by being boring!

A wiser politician begins as a cheerleader, sketching a broad underlying vision, then providing policy details at a later time. Well, obviously. We await Obama's domestic policy proposals, then. Ones that will help keep black men out of prison, keep jobs in-country, equalize opportunity, soothe white resentment, and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
887

Fail to speculate about whatever given scenario that is vanishingly unlikely to happen

First, I have not speculated specifically about any specific scenario. THAT WAS BOB! Two different people!

Second, the messages I'm getting (Krugman, DeLong, FT) is that "vanishingly unlikely to happen" is false. The way people are talking we don't know how bad it could be, in the sense that there's a real possibility that it could be very bad.

Walt's 882 seems quite possible to me, and the details could be pretty ugly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
888

And if the Fed mishandled the crisis (which is pretty unlikely, I think), it really would be 1929. The Great Depression happened for reasons that are eminently repeatable. Earlier recessions did not have the necessary conditions to repeat it -- this one does. But it would require the Fed to fail to provide liquidity, which this Fed is clearly determined not to do.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
889

I think the two of them are exactly the fucking same. Which means, in a tie-break situation, the general prejudice "Holy Joes are almost always liars" comes into play, which means if a gun was at my head, I'd say Clinton because she's not a Holy Joe.

the thing is, just broaching these subjects in the context of a presidential campaign is groundbreaking

Noope. I refer you once more to the excellent discussion of "raising awareness" and its relation to doing something, on stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com. This conversation has been going on for fifty years. It is a substitute for doing something, not a means of doing it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
890

I think the two of them are exactly the fucking same

Great. We disagree: I think that position is absurd. Which may be why we see the speech differently. Obama gave a speech that may save his candidacy. From your perspective, that's a bad thing. From ours (certainly mine), it's not. Mystery solved.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
891

870:No.

I want to push Obama as far to the left as possible.

I want President Obama to be more scared of me, or millions like me, than he is scared of Bernanke and Paulson.

I am not Obama's friend or ally or supporter. He can be mine if he works at it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
892

Oooh, dsquared is so dreamy, with his sunglasses, and his leather jacket, and his cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve, and his cynicism about politics. I wonder if I can get him to take me to prom?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
893

The prom was sponsored by Bear Stearns, mrh. It's been canceled.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
894

What pisses me off most is that I'm cynical, but I can't stop rising to the bait.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
895

Cmon Dsquared, this is where you declare your support for Nader.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
896

886. I think this may partly be an age thing. When I was a kid I loved a visionary. Now I want facts and details, and fine rhetoric makes me think of Nuremberg.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:05 PM
horizontal rule
897

Thanks, D2, for 889.1, especially this: I think the two of them are exactly the fucking same. There's just no sense arguing with someone whose experience of the campaign thus far is so different from my own that they could craft that sentence. And I'm sure you feel exactly the same way.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
898

Clinton because she's not a Holy Joe

Oh, sure she is.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
899

Thanks for answering, OFE. Personally, I've never really liked the Clintons. I think that they're too far to the right on criminal justice issues. And HRC has gotten behind flag-burning amendments. I prefer Obama, because I think that he's less hawkish than Clinton. She signed on to the Kyl-Lieberman amendment declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Since the U.S. president has a fair amount of freedom to do as s/he pleases in foreign policy, I prefer the one who seems least likely to do damage on that front.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
900

Oh my God, don't tell me you people are going to fucking agree to disagree. When I am king (which will be soon, very soon), all arguments will be to the death! (Presumably by suicide.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
901

885:Hey, I am willing to just tax the bourgeois oit of existence, and am even willing to do it peaceably if possible.

Anyway, non-violent MLK is still dead, the poor are still poor, people are judged by the color of their skin, and the War Goes On.

And no matter how many Cokes I drink and cheeseburgers I eat, my blood sugar remains under 80 and my blood pressure at 115/80. Life fucking sucks.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
902

I want to push Obama as far to the left as possible.

I want President Obama to be more scared of me, or millions like me, than he is scared of Bernanke and Paulson.

of course this advice will be ignored because of its source, but it is the nucleus of the case for not setting the bar so appallingly low as to say "wow, he broached one of the issues!".

The entire 89x series of pithy retorts could have been improved marvellously by a single example of an important substantial difference between the two of them. Go on - I will even spot you that war that Obama's going to stop, pretending for the meantime to be more naive than a five year old.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
903

899. I think he's less hawkish than Clinton too. I use the word think deliberately, because NPR news just now reported him as saying he would leave enough troops in Iraq to respond to emergencies, but he didn't define either "enough" or "emergencies".


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:12 PM
horizontal rule
904

dsquared, I tend to disagree with you on Clinton vs. Obama, but not very strongly - and certainly your argument is one that can be made in good faith, which was the topic of the original discussion.

This conversation has been going on for fifty years. It is a substitute for doing something, not a means of doing it.

But now you come back with another seemingly ludicrous statement. Surely you're not saying that the conversation on race in the U.S. has accomplished nothing since 1958.

Talk is only the first step, but it is the first step.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
905

Failure to have any idea of the shape of it is a product of the shape not being visible, not of a failure to idly speculate from ignorance

When something new comes along, pretty much by definition you're ignorant about it. So you start asking around, and so on. More than one person here knows more than I do and has said informative things.

I really think that it's the same old taboo against talkign about things that seem like they might be conspiracy theories.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:15 PM
horizontal rule
906

Surely you're not saying that the conversation on race in the U.S. has accomplished nothing since 1958.

well only in the sense in which you clearly agree with me, because in your very next sentence you're saying that "the first step" hadn't been taken before five o'clock yesterday.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:16 PM
horizontal rule
907

a single example of an important substantial difference between the two of them.

Obama's black, which means that the Southern conservatives (and their friendlies) that the DLC so desperately wants to like the Democrats will not be an available part of the Democratic coalition. Which means looking elsewhere. Which means less SoCon friendly rhetoric and policy, which means worrying less about not sounding martial enough. Among other beneficial effects of not going a-courting to the SoCons.

I live in the US, so that all matters to me. If you're in the UK, and not likely to be called up for whatever gawd-forsaken war we decide on next, I admit that it probably doesn't qualify as an important substantial difference.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
908

889.2: I refer you once more to the excellent discussion of "raising awareness" and its relation to doing something, on stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com. This conversation has been going on for fifty years. It is a substitute for doing something, not a means of doing it.

dsquared, if you're not trolling now, this is silly and I'd think you know it. You just can't Do Something without Raising Awareness first, not in the national political arena. Not in this country.

This thread is going to be shut down at 1000, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
909

For professional reasons, dsquared resolutely refuses to discuss the economic/market outlook. But can we infer something about his mood from how early in the evening he starts drinking?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:19 PM
horizontal rule
910

Surely you're not saying that the conversation on race in the U.S. has accomplished nothing since 1958.

well only in the sense in which you clearly agree with me, because in your very next sentence you're saying that "the first step" hadn't been taken before five o'clock yesterday.

Oh would you knock it off. Race relations in this country are VASTLY superior to where they were only 30 years ago let alone 50 years ago. And a lot of that change involved people "broaching" subjects.

Oh and Black people like "awareness" too.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:20 PM
horizontal rule
911

Obama will probably be a much better candidate than Clinton, and getting new people into the process is a good thing. For years I've been hoping for the Democrats to go more in the grass roots, get out the vote, voter registration direction, and Obama has done that in a big way. And that might lead to better policy psitions. Obama is less committed to the big-money heavy-TV strategy, and more reliant on smaller donors, and for that reason he has more freedom of movement than Clinton.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
912

I will even spot you that war that Obama's going to stop, pretending for the meantime to be more naive than a five year old.

dsquared, assuming that you're expressing cynicism here, what's your reaction to his speech today where he promises a 16-month drawdown to a minimal embassy-guard and counterterrorism force in Iraq?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
913

a single example of an important substantial difference between the two of them. Go on - I will even spot you that war that Obama's going to stop, pretending for the meantime to be more naive than a five year old.

Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq when Clinton authorized it. I'm not sure what your concession means, but that fact does seem to me to be enough for a strong preference.


Posted by: Old Zippy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
914

these personal insults are really like water off a duck's back to me, but I think they reflect quite badly on you, you know.

Obama's black, which means that the Southern conservatives (and their friendlies) that the DLC so desperately wants to like the Democrats will not be an available part of the Democratic coalition. Which means looking elsewhere. Which means less SoCon friendly rhetoric and policy, which means worrying less about not sounding martial enough. Among other beneficial effects of not going a-courting to the SoCons.

thanks ... but mate, look at this. What's the ratio of fact to wishful thinking here? I'm counting "Obama is black", which is a genuine difference, but then everything else is "and therefore, I hope, many favourable consequences will flow from this".

Factety fact - Obama is big mates with Samantha Power. Do you know what Samantha Power likes? Humanitarian intervention. The world has just fucking *millions* of quagmires out there with wannabe national liberation movements trying to provoke a genocide in order to bring the USA in on their side. And both Clinton and OBama have exactly the kind of beautiful souls that will get you into every last one of them (McCain just likes war). There are so many slips twixt "he's black" and "therefore we won't be fighting so many pointless wars" that I would guess there might not be a drop of tea in the cup by the time you drank it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
915

Say all you want about the PM having more power, but the PM only exists by the will of the Monarch.

No. That's just wrong. See Charles I.

(Also, the abdication crisis.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
916

902: There have been countless threads, here and elsewhere, outlining the differences between Obama and Clinton. That you've chosen to read none of them, or to take none of them seriousuly, really can't be anyone's problem but your own.

Seriously, man, what are you after here? Convincing us all that Obama is an empty shirt? He well might be. Okay? Or he might not be. Okay? We just don't know yet. But the argument that yesterday's speech somehow proves that he's just business as usual is laughable given, again, the recent history of American political rhetoric about race.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
917

Pardon me, I'm old and forgetful, but are people suggesting that all those people who were beaten and murdered in the civil rights struggle were engaged in a consciousness raising conversation? I really thought they were trying to get specific legislation implemented.

If you're in the UK, and not likely to be called up for whatever gawd-forsaken war we decide on next

Don't see why not, we were suckered into this one.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
918

Do you know what Samantha Power likes? Humanitarian intervention. And both Clinton and OBama have exactly the kind of beautiful souls that will get you into every last [humanitarian-intervention quagmire].

Except that Obama, not being completely fucking stupid, understands the concept of opportunity cost.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
919

About to finally take off, but before I go I should say I agree fully with both dsquared and mcmanus.

