Obama and Presidential Smarts

I thought it was a pretty damn good speech, both in content and in delivery; the latter, at least, assures me that if Obama wins the presidency, I might actually be able to sit through watching a live presentation of a State of the Union address, which is something I’ve not been able to do for six years.

Others have more directly discussed the content of the speech, so I won’t touch on that. What I will say is that I think the speech offers up an example of the contrast I’ve perennially noted between Democrats and Republicans, which is that in general I think Democrats prefer their presidents to be smart, while Republicans don’t really put much of a premium on that at all. The current Bush is clearly over head in his position and has never not been; Ronald Reagan, the modern exemplar of a Republican president, was very likely senile before he left office, and no great intellectual shakes before then. By contrast, Bill Clinton was famously a Rhodes Scholar, and Al Gore, who as we all remember won the popular vote in 2000, is no slacker on the brains front either. Hillary Clinton, also manifestly not stupid. And then there’s Obama, law professor. John McCain’s intelligence would certainly be an upgrade from the current occupant of the White House, but of the three candidates now seriously contending, I think it’s clear he’s the Bronze in the brains department.

Now, to be sure, having lots of brains doesn’t guarantee a great leader: Jimmy Carter was plenty smart, but it didn’t do him much good in the running of things; likewise I’d suggest Richard Nixon was the smartest Republican president since at least Teddy Roosevelt, and look what it got him. There are lots of other things that need to be there in order to lead. But I do think who fronts the political party says something about the party itself. The Republican party doesn’t want a president who thinks; it wants a president who will allow other people to think for him — all the smart guys in the GOP are doing something other than running for president (Bush has taken this a step further, since not only doesn’t he think, but he’s not particularly happy when other people try to think for him; thus whichever smart people he hires are dumped the first time they say “now, wait a minute…” to his agenda, even on practical grounds). I don’t intend to hold up the Democratic party as one where wisdom is at a premium (heh heh heh ha!), but at the very least I suspect they see their presidential aspirants as leaders rather than figureheads to work policy through.

Likewise, this is not to take away from the fact that the speech was Obama’s accomplishment, not an accomplishment of a Democrat per se. Hillary Clinton is plenty smart, but you would never in a million years see her give a speech like that on the road — not because of the specific content, mind you, but with that tenor and heft and length. Clinton is no more than an adequate orator, and in any event I suspect she fears the risk of electoral vulnerability that a speech of the sort Obama gave presents. Make no mistake that if Obama hadn’t hit that speech right, it could have blown up in his face; it wouldn’t have stopped him from becoming the Democratic candidate (I think that’s inevitable at this point) but it could have hurt him and given the GOP folks a place to jab at right through November. Clinton wouldn’t think of exposing herself like that; she wouldn’t think it was necessary or advisable (chalk me up as one of those who think her momentary choking up in New Hampshire was unscripted). And she’s probably right, since the GOP loathes her with a passion uncontested. Be that as it may, she’s also constrained by her own choice.

Obama, on the other hand, seems to be willing to take these sorts of flyers from time to time. He knows his rhetorical skills are something that bind people to him, and he also knows that its something he has that neither Clinton or McCain has got or are going to get, and he also knows he among the candidates gets credit for his own words. If McCain or Clinton has a pretty turn of phrase, you wonder which speechwriter wrote it. When Obama has one, you suspect its from him (the going line on the speech is that Obama wrote the first draft, had a speechwriter fiddle with it, and then handled the revisions). Being smart and eloquent is his thing, and it might be the thing that ultimately propels him to the White House.

Will it be enough to make him a good president? I don’t think so. But I know that I’ve had two terms of a president not being particularly smart or eloquent, and it doesn’t seem to be working out particularly well. I wouldn’t be averse to trying the other way for a while, and see where that takes us.

134 thoughts on “Obama and Presidential Smarts

  1. I think a president who shows a willingness to examine history and cause and effect, who considers how emotion and anger can drive people, who tries to develop solutions that take such constraints into account, would be very reassuring.

  2. I once said I’d vote for a horse if it could correctly pronounce “nuclear” and string together a coherent sentence. I simply cannot watch Bush speak anymore, for any length of time. Forget a State of the Union. Press Conferences are painful enough.
    I like Obama’s rhetoric. I can buy into it. Hillary may ultimately be a better President, but I want to take a new direction and begin a new process of healing and unity in this country. Even if it’s painful for several years.
    Obama has my vote. I hope he doesn’t waste it.

  3. Have you read his book, “The Audacity of Hope”? I’m only about halfway through it, but it’s pretty impressive. You know, for a non-science fiction novel.

  4. I spent far too much time inside the Beltway while on active duty, including one position that involved daily contact with political bigwigs (who justify that title with their inflated egos). From what I saw there — and nothing I have seen since has changed that — making it to one of the 540 elected federal positions (Pres, VP, 100 Senators, 435 Congresscreatures, and 3 elected “delegates” from DC) requires an astounding and disturbing level of deep, nearly debilitating, character flaws. And it’s no different for governors. It’s not the office per se that does so; it’s the partisan political system that provides the only path to that office.

    To my admittedly idiosyncratic way of thinking, I am more interested in how an individual fights, and hopefully overcomes, those inevitable deep flaws than I am in the particular details of the flaws… with the exception of the one Our Gracious Host points out. I’ve had more than enough of “stupid” at the top. Aside: Carter’s problem was his excessively loyalty to his friends, a flaw he shares with George III. In both cases, regardless of what the elected man-at-the-top tried to do, his friends had their own agendas and ignored him.

    I am still mulling over Obama’s speech. There is plenty of space between the lines for traditional political skullduggery… and for his hubris to exert itself. The lines themselves represent a baby step forward, if not a large enough one to satisfy someone who has been a statistic in being excluded from a country club’s grounds due to his ancestry. Unfortunately, I think the time for baby steps is long past — even longer past than the time for “all deliberate speed.”

  5. I’m on the last chapter of his book, and if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the positions he’s talking about in this campaign are ones that he has thought about long and hard for his entire public career, and before. The man is a thinker of the first order, but he’s also a motivator and an inspiration. In short, exactly the kind of leader America needs.

    I’m not American, but my wife is and my kids will be. If Obama wins, I’d even consider moving there eventually. If not, forget it. Bush’s America and the ones his successors would create is not a place I want to live.

  6. Democrats are so smart, right?

    I know John Kerry didn’t ultimately become President, but…

    The Boston Glob

    Yale Grades Portray Kerry as a Lackluster Student

    His 4-Year Average on Par With Bush’s

    By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | June 7, 2005

    WASHINGTON — During last year’s presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences.
    But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago.

    In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.

    Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D’s in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/06/07/yale_grades_portray_kerry_as_a_lackluster_student/

  7. Some of us were taught to say “nuclear” the way Bush does; perhaps you should blame his teachers.

    He is rarely an inspiring on-camera speaker; I know other people with that fault.

    If the lack of those faults are the qualifications, we’re doomed.

  8. Some of us were taught to say “nuclear” the way Bush does; perhaps you should blame his teachers.

    If you believe what you hear from your teachers, you’re on the wrong track already smarts-wise. They aren’t paid to be right for the most part.

  9. College grades are not particularly well correlated with intelligence. College grades are indicator of following the rules and doing the work. Those may be admirable qualities, but they don’t have much to do with raw intelligence.

  10. Maybe John Kerry’s school performance actually proves the point. Kerry didn’t appeal to enough Democrats to win – maybe it was in part because he didn’t feed our desire for brains.

    Democrats always poll higher with zombies.

  11. One thing I think Obama will do well is something Reagan also did to get things done. Where he has a shortcoming, he’ll likely place someone who can show that up for him.

    Not that I think Clinton or McCain won’t, but Clinton and McCain know that they’re Really Smart. Obama knows he’s smarter than most people, but he also seems to be aware of his own weaknesses, something neither McCain or, more glaringly, Clinton have yet to demonstrate.

    Yes, I’m most certainly happy the presidential IQ will skyrocket into triple digits come noon on January 20. I’d just be happier if we get a guy who wants to build bridges more than anything else.

  12. John,

    The speech will satisfy hard core democrats but no one else.
    His vision of America is that we are all victims with an axe to grind ( “bind our grievances to theirs…” indeed). His bad guys are the typical left mantra of big business, greedy bankers, and the GOP. His solution in the speech is to pour more money into failed schools ( something we do every year with no result.), universal health care ( which has worked nowhere it has been tried), more affirmative action, and surrender in Iraq.

    You may find that inspiring and “smart” but it is just the same old hard left boiler plate that we have been hearing for decades. That may be your cup of tea but it’s not new or original.

    There were two things in particular that will hurt him the most :

    1. When he tried to say that WRight’s theology was mainstream and normal in the black community, he offended all of the black christians who reject that crap. They are significant enough to cost him maybe 20% of the Black vote.

    2. When he threw his grandmother under the bus and called her a racist and a bigot he lost a huge chunk of moderates and independents. It was crass and unneccessary.

    Finally, he didn’t answer the real question that everyone wanted to know. Did he attend that church for 20 years because he believes in Black Liberation theology, or was he just doing it for political expediency to get elected?

    He’s toast.

  13. I agree that Obama is a good talker and seems rather intelligent, but at the same time when I read this there was a part that stood out to me as a bold-faced lie:

    “Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

    Obama said in another speech that he knew Rev. Wright personally and had never heard him say anything derogatory towards anyone, yet here he is admitting that he has heard these controversial topics that Wright spouts in his quasi-hate-speech (in fact, in his other speech he said he had never heard Rev. Wright say anything of the sort that that quote would indicate). Yeah, for all Obama’s abilities he is, like anyone else, just another politician–just this time he speaks well and is smart, or seemingly smart, which can be the same or worse than what we have right now.
    I just keep finding things I don’t like about this man. Why can’t he just be smart and talk well and have great policies? It’s high time we had someone with a great plan and could talk as if he knew the English language. Right now we have…umm…Gomer Pyle’s idiot cousin…ugh. This election sucks. We have bumbling 70 year old Republican wacko McCain, who wants to put creationism in our schools, ultra-witch Hillary who would probably piss off most of the world because she doesn’t seem the type to be a friendly negotiator, and then Mr. Obama who scares me as much as the others, if not more, but for entirely different reasons.
    Someone should repeal the law that says Bill can’t come back…I want to like Obama. I really do, but he just pushes my buttons.

