24 April 2012

The Question Is...

In 2008, did Barrack Obama cunningly design the perfect campaign for the times, or was it simply the perfect time for the vapid campaign he would have run no matter the circumstance?

24 comments:

Bret said...

I'm certain it's the latter.

Susan's Husband said...

Argh, this hurts, but I agree with Bret :-). He just got lucky in a perfect storm of the financial crisis, post-Bush fatigue, and McCain ineptitude.

Bret said...

aog,

The real problem is that we agree so much of the time that we have to actively seek out nits or there wouldn't be any discussion at all. If it weren't for Harry (and Rough to some extent), the post-Judd alliance would really be an echo echo chamber.

erp said...

Natch. Have you forgotten that great minds think alike. What's Judd doing now that his left turn has turned sour? Anyone still tune in there?

Bret said...

I frequently read Brothers Judd. Orrin may not treat commenters very well, but I think his blog is a fabulous readers digest of that particular genre of news and commentary.

Peter said...

Was it not its very vapidity that made it the perfectly designed campaign for the times?

Hey Skipper said...

I think the far harder question is why so many people swooned, hearts palpitating and hands fluttering, for what was obviously such vapid nonsense.

Peter said...

Well, let's see if we can't ignite some sparks in this echo chamber.

The ascendency of the left that captured mainstream thinking after the war wasn't just built on activism and theory, it was based on experience too. It was a response to the turbulent democracy-threatening chaos of the depression and the war. There was a general, surprisingly-broad consensus that widespread poverty and need could lead to dangerous political ferment and extremism, as well as way too many heart-wrenching tales of want. The need to check the very real communist menace, particularly in Europe, civil rights and other factors made activist government and a social safety net seemingly consistent with self-interest, stability, healthy democracy and, above all, decency to the muddled non-partisan middle. It is surprising how so much of mainstream conservatism went along with it, sometimes enthusiastically, and how serious opposition was pushed to the fringes.

By the late seventies, it had all beome corrupt and dysfuntional. Inflation, in-your-face radicalism, endless public strikes, debt worries, Carter's "strength through apology", urban deacy and riots, etc. The left held firm of course--refusing to believe there were any problems that couldn't be solved by more of the same--and they still do to this day. It amazes me how so few leftists will admit there was anything wrong at all, except maybe underfunding. In any event, the middle had had enough. Enter Reagan and Thatcher.

That was thirty years of leftist intellectual hegemony and it has now been thirty years since conservative thinking has dominated Western political debate and governments, particularly in fiscal matters. The left has become reactive and reactionary, but we can't count on that forever. I think we're playing a dangerous game by just sniffing at the vapidity of an Obama or leaning loudly on the likes of Hayek or economic analyses from the Cato Institute. Was it just Bush fatigue or was it Bush failures too? How does an aggressive foreign policy in the name of spreading democracy look today? Do we honestly believe cutting back welfare will lead to an explosion of small businesses in inner cities or do we really not care? As Greece descends into national penury, is our only response to cite Mr. Micawber's equation and prescribe belt-tightening for the emaciated? Are we going to pretend the economic crisis was all the fault of government interference in the market and had nothing to do with massive good old-fashioned financial malfeasance and fraud on Wall Street? Do we really want to be governed by unaccountable central bankers because we like their no-nonsense approach to deficits? How are those war on drugs and tough on crime policies working out?

Maybe Obama got away with it because the decent middle was intellectually fatigued and craved hope and change above all. That's a very, very natural human impulse that can be politically irresistible and result in consequnces good and bad. Are we going to respond and start listening to it or just play the leftist game and dismiss ordinary people as stupid? It seems to me the right is starting to become mean and flinty and even wacky and doing exactly what the left did in the seventies, which is to proclaim any problems can be cured by more of the same.

So far, the left really doesn't have a clue how to respond coherently, which is fortunate, but that won't last forever if we refuse to be more self-critical and just be stubborn ideological mules so enamoured of our clever intellects that we don't even notice the middle is starting to roll its eyes. Politics and government are not just exercises in applied theory, or even applied history. Prosperity may be the most important objective, but God help us if we ever forget it's not the only one.

erp said...

Wow!