Heyoh!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
920

Finally about to take off. And have a safe flight.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
921

On war and peace issues the US will always be militaristic and interventionist. It's just a matter of how much and how adventuristic. Either Obama or Clinton will be more prudent and less aggressive than Bush or McCain. Obama will probably be better than Clinton. But no one will never make me happy, because the limits of American military and foreign policy are carved in stone, and a multi-billion-dollar war bureaucracy carries over from one Prez to the next.

To my knowledge here are no anti-interventionists in the American foreign policy world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
922

Obama's years in Indonesia may have taught him something about introducing war someplace that's not working all that well to begin with. Or to judge from the company he keeps, Obama's choosing Goolsbee rather than someone mediocre and docile suggests that he recognizes something about the economy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
923

Pardon me, I'm old and forgetful, but are people suggesting that all those people who were beaten and murdered in the civil rights struggle were engaged in a consciousness raising conversation? I really thought they were trying to get specific legislation implemented.

The latter would have been impossible without the former.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
924

914: Let's make it simpler.

1. Obama's black.

2. The South is different.

3. The South--with many, many good people--won't vote for a black President, for both straightforward and complicated reasons.

4. The Democrats have been enamored of the South, for pretty understandable reasons.

5. A black Democrat isn't building a coalition that tries to depend on the South.

6. A Democratic party that doesn't look longingly toward the South is a very new thing.

7. A different coalition means different policies. They are, I expect, likely to be more congenial to me. (They aren't in the least bit limited to militarism, but they do include it. I don't expect Obama to pull out of Iraq. But I think he's less likely to take a tough-man posture constantly to reassure people back home that he's tough enough. Because "tough" will be a less important issue for his coalition.)

There are any number of arguments out there about both the pluses and the minuses of the Democrats' long reliance on the South. If you don't believe a rejiggering of the relative weight given to the region will matter, I don't know what to tell you.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
925

I refer you once more to the excellent discussion of "raising awareness" and its relation to doing something, on stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com. This conversation has been going on for fifty years. It is a substitute for doing something, not a means of doing it.

I wouldn't say 50 years. According to this link:

http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=conversation+race+&btnG=Search+Archives&scoring=t

The conversation about race really picked up about the beginning of the Reagan administration after the civil rights era petered out.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:41 PM
horizontal rule
926

But no one will never make me happy

You and me both, my friend.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
927

I am not Obama's friend or ally or supporter. He can be mine if he works at it.

This is the proper attitude for all citizens to take toward all politicians. Never happen though.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
928

The world has just fucking *millions* of quagmires out there with wannabe national liberation movements trying to provoke a genocide in order to bring the USA in on their side.

That's a pretty remarkable thing to say. You're taking blaming the victim to a whole new level here.

How's that strategy working out in, say, Rwanda? Or anywhere else, for that matter?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
929

How's that strategy working out in, say, Rwanda?

oh great, Yank Decents.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
930

But the argument that yesterday's speech somehow proves that he's just business as usual is laughable

Which is presumably why I didn't make it.

the argument that yesterday's speech does not prove that he's not just business as usual

is a different question. And I am guessing that these multitudinous threads that you are castigating me for not reading were equally intellectually impressive in their proliferation of wishful thinking and strawmen, otherwise you would be able to just totally fucking humiliate me by coming up with a concrete example of why I'm wrong.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
931

And here I was hoping this thread had turned into a long discussion of the merits of The Bank Job while I studiously ignored it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:03 PM
horizontal rule
932

The Fayetteville speech is as good a political speech as you're going to get this year (still don't like them): specific, strategic and contextualised. I still don't trust "a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy", which means whatever you want it to mean, but fair's fair. Much more like it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
933

930: Again, what is your argument? Put another way, what are you after here? A general acceptance that Obama might suck? I, and nearly everyone else here, have already offered you our assurances that we know that's possible. But you, in turn, have to accept that he might not. Surely, given that we're all working with hypotheticals in such an argument, that's only fair. Or maybe it isn't.

What isn't hypothetical, though, is the speech, the subject of the original post. About which your argument seems to be -- and I'm forced to guess since you won't tell me -- that it's just empty rhetoric, and therefore not worthy of praise. Or have I misread you? Again, I'm just waiting for you to commit to one line of argument rather than asking people to prove to you that Clinton and Obama are somehow different. (But hey, since you were generous upthread, I'll reply in kind: you can start here, with one of the most widely circulated political posts in recent months.)

So, if I'm right, I say again what I've already said at least three other times: the speech was bold and substantive, the very act of giving it was a political risk, and such courage might portend great things to come. But even if that's not the case, even if Obama loses, or if he wins and sucks, there's value in having the words and ideas expressed in the speech out there. And, finally, you really do need to know something about the history of American political rhetoric to understand this point. You've given nobody here any evidence that you have that knowledge base. Which means that you're coming off as a canny debater. Save for the fact that you don't really know anything about the subject at hand.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:26 PM
horizontal rule
934

3. Many white people in [t]he South . . . won't vote for a black President, for both straightforward and complicated reasons.

4. The Democrats have been enamored of the white vote in the South, for pretty understandable reasons.

5. A black Democrat isn't building a coalition that tries to depend on white voters in the South.

6. A Democratic party that doesn't look longingly toward white people in the South is a very new thing.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
935

934 is pointless.

Statewide votes in the Southern states go the way the white people in those states vote. We all know that.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
936

Oh, that's why Hillary lost Mississippi. Thanks for clearing that up.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
937

That wasn't a statewide vote. For instance, it didn't include Republicans.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
938

The MS primary was open, meaning it did include those Republicans who chose to vote in it. But it still could be argued that it wasn't "statewide," as all of the primaries -- to the best of my knowledge -- are run* by the parties and not the state governments.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
939

The MS primary was open, meaning it did include those Republicans who chose to vote in it.

Oh, you're right.

It was one of those states where a lot of Republicans decided to vote for Hillary because they were trying to help her become the candidate so she could lose to a Republican.

But mostly, the Republicans didn't participate, thus enabling the black voice to be heard.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 3:59 PM
horizontal rule
940

858

"854: well, sure. But saying "yes, very bad. As of now we have no idea how bad" is sort of the beginning and end of the conversation, John. What's the point in speculating about things nobody has any clue at all about? It's not even like the other things we speculate ignorantly about on this blog: nobody has any fucking idea."

I doubt people here know any less about mortgages then they do about prostitutes, they are just less interested.

It is sort of pointless to complain about this, there are plenty of other blogs where people who are interested in economics hang out.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
941

A democrat can't win Mississippi without the black vote.

And even if that weren't true, that's no reason to talk about "the South" as if black people don't exist.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
942

And, finally, you really do need to know something about the history of American political rhetoric to understand this point

see, this is where me and Matt came in. Americans have nothing to learn from the rest of the world, because whatever you're talking about, it didn't happen in America. Ok, as you were. But please don't expect me to believe things like this:

general acceptance that Obama might suck? I, and nearly everyone else here, have already offered you our assurances that we know that's possible.

I mean really.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
943

If financial instruments gave blowjobs, thenthese people would care.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
944

Recommending wholesale acceptance of white guilt doesn't sound smart to me.

He ended up swiftboating himsef before anyone else could.

Dumb!


Posted by: Pat | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
945

872

"No one knows how bad it will be because none of the investment firms have any incentive to report their true financial condition, and lots of incentive to lie."

Aren't the laws against fraud supposed to provide some incentive against lying?

And this presumes the investment firms know their true financial position themselves. But aren't a lot of them in the position of a man with a house behind a 12 foot dike with the flood waters at 8 feet and rising? If they crest at 11 feet he is fine, at 13 he isn't. And no one knows when the rain is going to stop.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
946

942: we had our own slick-talking neolib politician who took over after an eternity of right-wing rule and whose trademark was basically tossing the left wing under the bus, you know.

Yes, even in America.

This having something to teach the Yanks thing is quite precious. It's nice to see people with aspirations.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
947

Yes, there are laws various sorts of deception and concealment. And lawyers to find the loopholes in the laws.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
948

Depending on your measuring stick, it's clear enough that Obama will suck. No question that he's not going to satisfy people who want an immediate end to the Iraq war, an immediate end to the Drug War, an immediate end to Capitalism, an immediate end to the Patriarchy, etc etc.

I don't see why anyone familiar with Sen. Clinton's record would find her better on any of these issues, or indeed any issue at all. But beyond that, she is presenting herself as a 51% establishment candidate,* a restoration of the triangualtion etc from before. Obama offers a different approach which, while it might not work in some or even most areas, is a materially different product. And with the favorable electoral math (especially with the Senate) the increased turnout that Obama brings, and decreased turnout on the other side from not having the Wicked Witch on the ticket, mean that even if he doesn't govern any differently from Sen. Clinton would presented with the same Congress, he'll have a better one than she would.

Note that this does not require some belief in sainthood, or any of that other straw crap we see so much of. Can Obama bring new voters to the polls? People talk about Southern whites not voting for a black man: is anyone really prepared to argue that Hillary Clinton can win a single state that Obama would lose on account of this?

* People sometimes forget that welfare reform wasn't forced on Pres. Clinton by a republican Congress. He ran on it -- that's what the whole New Covenant part of his 1992 convention speech was about.

(I wish also that people's handles would indicate whether they ever thought the difference between Gore and Bush was not material.)


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
949

Clinton also has enormous negatives, often for the wrong reasons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:28 PM
horizontal rule
950

People talk about Southern whites not voting for a black man: is anyone really prepared to argue that Hillary Clinton can win a single state that Obama would lose on account of this?

Well, Arkansas. And more consequentially, Ohio.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:28 PM
horizontal rule
951

924

"3. The South--with many, many good people--won't vote for a black President, for both straightforward and complicated reasons."

So you think a Republican Colin Powell type running against a Democratic George McGovern type would be sure to lose the South? I am unconvinced.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:32 PM
horizontal rule
952

You really don't think he can win Ohio with Hillary's endorsement? (And that of the establishment people who backed Hillary in the primary?)


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
953

You really don't think he can win Ohio with Hillary's endorsement? (And that of the establishment people who backed Hillary in the primary?)

I think he can win there, I just don't think it's likely, and his chances there would be worse than hers.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:40 PM
horizontal rule
954

953: I worry about that a bit, too. 11% of Dems might mean 5.5% of total cross the line and vote for McCain, who is likable. Ohio might be close enough that much less of a crossover vote (2%?) would be sufficient to swing it.

But I think McCain is so fucking old....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:46 PM
horizontal rule
955

951: How about we get back to you on that question when the Republicans nominate a black "Colin Powell type"?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:47 PM
horizontal rule
956

11% of Dems might mean 5.5% of total cross the line and vote for McCain, who is likable eats kittens.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:48 PM
horizontal rule
957

I think Colin Powell could have won the presidency in 2000. I also think he could have been the Republican nominee in either 1996 or 2000, but indicated lack of interest both times. At least that is what press reports at the time said.