  14. And to add to the weirdness, that speech has the same words as the other speech I mentioned, which makes me wonder if all I saw was a brilliantly cut together speech on television. Is that possible? Could someone have taken bits and pieces and magically strung them together? Cause there is a part in the speech you linked, Mr. Scalzi, that is word for word with the speech I mentioned, or very close, and yet there are huge differences between this one and that one. Maybe they were the same speech and it was cut up on purpose? They intentionally leave out the bits that would make him seems to be logical in his argument as in this speech so that, in the end, it just sounds like he’s supporting Wright’s comments? Holy moly. I mean, that’s screwed up if that’s what happened, but that’s amazing. I mean, it went from the part where he says he knew Wright, but skipped the bit before it, and the bit between knowing Wright and never hearing Wright say anything derogatory. I mean, there are whole bits just missing in the speech I saw.
    I’m going to have to find out when that speech was released and compare, because if someone doctored an Obama video that could have a huge change on how I see this man…that’s scary though. Then again, it’s America, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone doctored a video on purpose to make Obama seem like a supporter of racist ideals…

  15. When he tried to say that WRight’s theology was mainstream and normal in the black community, he offended all of the black christians who reject that crap. They are significant enough to cost him maybe 20% of the Black vote.

    Ironic, if true: if only 20% of the black community reject it, then it’s clearly mainstream and normal, which even that 20% ought to be able to recognize.

  16. I’ve got to agree with drew: I think the speech will only satisfy those who are already solid supporters of Obama.

    Mickey Kaus nailed a lot of the things that bothered me about the speech http://www.slate.com/id/2186845/#obamaracespeech

    “Black liberation theology” is vile, hateful stuff. But if we’re offended or surprised at Wright’s diatribe, it’s because “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week”? Give me a break.

  17. The speech will satisfy hard core democrats but no one else.
    His vision of America is that we are all victims with an axe to grind ( “bind our grievances to theirs…” indeed). His bad guys are the typical left mantra of big business, greedy bankers, and the GOP. His solution in the speech is to pour more money into failed schools ( something we do every year with no result.), universal health care ( which has worked nowhere it has been tried), more affirmative action, and surrender in Iraq.

    Drew,

    As someone who lives and works in a country where a universal health care system not only has been tried, but has actually succeded, I take exception at your words. It’s ok if you don’t want universal health care for your country, but don’t try to pretend that it doesn’t exist elsewhere or that it wouldn’t work if it were correctly implemented in the US.

    The US of A is only a small portion of the world. Let the rest of us carry on with our silly ideals of equality and social justice. You’re free to push for stagnation and middle class squeeze, but don’t try to wave away the rest of the world. We happen to be sitting on the other side of the Atlantic, in case you didn’t notice and unless my geography is horribly outdated, I doubt we’re going anywhere in the next few years.

  18. Ironic, if true: if only 20% of the black community reject it, then it’s clearly mainstream and normal, which even that 20% ought to be able to recognize.

    Aphrael, there’s a big difference between 20% rejecting the theology or 20% not voting for Obama because they reject the theology

  19. aphrael,

    Let me clarify, I think a lot more than 20% were offended, I just think that only 20% were offended enough to not vote for the first viable black candidate for President. And that is enough of a swing to cost him any chance at the oval office, even if he does hang on to the nomination.

    His numbers in PA are looking really ugly …

  20. The problem with the ‘smart people’ theory is that they have to either (a) show us they are smart by coming up with some complicated, brilliant plan that we all have to go along with to ‘fix’ things [health care, tax plans], or (b) ignore what is going on because they are too smart for the rest of us, and therefore can flout laws with impunity.

    I’d prefer someone who understands the value of waiting and letting things work themselves out, but there are only about a half dozen in the country.

  21. It’s always sort of been my problem. I’m leery of the “charisma” thing and looking, hopefully, for a technocrat or competent bureaucrat. I try not to vote emotionally, but much of the American people do. I never got Reagan. People thought he was wonderful and inspiring, he gave them confidence. I thought he was vague and silly with an old-fashioned sense of humor only my parents could appreciate, but there you go. The Republicans revere Reagan and keep hoping somebody’ll come along who can do whatever the hell it is he did.

  22. Good lord.

    A speech? From a Presidential candidate? Actual, you know, talking and words and stuff?

    Addressing concepts?

    It’s been so long since I’ve seen anything like that, I honestly don’t know how to react.

  23. My 2.3 cents….

    I wonder how many of you actually saw the speech. Or is this thread commentary based on hearsay and snippets from news broadcasts?
    I happened to catch this speech as I was on my way out the door to work and I actually sat back down and watched the whole thing.
    All I can say is it took a look of courage to stand up there and say the things he said. And I also feel that he hit the nail on the head when he said that the racial divisions in this country are still deep and this is something that we as a country should begin a dialogue to work through.
    So many people are trying to find things that are wrong with this man. Why are people so fearful of him? Is it because he is actually intelligent, articulate, and has a knack to bring people together? How about trying to see the things that are right?
    Either way you look at it this country is about to fall into the abyss and it is going to take someone with these qualities to turn things around.

  24. There’s little need for a Republican president to think on the policy front. Republican policy prescriptions essentially boil down to three “ideas,” irrespective of the policy problem they are thought to address: (a) Cut taxes on businesses and the wealthy; (b deregulate; (c) ‘gin up fear of the Other.

    That’s it. What’s to think about?

    Nuance is for wine-sipping pansy liberals.

  25. Sara,

    You don’t specify a country, but if you are talking about the British system, you can keep it. There is a reason why those Brits who can afford to, fly to India for their elective surgeries. On this side of the pond the Canadian system only survives because they can send patients to the U S.

    I agree that our system needs to be adjusted to allow coverage for more people, but if you think that putting the government in charge of the whole thing will cut costs, improve efficiency, and improve quality you are sadly mistaken.

    I challenge you to name one government run industry anywhere that outperforms it’s private sector counter part.

    Go ahead, energy, telecom, education, health care …

    This past January my wife had a dizzy spell while driving. The next day she saw her doctor. Two days later she saw a cardiologist. Three days later she had surgery to correct the problem. Tell me that that scenario could happen in your country.

    My son runs track in high school. Last month he developed a cyst on his knee. It took two days to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The day after the appointment he had it removed. Tomorrow he will be running in his first race of the season. Name one country in Europe where that could happen for an average middle class family. It can’t.

    My point is that your definition of what “works” and mine are very different. I don’t want what you have, thank you.

  26. Fair enough J. Scalzi, fair enough.

    Me, I like pendulum swings: It reminds you why you threw those dorks out last time. I don’t subscribe to any illusions that one or other side is annointed to deliver us from evil with the blinding light of the one true political faith. And frankly, if you can’t grant the other side (no matter which side you come from) some smack points, in the sense of “well, yeah, you’re right about that”, then you are operating on faith and dogma.

  27. Ah, how the fangs are bared and the hackles are raised.

    I don’t think that the speech only satisfies the hard-core supporters. I think that those who have made their minds up will be rather unimpressed with it, as they went into the speech with the mindset that they weren’t going to change their minds.

    I think, actually, that the hard-core are more likely to miss the crucial messages that the speech brings, and instead just say ‘oh, that was another great speech from our candidate’.

  28. Drew, you can take the National Health Service from my cold dead hands. I have seen directly the effect that an insurance-based system has had on my wife’s family, who’s policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Stress, debt, heartache and pain.

    I prefer a society where everyone can see a doctor and receive treatment and we all share the cost. My American wife is still in awe of it. Your comment is a melange of right-wing talking points based on rumour and hearsay. The plain fact is that every single person in the UK has access to high quality healthcare, including the poor, who don’t end up in accident and emergency because the preventative trip they should have taken to the doctor a month ago costs more than their rent in deductibles.

    Try actually living here, and then tell me that my health system is non-functional.

  29. “I challenge you to name one government run industry anywhere that outperforms it’s private sector counter part.
    Go ahead, energy, telecom, education, health care …”

    Outperforms by what measure? As a rule, Medicare and Medicaid both reimburse providers substantially less than insured and non-insured patients not in the program are billed. Both are perfectly well-run government healthcare programs.

    I just do not see healthcare as a commodity easily subject to the market forces of supply and demand. Fully informed consumers (even mildly well informed) are non-existent; people don’t shop around for services, comparing prices; and even if they wanted to, pricing is opaque; and when people need care, they typically need it now and obtain it in their local community based hospital, of which most non-urban communities have (count ‘em) one. In other words, there aren’t hospitals at every corner with conveniently placed price tags — chemo here for $85K per treatment. Nor should there be. Because even if there were, it wouldn’t matter. A local hospital has little incentive to cut costs for non-elective treatment. That’s because the people who consume it do so because they *need* it, often on an emergent basis. It’s not a new car or TV, where they can just get by with the old one, delay purchase, shop around. Competition falls down here, I think. Conceptualizing healthcare as a commodity is why we are where we are. I think we’d be better served if we conceived of healthcare as more akin to a public good, not unlike a police force or fire department, neither of which operate for profit, but both of which do quite well by the citizens.

  30. Drew,

    I’m Spanish, but I’ve worked in the French health care system and it also works rather well. (Yes, I’m a doctor, I have beef in this discussion).

    You don’t specify a country, but if you are talking about the British system, you can keep it. There is a reason why those Brits who can afford to, fly to India for their elective surgeries. On this side of the pond the Canadian system only survives because they can send patients to the U S.

    The British system sucks, nobody’s challenging it.

    I challenge you to name one government run industry anywhere that outperforms it’s private sector counter part.

    The problem with health care is that it isn’t (or shouldn’t be) exclusively an industry. Health care is one of the pillars of society, it keeps people healthy so that they can work and pay taxes, keep the economy going etc. You’d never compare schooling with an “industry”. Health care, like education, has a high initial cost for a low short term return, but health care like education, transcends the mere monetary, builds a society that works and lowers future costs.

    This past January my wife had a dizzy spell while driving. The next day she saw her doctor. Two days later she saw a cardiologist. Three days later she had surgery to correct the problem. Tell me that that scenario could happen in your country.

    Of the ones I have direct experience with: Spain, France, even, yes, Britain.