Peter, prosperity and as always the terms must be defined, isn't the only thing only when you're prosperous which is why the spoiled children of the prosperous had the leisure to try to make things “perfect” by trying to destroy the very anglo/western institutions that allowed ordinary humans to shape their own lives in ways that were unimaginable in days of yore and are still unimaginable in much of the world now, even and especially in places where those leftist ideas were put into to effect – Detroit comes to mind.

The movement toward world wide socialism goes back hundreds of years, but here in the U.S., it really began early in the 20th century with that intellectual giant, Woodrow Wilson and progressing (pun intended) on to that earlier crisis too good waste, the great depression (IMO orchestrated much in the same way that current economic meltdown was).

It didn’t take then because in those days the schools actually taught history, geography … you know, those subjects that are now only categories on Jeopardy, so We, the People didn’t bite. Then came WWII (we won’t get into how that happened here) aka the European Civil War and our boys came home to the GI Bill which cleverly put smart and ambitious, but unsophisticated, boys fresh from the hell of war into the clutches of the master propagandists aka college professors most of human were acolytes of the left.

The baby boomer generation went forth, multiplied, produced a huge crop of kids and put into practice the philosophy of equality as taught to them, not by our founding fathers, that was passé, but by the father of collectivism encouraging their progeny to make the world a better place by allowing them to be manipulated into participating in our late and unlamented cultural revolution of the 70's striving mightily to bring us all into perfect sameness, sureness and security as designed by the Brilliants and the Compassionates who will oversee and provide for our every need and want always with the caveat that we don’t put our head above the radar.

Whatever the shortcomings of past presidents, none IMO, not even Woody or Frankie, wanted to completely destroy our country as is clearly the goal of those presently in power and whose figure head is Barrack Obama.

Susan's Husband said...

The ascendency of the left that captured mainstream thinking after the war wasn't just built on activism and theory, it was based on experience too

I think the experience it was based on was purely political, as that was the era of the arise of mass totalitarian ideologies. I think it wasn't based on experience with working societies and policies at all. Note that the people who took advantage of the unrest due to economic failures were mostly the Left themselves. So they were implementing policies to protect nations from themselves? Really?

it has now been thirty years since conservative thinking has dominated Western political debate and governments, particularly in fiscal matters

I dispute that as well. It may have been 30 years since conservative thinking wasn't completely "pushed to the fringes" as you put it, but dominant? Not at all. A lot of lip service to it, but very little in the way of actual actions.

Do we honestly believe cutting back welfare will lead to an explosion of small businesses in inner cities

I don't think anyone believes that. Many believe that our current welfare system of itself makes things worse for the inner cities and should be cut back or eliminated for that reason. You're recapitulating the essential failure of proglodyte theory which is that saying a program is intended to benenfit the poor makes it so.

Do we honestly believe cutting back welfare will lead to an explosion of small businesses in inner cities

We're proscribing austerity because there isn't any money left. No amount of emotional appeal to the plight of the disadvantaged is going to change that.

Are we going to pretend the economic crisis was all the fault of government interference in the market and had nothing to do with massive good old-fashioned financial malfeasance and fraud on Wall Street?

The old-fashing malfeasance and fraud were the spark, but it was the government that piled up the tinder to turn it in to a crisis. The very term "old-fashioned" shows how such things have always been there and likely always will be. What has changed is how the government has magnified the costs. Unlike human nature, we can fix the government created part of the problem so let's focus on that.

Do we really want to be governed by unaccountable central bankers because we like their no-nonsense approach to deficits?

Where to start ... reality has a no-nonsense approach to deficits. To object to its personification in bankers is to object to reality. Not a good policy, in my view. Moreover I don't see how we're governed by central bankers in any case - even if they force the government to have a balanced budget that doesn't set how the budget is spent. Are you governed by your employer because he cuts you a check for a fixed amount?

Are we going to respond and start listening to it or just play the leftist game and dismiss ordinary people as stupid?

I will consider the American Street mis-informed, primarily due to proglodyte propaganda. Fix that and the American Street will do well enough. It's not like our ruling class has done such a bang up job.

Hey Skipper said...

Do we honestly believe cutting back welfare will lead to an explosion of small businesses in inner cities?

That, and eliminating the minimum wage.

Harry Eagar said...

Late to the party, but I'm trying to get my head around the idea of a liberal ascendency overseen by Edgar Hoover and operating as a national security state making covert war against Russia and China.

Not my idea of liberalism.