A key advantage Powell had is that his blackness was seen as very secondary to other aspects of his identity -- his military record, his DC experience, his Republican politics, etc. Obama is in serious jeopardy now of being seen as a "black" candidate first and foremost. The more that happens, the harder it gets for him.

This whole affair is a reminder that generally speaking, blacks and whites don't like each other much in America. Our first black President will most likely be someone not too closely identified with the black community and its politics.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
958

How about we get back to you on that question when the Republicans nominate a black "Colin Powell type"?

Or a white Colin Powell type, for that matter.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
959

958

"Or a white Colin Powell type, for that matter."

That would be McCain. Hated by many in the party but still capable of winning the nomination given weak and divided opposition.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:07 PM
horizontal rule
960

I also think he could have been the Republican nominee in either 1996 or 2000,

He could be the Republican nominee right now, and just wearing a John McCain mask.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
961

928

"How's that strategy working out in, say, Rwanda? Or anywhere else, for that matter?"

Arguably worked in Kosovo.

Milder variations of the strategy are common. Provoke your opponent into overreacting drawing in third party support.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:16 PM
horizontal rule
962

Obama is in serious jeopardy now of being seen as a "black" candidate first and foremost.

Clifford darling please don't live in the past.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:23 PM
horizontal rule
963

570

"... African-Americans don't win statewide elections; ..."

Sure they do, just not very often. If a black has a 1% chance of winning a Presidental election then the mean time to elect a black President is 400 years but it is not that surprising if it happens in 20.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:25 PM
horizontal rule
964

What it's going to be like for either candidate running against McCain.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
965

More. Gah.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
966

It's outrageous that people here refuse to speculate on the possibility that Sifu Tweety will live a generous, fulfilling life, achieving much happiness and financial success along the way.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
967

This is slightly off-topic, but why is the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment given as evidence that Clinton is bad and Obama is good? Democrats who originally voted against the Iraq War also voted for said amendment. This is the list:
Daniel Akaka, Hawaii Ben Cardin, Maryland Kent Conrad, North Dakota Dick Durbin, Illinois Carl Levin, Michigan Robert Menendez, New Jersey Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Patty Murray, Washington Jack Reed, Rhode Island Debbie Stabenow, Michigan

Perhaps most prominent on the list is super-Obama-supporter Dick Durbin. It is true that Durbin is up for reelection this year, but he will most likely win in any case, and his record on human rights is pretty good. So what gives?


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
968

This might have made the speech more palatable to our international corps: I Love My Country-Aw, Who Am I Kidding? My Country Can Go Fuck Itself


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
969

I'm sure this thread needs more comments. So if the choice is between a president who will get into humanitarian interventions and a president who will pretend that an idiotic war started for other reasons was really a humanitarian intervention in the end, I'd rather have the former. This thread would make more sense if the general election were Obama vs. Clinton. There are real differences between them and John W the Second McCain.

But I'd really rather have more choices.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
970

The problem is that Obama supported Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon intervention, which is a really bad sign. That's of a piece with his belligerent rhetoric against Iran, Hezbollah, etc. Obama did the right thing on Iraq when there wasn't much politically at stake for him, but he hasn't shown as much ability to question the presuppositions of our Middle East policy when he was in a more visible position in the Senate.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
971

970: The problem is that nobody can be a serious contender for the US presidency unless he or she is willing to support things like Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon intervention. Should Obama be held to a higher standard than Clinton on foreign policy because of his "new politics" rhetoric? I'm not sure. I think perhaps not. But I certainly don't think he should be held to a lower standard (which I believe too many of his supporters are inclined to do).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 8:51 PM
horizontal rule
972

.which I believe too many of his supporters are inclined to do

Because?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:20 PM
horizontal rule
973

1271: no, fuck you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:24 PM
horizontal rule
974

Because?

Because they insist he is the "anti-war" candidate (as distinct from the hawkish Clinton), even though he, like Clinton, supported Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon intervention. For example.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
975

The problem is that nobody can be a serious contender for the US presidency unless he or she is willing to support things like Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon intervention.

As I've said, I think that American militarism and interventionism (imperialism) are now carved in stone. The best we can hope for is prudence and caution, as opposed to adventurism and overreaching.

I'll never like it, and I'll always know it's there, and I don't expect it ever to change. And as a result, my maximum enthusiasm for any possible or actual American political leader will always be pretty small.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
976

Anti-war pretty much, in 2008, means anti-Iraq war.

No one is claiming Obama is running as the pacifist candidate.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:37 PM
horizontal rule
977

Wow, glad I was away from my computer all day. (Blackwater: still cartoonishly evil.) The Blair thing remains bizarre to me, as does the idea that foreigners have more "perspective" about politics by reason of not knowing or caring as much. I thought he was the British Clinton? My Brit, now US citizen stepfather had basically the identical reaction as Henry Farrell to Blair: sad that it couldn't have been John Smith. Though, he's not much for Obama; he liked The Dodd.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
978

Oh, I don't know. It's not the moment for it now, but just as the end of the Soviet conglomerate was difficult to see in 1980, I think we can't really tell what the next decade holds. The current economic mess degrades the Empire, not clear how far that will go. The failure to 'shock and awe' the ME into doing our bidding has to have consequences.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
979

Yeah, but there's the next war, wherever that is. Cutting your losses on a bad gamble doesn't necessarily mean turning down the next gamble.

After Vietnam there was a little break, from about 1973 to 1980. And Reagan had to re-teach the American people to like open wars again with little toy wars in Grenada and Panama. But the proxy wars started already under Carter in Afghanistan and continued in Central America.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:45 PM
horizontal rule
980

Anti-war pretty much, in 2008, means anti-Iraq war.

For the purposes of the present campaign for the Democratic nomination, there is no doubt that this is pretty much what "anti-war" means, or perhaps, and more contentiously, what "anti-war" has been reduced to. But this current, and highly selective, meaning does not exactly exhaust the possibilities and implications of a "pro" or "anti" war stance. I think PGD is quite right to note that Obama's support of the Lebanon intervention is not a good sign.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
981

980: I don't disagree, necessarily. I was responding to your 974.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:53 PM
horizontal rule
982

Because they insist he is the "anti-war" candidate (as distinct from the hawkish Clinton), even though he, like Clinton, supported Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon intervention. For example.

I suppose I can see why others might call that a low standard, but I fail to see how this is a lower standard. Maybe he gets a low pass instead of a high pass, but she gets a much lower pass, if a pass at all.

My general belief is almost exactly opposite yours, and I'm just surprised that there could be any confusion about that. (For those against the Iraq war, in any case.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:53 PM
horizontal rule
983

also, way, way back upthread--this from 608:

"be elected to the legislature after being selected for what looked like an unwinnable campaign and fluking a victory""

This is totally inaccurate. Obama had quite a bit of luck in his Senate race: one of his leading primary opponents had a scandal & imploded, then so did his general election opponent, then he went up against total loon Allen Keyes. But the Democratic nomination for Senate in Illinois sure as hell wasn't "unwinnable." It was a contested primary--he won 54% to 23% (Dan Hynes, party machine candidate) to 10% (Blair Hull, the guy who had been ahead until damaging stuff come up in his divorce papers.) Then in the general, he was up ten points in the polls over Jack Ryan before Ryan's sex scandal & before everyone swooned over Obama at the DNC. And the reason he drew Keyes is that the credible GOP candidates knew by that stage that if they ran against this guy they'd lose.

Hull's scandal might have been necessary for Obama's election--I don't know, I wasn't living here then; Ryan's really wasn't, and the idea that the general would have been "unwinnable" for the Democratic candidate otherwise is just way off.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:54 PM
horizontal rule
984

And speaking of cartoonish, Cheney may have felt a small disturbance in the force today as hitherto very friendly Reggie Walton rejected overwrought assertions about separation of powers, and granted a couple of Gitmo prisoners 30 day orders. (Not mine yet -- we'd appealed his denial of our request last year, and so have to wait for the circuit to rule on the motion for summary reversal we filed yesterday before we can get back to Walton.)

A 30 day order requires the government to give 30 days notice before transferring a prisoner out of Gitmo. It's designed to prevent rendition or, as with one of the cases today, return to certain torture in Tunisia. Katherine's Omar case was a big deal on this, although even if it gets overturned, Walton has still seemingly gone over the wall.

Incremental procedural liberalism, to be sure, but it's going to have to do until you folks can get the revolution organized and into power.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:54 PM
horizontal rule
985

Does anyone know where I can find more about Obama's foreign policy advisers? (I took a quick look at his website and found his positions, which is helpful, but not quite what I was looking for.) One of the things that surprised me when I looked up Power's background is that she doesn't have as much range as I expected. But of course she wasn't his only adviser.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
986

985: she doesn't have as much range as I expected

But what about her domain?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:01 PM
horizontal rule
987

985: Yglesias's quotation from and link to a NYT piece on Obama's FP people. IIRC, Yglesias linked to a more in depth review that indicated both he and HRC have people from across the spectrum; easy-peasy separation isn't available. Unfortunately, and as could be expected, it's a pain to find things on Yglesias's site.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
988

979 -- Panama was a Bush operation. Grenada was the direct response to the humiliation in Beirut, and slipped below the waves soon enough, taking that Clint Eastwood movie with it. Reagan's second term was taken up first with finding that Nixon and Carter had been right all along on how to best deal with the Soviets, and then trying to stay out of jail. Oddly, the real rehabilitation of war, just like the real victory in the Cold War, came under Bush I.

On our side we don't really like to talk about either, and the Republicans are so caught up in their Reagan cult that they can't acknowledge that the lesser guy who came later is the one that actually got the shit done.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
989

985: I haven't read it yet and I don't think it's hit newsstands, but roommate and Jezebel it-boy Spencer Ackerman's cover for the forthcoming issue of The American Prospect addresses Obama's foreign policy platform. Aaaaand in the same issue I have a piece in the back of the book about art & oil. It's a Flophouse two-fer!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
990

re: foreign policy teams--I found this helpful when it came out

My involvement in the Omar case is quite peripheral but I highly recommend the Supreme Court arguments next Tuesday. I'll be there.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:08 PM
horizontal rule
991

987, 989: Thanks. I was hoping there was a list somewhere and I could look people up, but actual journalism works too. And I'm even subscribed to TAP.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
992

Related--Huck on Wright:

And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.
Gawd, he would have been tough in the general.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
993

Some of his advisors are mentioned here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
994

Sorry I'll miss you -- they schedule all the good stuff when I'm out of town.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:12 PM
horizontal rule
995

988: Panama ... Grenada

Please, a little respect: Operation Just Cause and Operation Urgent Fury.