    What’s more: in Spain she would have gone to the ER that same day, gotten an EKG and heart attack enzymes done within a few hours (less if her symptoms were typical). A cardiologist would have seen her in the ER. If she’d had a heart attack, the surgery (which I’m guessing was an endovascular stent or bypass) would have been done that same night or in the next couple of days. If she only had angina, there’s a number of protocols she might have followed, but all of them would have ended with her being treated at least as fast as you described, if not better.

    My son runs track in high school. Last month he developed a cyst on his knee. It took two days to get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The day after the appointment he had it removed. Tomorrow he will be running in his first race of the season. Name one country in Europe where that could happen for an average middle class family. It can’t.

    France.

    In Spain, I’ll admit that non-threatening, non-painful conditions might take a little (or a lot) longer to treat. Again, I don’t know exactly what condition you’re talking about, I don’t know if it was trauma related or what, so I can’t diagnose it and I can’t tell how long it would take to treat.

    My point is that your definition of what “works” and mine are very different. I don’t want what you have, thank you.

    Actually, I believe reading your description of your wife’s condition, that you’d settle for a lot less than I would. It’s ok not to want health care. But don’t crap on it just because you don’t want it.

    What’s more, take a look at this link and the graphs.

    Money Alone Does Not Extend Lives

    Despite the wide gaps, higher spending on health care does not necessarily prolong lives. In 2000, the United States spent more on health care than any other country in the world: an average of $ 4,500 per person. Switzerland was second highest, at $3,300 or 71% of the US. Nevertheless, average US life expectancy ranks 27th in the world, at 77 years. Many countries achieve higher life expectancy rates with significantly lower spending.

    The chart below that statement is pretty informative.

    The US has a private system which bankrupts people and creates chronic patients whom the government then has to bail out. As you can see in the stats I’m providing, the money the government puts out for healthcare per citizen of a supposedly “private” system is higher than it is in Spain for an all public system. Dunno why this happens, (although gross disorganization comes to mind), but it might actually be cheaper to organize a centralized health care system, than limp along on the one you’ve got.

  31. My parents are blue collar Reagan democrats that were infatuated with Obama and planned to vote for him…until they heard Wright. Even after Obama’s speech yesterday, my parents are switching their allegiance to McCain…as I suspect many independents will.

  32. Drew @ 26
    Congratulations! You can afford insurance.
    A lot of Americans cannot.
    I am an American citizen that has recently returned from living and working in Europe (Austria) for the past 2 years. I was covered under the same medical system as Austrian citizens. And guess what? The system works fine. Guess what again? Everyone in Austria has health insurance. So really don’t comment on things that you have neither experienced nor barely understand.

    Scalzi:
    Sorry for the off topic but they started it :P.

  33. What I will say is that I think the speech offers up an example of the contrast I’ve perennially noted between Democrats and Republicans, which is that in general I think Democrats prefer their presidents to be smart, while Republicans don’t really put much of a premium on that at all.

    An alternate take is both parties like intelligent candidates, but support how that intelligence manifests in different ways. Democrats prefer those candidates whose intelligence is best displayed through speech, while Republicans prefer those who can organize. It would explain the liberal arts/business support division between the two parties, anyway.

  34. The speech will satisfy hard core democrats but no one else.

    That’s a bunch of hooey. I’m no democrat and his speech satisifed me just fine. Actually, it’s the best political speech I can recall hearing in 30 some years.

    There are plenty of things I don’t like about Obama’s policy positions, but there are no candidates I agree with completely. It was an honest speech, and he was courageous to give it because he had to know it was going to give people who oppose him additional fodder for distorting his candidacy. I find that sort of candor in our political discourse refreshing.

    Simply put, he gave that speech because he thought it was the right thing to do.

    I remember reading a quote from someone in reaction to the speech ( a Hillary supporter if I recall correctly) along the lines of “some people might worry over what is best and right, but I live in the world of reality.” It was a jarring and sad illustration of how cynical and hopeless we have allowed ourselves to become in our politics.

    I think Obama’s speech was targeted at people who believe that we must make what is best and right part of our political reality; people who want to bring about “a more perfect union.” Those are the people who support Obama’s campaign or might be persuaded to do so. He was talking to them. Why pander to those who are going to be against him no matter what he does or says?

    Will it work? Are there enough people who will accept this challenge to get Obama elected and bring about real change? I don’t know. But I sure know we’ll fail if we don’t try.

  35. As long as we are now trading anecdotes, this story in today’s daily Telegraph is priceless:

    A GERMAN pensioner is taking a hospital to court after she turned up for a leg operation – and got a new anus instead.

    The woman woke up to find she had been mixed up with another patient suffering from incontinence who was to have surgery on her sphincter.

    The clinic in Hochfranken, Bavaria, has since suspended the surgical team.

    Now the woman is planning to sue the hospital – although she still needs the leg operation and is searching for another hospital to do it.

    Just because someone bought a bad insurance policy, doesn’t mean that the system is bad any more than buying a bad car indicates that the car industry is broken and should be nationalized.

    And if you think that the government would look at healthcare as anything but a comodity, I’d like to hear the alternative.

    Medicade and Medicare can get away with under paying for services because they are subsidized by the patients who have insurance that pays the full amount. Ditto for the uninsured who are taken care of. Hospitals set their prices based on their experience of how much they expect to actually collect not what they bill.

    If the government takes over and sets prices, then hospitals that can’t collect enough to cover overhead will close. Similarily, docotors who can’t collect enough to justify the stress and pressure of their job will find work elsewhere. At some point the reduction in the number of hospitals and doctors will lead to the wait lists and shoddy treatment that are the hallmarks of universal government run health care.

    And don’t tell me that wait times and staffing are not an issue in the UK, because everyone of your politicians on both sides of the aisle campaign on promises to fix those problems in every election and have since the system started.

  36. “I prefer a society where everyone can see a doctor and receive treatment and we all share the cost.”

    And I prefer a society where you leave me alone and keep your government guns out of my wallet.

  37. Sen. Clinton will be the nominee yet. Obama will hinder her? Thou fool! No living man may hinder her!

    If Obama wants to win, he’s gonna have to find himself a Shieldmaiden of Rohan real quick.

  38. Drew,

    I don’t see how dragging up an example of medical malpractice proves anything on a national scale.

    If the government takes over and sets prices, then hospitals that can’t collect enough to cover overhead will close. Similarily, docotors who can’t collect enough to justify the stress and pressure of their job will find work elsewhere. At some point the reduction in the number of hospitals and doctors will lead to the wait lists and shoddy treatment that are the hallmarks of universal government run health care.

    You don’t even understand how public health care works. The government creates the hospitals and funds them. There’s no “overhead”. And where do you think all those doctors would go? Do you seriously believe they’d cross the Atlantic to be paid more or less the same working for the NHS than they would for the equivalent US system?

    Doctors leave Spain to work in Britain all the time. They’re substitued with southamerican doctors (and before anyone gets their anti-immigrant claws out, these guys kick some serious ass, whatever the state of their country’s health care systems may be). It sucks for the doctors, but doesn’t really affect the consumer. And guess what, Spain has so many people who want to study Medicine that the Government had to impose a numerus clausus, because it couldn’t employ all of them (even so, we have more doctors per citizen than almost any other country). We’re altrusist: suckers for a raw deal. Sadly, we’ll stick around unless the working conditions are absolutely unbearable.

    I don’t understand the rest of your post. It may be the demagoguery poking me in the eye.

  39. The thing that pains me is that when Obama loses the general election to McCain, Democrats will exclaim that America is a racist country, when the real reason will be that Obama was just too liberal for the average American.

  40. “Medicade and Medicare can get away with under paying for services because they are subsidized by the patients who have insurance that pays the full amount. Ditto for the uninsured who are taken care of. Hospitals set their prices based on their experience of how much they expect to actually collect not what they bill.”

    Provide evidence for your claim that Medicaid and Medicare underpay, as opposed to pay less. Here, I’ll make the contrary assertion: Medicare and Medicaid reimburse at an amount that is exactly right. Hospitals that charge the privately insured and uninsured more are overcharging in the interest of padding profit.

    BTW, cost of service is the primary driver of price, not the likelihood that a receivable is collectible.

    Consider: Many community based non-profit hospitals have a “bad” payor mix (i.e., they have a high ratio of uninsured and Medicare/Medicaid patients compared to privately insured patients) yet most of them stay in business just fine (those that do not typically have a very high percentage of uninsured patients that they are ethically and legally bound to treat, despite the near certainty of non-payment). Private hospitals that deny treatment to the indigent and spurn Medicare/Medicaid patients are free riders on this system.

    How do you suppose most of those public hospitals stay in business, given your claim that government-set prices will drive them out of business? After all, these hospitals have a patient mix made up of those they can bill at government rates or those they can bill at any rate but from whom they will probably collect nothing.

    I’ll tell you why they stay in business in the face of your claim — because your claim is wrong. It’s scaremongering silliness born in ignorance.

    “…shoddy treatment that are the hallmarks of universal government run health care.”

    This is what you keep asserting, and yet the majority of people who actually live in countries with universal healthcare disagree with you. Odd, that.

  41. Sara, you say “You don’t even understand how public health care works. The government creates the hospitals and funds them. There’s no ‘overhead’.” You’re obvoiusly not familiary with the excessive overhead created by non-profits, governments, and similar entities. There’s no reason for them to keep costs down. Have you looked at the UN budget lately?

  42. I believe the larger difference to be that Democrats prefer to think of themselves as intellectuals.

  43. I have never thought of myself as either a democrat or a republican. I vote for whoever I think will do the best job in the office they are running for.

    I loved the speech, I did not hear it but read the transcript. Sure there were things in there that were said to diffuse the Wright issue, but that was the principal reason he made the speech.

    What I liked is that he was willing to say some things that are not usually said in a public forum about race, especially from a black speaker.

    We can debate the strengths and weaknesses of every candidate and I think we can all agree that there is no “perfect” candiadate – we are all human and thus not perfect.

    What I think is important is that Obama appears to have a different idea of what it takes to lead this country. I am hopeful that those ideas will take us in a new direction and pull us away from the abyss that we are heading into.

    Will he be successful if elected? Only time will tell.

  44. That was the best speach any politician has given in a very long time and it was the best speach given by anyone on race since MLK’s I have a dream speach.

    And I doubt most of the commentators on this thread, judging by their comments, have even seen the speach yet.

