Wednesday, April 30, 2008
That's the New Republic's academic blog. Well, if you ask me, it seems like a political blog -- a very political blog. Consider these two posts:
On April 18, Jonathan Lear wrote "There is no politician in living memory who
has more directly and honestly faced a political problem than Obama in
his speech on Reverend Wright and the lingering problems of race in
this country." Wow. Since Obama has now changed his story, will Lear change his?
On April 17, Cass Sunstein wrote, in a post entitled "Silly Season, that it was silly to take seriously the relationship between Obama and bomber Bill Ayers. Cass writes: "Ayers is one of numerous people, in the Chicago area, whom Barack Obama has run across. I know for a fact that Obama has actually played basketball with Richard Epstein, a libertarian on the law school faculty who has written some pretty controversial things on property rights and government regulation. I also know that Obama has had a number of conversations with former law school dean Daniel Fischel, a Reagan Republican who has written some pretty controversial things on corporations and government regulation." Give me a break. Weather Underground terrorists are the equivalent of libertarian law professors and Reagan Republicans. This is the silly season.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Over the weekend, I watched the movie Primary Colors once again. While I liked the movie the first time I saw it, it has only grown on me and is now one of my favorite movies about politics.
The movie functions at three levels. First, it is most obviously an insightful and entertaining portrayal of Bill and Hillary Clinton, with an especially wonderful performance by John Travolta. Second, it gains richness when one considers it from the perspective of Obama's run against Hillary. In fact, I would love to see a new Joel Klein novel on this primary season. While Bill Clinton had that special talent to communicate with voters -- to make them believe "he felt their pain" -- Obama communicates even better than Clinton did.
But the deepest, and I think most important, level on which Primary Colors operates is the conflict between the ideal and practical in politics, especially as that conflict relates to support for a political leader. Every political movement needs a political leader. That leader must have the ability to communicate with the nation, to have the ideals of the political movement, to be competent at implementing the movement's political agenda, and to be able to hold the political coalition together. It is rare to find someone who has these abilities and who shares one's political principles. For me, that person was Ronald Reagan. In the current election, clearly many Democrats view Obama in that way.
The search for the right political leader is a bit like the search for a mate. If one is not attached to an existing candidate, one is constantly looking for someone who might be the one. As one sees someone with potential, one's excitement builds. But then one has to deal with the inevitable disappointments.
Merely because one's candidate has made some mistakes and done some bad things does not mean that one stops supporting him or her. One certainly feels a conflict about the disappointment -- and if one is honest one has to deal with the deficiency of that leader privately (that is, among fellow supporters) -- but one is not likely to criticize that leader in public (that is, in front of the opposition).
Primary Colors well captures this aspect of politics. The George Stephanopoulis and Betsy Wright characters are interesting contrasts. The former seems to accept the imperfections of the real world. The latter kills herself when her "love" does not meet her expectations. Put me in the category of the former.
So I certainly understand the desire of Obama supporters to minimize the negative aspects of his history. (What I can't understand is their support for his policies, but that is another story.) In this election, where I don't have a candidate, one especially feels lonely. But once one accepts that the need for going it alone, it can be -- as with the absence of romance -- liberating. One can watch from the sidelines and be objective. No heat, only light.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Glenn write snippets, but he makes every word count. Clearly, that is part of the power of his blog. Just marvel at the knockout punch that Glenn delivers to Sullivan in a few short words. From Instapundit:
Andrew Sullivan finally catches on: "But what [Rev. Wright] said today extemporaneously, the way in which he said it, the unrepentant manner in which he reiterated some of his most absurd and offensive views, his attempt to equate everything he believes with the black church as a whole, and his open public embrace of Farrakhan and hostility to
the existence of IsraelZionism, make any further defense of him impossible. This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard. This is an outright attack on the stated beliefs and policies and values of Barack Obama in a secular setting."
Yes, Wright's views certainly contradict Obama's stated beliefs, policies, and values. Andrew adds: "Obama needs not just to distance himself from Wright's views; he needs to disown him at this point. Wright himself, it seems to me, has become part of what Obama is fighting against." Become? I don't see that Wright has changed. People have just noticed. And if this is what Obama is fighting against, then . . . where's the fighting against part?
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Another new, great feature from Amazon. Two authors of news books, Tim Harford and Dan Ariely, debate the rationality of economic actors and the implications. Unlike other debates, this one moves from written words to Youtube videos. Great fun. I just love Amazon.
It is interesting to imagine how these debates would have seemed with some stars of the past. Yes, I could imagine Robert Nozick debating someone on Youtube. But can you imagine Hayek? I have heard it said that Hayek used to lecture with his back to the students.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Over at Powerline, they write:
Gabriel Schoenfeld reports on the latest Obama foreign policy adviser who turns out not to like Israel very much. Add Joseph Cirincione to the list that includes Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Merrill McPeak, Zbigniew Brzezinski , and his spiritual adviser Jeremiah Wright. (Obama, of course, loves Israel; he's just unlucky with his advisers).
I wonder what percentage of the Jewish vote Obama will get. My guess is that it will be the lowest of a Democratic candidate in many years, if not in several generations.
The only one of my relatives who I know supports Obama is someone who holds fundraisers for Barbara Boxer and is not, shall we say, the brightest bulb in the pack (nor as you can tell one of my favorite relatives). Some other of my relatives, some pretty liberal, regard Obama as possibly antisemitic.
My view is that Obama surrounds himself with leftists and others who are at the least strongly anti-Israel. Wright certainly seems antisemitic. And Obama seems awfully tolerant of these attitudes.