All time best US MilOp name: Operation Frequent Wind for the Vietnam embassy evacuation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:18 PM
horizontal rule
996

I prefer 'Just Cuz.'


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
997

I guess the frustrating thing about the reports on the advisers is that they (understandably) focus on the foreign policy issues that get reported on the most. So lots about Iraq/Middle East, general things like approaches to dictators, etc. I'm particularly curious about people with specific expertise on Russia and East Asia, which is less covered.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
998

985: I guess Power's range extends as far as might reasonably be expected of any one expert advisor, and perhaps even a bit farther. She is no doubt a very smart person, and also a brilliant scholar. My problem with Power has to do with her self-designated "humanitarian hawk" label, and also with her close ties to Michael Ignatieff, former apologist for torture theorist of the "ticking bomb" scenario at the JFK School of Government at Harvard, and current Liberal MP in the Canadian Parliament (personally, I think Ignatieff should be hounded out of high office in the Canadian polity for his past endorsement of certain types of apparently necessary interrogation methods, though maybe that's just me, but anyway...I'd be wary of anyone [whether American or foreign-born or what have you] who wanted to apply Iggy's wisdom to the American situation).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:26 PM
horizontal rule
999

KOBE
OBEK
BEKO
EKOB


Posted by: BARACK OBAMA | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
1000

I was a little freaked out to find out that Power was one of Obama's advisors. (I had no idea until roughly two days before she quit.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
1001

No Iraqi ever called me Kobe.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
1002

1000 !


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
1003

Fucking fuck, Someguy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
1004

Ha, ha, ha! I was trying to write a one-line post for 999, so that I could post 1000! But if I can't have it, no one can!

Since the thread is safely in four-digit territory, and all the idealists have gone home, I can admit that I'm voting for Obama just because he's going to break Ari's heart. In general, I thrive on the crushed aspirations of others.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:32 PM
horizontal rule
1005

1271: I don't know what I will have been thinking when I write that comment. Could someone delete it?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:33 PM
horizontal rule
1006

Oh, and if I had waited until I had the name right, I would have gotten it.

Also, Walt Someguy gets it right. The rest of you can go and vote for the Endless Warrior.


Posted by: BARACKOBEMA | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:35 PM
horizontal rule
1007

This Stephen Holmes review of a couple of books, one of which is Power's, is one of the better things I've read about humanitarian intervention.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:36 PM
horizontal rule
1008

(The piece I just linked is also a pre-Iraq war piece on the arguments then being made for the invasion, which makes it even more relevant.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:43 PM
horizontal rule
1009

262 more comments to post, 262 comments
Write one up and put it online
261 more comments to post


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 10:58 PM
horizontal rule
1010

Holy crap. This thread made it past 1000 and I didn't even notice. What's the unfogged record, anyway?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:00 PM
horizontal rule
1011

1004: Whatever, Walt, at least you're voting for him. It's a big-tent cult; we take all kinds.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-19-08 11:12 PM
horizontal rule
1012

1011: Well, that takes all the fun out of it. I guess I'll hate to vote for McCain after all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 12:47 AM
horizontal rule
1013

Motherfucker. Lord, strikethrough my words lest they offend thee.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 12:55 AM
horizontal rule
1014

Because?

Because he makes a good speech. And because of that, whatever he does, in three years you lot will be yattering "oh but loook you don't understannnd, if you're a Democrat running for a second term as President, you have to use mustard gas on demonstrators, it's part of our political process and anyway fuck you, limey, I suppose you'd rather have Hillary!".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 2:14 AM
horizontal rule
1015

And we'd be right to do it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 2:24 AM
horizontal rule
1016

Our overseas friends don't seem to have any clue if Obama will get 90% of the vote and make himself Emperor of America (because everybody loves Bill Cosby), or if he will get 40% of the vote because he's a freaking black liberal running for President in the US. I guess it's not important.

But they do know one thing: reacting positively to a speech is like, so uncool and naive. Politicians gain power by using mustard gas on demonstrators, and only use speeches to protect themselves from the backlash.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 3:58 AM
horizontal rule
1017

reacting positively to a speech is like, so uncool and naive

no, reacting naively to a speech is naive. It's the difference between liking sport and being a fan.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:06 AM
horizontal rule
1018

re: 1016

And we're all the same, the 'overseas friends'. We all think the same things, and say the same things, and we really like being lumped together.

This thread has been full of strawmen and non-sequiturs. There's nothing substantive to say about the fact that the element of exceptionalism in Obama's speech is irritating to non-Americans and based on factually false claims. There's nothing substantive to say about it because it's true.

As I've repeatedly said, there are other good things in the guys speech, and, of the candidates on offer, he seems the one that I'd personally prefer. But, that said, bits of his speech still pissed me off.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:10 AM
horizontal rule
1019

1018: Hey I wasn't talking about all of the overseas friends, just the ones I was describing. Just in the same way that no one is criticizing all Obama supporters, just the ones reacting naively.

No need to name names here.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:13 AM
horizontal rule
1020

re: 1019

Dude, you're verging on trollish tactics here.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:15 AM
horizontal rule
1021

No I'm actually making a point. It is true that I'm responding to trollish comments in this case (not yours, to be clear -- I understand the point you're making).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:19 AM
horizontal rule
1022

At the risk of trolling, I have to note that it's remarkable how little love Obama's foreign policy speech yesterday is getting by comparison. It struck me as being a fine statement, the best evidence yet that BHO really has a clue about the nitty gritty of difficult policy areas.

If I were an American, it's precisely this sort of statement that might turn me from a lesser evilist into a relatively enthusiastic supporter, yet it seems to have got no traction, while the high level feelgood stuff is all over the media.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 4:42 AM
horizontal rule
1023

1022: Ruger! No, just kidding.

Anyhow, the couple of paragraphs I got to read of the foreign policy speech seemed solid enough. Once again, if there is any non-trivial amount of naivete at work in people's (here and elsewhere) response to Obama, it does seem to come to the fore around this type of issue. If he's elected, he's going to inherit a multi-front war, plus a lot of commitments to meddle in other countries should something untoward occur. And he's not always going to do the most dovish thing. In fact, he may never do the most dovish thing. But I think statements like yesterday's tend to support the theory that he will not do the batshit crazy things that McCain would, nor would he be forced to make the cynical, neoliberal political calculations on foreign policy that Clinton would. Of course, I could be wrong on this, and he'll turn into some massive hawk as soon as he's inaugurated, but that hardly seems like the way to bet.

Sigh. Off to work again.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 5:35 AM
horizontal rule
1024

1014: Wait, did I miss the speech where Obama let on to his desire to gas protesters? That's big!


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 5:48 AM
horizontal rule
1025

1024. History suggests that this will in fact be done by the Mayor of Denver in collaboration with the DLC.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 5:55 AM
horizontal rule
1026

1023 I generally agree with, although I do not see a non-trivial amount of naivete above -- only a non-trivial amount of complaint about it -- nor do I think "forced" is really the right word for Sen. Clinton's adoption of cynical neoliberal foreign policy positions. Unless one thinks she was forced to take the position she took on flag burning, for instance, or that her husband was forced to take the position he took on school iniforms, to take another.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 5:57 AM
horizontal rule
1027

It is true that I'm responding to trollish comments in this case

there is certainly a version of Godwin's Law when it comes to these tedious accusations.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:03 AM
horizontal rule
1028

What I find curious, though, is the apparent inability of some to distinguish naivete from passion. And the depth of the offense with which passion is met. I suppose the latter is an essential element for some species of hipster cred, but I've yet to see an explanation how significant, or even moderate changes take place in a large society like ours without passion, or an explanation from someone who understands our country as it actually exists why they think broad-based passion could genuinely be generated for a figure more left or progressive than Obama.

That is, I think nearly everyone to the left of me -- a long stretch of country -- is hopelessly naive. I think the same about everyone more cynical than I: a narrower stretch of country, to be sure, but it takes a special kind of denial to reject all possibility of change.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:09 AM
horizontal rule
1029

But I think statements like yesterday's tend to support the theory that he will not do the batshit crazy things that McCain would, nor would he be forced to make the cynical, neoliberal political calculations on foreign policy that Clinton would

On the other hand, statements like this one imply the exact opposite, while the employment of Samantha "Let's You And Him Fight In The Name Of Democracy" Power is really quite frightening. Cynical and neoliberal is the kind of foreign policy that you want - ten times out of ten, when America is up to its nuts in blood and guts, there's an idealist at the back of it.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
1030

Daniel, call me cynical and neoliberal, but if the United States (or Britain or NATO or the EU or any other proxy) chose to limit their direct involvement in Western Asia to their long standing neo-colonial relationship with Israel, I for one would sleep much more soundly.

I'm much more immediately worried about the possibility of things getting even worse in Afghanistan (for the Afghans - I don't give a shit about western interests there).


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
1031

What I find curious, though, is the apparent inability of some to distinguish naivete from passion

rather a double-edged sword.

And the depth of the offense with which passion is met

do wot mate? I have in fact, in this particular thread, been soaking up the personal insults, not handing them out. It's you "passionate" types who have been handing them out, rather like the "passionate" sports fans who don't like being told the truth about their team. Or for that matter, the "passionate" types who just know that the world could do something for Darfur and only cruel cynical types would do something so unpassionate as to look up the area of the place on a map.

I suppose the latter is an essential element for some species of hipster cred

ahh, another one for the collection.

but I've yet to see an explanation how significant, or even moderate changes take place in a large society like ours without passion

look about you pal!!! there has been a huge change in the last eight years!!! there has been a massive redistribution of wealth to the richest 0.1%, a 180 degree reorientation of foreign policy and a huge shift of the terms of the labour bargain in favour of employers!!! How much passion did that take?

or an explanation from someone who understands our country as it actually exists why they think broad-based passion could genuinely be generated for a figure more left or progressive than Obama.

This is the definition of a heap of exceptionalist bullshit that, while huge, does not have a pony in it somewhere. The idea we're now being asked to swallow is that the USA is a massive exceptional country that's not like anywhere else, that it isn't subject to change at all by anyone to the left of Obama (a description which, by the way, would fit Richard Nixon based on economic and social policies), but that, miraculously, Obama is precisely that not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks figure who can do it!