  45. I’m tired of the posters in this thread writing that those of us that don’t care for Obama’s liberalism must not have watched his speech yesterday. We did.

  46. Scalzi – It’s worded a little weird toward the end. I always seem to think that you support Obama, but something in the way you word it remains a little vague.

    Are you saying that you would/will vote for Obama, but you don’t think he is going to beat McCain in the general?

  47. @Avatar:

    “And I prefer a society where you leave me alone and keep your government guns out of my wallet.”

    I presume, then, that you spend your waking hours protesting and attempting to change the laws pursuant to which the government is already in your “wallet?” After all, your tax dollars fund the police who protect you, the fireman who put out the flames burning down your house, the road crews who pave and sign the roads you drive on, the USDA that ensures the food you eat is safe, the FDA that ensures that drugs you take are safe, the FAA that ensures the planes you fly are safe, NSTA that ensures the cars you drive are safe, OSHA that ensures your workplace is safe, and I could go on for several days. No doubt the world would be a better place if all of those things were left purely to market forces.

    Must fill a lot of your time, all this irritation with the government in your wallet. Or maybe you like benefiting from all those things? But if so, what dissonance it must cause in your “get out of my wallet” brain.

  48. If people (read: the news media) held white, republican candidates as responsible for their religious ties as they’re trying to hold Obama, every republican presidential candidate for the last 25 years would have to disclaim several volumes worth of moronic statements. Have you heard the crap that Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell/Ted Haggard (heh) spewed?

    Also, Drew, you’re clearly speaking from a position of absolute ignorance. Sarah works as a doctor in a socialised medical system, she shot you down. Dave lived in the UK. I’m a New Zealander, fer chrissakes, and even we have relatively effective socialised medicine, and our economy is the size of a flea. I’m also currently living in Canada, and have been able to be seen quickly whenever I’ve been ill here. Do you have any evidence of a massive outflow of critical patients to the states (and rich people who can’t be bothered waiting for non urgent surgery don’t count – its their money they can spend it on such things if they want)? I’m just curious as to whether you know ANYTHING about how socialised medicine works, or whether you’re just reflexively releasing ideological hot air…

  49. I’m still stunned over a display of actual statesmanlike behaviour. I actually really like that.

  50. Eddie Clark @ 51:

    Unlike Wright, none of the trio of Robertson, Falwell or Haggard ever served as the named spiritual counsellor for a Republican presidential candidate. Robertson was himself a candidate, but a) that’s not the same thing, and b) he failed miserably.

  51. drew said:

    “I challenge you to name one government run industry anywhere that outperforms it’s private sector counter part.”

    How about national defense. Agree or disagree? And if you agree, does that mean that the opposing side to your viewpoints win?

    Because it seems like you are in fact making an awful lot of assertions without data, whereas your opponents are actually quoting data. At this point, I think your opponents are winning. Somehow I don’t think you are going to give one inch though. Funny how it seems like less of an argument regarding facts that will result in learning, and some sort of useful policy consensus, and more a recitation of beliefs.

  52. I have too many questions to make up my mind on universal healthcare. My biggest question would be how many of the more reasonably priced procedures, techniques, treatments, medicines, etc have come from benefiting off the breakthroughs of the private sector? I honestly don’t see government organizations that have spectrum change viewpoints after every election being able to organize/fund/nurture the 8-headed animal that is the medical field.

    I’m not opposed to the idea I guess, I just don’t know enough about how the change would work.

    @51

    The media is being tame in handling the Obama case. It was a bit of a shock when the man that Obama said influenced him heavily turned out to have those particular beliefs. I know the media didn’t ignore it like they usually do with liberal candidates (I’m voting Hilary or Obama, it’s just ridiculously obvious that 9 out of 10 media outlets in the states lean left), but I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened had John McCain been found to frequent a church with a racist pastor.

  53. Patrick M:

    I would definitely vote for Obama, and I think he can probably beat McCain.

    Likewise, I would definitely vote for Clinton, and I think she can probably beat McCain.

  54. while Republicans prefer those who can organize.

    Still doesn’t explain the current President.

  55. Gerrymander @ 53 – a quick Google search on the term ‘Falwell and Reagan’ returns a boatload of hits where the two men certainly seemed to be endorsing each other.

    It seems that you and Drew are operating from a position of faith. You both believe deeply in the Republican party, so therefore it is always right. There’s nothing wrong with that, until you try to argue that the facts supports your position.

    Unfortunately, facts are not on your side.

  56. Lol Sean @55, it may be fair to say that the American media has a bias towards the Democrats (I don’t think that’s true, but it is arguable), but its certainly not a left wing bias. Putting it another way – ‘Left’ on the scale of the rest of the world isn’t electable in the US.

    Witness the discussion of socialised medicine in this thread – something that is taken for granted in virtually every western country in the world seems to be viewed as a form of obscene communism in the US. It would be electorally impossible for even right wing parties in Europe, Canada, or Australia/NZ to advocate dissasembling state healthcare (even Maggie Thatcher and John Howard didn’t try it in their respective countries). It would be electorally impossible for the Democrats to advocate introducting it (compulsory insurance does not = state healthcare).

    Different worlds.

  57. The speech will satisfy hard core democrats but no one else.

    That’s just silly. I am currently a moderate independent (former Republican) who was leaning toward Obama, though not committed. But he sealed it for me with his speech yesterday. His speech today on Iraq/national security was pretty damn good, too.

    …he threw his grandmother under the bus and called her a racist and a bigot…

    He did no such thing, further illustrating why others here seem to think that you didn’t actually watch the speech.

  58. Yes, I watched the entire speech on the net last night. Twice.

    I thought his speech was powerful. He honestly laid out a few of the sides of the racial problems in the US. I’ve never heard anyone admit that African Americans are racists until last night. It’s there for the world to see some of their leaders, but who had the courage to admit in a nationally televised speech?

    Until he articulated it, I’d never heard of my families’ experience being called the “immigrant’s experience with racism.” That may be because I don’t follow to the same conclusion that Mr. Obama does, that we’re all victims together. I do agree with him that I have to buy the zero-sum game theory that my children’s chances are limited by the possibility that an affirmative action act will supplant them.

    In one way, Obama did articulate well that our nation is a work in progress, and what we were in the 1800’s is not what we were in the middle 1900’s and where we were then does have an impact but does not have to define where we’ll be in 50 years. I’ve never heard Obama speak until last night and I understand the charismatic attraction and his hopeful rhetoric. I cannot disagree with him on this point.

    I hope that his speech does open up some opportunities to deal with racism more honestly in the culture.

    I understand that he loves some people who are racist: his grandmother, his pastor, his wife. He’s not throwing them out because of their racism, but loving them despite that. I respect that. People may call it nuanced or throwing his grandmother under the bus – for me, it rang true. You love people, even when they’re sinners. (For my money, racism isn’t even close to being the unforgivable sin.)

    But I do find him to be disingenuous in some ways.

    His previous comments where he said he’d never heard what Rev. White clearly said from the pulpit were contradicted in last night’s speech, but did he acknowledge his previous statement? No.

    While Obama says Ironically, this quintessentially American — and yes, conservative — notion of self-help found frequent expression in Rev. Wright’s sermons… yet Obama expects the government to provide all the answers to all the problems. That doesn’t make sense to me.

    These make me think that Obama is just another politician, playing the game.

  59. I voted for the President twice (although he lost me, for good, with the Harriet Miers nomination), but he’s given one good speech in his life: 9/20/01. I don’t think I’ve listened to a press conference, let alone a pitched speech, straight through since. I’m (supposed) to be his base. I can’t imagine the skincrawl that he induces in you good folks who’ve opposed him throughout.

  60. #59

    My father is from Sweden, I’m not ignorant of how the rest of the world thinks on the matter. But you are right, different worlds.

    And the bias I was refering to is of course to the more liberal party in the states, which happen to be the democrats. I don’t know why you chose to break down what I said in the way that you did, since the context of it was outlined in the previous lines.

    It’s a big change for the states. Disagreements and arguments over it will hopefully end with peace of mind.

  61. Sean @64:

    Sorry, I wasn’t actually intending to criticise your post, your mentioning of “left” just sent me off on tangential blather :). This is what happens when an interestingish political discussion is going on and one should be writing a paper, heh.

  62. Sean @ 62 – no, I’m stating that the “facts” being used by Drew and Gerrymander aren’t actually “factual.” Moreover, they don’t care, because of their belief system.

    BTW, this is not unique to right-wingers – there are leftists by the bushel who also don’t want to be confused by facts.

  63. The speech is not short and covers a lot of ground, which means it’s easy for critics to pick apart a sentence at a time.

    It’s also full of basic Christian and Democratic concepts which when stated outright in the modern American context make anyone sound like a Socialist (‘people’, ‘republic’, ‘justice”? the man is a pinko!)

    I usually just read political speeches, but a friend told me listening to it properly would be far better and she was right.

    I was riveted start to finish and surprised but delighted at some of the specific elephants-in-the-room he addressed and how he did so. I was also impressed with his comments about both the pastor and his grandmother, which did not strike me at all as insulting. He said what we all know, which is even good people can be wrong headed and even smart people say dumb s**t all the time.

    But that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed, so let’s change it.

    I can totally get behind that.

  64. Re: Nationalised health care: Chalk another testimonial up in favor. When I studied abroad in Denmark, I came down with a bad case of strep throat. First of all, Copenhagen has a functioning, useful public transit system; otherwise, I wouldn’t’ve been able to get to the clinic in the first place. I didn’t stumble in during the clinic’s open hours (I didn’t know enough Danish to understand their schedule) but they still managed to make time to see me. The doctor, despite her self-effacing comments, knew more than enough English and treated me well. The appointment was free; the antibiotics were 30 kr (about $6.30 now…friggin’ worthless dollar…).

    A week later, one of my hojskole-mates got drunk, fell down, and split his jaw open. The guys in the ER asked his name, stitched him up, that was that. Neither of us had received our ‘yellow cards’ (like a Social Security card) yet. Nevertheless, we were each fixed up for free with no questions asked.

    I didn’t pay Danish income tax, and I don’t think the Danish VAT goes towards health care, but still… Socialized medicine, and other aspects of the social safety net, helped me when I was alone and sick in a foreign country, flat on my back for days. The 25% VAT is high, but it was worth it.