Anyhow, I'm a conservative. I want the USA to adopt as a foreign policy self-determination and statehood for Kurdistan and Tibet; and a domestic policy designed to support a yeomanry, each cultivating his own vine and figtree.

You don't approach either of those objectives by referring every decision to the wants and dictates of finance capitalism.

Harry Eagar said...

Late to the party, but I'm trying to get my head around the idea of a liberal ascendency overseen by Edgar Hoover and operating as a national security state making covert war against Russia and China.

Not my idea of liberalism.

Anyhow, I'm a conservative. I want the USA to adopt as a foreign policy self-determination and statehood for Kurdistan and Tibet; and a domestic policy designed to support a yeomanry, each cultivating his own vine and figtree.

You don't approach either of those objectives by referring every decision to the wants and dictates of finance capitalism.

Annoying Old Guy said...

"Not my idea of liberalism"

Heh, why am I not surprised that Eagar uses a completely different meaning for a word than everybody else? The history of modern liberalism is the history of suppressing internal dissent and engaging in foreign adventures (LBJ, Kennedy, FDR, Wilson ring any bells?).

erp said...

Socialists appropriated the word liberal and using newspeak changed its meaning by 180 degrees in the same way that Huxley dubbed sewerage vehicles honey wagons.

Unfortunately for them just changing the name doesn't eliminate the stench. Lefties, liberals, progressives, statists, collectivists, marxists, maoists ... all smell real bad.

erp said...

The world liberal was appropriated by socialists and then via newspeak
was turned on its head to mean the exact opposite of its original meaning.

I agree with Harry if "cultivating his own vine and fig tree" is a metaphor for removing the yoke of government from around our necks. Alas, I fear, he means that literally and we'll all, except the ruling elites of course, become cogs in the oppressive wheel of socialism -- the ultimate fairness.

erp said...

David, sorry I thought I forgot to hit the submit button and made two comments above. Please delete one.

Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, that Joe McCarthy, what a liberal.

I'm partway with you. Truman was badly advised to start the loyalty program. He thought to defang the fascist wing of the republican party, but it blew up in his face.

erp said...

I thought I was up on what was going on during the long period I've been on this earth, but I am not aware that there is or ever was a fascist wing of the Republican party. Unless you mean the go-along-to-get-along RINO's and even they aren't socialists only apolitical panderers willing to do and say anything as long as they can keep their cushy jobs.

Annoying Old Guy said...

erp;

It's standard projection to take the heat off the Democratic Party which flirted quite a lot with real fascism (e.g., FDR).

A good question to ask would be what exactly about McCarthy was "fascist"? In some meaning other than "things I don't like when done by right wingers".

erp said...

aog, I wouldn't have been that cruel even back in the day because even then the truth was available to the public if one was willing to dig for it, but now that McCarthy's been totally vindicated and proven to have been correct, it's unnecessary.

Harry is a typical left wing parrot who's learned a bunch nonsensical phrases and tosses them out randomly whenever confronted by reality.

Truman may have projected himself as a mild-mannered haberdasher, but he was no less leftwing than Frankie or Carter or Bubba or The Won. I left out Kennedy because he wasn't even smart enough to have any politics. He was run by his "advisors."

Harry Eagar said...

His defense of the Malmedy murderers for one. His police state tactics.

His Big Lie campaign.

erp, you should be aware that Joe never exposed even one single spy. If you think I am incorrect, here, name one.

Annoying Old Guy said...

For your examples, I find them weak at best. Plenty of people defend murderers for non-fascist reasons (e.g. Mumia Abu-Jamal, Che Guevera). As for police state tactics, who exactly was arrested by McCarthy, or at his direction?

The "Big Lie campaign" is the truly amusing one - do you mean this?

Truman was in fact well advised to start his loyalty program because the Venona decrypts were available at the time.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I could pile on by noting how Eagar brings up McCarthy but the House Un-American Activities Committee, but instead I will take a larger issue with Eagar claiming to want "a domestic policy designed to support a yeomanry, each cultivating his own vine and figtree".

No, Eagar doesn't. That kind of thing would be an almost totally free market and Eagar is adamantly opposed to any such thing. Based on specific policies Eagar promotes his domestic policy would have those vineyards run by the EPA, OSHA, financed by GSEs, directed by the EEOC, etc. In Eagar world the one thing the government would not do is leave the yeomanry alone to tend their own vines.