This is marketing material, not analysis. It's not a matter of being cynical about it, because simple respect for the human intellect makes it impossible to take statements like that as if they were meant to be literally true. Every time I think "am I being a bit harsh, maybe they're not so naive", one of you lot goes and says something like this. And believing marketing material is a habit that it's difficult to get out of.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
1032

The idea we're now being asked to swallow is that the USA is a massive exceptional country that's not like anywhere else, that it isn't subject to change at all by anyone to the left of Obama (a description which, by the way, would fit Richard Nixon based on economic and social policies)

You really don't understand the U.S. at all.
Still, I love your shtick. Keep at it man.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
1033

Do the posters have a secret contest going to see who can create the longest thread ever?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
1034

the USA is a massive exceptional country that's not like anywhere else, that it isn't subject to change at all by anyone to the left of Obama

No, it's that the US has moved sharply to the right since Nixon, which has precisely nothing to do with exceptionalism and isn't even a controversial assertion.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
1035

Mr. Squared, you are totally off your game in this thread.

The insults you've been dishing out in this thread, while not "personal," have been of the superior, sneering variety, and they're annoying as hell. I know it's your schtick, and usually I love your schtick (seriously, big fan! long time listener, first time caller and all that) but you might want to consider, just for the tiniest second, that some of us who support Obama for president are not, in fact, total morons.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
1036

1031: Wah, wah, wah -- looks to me like you've dished out plenty of insult, and of course you're not the only one I'm talking about.

Maybe change on behalf of the wealthy/powerful doesn't take popular passion. Although it really doesn't hurt, which is why the marketing for Reagan was so important. And the whole Southern strategy. And the 'death tax.' And the gays trying to force everyone into same-sex marriage. And all the other crappy marketing we've seen from the other side for the past 30+ years.

I can understand why finance people disdain marketing -- I certainly feel the same about marketing in my own professional life. Thing is, no marketing, no sales.

Did I say Obama was just right? I said I thought he was at the leftward edge of what we can get in a broad-based movement in our society right now. Ten years from now, maybe that point changes. I didn't think six months ago, and don't think now, that John Edwards was inside that line. I think Bill Clinton was near the line in 1992, overshot by a bit in 93, and the line got moved inward thereafter, but he moved farther inward than necessary.

When you talk about naivete about Darfur, you're not talking about me.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
1037

And Dsquared, I think you're right about comparing this to the difference between liking sport and being a fan. On the other hand, I'd say that criticism of Theo's trade strategy is materially different from saying 'I hate the Red Sox because people from Boston are rude. And because a bunch of people who didn't care about them before 2004 like them now.'


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:14 AM
horizontal rule
1038

Because he makes a good speech. And because of that, whatever he does, in three years you lot will be yattering "oh but loook you don't understannnd, if you're a Democrat running for a second term as President, you have to use mustard gas on demonstrators, it's part of our political process and anyway fuck you, limey, I suppose you'd rather have Hillary!".

Now connect this up to an argument that a preference for Obama somehow represents a lower standard than the blithe "It could have happened to anyone" standard as regards support for the Iraq war that HRC supporters like MC seem to be applying to Team Clinton.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:18 AM
horizontal rule
1039

1031: I have in fact, in this particular thread, been soaking up the personal insults, not handing them out

The reason for this, of course, is that you are obviously wading into a conversation in which you understand about maybe 40% of what's going on and acting like this makes you smarter than everyone else. It's an entertaining shtick, but you're really just asking for insults as a result.

As I've pointed out a couple of times, there already is a perfectly good American model for the concerns derived from your precious British experience, and that's the husband of one of this election's major candidates. When people point out that you really don't understand much about American politics, this really has nothing to do with American exceptionalism and everything to do with the fact that you don't understand much about American politics. For example, you obviously have no clue where Obama's speech fits on the American spectrum; you suspect that he's just saying nice pleasant things that everyone agrees on yet seem controversial (because obviously this is what slick-talking politicians do!), but you don't actually know, do you?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:19 AM
horizontal rule
1040

Oh great, now the USA is a place which is not only more inscrutable than China, but one in which politics can be changed in a rightward direction by normal means, but in a leftward direction only by someone who fits a set of criteria (passionate but not too passionate, Goldilocks degree of leftishness, panders to some rightwing and neoliberal interests but not others, except when he does but that's different) which strongly appear to have been gerrymandered to fit tighter than a wetsuit round Barrack Obama. If you are not only going to make such transparently ridiculous statements, but to assert that they are the obvious truth but that this truth is only accessible to people who "understand America" (which obviously doesn't include the Democrats who support Hillary apparently), then how on earth to you expect to evade ridicule for being fanboys?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
1041

the idea that idealism is behind all of the U.S.s bloody foreign policy mistakes is not so correct. Even Iraq is a mixed bag on this: the whole freedom & human rights shtick is more a retroactive justification than anything else; at the time it was all about the WMD & terrorism bullshit. Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld aren't really so much idealists. A lot of the left wing supporters of war wrapped themselves up in humanitarianism, but they were especially annoying because we know more of them, not especially influential. Bush, I don't know; Bush has such an incredible capacity for believing his own bullshit at the expense of reality that it's hard to know what to call him. Henry Kissinger, also not so much of a starry eyed idealist.

Did Power even support the war? I thought she was a late, wishy washy opponent and/or a tepid supporter who later decided it was a mistake, which are both remarkably common positions. And is she being stupid about Darfur, or is it just that her genocide book etc. is contributing to other people's stupidity about Darfur.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:23 AM
horizontal rule
1042

you also were just completely wrong about the Illinois Senate race, which is trivial but does tend to show you don't actually know much about US politics.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
1043

1039: I cannot help noticing that the general charge that Obama is very thick on high-fluting rhetoric but rather less substantial on concrete policies is one that is not actually original to me. It is in fact an amazingly commonplace criticism of the man, which has been made by many Americans.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
1044

and no it's not more inscrutable than China. It's perfectly scrutable, but it's not clear how much you've actually been paying attention. You really do act like a jerk here: immediately caricaturing people's arguments instead of responding.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
1045

you also were just completely wrong about the Illinois Senate race, which is trivial but does tend to show you don't actually know much about US politics.

rilly? To have not one, but both of your opponents (in the primary and in the race) implode because of scandals is not to be considered lucky?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:27 AM
horizontal rule
1046

1043: yes, by our shallow, stupid press corps whose election coverage consists of repeating a vapid storyline over, and over, and over. Maybe I should read the Daily Mail & Mirror & start lecturing you on British politics.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
1047

Seriously, dsquared, what is your dog in this fight? Do you just like feeling smarter than us?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
1048

oh whatever dsquared, I'm not interested in levels of generality bullshit. You were clearly wrong about that one.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:29 AM
horizontal rule
1049

Oh great, now the USA is a place which is not only more inscrutable than China, but one in which politics can be changed in a rightward direction by normal means, but in a leftward direction only by someone who fits a set of criteria (passionate but not too passionate, Goldilocks degree of leftishness, panders to some rightwing and neoliberal interests but not others, except when he does but that's different) which strongly appear to have been gerrymandered to fit tighter than a wetsuit round Barrack Obama.

People aren't picking from some fantasy draft. There are three candidates left. If you want to make a case for HRC--something that goes beyond "Obama's supporters seem to like him too much," please--do it. (Or for McCain, come to that.) If that's not your claim, it looks an awful lot like it's you, not us, that is holding out for an American messiah.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
1050

How much passion did that take?

Alas, the right wing in this country is very passionate. So the answer is, "A whole lot".

This is the definition of a heap of exceptionalist bullshit that, while huge, does not have a pony in it somewhere.

Exceptionalism is often true. Long tails, path-dependency, unique conjunctures, etc. It's easy to make arguments for Swiss exceptionalism, Swedish exceptionism, Japanese exceptionalism, Argentine exceptionalism, etc. Self-congratulatory exceptionalism can be toxic, which is why Obama's speech annoyed people.

For whatever reason (religious tradition, individualist ideology), socialist appeals don't work at all in the U.S., and "socialist" is a bad word here, whereas in Europe even rightwingers sometimes call themselves socialists.

I'm a Minnesota exceptionalist, and Minnesota actually had a self-professed socialist governor in the 30s, but Minnesota was inhabited by first and second generation European immigrants then. In the sixty years since Minnesota has pretty much reverted to the mean.

I believed up until 2000 that it might be possible to change America, but I no longer believe that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
1051

1039 was me.

1043 of course is an acknowledgment of ignorance, but would have been better if supplemented with "I honestly don't think Obama has the experience necessary to be Commander-in-Chief, and by the way that was confirmed in an issue of USA Today I read when on a buisness trip. Also, does he really think that the world would be a better place with Saddam ruling Iraq?"


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
1052

One thing I think people from other countries are missing is the degree to which U.S. politicians constantly speak to the U.S. public as if we're idiots. Based on the coverage of UK politics I've seen, this is just much, much less common over there. Obama often speaks as if his audience is (1) adults (2) with consciences, which is quite a nice change. I'm sure doing so should be run-of-the-mill, but it actually isn't.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
1053

973: 1271: no, fuck you.

You know Sifu, at the time I thought this was just another of your bullshit exaggerations, but now I'm not so sure.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:40 AM
horizontal rule
1054

I didn't read all 1000+ comments of this thread, so the possibility of pwnage is hereby acknowledged. I would like to make a half-hearted defense of American exceptionalism as evinced in Obama's speech.

I will start by positing a fourfold typology of American exceptionalism:
1. The "City on a Hill" variant. Roots in the Puritan tradition of self-conscious separation and difference, both geographically and spiritually, from in an impure world. In it's more appealing form, heavily emphasizes critical self-evaluation against a set of exceptionally challenging ideals. In its less appealing form, spills over into busy-bodyism and the sin of pride.
2. The "Manifest Destiny" variant. The malignant version of City on the Hill. When the rest of the world is frustratingly slow at recognizing our awesomeness and adopting our ways for themselves, decides to speed the process along by conquering/supplanting them.
3. The "Arsenal of Democracy" variant. Taking advantage of America's unique attributes (being rich, powerful and relatively secure) to stick up for the weak.
4. The "America: Fuck Yeah!" variant. Taking advantage of America's unique attributes (being rich, powerful and relatively secure) to bend others to our will, because we can.

Us well-meaning American liberals obviously detest variants 2 and 4, and tend to have an ambivalent relationship to 1 and 3 because of their demonstrable tendency to degenerate into 2 and 4.

At the same time, we understand the power of the ideal of American exceptionalism, and recognize that (A) it's hard to get anything positive accomplished in this country without appealing to American exceptionalism; and (B) if we aren't in power, the other guys will exploit the power of American exceptionalism for 2 and 4 (not that our side hasn't done it's share of the same, just to be fair).

I would take issue with the following from slolrner: Ever hear an MLK speech? He had a dream that someday. He didn't have a dream that right now. Or if he did, he then woke up. And went to work to fix the country's real, acknowledged problems.