    There are horror stories about removing the wrong body part in Europe. There are equally scary stories about US malpractice. Neither of these prove anything. Neither do my anecdotes in themselves, for that matter. But I can tell you, and virtually anyone who’s lived in a social welfare state can tell you, and public health statistics can tell you, that socialized medicine can and does work. What it would take to make it work in the US, what particular system would be most effective, I dunno. But, by God, we need something.

    The class of 2008 goes off our parents’ insurance in May. Several of my friends with chronic medical issues have chosen jobs or are continuing their education just for the sake of keeping their health insurance. I don’t have a full-time job lined up yet; I’m probably gonna spend at least a summer uninsured. Here’s hoping I don’t get hit by a car.

  65. gerrymanderon@53: Unlike Wright, none of the trio of Robertson, Falwell or Haggard ever served as the named spiritual counsellor for a Republican presidential candidate. Robertson was himself a candidate, but a) that’s not the same thing, and b) he failed miserably.

    Nonsense. It was trumpeted in the media after the Haggard scandal that he called Bush every week as best bud and adviser. Of course, I think the White House asserted that Haggard was “mistaken” about that frequency but even though he said it in the WSJ, PR folks didn’t see fit to deny the connection until he got caught taking it up the nose and butt. (Or was he a top? I forget.)

  66. It all sounded so familiar somehow….

    You can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society?

    Obama is a great orator, and it was a great speech. But it didn’t address the issue of how he came to spend over two decades with Wright as his “spiritual mentor” and family advisor without ever once taking him to task on his hateful rants. Or his judgement (or lack thereof) in so doing.

  67. Chris Gerrib @ 58:

    You’re conflating political alignment and spiritual guidance. Social conservatives were and are a notable support for Republicans, and Falwell was as much an activist as a religious leader back in his heyday of the 80s. But if there’s any one name which should be associated with Reagan as a spiritual consellor, it’s Billy Graham. Both men admitted to speaking for hundreds of hours during Reagan’s terms in office. And Graham religious leadership was about as far from Falwell-style asshattery as you can get.

    Imani @ 69:

    Like Chris Gerrib above, you’re mistaking political support for guidance. The man with whom Bush is associated as far as actual spiritual counsel is Doug Wead. The Times ran a feature on him not too long ago.

  68. Gerrymander @71 – so it’s OK to be politically aligned with bigots but not take spiritual advice from them? This sounds like “what is the meaning of ‘is'” type of hair-splitting. ;-)

    Obama said that various people said stuff that they shouldn’t. He said that he didn’t agree with their statements. Did Reagan reject Falwell’s support?

    Obama’s point is that he has people who support him but with whom he doesn’t fully agree. As do I, and I think just about everybody. Let’s get over it.

  69. @ #12

    “His bad guys are the typical left mantra of big business, greedy bankers, and the GOP.”

    Yeah? And you had some other bad guys in mind? Because if you look around, these are the very “bad guys” that are screwing everyone around in this country.

    Big business is the main culprit in the healthcare crisis in this country. Among other things.

    Greedy bankers? Uh, yeeaah… Something about a sub-prime mortgage crisis…

    GOP… feh, does I has to get into it? Scandalous mis-management of the United States of America. ’nuff said.

    “His solution in the speech is to pour more money into failed schools ( something we do every year with no result.),”

    O RLY? You DO understand that what this country needs more than anything is a populace that’s better educated, don’t you? I mean, this is a country of dumbasses, seriously. As for your assertion that there’s no result, please, present us with the data to back it up. Include the “pouring”, and “failed” data especially.

    “universal health care ( which has worked nowhere it has been tried),”

    Yeah… I think others have debunked this load effectively.

    “more affirmative action,”

    You got this where? *koff*Bill O’Reilly*koff* ‘Affirmative Action’, oooooh… Y’know what? STFU!

    “and surrender in Iraq.”

    Oh dear God! What’re ya, following the talking points by rote? Surrender?! Surr-frickin-render?!!! Let me tell ya something, Bubba, there ain’t gonna be no winnin’. It’s not a war anymore, if it ever was. You can’t win an occupation. Short of genocide.

    You may find what you’re saying inspiring and “smart” but it is just the same old GOP/Limbaugh/O’Reilly/Hannity/et al. boiler plate that we have been hearing for decades. That may be your cup of tea but it’s not new or original.

    “1. When he tried to say that WRight’s theology was mainstream and normal in the black community, he offended all of the black christians who reject that crap. They are significant enough to cost him maybe 20% of the Black vote.”

    You know this because you live in the black community?

    “2. When he threw his grandmother under the bus and called her a racist and a bigot he lost a huge chunk of moderates and independents. It was crass and unneccessary(sp).”

    Threw her under a bus? WTF? I don’t know what moderates you know, but based on your rhetoric, you’re not one of ‘em, so how would you know?

    “Finally, he didn’t answer the real question that everyone wanted to know. Did he attend that church for 20 years because he believes in Black Liberation theology, or was he just doing it for political expediency to get elected?”

    He attended a church for twenty years as a political expedient? Okay, that just doesn’t make sense. Seriously, did you hear the speech? Did you read it? ‘Cause I don’t think you did.

    “He’s toast.”

    Pffft. Frayed knot.

  70. Todd Stull @54

    “I challenge you to name one government run industry anywhere that outperforms it’s private sector counter part.”

    How about national defense. Agree or disagree?

    Have you ever served in the Armed Forces? If so, how could you possibly ask this question?

    If not then the answer is: If it wasn’t for NCOs, we would not have a national defense.

  71. Paul S. Kemp at #24.

    It occurs to me that Democrats follow a variation of the same formula that you ascribe to the Republicans. Democrats espouse government benefits and foster a sense of entitlement (i.e. give me something at the expense of the “rich”). Democrats, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, what to increase the regulation which is already present in our everyday lives (example- Hillary’s wage attachments to pay for health care, even if the worker doesn’t want it). Democrats ‘gin up’ fear, or perhaps more accurately, resentment, of the ‘other’, in this case the supposedly rich and corporations.

    The two parties are essentially, at least in theory, are engaged in a debate as to how resources should be allocated. As the Democrats seem entirely too willing to lay claim to my income as their resource, I greatly prefer the Republicans. Even if the difference is only a matter of degree between the parties.

  72. If the government takes over and sets prices, then hospitals that can’t collect enough to cover overhead will close. Similarily, docotors who can’t collect enough to justify the stress and pressure of their job will find work elsewhere.

    You don’t have any clue how the actual economics of health care work, do you? If a pharmaceutical patents a drug that treats some important disease, trudges it through FDA approval (a huge barrier to entry) and gets their government-granted monopoly, at what price do hospitals stop proscribing it? Now repeat for surgical equipment, diagnostic equipment, etc., etc.

    The answer to that question has far more to do with what insurance companies are willing to pay than it has to do with the cost of production (and R&D) or the benefit the patient receives. And insurance companies have a very large capacity for passing price increases on to the insured. As long as the premiums cover their payout, they do not care. In fact, higher premiums covering a higher payout is better, since it gives them more float, which is where they make their money anyway. And who pays those higher premiums? For the large part, employers, who mostly hide those costs from their employees. Yet that is money that could have otherwise gone to raises in salary (and people wonder why wages are stagnant).

    When people do stop buying, it’s not to switch to a cheaper provider (any other insurer has to deal with the same drug companies/equipment providers/etc. with the same monopolies), it’s to go without, raising the costs for everyone else even further. Because individuals don’t have the pricing power that large companies buying group health plans do, so they can’t even get as good a deal as the employer was getting when they decided it was too expensive

    Go look at the rises in health care costs in recent years and compare them with the rises in other consumer goods. They’re not even close. What happened? Pricing power changed, that’s what. The current “privatized” system is the furthest thing imaginable from a free market in terms of actually allocating scarce resources properly. You can argue that socialized medicine sucks (or is, in economic terms, sub-optimal) but what the US has sucks more, as evidenced by our consistently low ranking in health care quality among developed nations vs. the largest per capita costs in the world.

    And as for doctors, they make as much as they do because the education and certification process in this country imposes a huge artificial barrier to entry. I recall seeing an article a few years ago that doctors in Japan make around $50k/year (though with the current weakness in the dollar, it is undoubtedly much more now). But a Japanese doctor couldn’t come here and practice for much, much more money, because of the difficulty in getting certified (on top of the difficulty in immigration). I.e., the situation of Spanish doctors (where there’s an oversupply) going to England (where there’s waiting lists and shortages) to pick up the slack could not happen in the US.

    Now, you can argue about the improved quality in doctors produced by requiring such certification (as if you actually believe that a standardized process could measure such a thing), but it’s hard to argue against the fact that if there were a lot more doctors, they would all be under a lot less stress and pressure. I bet that might also have some effect on the quality of the treatment provided (and if you don’t believe me, there’ve been recent studies with medical residents correlating the number of hours they work with the number of mistakes they make and their bedside manner).

  73. This nation is polarized. Look at this thread. It’s us vs. them, our team better than your team, we’re going to win you’re going to lose all the way down the line.

    What Obama articulates is that these issues are too complex for a two-team contest and this country isn’t served by the divisive demagoguery which tries to simplify arguments into two opposed “sides.” I think that’s what John is alluding to in the original post as well. We expect intellectual leaders to be able to explore all the facets of a problem and work out a solution that’s best for this nation, its citizens, and if possible the rest of the world.

    Socialism is bad.
    Communism is bad.
    Liberalism is bad.

    It’s too easy to be against a label, but in practice there are benefits to pieces of nearly every ideological offering. For example, I’m no longer a Christian but I recognize that Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is a great guide for getting along. I don’t have to reject everything in the Bible just because I don’t believe in an omniscient God or in immaculate conception.

    Likewise with health care. I think there’s something wrong with a system where 47 million people are not covered and where many can’t get health care except through Emergency Room care which often comes too late and isn’t comprehensive in diagnostic or follow-up. I have known two people close to me who have been dropped by their insurance providers after major health problems were diagnosed and treatments begun. In both cases, financial ruin and bankruptcy have unalterably changed their lives for the worse (as if the health problems weren’t doing that already). Rather than admitting that this is an issue, those on an “opposing team” will prefer to quibble the details of the 47 million number. They will cite anecdotal evidence in support and still ignore the elephant in our national room.

    Obama doesn’t seem to be playing this us vs. them rhetorical combat. When Hillary or Hillary’s surrogates attack him, he responds with calls for unity and moving forward. He didn’t blame Ferraro and try to tie her to Hillary, but instead dismissed it as a hurdle to leap on our way to national improvement. He says that which needs to be said, not that which people want to hear. He told us that racism isn’t just a white on black thing but that it and its reverse need to be ended. He told conservative congregations in the South that they needed to treat gays and lesbians as brothers and sisters, with respect and equality. He didn’t have to, it wasn’t politically safe, but he did it because it’s right. He told voters in Texas that we needed to end our dependency on oil and he told voters in Ohio that the manufacturing jobs weren’t going to return, at least not those that had left and the factories were going to have to start making something different.

    He’s not taking the easy road and he’s not telling us that our path is going to be easy either. He is saying that it’s going to be worth it.

    I believe him.

  74. “Obama is a great orator, and it was a great speech. But it didn’t address the issue of how he came to spend over two decades with Wright as his “spiritual mentor” and family advisor without ever once taking him to task on his hateful rants.”

    As the saying goes, hate the sin, love the sinner. Taking him to task wouldn’t seem sufficient to address your complaint.

  75. Chris Gerrib @ 72:
    so it’s OK to be politically aligned with bigots but not take spiritual advice from them?

    You generally can’t decide who calls themselves part of your political party. You generally can decide whose church pews your ass will will warm for 20 years, and whether interviews will quote you as saying “that guy there? He’s my mentor!”

    The question isn’t how much Wright support Obama, the question is how much Obama supports Wright. And the answer seems to be, “too close for comfort.”

  76. Gerrymander:

    “The question isn’t how much Wright support Obama, the question is how much Obama supports Wright. And the answer seems to be, ‘too close for comfort.'”

    Well, there was that part when he publicly and repeatedly repudiated the things Wright said that he felt were wrong. And also kicked him off the campaign.

    One does get the feeling that short of tossing Wright into a Saarlac pit, to be digested for a thousand years, some folks will not be satisfied with Obama’s response.

  77. CV Rick:

    Good call. Too often we (meaning I, but I assume other people too) make the mistake of thinking that everyone who disagrees with our politics is an asshole. Which of course isn’t true. Reasonable, good, people can disagree on a whole host of policy issues.

    Of course, this only goes so far… I’m kinda going to think someone’s an asshole if they tell me I’m going to burn in hell for being a homo, but that isn’t really a policy disagreement lol.

  78. CV Rick,

    You seem to be contradicting yourself. You criticize polarization, attack the practice of dividing politics into opposing “teams” or “us vs. them,” and say that issues are complex and that nearly every ideology has some good parts.

    Then you offer a description of the debate over the American health care system in which there are two opposed teams, one of which is clearly right and the other clearly wrong. (And not merely wrong, but uncaring or wicked- their problem is not that they don’t recognize the problem, but that they simply won’t admit that there is.) The standard liberal “compassionate liberals vs. heartless conservatives” narrative you give may well be an accurate description of the health care issue, but it is very much the opposite of your call for an end to “us vs. them” thinking.

    This is why I never trust politicians or pundits who call for people to seek “unity,” or to somehow transcend ideology, or for bipartisanship, or to end political polarization, or the like. In practice, their proposed method of ending division is for everyone to meekly submit to their program. Polarization is the fault of their opponents, for daring to disagree with them. They transcend the limitations of a single ideology by indulging in the fantasy that it is somehow possible to have a “pragmatic” politics with no ideological assumptions, in which the pragmatic, nonideological thing to do always turns out to be what they wanted to do anyway. I’ve lost count of the number of opinion columns and letters to the editor I’ve read that can be summarized as, “We need to put ideological, partisan bickering aside and do what my ideology and party says.” Papering over ideological differences in this country won’t make them go away. It will merely serve to mask the dominance of whoever is in power.

  79. John @ 82

    “Then you offer a description of the debate over the American health care system in which there are two opposed teams, one of which is clearly right and the other clearly wrong. (And not merely wrong, but uncaring or wicked- their problem is not that they don’t recognize the problem, but that they simply won’t admit that there is.)”

    Saying there is a problem and pointing out where this problem exists is now pointing fingers? I didn’t say what the solutions would be or who is wrong, merely that there’s a problem. I said that people would quibble with numbers or details rather than recognizing that there is a problem. Why can’t one even recognize that there is something wrong with health care? Why can’t someone recognize that there’s a problem with race relations? Why can’t someone recognize that there’s a problem without everyone jumping onto teams to fight it out and be winners or losers?

    It’s that kind of thinking that’s making us all losers.

  80. The main problem with Drew and his ilk is that their aruments really only work against the liberal straw men that their beloved talk-radio icons like to create.

    As a moderate-turned-liberal (the Terry Shaivo fiacso provided my final push from the center into left-dom) who was originally in the John Edwards camp, yesterday’s speech settled a lot of my Obama-jitters. Prior to yesterday I wanted to like the guy, now I do.

  81. And John…we NEED a Saarlac pit in this country. I can think of a few places in Wyoming or Nevada that would be perfect for it.

  82. EvilDan:

    Given that we did our nuclear tests in Nevada, there may already be a Saarlac pit there.

  83. The interesting thing is the ‘threw granny under the bus’ thing.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that people who repeat that canard think there was nothing at all objectionable about what Obama says his grandmother said (using black stereotypes, etc). If there’s nothing wrong with what she said, then it would seem wrong to give her as another example of a person Obama isn’t casting away despite her having said some thoughtless or offensive things on occasion.

  84. I, for one, am tired of hearing the speech called courageous. Courage would be admitting a mistake, taking a personal risk. Obama was forced into giving this speech, and it amounts to a massive head fake. The speech elided over the most poisonous aspects of black liberation theology and why Obama would choose to raise his family in such an atmosphere. Instead, we get him saying that we are all guilty of racism, so who are we to judge Jeremiah Wright? Obama could have said something along the lines of “during the course of this campaign, I have finally realized that the embrace of naked anti-white racism and conspiracy mongering is actively harmful to the black community.” He stopped far short of this. He took no great risk, as this amounted to a Hail Mary on a collapsing campaign. His association with Wright cuts at the core appeal of his “post-racial” candidacy, and I don’t think he has enough racist white grandmothers to throw under the bus to make up for it.

    In his speech, we were told that we are part of a country with racism as its original sin. True enough. However, for such a heavy burden of sin, the prescription for absolution seems surprisingly painless. Instead of any sort of sacrifice being called for, we can mystically cure this all by electing Obama and enacting socialism. This sure is defining Messiah-hood down. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Now Barack Obama is willing to be elected President for the sins of the United States. Oh, and quit smoking, which is, y’know, kind of like a 40-day fast in the desert.

    As to the “brains” question, count me as one conservative who is glad that I will never have to hold my nose and vote for Bush again. I felt palpable relief when the last debate with Kerry ended, knowing that I’d not need to here any more unscripted Bush. Still, brains are most certainly not everything. Washington, Reagan, FDR, and Jackson were possibly all in the bottom 50% for IQ of the former Presidents, whereas Clinton, Carter, Adams (great man, ehh President), and Nixon were probably near the top. In all of these men, temperment was more important to the success of their presidencies. Temperment is probably why the smartest of all the founders, Hamiton (with apologies to Franlin), didn’t live long enough to become President.

    Two quotes I like address this:

    Oliver Wendell Holmes (speaking about FDR): “a second class intellect, but a first class temperment”

    W F Buckley: “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

  85. David @88:

    …did you watch the same speech I did?

    Also I think most people who like Obama like him because they think he’ll be a good president, not because they want to have him magically absolve them of racism.

  86. Nope, didn’t watch it. A great speech should be able to stand as prose as well as oratory. I find that removing Obama’s remarkable oratory from the equation leave me less impressed with what he is saying.

  87. drew and gerrymander – I have family all over the map medical coverage-wise and money wise. Frankly, I think my Mom could probably stand to wait an extra few days, or possibly even a few weeks for her parathyroid surgery (that my uncovered friend hasn’t been able to afford to get for the exact same condition in five years), if it would mean that my MIL wouldn’t have died over an excruciating, wasting year for want of an unaffordable operation because she didn’t hit the level of “emergency life-saving care” that would have let the ER take care of it until she was dead – in the ambulance on the way there.

    There are too many people uncovered. There are too many people who are uncoverable. There are too many people who live there lives scrambling to stay covered every second, because they have a condition that means that if they are ever uncovered, they will never have insurance again. If you have a better idea than nationalized health care, it needs to actual address all of these problems or you’re farting in the wind.

  88. Heard bits, read the speach then listened to the whole thing. Got better every step.

    public vs. private: not an either/or, some work better one way, some the other.

    more efficient private/public? If you are talking health care, I think the overhead in Medicare/cade is .5% or so. The overhead in private insurance for equivilent care is about 35% (also known as theft).

    I would have preferred Edwards as he has finally learned that you don’t bipartisan with bullies but the more I see this Obama guy, the more I like him.

    And for the record, you cannot overestimate my whithering distain for the collection of crooks and one-issue whackjobs that have stolen and degraded my country and its institutions.

  89. Sean@55 19 Mar 2008 at 2:27 pm
    “…but I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened had John McCain been found to frequent a church with a racist pastor.”
    Sean–absolutely nothing. Google McCain and Hagee. And before you say anything, you should be aware that McCain eagerly sought Hagee’s endorsement.

    Gerrymander@79:
    “You generally can’t decide who calls themselves part of your political party. ”

    Well, no, but you don’t have to invite them to give the opening prayer at your political convention.
    Remember, Jerry Falwell said we *deserved* to get attacked on 9/11. Three years later, there he was on the floor at the Republican National Convention.

    And you don’t have to chase after for them for endorsements–John McCain approached Hagee.
    I’m eagerly awaiting your pointed questions for McCain over Hagee, the man who said this:
    “And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”

    As CJR points out: (http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/the_mccainhagee_connection_1.php)
    “Hagee, of course, is also a virulent anti-Catholic, who has suggested that the pope is the anti-Christ, and that Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitism was the result of being educated at a Catholic school.”

    The question isn’t how much Hagee supports McCain. The question is how much McCain supports Hagee. And the answer is too much for comfort.