MLK is actually an excellent example of a progressive voice appropriating the language of American exceptionalism of the City on Hill variant. The first, less frequently quoted portion of the "I Have a Dream" speech begins with the metaphor of a promissory note issued to the Negro in the name of America, and of a check returned marked "insufficient funds". King is explicitly holding contemporary American society up to the ideals of its founding documents, and shaming white Americans for failing to deliver on the promise. Gunnar Myrdal presciently predicted that segregation could not survive a sustained attack on this basis, because America, a country whose very identity derives from its ideals, could not contradict those ideals indefinitely.

That takes me to the true roots of American exceptionalism: the fact that we are a mongrel nation lacking in ethnic, linguistic, or cultural unity, and held together principally by devotion to our founding documents (documents which contain some radically innovative constitutional mechanisms which other countries have imitated to their benefit) and a shared love of material prosperity.

Whatever rhetorical excesses Obama's speech contains (and show me a successful politician in any country who doesn't flatter his constituents' nationalist conceits from time to time), it brings to the fore a version of American exceptionalism--the self-critical, aspirational, tough-love, City on a Hill version--that has been too long crowded out by the malignant varieties.

The rest of the world is going to have to deal with an America that is infatuated with its own identity come what may. You foreigners had better hope and pray that it is led by someone who can channel that infatuation into a positive direction.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
1055

The converse of American exceptionalism surely isn't "everything that's ever happened in America is exactly like what happened everywhere else and there's couldn't be anything characteristic of American politics because to think otherwise is exceptionalist."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
1056

An awful lot of us people who don't know anything about American politics including strangely, plenty of Americans.

If you want to make a case for HRC

Yeah, it's definitely me that's been distorting other people's arguments, absolutely. Listen to yourselves. You're so far out into the fanosphere you're growing special gills and losing the ability to breathe normal oxygen.

Do you just like feeling smarter than us?

I can feel smarter than you lot from my couch. I am simply trying to express the same emotion summed up in Noel Gallagher's couplet "Please don't put your life in the hands of a rock 'n' roll band, they'll throw it all away".

Political fans get let down. When they do this, they either get disillusioned and drop out completely, or they go deeper into denial and become diehard supporters of things they'd have found repulsive a few years before. I actually run a website called "Aaronovitch Watch" largely targeted at people who reacted in this way to Blair's decline.

And also, to be frank, you lot are arguing in such an annoying manner that it's more or less bound to get a response out of me.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
1057

Jesus tap-dancing Christ. One thousand fucking comments all devoted to the notion that people are shocked, shocked, to discover that prominent politicians seeking the leadership of a fundamentally imperial nation embrace exceptionalist rhetoric? Holy crap. I'd hate to see how you'd people react if these politicians decided to, say, start invading and occupying third-world countries willy-nilly, backed up by former-empires-turned-cronies, and then smiled and ran for president as antiwar reformers without any basic change in policy.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
1058

The converse of American exceptionalism surely isn't "everything that's ever happened in America is exactly like what happened everywhere else and there's couldn't be anything characteristic of American politics because to think otherwise is exceptionalist."

But if you meet every instance of "well our experience with a seemingly very similar politician in the single country in the world most like the USA in its politics, would seem to support this interpretation which I note is also quite common among American observers of their domestic politics" with "well that just shows how you don't understand anything about US politics", then "exceptionalist" is frankly putting it politely.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
1059

I did not say that Obama wasn't lucky--I described to you was pretty much what was in that article. What I said was that the idea that the general election was "unwinnable" until Ryan's sex scandal shows complete ignorance of the specifics of that race & the basic fact that Illinois is a pretty liberal state. I don't really like being condescended to by people who don't know what they're talking about so I'm about done with this.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:48 AM
horizontal rule
1060

"Political fans get let down. When they do this, they either get disillusioned and drop out completely, or they go deeper into denial and become diehard supporters of things they'd have found repulsive a few years before."

No, sometimes they become you, & just get really obnoxious & condescending towards anyone who shows any level of enthusiasm for any candidate ever.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
1061

The rest of the world is going to have to deal with an America that is infatuated with its own identity come what may. You foreigners had better hope and pray that it is led by someone who can channel that infatuation into a positive direction.

I think the problem here is that we largely believe that the 'positive direction' stuff is largely self-deluding cant and that exceptionalisms 2, and 4 in your typology massively hold sway. What we get is either naked exceptionalisms 2 and 4 or 2 and 4 clothed in shiny rhetoric [often sincere and self-deluded rather than deliberately deceptive]. And the most positive on your list, type 1, is generally clothed in pride.

There's no way round it -- it's annoying. Pretty much always. Self-infatuation is never attractive, and it's a damn sight less attractive when the people infatuated are powerful. A degree of self-regard might be charming/amusing if the country in love with itself is, to pick a random example, Andorra. It's a damn sight less so if it's the US, or the UK or Germany, or whatever.

And, 'that's the way things are, get over it' isn't much of an adequate response and is just as cynical as anything dsquared has said. Of course, as you say, better the moderate form of it than the nakedly savage form.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:55 AM
horizontal rule
1062

Yeah, it's definitely me that's been distorting other people's arguments, absolutely.

What's your argument, then? That people were too excited by the Obama speech?* Fine, conceded. It was a good speech; it hasn't, to my knowledge, cured cancer or even racism. Was that really your point?

* Note that different people have, in this thread, been excited for different reasons. Some because they believe it was a very good, very deft, speech. Some because they believe it limned a better way to think through race-relations in the US than had previously been advanced by a major political figure. Some because we think it may--may--have made a good start at saving the Obama candidacy from sinking under the weight of the "Amerikkka hating black guy" anchor that had been tied around the candidate's neck. Believing any of these things--none of which crazy, though different people probably rate the speech differently for each factor--seems like a sufficient reason to be excited about the speech.

Furthermore, Obama supporters were probably nervous about the speech. I certainly was. "Black guy speaks about race relations"; there are obvious risks there. He seemed to pull it off. The absence of soul-crushing immediate failure is, itself, a reason to be excited--if a supporter--by the speech.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
1063

"the 'positive direction' stuff is largely self-deluding cant "

No; what it is, is rare. Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King all did this trick; as did the Warren Court. Self deluding cant? Screw you. This country is inevitably very powerful and I can't do anything about that; thanks for shitting on people trying to make it benign.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
1064

No, sometimes they become you, & just get really obnoxious & condescending towards anyone who shows any level of enthusiasm for any candidate ever.

far more sinned against than sinning on this one as far as I can tell, and you were condescending to ttaM before I even showed up.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
1065

1058: Would that there existed a maxim like 'the devil is in the details.' The UK is similar. So is Canada. But your center is our left, and you don't have the religious right, and the development of race relations took a different path here. One of those topics was the subject of the speech, and while we can all agree that the exceptionalist line proves that Obama isn't Dr. Manhattan, I think we're all only committed to the more narrow claim that such a speech hasn't been given by a politician here before, and that in our context, that speech is a big deal.

It's like you're responding to someone who thinks Obama is the messiah, and I'm not sure who that is here. Perhaps the commenters on YouTube. I think SCMTim is right that should Obama succeed, his most likely legacy isn't a pony, but being able to have elections that don't resolve around making parts of the white South feel good about themselves.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
1066

re: 1063

What part of 'largely self-deluding cant' is incompatible with 'rare' [and genuinely positive]? Of course it may very rarely be genuine, sincere and have concrete and pragmatically good outcomes. That's not incompatible with it being largely cant.

And, seriously, 'shitting on people trying to make it benign'? Because I find a particular type of rhetorical trope pernicious? Don't be ridiculous.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
1067

I am simply trying to express the same emotion summed up in Noel Gallagher's couplet "Please don't put your life in the hands of a rock 'n' roll band, they'll throw it all away". Political fans get let down.

My fellow Americans! Thank God! Dsquared is here too look out for us. You see, his condescending snark in this thread is for our own good.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
1068

Treating people who try to use "American ideals" as set forth in the Constitution the way, say, William Brennan did, as being more or less indistinguishable from George W. Bush & pals on the question of "American exceptionalism" is incredibly insulting precisely because we dislike the Bush variety so very, very, very much.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
1069

I think SCMTim is right that should Obama succeed, his most likely legacy isn't a pony, but being able to have elections that don't resolve around making parts of the white South feel good about themselves.

Historical note: he actually went on to suggest that (924:7) this would mean that the USA would be less militaristic and would not get involved in imperial adventures any more.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
1070

Self-infatuation is never attractive, and it's a damn sight less attractive when the people infatuated are powerful. A degree of self-regard might be charming/amusing if the country in love with itself is, to pick a random example, Andorra. It's a damn sight less so if it's the US, or the UK or Germany, or whatever.

I actually don't find much to disagree with in that statement, but I draw radically different conclusions from it.

Consider: (1) The U.S., like almost every other country with a strong sense of nationhood, is populated to more than 50% by folks who hold their country in higher regard than the objective facts warrant (people are tribal, and nations are our tribes). (2) The U.S. is rich and powerful, and likely will be to a greater or lesser degree for the foreseeable future; (3) Appealing to people's pride in their nation is a demonstrably effective technique for winning elections in democracies (at minimum, in countries that have a strong sense of nationhood); (4) There are some truly unique (or at least unique at one point in history) aspects of American nationhood, some of them engendered by the ideals embodied in our founding documents, that Americans can legitimately take pride in; (5) At various points in the past, certain American leaders have succeeded in harnessing the forces reflected in 1-4 above to render American power either more benign or even unto a force for good in the world.

That Obama generally and in the speech particularly shows signs of being a leader capable of the behavior in (5) is a defensible reason for excitement, whether you are an American or not.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
1071

Based primarily on this thread, I have been mentally referring to this speech as "The Hope and the Menace". The "menace" because in my opinion we in the US are in a struggle to determine whether over the next 20, 50, 100 years (or whatever) American Exceptionalism will take a turn for the truly, truly ugly that will get it (and us) enshrined in the future in some equivalent of Godwin's Law. Without going into detail, history provides ample reason for concern when "exceptional" countries and peoples begin to lose their (always transient) material bases for being "exceptional".

So the menace is that we are far enough down that path that even the candidate who appears to be the best hope for trying to take a step away from that narrative arc must pander to that sentiment to even have a shot at getting elected. As others have noted, there was much about the context and contents of the speech to give people in the US trying to keep our country from going down the ugly road some degree of hope on several fronts. (And yes, even if Obama makes it, it may still turn out to be all menace from here on out—I don't think anyone here denies that.)