  90. Greg@94

    That’s a nice straw man you’ve got there. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

    So, seeking the endorsement of a man with repugnant views is now on par with having a similar man as your 20-year advisor, confidant, marriage and baptism officiant, and primary theological source for your young children?

    Look, it’s OK if you prefer Obama to McCain, just don’t try to tell me up is down in order to justify it.

  91. Actually, David95:

    A straw man is a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted .

    Hagee is what you might commonly call an “actual man”.

    Greg wins, you must try again.

  92. There is not a person in politics who has not been associated with someone questionable.

    In the case of McCain, you could make a rather large list, starting with Hagee and moving down to his various lobby loving guys that are working on his campaign, and being investigated, to the keating 5. It’s a big list.

    Or, you could go with the Clintons, from the various affairs to whitewater to…well, it’s an even bigger list.

    You can look at Regan, and Jerry Falwell. You can look at Nixon, and his rather large list. You can look Kennedy, at every one, really all the way back to George Washington.

    Or you look at Obama, where it’s two guys. One a preacher, one a crooked business guy. I not only don’t care about a list that small in comparison to every other person in politics, I’m rather impressed he’s kept it so low.

  93. 96 EvilDan – I thought it was pretty clear that I was referring to the argument, not Hagee, as the strawman. Logic wins, you must try again.

    97 Chris – I actually thought the question was rhetorical, given how ridiculous I find the false equivalency of the Hagee endorsement and the Wright 20-year mentorship. Tell me, what flavor is the KoolAid in ObamaLand, or do you get a choice?

    98 Ipmiller – Well, you did leave out unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. It’s possible that Obama rose through the seamy underbelly of Chicago ward politics with his uncommon virtue largely intact. It’s also possible that his relatively short political career and an incurious media have combined to keep us ignorant of other associations. Time (and the Rezko trial) will tell.

  94. David @ 99 – I voted for Reagan and Bush 41, so I don’t think I’m drinking Kool-Aid.

    There are two issues here. First, Obama’s speech, in which he basically said, “I can listen to advisors whom I don’t always agree with.” This is a trait shared by many adults – I read both Jerry Pournelle’s blog (he’s a Goldwater Republican) and Making Light (socialists).

    The second issue is that everybody, including St. McCain, has radical / controversial / misguided advisors and supporters. So you can point to the kettle (Wright) and I point to the pot (Falwell). For the record, I don’t care who McCain is getting his advice from. I do care that his proposed policies look shockingly like more of the same, which doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

    We as a country can acknowledge that people don’t always have to agree on every issue, or we can keep playing this stupid “gotcha” game. Since the gotcha game doesn’t seem to be producing good government policy, maybe we might want to change it.

  95. Chris @100

    What you say is reasonable, but it moves the goalposts quite a bit from the point I commented on:

    From Greg@94

    “…but I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened had John McCain been found to frequent a church with a racist pastor.”
    Sean–absolutely nothing. Google McCain and Hagee. And before you say anything, you should be aware that McCain eagerly sought Hagee’s endorsement.

    Again and again with respect to Wright, I’ve seen some pretty flimsy false equivalencies. If you honestly think that McCain would get a pass for attending a Church with a white separatist message, well, we will just have to agree to disagree, ’cause that’s too great a divide to bridge by discussion. Obama himself as much as says this when talking about hearing Wright’s sermons with “an untrained ear”.

    If you go back to my original point, I don’t think this speech was courageous. The speech was good, possibly even great in parts, until you consider that its timing was forced by a scandal. It was dual purposed, at least, with the proximate purpose to get the conversation off of Jeremiah Wright and his association with Obama.

    I’ll stipulate that Obama does desire some legitimate racial reconciliation, and that there was much that was good and true in his speech. However, I think he also wants to use any racial reconciliation as a Trojan Horse to get a left-of-center political agenda enacted. Sorry. Much as I would love to see that reconciliation, I don’t like how it’s bundled. I’m not buying.

  96. John @ 80:

    Well, there was that part when he publicly and repeatedly repudiated the things Wright said that he felt were wrong. And also kicked him off the campaign.

    …and, yet, he still associates with Wright’s church.

    What I’m getting at is that some people may be unwilling to accept Obama’s response simply because it’s a piss-poor one — in terms of the old standard, at least. Like it or not, recent social history in the US involves the ostracism of those who are widely acknowledged to be committed racists. Obama gets credit for wanting to change that into more constructive dialogue — but he also loses credit for first applying the new standard in a case that looks like typical political ass-covering.

    If Obama really wants to show that he wants to embody the new dialogue, he should do something like appear on Don Imus’ new radio show. Like Obama’s insistence that we accept the whole, complicated person Wright is, Imus’ close associates all swore up and down that he wasn’t a racist in his private life, but that he only said something stupid. Accepting Imus now would mark a turn from the complete rejection Obama had for Imus in the wake of the “nappy-headed hos” comment, which really isn’t any more objectionable than Wright’s “US of KKK-A” remark.

  97. David @ 101 – Google spits up several pages of Hagee bashing Catholics and McCain trying to keep the endorsement while repudiating the remarks.

    I just don’t see the difference between what McCain is doing and Obama. They both have people supporting / endorsing them who’ve said radical and offensive things. If we condemn one man for his supporters, we condemn both.

    Yeah, I’m shocked that a Democrat would want to get a left-of-center set of policies in place ;-). I don’t think his policies come as a surprise to anybody.

  98. i don’t see why Obama needs to tie himself to Imus at all, any more than I see a need for him to get involved in the Jena 6 thing. Or Micheal Richards. The point of his speech was not to be another ‘ambulance chaser’ in regards to race issues, in fact it was a little bit of a repudiation of those figures, as they have not helped the cause.

    Race relations have been stuck since the 60’s. He offered up a conversation on the subject, as opposed to the typical demands and blaming. It recognized the reasons behind the resentments, which has never been done in public, even as it point out those resentments may or may not be fair. The actual acknowledgment of those reasons, and the need to actually claim our past instead of trying to ignore it, is the import of his speech.

    As to how it’s bundled, it’s the only game in town. There sure as heck isn’t a republican standing up and offering up a bundle that includes an actual dialog on well, anything. Or all that many Dems, to be fair. I’ll take conversation from my leadership over the request of blind obedience any day of the week. Someone is out there, actually requesting I and the whole of the country actually take part in the discussion, which hasn’t happened in a good long time. It’s nice to finally be asked, instead of being expect to tow the line with no questions allowed.

  99. Chris,

    I just think that there is a more nuanced view than “If we condemn one man for his supporters, we comdemn them both”. It’ll just have to be the ol’ agree-to-disagree, then.

    I’ve got no problem with Obama running left-of-center. I just don’t want him telling me that I can wipe away Jim Crow by enacting a single-payer health plan.

  100. Smarts are important, but not sufficient. I think Herbert Hoover was probably the most intelligent Republican President since Lincoln (I own and have read his translation and edition of Georgius Agricola’s De Re Metallica), but see where it got him.

    My old college roomie Larry Tribe says that Obama was the most brilliant student he ever had at Harvard Law; at least he’s not a lethally dull speaker like Jimmy Carter. (How did someone who came out of a Southern preaching family get to be so bad at delivering a sermon?) We can at least hope…

  101. David @ 105,

    I’ve got no problem with Obama running left-of-center. I just don’t want him telling me that I can wipe away Jim Crow by enacting a single-payer health plan.

    I think that was said in jest, because that may be the most egregious Straw Man I’ve ever heard.

  102. Frank said:

    “Have you ever served in the Armed Forces? If so, how could you possibly ask this question?

    If not then the answer is: If it wasn’t for NCOs, we would not have a national defense.”

    No, I have not served in the Armed Forces. My brother is in the Army, and I am at least intimately aware of his stories about inefficiency. He is an NCO.

    I am not connecting your argument though. Are you suggesting that a privately funded army would function better than our federally run system? Would it look like Blackwater mercenaries?

    I won’t dispute the fact that our national defense structure is rife with inefficiency and even some corruption. But analogous to what someone upstream said about health care, I’m suggesting that our current system of national defense, federalized, paid by taxes, and seen as a common good rather than a commodity, is less inefficient and corrupt that a system that would be privatized.

  103. I, for one, am tired of hearing the speech called courageous. Courage would be admitting a mistake, taking a personal risk. Obama was forced into giving this speech, and it amounts to a massive head fake. The speech elided over the most poisonous aspects of black liberation theology and why Obama would choose to raise his family in such an atmosphere.

    Could you please give some examples of what you’re talking about, and proof that Obama believes it? So far all I’ve heard is that something you call black liberation theology is “toxic”. I see no proof that he’s been raising his family in that unspecified atmosphere at all.

    This is beginning to sound like the claims that he studied at a “Madrassa” in Indonesia.

  104. Democrats like their presidents to appear smart. Especially in that smarmy neo-liberal, consultanty, NPR-listening to sense. Repukes want dirty Harry.

  105. “I’ve got no problem with Obama running left-of-center. I just don’t want him telling me that I can wipe away Jim Crow by enacting a single-payer health plan.”

    It’s a good thing no one, anywhere, has said that.

  106. Josh@109

    Well, we could start with the “Black Value System” from the Trinity United web page:

    http://www.tucc.org/black_value_system.html

    Seems pretty separtist to me. Does Obama believe it? He apparently went there for 20 years, but I can’t honestly say. To me, it seems at odds with a message of unity to constantly talk about blacks as seperate from other Americans. Sure, the goals of education, self-respect, etc, that are ennumerated in the “system” are great, but there’s no hint of any commonality with one’s countrymen.

    Maybe you don’t find this toxic, but I think a message like this increases racial tensions, rather than lessening them.

  107. Ipmiller@111

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

    Hyperbole (pronounced “hy-PER-buh-lee”; “HY-per-bowl” is a mispronunciation) is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, and is not meant to be taken literally.

  108. I have come upon the key thing that explains the blatant double standard that Obama is being held to. And I’m not being entirely flippant.

    It is this: everyone expects Republicans to be in bed with religious extremists. When its a Democrat, its unexpected, so it stands out.

  109. John H @ 78:

    I’m not even taking him to task, I’m just noting what I saw. He evaded and covered the evasion with soaring rhetoric. He makes great speeches with great presence and charisma–I’ve seen him in person. I’ve defended Obama many times from false accusations such as the BS “madrassas” thing. But he is what he is, a Chicago-land pol. He’s tried to build a Chosen One aura, and this kind of thing bites him harder because of it. It puts blotches on that aura.