Some might respond more to the "menace", some might respond more to the "hope", both are understandable in context. Personally I choose guarded hope.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
1072


Let's go to instant replay:

dsquared characterizes Obama's career thus in 608:

elected to the legislature after being selected for what looked like an unwinnable campaign and fluking a victory"

Katherine, in some detail in 983, takes specific issue with the word "unwinnable". Most tellingly, she points out that Obama led Ryan by a lot in the polls in this "unwinnable" campaign even before Ryan imploded.

dsquared responds thus in 1045:

To have not one, but both of your opponents (in the primary and in the race) implode because of scandals is not to be considered lucky?

Note the deft switch of subject matter - "lucky" vs "unwinnable" - and the complete refusal to engage Katherine on the actual terms of her argument.

Alas, one can't suggest that this is trollery, because dsquared has a rule:

there is certainly a version of Godwin's Law when it comes to these tedious accusations.

But what the fuck. As long as I'm going to transgress, I'll say that dsquared is arguing both like a troll and like Hitler.

So there.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
1073

Historical note: he actually went on to suggest that (924:7) this would mean that the USA would be less militaristic and would not get involved in imperial adventures any more.

No, he didn't:

7. A different coalition means different policies. They are, I expect, likely to be more congenial to me. (They aren't in the least bit limited to militarism, but they do include it. I don't expect Obama to pull out of Iraq. But I think he's less likely to take a tough-man posture constantly to reassure people back home that he's tough enough. Because "tough" will be a less important issue for his coalition.)

He definitely didn't say or suggest "would not get involved in imperial adventures anymore." Our politicians are less likely to find themselves feeling forced to support a war to prove that they're "strong," though.* Life's not all-or-nothing, dsquared. Not on this side of the ocean, anyway. (Remind me again who's being naive and fanboy-ish?)

* I just saw this in Slate today, though it was written in '04:

Not long ago, I spoke with a Democratic moderate about the war in Iraq. He said he considered support for the Iraq war to be a necessary prerequisite to assuming any powerful role in the party. It showed that the person in question was willing to project U.S. force abroad. But wait, I asked. Do you still think the Iraq war was a good idea? After some hemming and hawing, he admitted that he'd rather we hadn't gone in. Then why make support for a mistaken policy a litmus test? Because, he repeated, it shows that the person in question is willing to project U.S. force abroad. I should emphasize that we weren't talking about whether troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, which is an entirely separate and vexing question that speaks to our responsibility in a country whose previous government we destroyed. What this man was saying was that it was better to have been wrong about Iraq than to have been right. That's the prevailing (though not always conscious) consensus in Washington, and it's completely insane.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
1074

re: 1068

Perhaps you might want to ask yourself why just about every non-American who has commented on this thread has agreed that the piece of exceptionalism in the speech [part of a much larger -- and in places pretty impressive -- whole, of course] was i) fairly typical of the genre and ii) objectionable?

It ought to be obvious why we aren't especially moved by appeals to 'American ideals'? Because, hint, we aren't American. From the point of view of someone observing from the outside, there's rather a lot in common between politicians of all stripes when it comes to how they view the relationship between America and the rest of the world. The rest of the world has rather a lot of evidence that that commonality exists so you'll have to forgive us for not sharing your view.

That's not to say that two politicians of different political stripes are completely the same, and as I've repeatedly said time and again on this thread, I have a preference among the extant list of candidates, and my preference is the same as yours. Again, we're back to the strawmen again.

But describing my personal dislike for a particular type of rhetoric that is genuinely pernicious [rather than harmless and empty] as 'shitting on people' or as insulting is absurd.

re: 1070

I understand what you are saying, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm rather more cynical about 4) and 5) there. I'm inclined to withhold judgement until things actually happen. Some promising noises have been made in a few speeches [as pointed out by OFE above] and that's about it for now. Better than the alternatives, almost certainly, but that's no reason for people who perhaps don't share some of the US's view of itself or its ideals to share in your enthusiasm. Nor is it any reason to feel insulted if we don't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
1075

Godwin's Meta-law: If Godwin's Law is mentioned more than three times in a thread then Hitler wins a pony.

(less than 200 comments to go)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
1076

The IL Senate thing is truly minor, but yes, when I got pissy about the "levels of generality bullshit" I was talking about the shift from "Obama lucked into an otherwise unwinnable Senate seat because of an opponent's sex scandal" to "Obama was lucky" when I'd conceded lucky & argued with "unwinnable."

"There are some truly unique (or at least unique at one point in history)"

That's the key, I think. They're no longer even very close to unique, and I'm sure acting like they are is annoying. Especially to the UK, since we've copied from them as much as vice versa.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
1077

"It ought to be obvious why we aren't especially moved by appeals to 'American ideals'? "

Yes, it is obvious (I have made the dsquared "over here, you lot are foreigners" point to people repeatedly); what is not obvious is why they're so pernicious as to undermine everything else. You're not the audience for U.S. campaign speeches.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
1078

Perhaps you might want to ask yourself why just about every non-American who has commented on this thread has agreed that the piece of exceptionalism in the speech [part of a much larger -- and in places pretty impressive -- whole, of course] was i) fairly typical of the genre and ii) objectionable?

Oh yeah, because you guys are so representative of the world outside the U.S.

Taking a non-U.S. example, I can see a big difference between, say, Gerhard Schroeder appealing to German pride ("becoming a normal nation") so that Germany can contribute to Nato peace-keeping forces and DeGaulle appealing to French pride to justify staying in Algeria. Same sentiment, completely different scales of objectionability.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
1079

re: 1078

Oh yeah, because you guys are so representative of the world outside the U.S.

Again, what? Did I say that? No.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
1080

It's really starting to sound like D2 and ttaM are fine with whoever we vote for, as long as we promise not to be too excited about it.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
1081

It ought to be obvious why we aren't especially moved by appeals to 'American ideals'? Because, hint, we aren't American.

Dude, seriously: I'm not moved a bit by appeals to American ideals; in fact, I find them odious, hypocritical and grotesque. But every goddamn politician in America talks that way. If I'm going to start freaking out and getting huffy about shit, I'm going to freak out and get huffy about what these people actually do and not about what bullshit they happen to say.

America, like every empire before it and every empire that will follow it, is grossly, narcissistically in love with itself. And that means that American politicians - good or bad, peaceful or warmongering, Dick Cheney or Dennis Kucinich, are going to throw out typical encomiums to the Founding Fathers and the Uniqueness of the American Experience. Whoop de do and la de da. If you want to throw a fit, throw a fit over the fact that this country is responsible for a million deaths in Iraq alone. Those are a million people who'd probably be alive today if the rest of the country had opposed the war in 2002 like that horrible slimy man, Barack Obama.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
1082

re: 1077

Again, I didn't say they undermined everything else. We're back to the strawmen again. I said that that particular part of his speech annoyed me. And then spent rather a lot of time justifying that annoyance in the face of disagreement. That is all.

re: 1081

We're talking about a speech. So I'm responding to the content of a speech. In a thread about the content of a particular speech, I'm expressing my response [rational, emotional, whatever] to that speech. So, asking why that speech is what's exercising me rather than some other set of stuff seems ... irrelevant.

re: 1080

Have you even read a single fucking word of what I've written ?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
1083

D^2 and ttaM of course are arguing totally different things. ttaM is saying "only in America" is stupid; I think we all basically agree, although that's not the first thing that came to mind for most of us after viewing the speech.

D^2 is pretty sure that people who see an Obama speech and say "Awesome" are being naive. Of course this is not based on any factual knowledge of America or Obama (troll response: America is not exceptional, pretend to tie this in to what ttaM is saying) and is relying purely on weak rules of thumb (Blair (although curiously he seems to have never heard of the original Clinton), and the most convincing argument ever -- look lots of other Americans are saying the same thing! OMG!)

OFE was being a little bit trolly but not nearly as obnoxious -- first there was the concern about exceptionalism, then the concern that Obama's speech may have not been actually effective, then asking why this speech and not the one the next day.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
1084

Have you even read a single fucking word of what I've written ?

I... may have been skimming.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
1085

1083 was me.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
1086

an argument that a preference for Obama somehow represents a lower standard than the blithe "It could have happened to anyone" standard as regards support for the Iraq war that HRC supporters like MC seem to be applying to Team Clinton.

This strikes me as a willful misreading of what I have actually said. I have never blithely excused or rationalized HRC's vote. Or Edwards' vote, for that matter. I think HRC and Edwards should have, and could have, voted differently. I also strongly suspect, based on his actual record as a US Senator, that Obama would have voted the same way as HRC and Edwards did. Certainly, he has consistently voted (as has HRC) to continue to fund the war.

Obama is no Russ Feingold. Which I understand (but don't blithely excuse), because you can't be Feingold and run for President. But it's a bit much to see him touted as the "anti-war" candidate when his actual record does not support this.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
1087

We're talking about a speech. So I'm responding to the content of a speech. In a thread about the content of a particular speech, I'm expressing my response [rational, emotional, whatever] to that speech. So, asking why that speech is what's exercising me rather than some other set of stuff seems ... irrelevant.

And the particular bit you're responding to is, as has been pointed out umpty zillion times by everyone here with half a brain, a concession to nationalism made by every American politician under the sun. This wasn't a speech about American foreign policy; this wasn't a speech about how the United States relates to the rest of the world; this was a speech about racism, and it happened to have one tedious "only in America!" line written into it as a throwaway line to pump up the flag-wavers. That this rote and typical appeal to nationalism would tweak you so badly, in the context of a presidential campaign in which the speech in question is being delivered by the least militant candidate in the race, is utterly baffling to me. There are bigger priorities here than your feelings, which would apparently be sent into a rolling boil whenever any prominent American politician gave any speech, ever.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
1088

1058: well our experience with a seemingly very similar politician in the single country in the world most like the USA in its politics, would seem to support this interpretation which I note is also quite common among American observers of their domestic politics

As I keep saying, everyone here is familiar with Bill Clinton. But if we were talking about him then you wouldn't be able to make yourself feel smart and special, would you?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
1089

That this rote and typical appeal to nationalism would tweak you so badly, in the context of a presidential campaign in which the speech in question is being delivered by the least militant candidate in the race, is utterly baffling to me.

You are familiar with how comment threads work, yeah? Someone says something, other people disagree, the first person justifies their view, and so on with each side getting further and further entrenched. So, the large number of comments by me in this thread aren't a reflection of how important that one line is to me in the great scheme of things, but of me defending my position [from my point of view, still right] against criticism [some slightly misguided, some basically right, some based around a trollish misreading of what I've said]. I don't think anything I've said is unreasonable [the odd bit of hyperbole or heated language aside].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
1090

1083: read that back and have a word with yourself.