    His speech didn’t address the specific issue. As another poster commented, it was a head fake. What a shock, he’s a politician! Mostly I interpret his getting in this position in the first place as a lack of seasoning in the rough and tumble of national RealPolitik. He’s trying to climb the ladder too fast, and that hasn’t left him enough time to neutralize his past issues. As compared to, say, Clinton, whose past issues have been repeatedly beaten to death already and thus have no major traction anymore that they didn’t already gain a decade ago. So the proportional “hit” is harder on Obama.

    In short, Obama is fresh meat, so the flung stuff sticks to him better. Optimism and ambition have driven him up farther and faster than prudence would have dictated, and that lack of seasoning is showing.

    Also, love ‘em or hate ‘em, but do not ever underestimate a Clinton. This isn’t their first dust-up by many, and they know ALL the tricks.

  110. David at 112,

    I don’t see what’s wrong with any of those pledges. They strive for excellence and to help that excellence further the Black Community. Nowhere in that statement is it implied that whites are evil or inferiour. Last time I checked, helping other people over the hurdles you’ve beaten in the past was considered a good idea. It’s called “paying it forward.”

    It’s naive to think that the black community could survive without a strong feeling of bonding and togetherness. They are a minority, after all. Minorities everywhere congregate and try to help each other out. I imagine there’s a reason for that. They’re not trying to exclude you, personally, they’re trying to feel more included theirselves. It’s not so much to ask.

  111. Argh, “theirselves” doesn’t exist, obviously, I meant themselves…

    I also managed to bungle my name.

    (man, really need to get some sleep…)

  112. Sara,

    As I said, I don’t think most of the points are objectionable, in fact they are laudable in the narrow sense. I just think that the focus on race over all other possible types of brotherhood hurts both my country (I’m a melting pot kind of guy – I think we are stonger working together) and the people at whom it is targeted.

    “The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the Black Community.” – can’t work for NASA , I guess.

    And the bit about avoiding “middleclassness”, while it has a disclaimer at the end, really is not a recipe for a healthy view of a competitive marketplace. It strikes me as a prelude for blaming one’s problems and lack of achievenment on unnamed “captors” who:

    “…foste(r) a social system that encourages them to kill off one another. Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.”

    As a matter of sociology, I’ll agree it’s debatable whether this is helpful or harmful, but I’d point out that the more successful minority populations strike me as more willing to engage in non-minority society You’re in France, right? It seems like a similar thing with respect to “Muslim Values” is playing out over there.

    As a matter of politics, I guarantee you that this, if widely associated with Obama, would not sit well with many of the independent swing voters he needs to get elected.

  113. “Hyperbole (pronounced “hy-PER-buh-lee”; “HY-per-bowl” is a mispronunciation) is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, and is not meant to be taken literally.”

    And as thus, is irrelevant. Declaring an argument hyperbole is just stating “nothing I say has meaning, and I have no real argument”

    If you are going to use hyperbole – which by the way, is a word I require no edification on, thanks – you’re wasting everyones time. I think we’ve had enough hyperbole over the last 7 years that people have taken seriously and have taken to heart that we just need to put it away for a while and get down to an actual discussion.

  114. Ipmiller@119

    About that “not needing edification” bit.

    Are you saying that exageration and use of humor to make a point is identical to having no point whatsoever?

    I think that hyperbole, the exaggeration of the truth to bring home a real point, is, well for starters, the basis of most humor.

    Hmm…not understanding the basis for humor…hmmm…

    Never mind. Answered my own question.

  115. Humor, normally, is funny. That would my first point.

    My second point, is that when you have to defend humor as humor, it’s not humor.

    When you have to exaggerate a point to make it, your point isn’t all that sharp to begin with.

    When you have to defend an argument as humor or as exaggeration, it’s not much of an argument either. It’s really just kind of a waste of time.

    When all you do is argue the humor or exaggeration of something, instead of the actual argument – then you know it wasn’t much of one too.

    It’s ok not to like Obama. Be against killing the bush tax cuts. I’ll disagree, but I understand not liking taxes. Be against National Healthcare. I disagree, but I am at least familiar with the fear of government and can understand it. But it seems to me, you’re spending time looking for things not to like, and it’s getting your arguments merged into hyperbole, and it’s pointless. It’s just the same old waste of time we’ve had for years now.

  116. LPmiller

    Fair ‘nuf, and one man’s humor is, after all, another man’s pedantic digression.

    And, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll be against tax increases because I think the government is too big. And I’ll be against national healthcare because I work in one branch of government medicine, see its failings on a small scale, and think it would not work well at all on a large scale.

  117. I think its interesting that Obama’s pastor gave a sermon stating that Hillary Clinton will never know what it is to be black and be called the “N” word, when Obama’s own mother is white and probably had to endure more hardships than Obama himself had to. I mean she had to raise a child who is half black and half white at a time when that sort of thing was frowned upon. And the man graduated from Columbia and has a law degree from harvard, he doesn’t seem that disanfranchised to me. It just seems like Wright’s speech tried to glorify the man as someone who just got out of slavery for god’s sakes. So to say that Hillary wouldn’t know what it is to be black, I would say Obama doesn’t know what it is to be a single white woman raising a half black child in living in middle America.

    But that is besides the point, I’m voting for Hilldawg for the reason that Obama never says how is going to change/fix the issues, all he says is that he is going to do it but now how.

    I find all of this very disingeneous.

  118. @ 108 –

    Hey a privatized US Army would be kind of cool. I would assume that they would only protect part of America, too. Which part of the country would I have to live in for a good army? The part where the troops come from(the South) or where all the money is?

  119. John,

    I’m devastated that an intelligent man like yourself will side with the left. The political left in Washington has been on the wrong side of just about every issue since Clinton. Their outcries of hatred for the Bush administration has made them a party of “If Bush is FOR it, then we’re AGAINST it.” Meanwhile, Bush (this so-called ‘stupid’ man) has beaten the Democrats at every turn. The entire Democratic party is collapsing in on itself. Democrats fan the flames of racial, political, and national hatred.

    You should be ashamed to side with such a scattered, unorganized party of hatred.

    As an independent, I don’t necessarily agree with Republican ideology either, but as a Buddhist I cannot side with the Party of Hate that the Democrats have become.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/03/its_time_to_call_the_democrats.html

  120. Jay @ 127 – Way to drink the Kool Aid.

    You have some seriously uninformed opinions if you call yourself a Buddhist and cannot see how dangerous the right is and how underpowered and understaffed and underscored the left is in this current administration.

    Bush has not “beaten the Democrats at every turn.” At best, his group of Big Money Cronies have ground the machinery to a halt until the Dems have to give in to get it started again. They don’t have a useful majority in either the House or the Senate, and are in the unenviable position of being shouted down by unscrupulous Neo-Cons every time they try to get anything going.

    As far as hatred goes, I’ve heard that line of “reasoning” again and again, and it never gets old. It’s never correct, either. Sure, Dems hate Bush and Cronies, Inc. Because they are DANGEROUS and TREASONOUS and full of hatred for anyone but themselves.

    A simple Google search would prove my point, but since you’re too lazy to do it, I guess I will be, too. Besides, I’ve already read about the damage Bush is doing to the country, the environment, the world, and America’s standing on the world stage. If you have no evidence of any of this, I would hesitate to call you either a Buddhist or an Independent – since the one preaches “Do no harm” which is opposite all the Bush Regime can seem to do, and the other requires you to NOT fall for the Neo-Con rhetoric and think for yourself, which you are not showing any sign of having done.

    But, it was a nice troll, and you got me to respond. For the last time, of course.

  121. Jay:

    “I’m devastated that an intelligent man like yourself will side with the left.”

    Oh, well. I guess you’ll just have to deal with it. I imagine you will somehow find the inner strength to pick up the shattered pieces of your life and move forward.

  122. Jay:

    “Independent Buddhists for Bush” must be a really lonely club. Do you meet at Denny’s? What does your letterhead look like?

  123. You want to talk about spiritual advisors? How about Rod Parsley, who McCain has brought on stage and identified as his “spiritual guide”.

    Here’s what he has to say:

    “I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”

    So McCain’s “spiritual advisor” believes the US was founded to wage holy war against Islam. He says Planned Parenthood are Nazis. He calls for the prosecution of adulterers. A wonderful guy…

    Oh, here’s another quote, this time while inveighing against “activist judges”:

    “Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons!…I came incite a riot! I came to effect a divine disturbance! Man your battle stations! Lock and load!”

    (at about 3:30 into this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFr59VC50tY&feature=related )

  124. “What I will say is that I think the speech offers up an example of the contrast I’ve perennially noted between Democrats and Republicans, which is that in general I think Democrats prefer their presidents to be smart, while Republicans don’t really put much of a premium on that at all”.
    John Scalzi

    How “smart” is a man who sits in the pews of a church for twenty years listening to, and therebye at least condoning, if not actively supporting “black liberation theology”? Christianity has been perverted before and will be countless times in the future, but rarely to the degree of this so-called theology.
    Obama is educated, well spoken and at first glance non-threatening to whites, which explains his popularity. In fact, he is a racist of the first order, offering up prayers to a God that his pastor of twenty years preaches should be killed if He doesn’t destroy the enemies of blacks…and the enemies are whites.
    I would say that the perennial contrast between Democrats and Repbulicans is that Democrats swoon over the smooth talking snake oil salesman and don’t pay much attention to what is being sold, while Republicans aren’t all that impressed with how something is sold, but rather what is being sold.
    Obama croons “Change”, and Democrats, the young and other feeble minded mouth-breathers line up with their cash in hand, begging to buy the poison that will kill them.
    To all of you I say this; Caveat Emptor.

  125. Yes, Alien Probe. Obama is coming in the night, to smother all us white people with our pillows. With a big toothy smile on his face.

    Sure, he’ll have to smother half of himself, too. But I feel confident he can do it.

    Meanwhile, this this laudable side effect of Obama’s speech last week. But I’m sure, Alien Probe, that you’d suppose it just means more black folks planning a big Smothering White Folk With Pillows Day. Because that’s what they do in church, those black folk. They’re sneaky that way.

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