They are two very closely related points. I'm sure Obama has lots of positives (or he wouldn't be in the race at all) but he is just another American politician as far as I can see - and I am in fact reasonably well-informed on American politics, and if you're going to continue with this jingoistic claim that any foreigner who disagrees with you does so out of ignorance, then you're entitled to but it's pretty silly.

Part of the reason why he looks like just another American politician to me is that he indulges in lots of the characteristic bullshit of American politics, of which the Holy Joe god-bothering and the meaningless boosterism are clear examples present in this speech, but which the endorsement of the invasion of Lebanon (for example) is a rather more worrying example.

The contrary argument appears to be that "these are the things you have to do in American politics". Which is probably true. But there are also a load of other things you "have to do in American politics", which all the Obama fans appear to think that he won't have to do. On the basis of no other evidence than that he's made a good speech.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
1091

re: whether Obama would have voted for the war. I will say, for the tenth time: back in 2002 & 2003 it was much riskier and more unusual for an elected legislator who held or sought national office to speak at an antiwar rally, than it was for a sitting U.S. Senator to vote against it. Obama spoke at multiple antiwar rallies, including at least one after he'd declared his U.S. Senate candidacy. I see no basis whatsoever in his Senate record to believe he would have voted to authorize the use of force; if you see otherwise could you please point me to something specific? He's not Russ Feingold, but the Iraq vote wasn't 99-1. 20-odd Senators voted against it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
1092

ttaM is saying "only in America" is stupid

Hyperbole, maybe, but not stupid. Neither politically stupid (which I think we all agree, although some commenters got their knickers in a twist over the concession to political expediousness) nor objectively stupid.

American exceptionalism is exceptional in its exceptionalism. There are other forms of national exceptionalism: Japanese, English (mostly extinct, but still limping on through the "punching above its weight" and "special relationship" conceits), Chinese, Russian, French, etc. None of these, with the partial exception of the French version, makes the same claims to universality. The Japanese, for example, are flattered when others try to emulate Japanese practices, but they never for a second suppose that others might want to become Japanese, for becoming Japanese is a logical impossibility. Americans, by contrast, not only imagine the possibility of others becoming American, but frankly expect everyone else to want to, and are surprised to find that there are people who do not.

Obama puts his personal story in the context of the so-called American Dream (and I for one find it signficant that there isn't a "Turkish dream" or an "Austrian Dream"), and then takes it one step further by arguing that the American dream is not merely about improving ones personal circumstances, but about perfecting the nation as a whole.

Now I get that a foreigner could find plenty of things in that speech to find annoying, in the same way that an employee of Microsoft might find an employee pep rally at Google annoying. But I disagree that Obama is building his rhetoric on hollow pieties or catering to ignorant prejudices.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
1093

And then spent rather a lot of time justifying that annoyance in the face of disagreement.

The weird thing is that I don't think anyone started off by saying that you weren't right to be annoyed. The disagreement was about whether it was necessary for Obama to say the line. And then somehow your pretty tame comment because the Front Line in the Defenses Against Whirly-eyed-ness.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
1094

1090: Let's focus.

The topic of this thread was Obama's speech about race. From this American's point of view, it was an awesome speech about race.

Regarding this speech, you say (back in 760):
After all, the man said that black people have experienced terrible problems but it was all in the past and they ought to get over it. It's a whole new world.

Bzzzt, wrong, clueless, thanks for playing.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
1095

Certainly, he has consistently voted (as has HRC) to continue to fund the war.

This is weak evidence, at best, that he would have voted for the war if he had been in Congress at the time. Cutting funding with no exit strategy strikes me as a questionable position to take merely "on principle."

HRC and Edwards voted for the war at the time, seemingly, for the sake of political image. During that same time, Obama vocally opposed the war, albeit from a decidedly powerless platform. The political calculus wouldn't have changed had he been in a position to actually affect the decision to go to war -- I don't know why you assume his position would have changed.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
1096

I also strongly suspect, based on his actual record as a US Senator, that Obama would have voted the same way as HRC and Edwards did. Certainly, he has consistently voted (as has HRC) to continue to fund the war.

This is an incredibly silly argument. Ted Kennedy voted against the war, but has continued to vote to fund it. Dick Durbin voted against the war, but has continued to vote to fund it. There's no way to prove or disprove a counterfactual, but there's a big difference between authorizing a war and defunding an already-existing war, and there's no reason to see one as a proxy for another.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
1097

1086: As I know you realize, counterfactual readings of this sort are necessarily speculative. But I agree with you.

I think Tim's Slate quote in 1073 tends to bear out the idea that even many of those with sensible views on the war were prepared not merely to be passive in the face of the dominant warmongering political orthodoxy, but to actively enforce that orthodoxy on fellow Democrats.

I suspect Tim will disagree with my interpretation. But I draw from it the same lesson Tim does in 924.7 - that it really, really, really matters whom one's supporters are, and one supposes that the anonymous demoratic operative quoted by Slate has either changed his mind or is working for Hillary. We don't want a president who is indebted to or advised by those sorts, to the extent we can avoid it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
1098

I second 1065.1. I really should be getting work done today, but D^2 is operating under false assumptions:

1. Obama = Blair, and we'll all be disappointed. In that Obama and Blair are both eloquent speakers, this is true. In that we'll all be disappointed:
a: nobody's arguing that point here, since the going line has been repeated many times as "let's be disappointed by somebody new!"
b: it also remains to be seen whether we'll all be disappointed anyway.

2. UK racism and US racism are congruent. So, so, very untrue, as US racism is directly descended from forced African slavery, and UK racism stems from mid-late 20th century immigration policies.

3. UK politics and US politics are similar enough as to work on the same assumptions. Totally false. US elections are for people, not party platforms, and it's possible here to have a divided government; UK elections are for party platforms ("a Labor government," etc) and while there might be a minority government there's never one where the PM is from the party out of power. Plus a UK government can call its own elections when it deems that decision favorable, and we adhere to a calendar.

Parallels definitely exist (G.W. Bush has a lot in common as a politician with Thatcher, in relentless privatization, militarism, and doublespeak, to name but three), but the one definitely can't be used to make assumptions about the other, without the usual pitfalls of ass-making.


Posted by: fedward | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
1099

The offense taken at "only in America" seems analagous (uh oh) to people getting bent out of shape because Obama ended the speech with "God bless America," and then spending 1000 comments tendentiously explaining to a commentariat composed mostly of non-religious Americans that God doesn't belong to Americans alone.

Honestly, you guys are projecting far more onto one throwaway line than the most whirly-eyed Obamabot could project onto the entire speech.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
1100

Katherine: Would you mind addressing comment 967? I'd honestly like to know why the Kyl-Lieberman amendment damages Clinton's FP reputation and helps Obama's FP rep.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
1101

This thread is going to be closed in a few minutes. Make your last ones count!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
1102

Cutting funding with no exit strategy strikes me as a questionable position to take merely "on principle."

"With no exit strategy" is the bullshit Republican frame on war funding, and it has zero basis in fact. The fact that Obama bought so readily into that bullshit frame may not be dispositive, but it certainly is suggestive that he would have bought into the previous bullshit frames and voted for the AUMF.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
1103

1101: It's because I made an analogy, isn't it? I'm sorry!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
1104

1089: If I sound irritated and baffled, it's because there were, presumably, interesting things to say about race relations in America within the context of this speech, and who knows what kind of interesting and non-tedious discussion might have happened if a couple of whiny Brits hadn't exploded over a completely trivial, utterly ordinary, fairly inconsequential throwaway line.

And really, even interesting thread topics here usually stray off topic after a few hundred comments. One thousand-plus on "we're very mightily offended to discover that Americans are excessively nationalistic"? Jesus Christ! Someone link to a picture of w-lfs-n's penis, and quickly, or this will never die.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
1105

I'm sure Obama has lots of positives (or he wouldn't be in the race at all) but he is just another American politician as far as I can see

Again, you seem to be ascribing your own naivety to Obama supporters. The whole interplay between you and others in this thread seems to run a bit like this:

D^2: Obama's not the Messiah.

Us: Totally true, but there are other reasons to be excited about Obama.

D^2: But HE'S NOT THE MESSIAH!

Us: ...whom we await with eager hearts. But until then, Obama's the best choice available in this election.

D^2: BUT HE'S STILL NOT THE MESSIAH!!

Us: Okay....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
1106

967: I think Durbin may have actually cut a deal on that vote, that if they took out some of the worse language he'd support it. It still wasn't a good vote. In Durbin's case it's swamped by other things; in HRC's case, it's not, because she was consistently toeing the hawkish dem line for about 5 years before it became a problem in the primaries & she moved left.

And look, Durbin's great, but Obama does sometimes get to his left on human rights or foreign policy issues. It's not that common but this isn't the first time it's happened.

In general, in the Senate, Obama does NOT act like Feingold but he does act more like the handful of other Senators I trust: Durbin, Leahy, Kennedy, Dodd. All of whom have been, at times, frustratingly wishy washy about opposing Bush, but they're some of the most decent, trustworthy best members of the Senate, & Durbin, Leahy & Kennedy all voted against the war. Again, Obama spoke at an antiwar rally in March 2003 after he declared his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Could someone please find me one single other example of a U.S. Senator or U.S. Senate candidate who was willing to fraternize so closely with the dirty hippies at that time? Or for that matter, a Congressman other than Dennis Kucinich?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
1107

Honestly, you guys are projecting far more onto one throwaway line than the most whirly-eyed Obamabot could project onto the entire speech.

Can't we just award the thread to Apo in sudden death overtime?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
1108

1105: Today, I would be proud to have some people call me Tim.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
1109

1101: every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Try as you might, you can't stop the hoping, ogged.

...and way to make a liar out of ST....



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
1110

This strikes me as a willful misreading of what I have actually said. I have never blithely excused or rationalized HRC's vote.

I don't know how else to make sense of what you've said. Spell out "lower standard." Whatever Obama would have done in the world in which he was also in the Senate in 2002, he didn't do it on this Earth. Which means there just is more evidence that HRC supported the war than that Obama did. So what's the "lower" standard?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
1111

This thread is going to be closed in a few minutes. Make your last ones count!

OK, here goes:

Obama...is just another American politician as far as I can see

You know what this reminds me of? Nader voters who couldn't see any meaningful difference between Bush and Gore.

Quick, ogged, close the comments, before it runs to 2,000!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
1112

1107: Can't we just award the thread to Apo in sudden death overtime?

Oh, he already won it way upthread with "Long March Madness".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
1113

re: 1107

Question-begging, at all?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:34 AM
horizontal rule