Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Smart/Shrewd Divide

After eight years of obstinate stupidity in the White House, the change voters should want most is a combination of common sense and common decency.

"You can't beat brains," JFK used to say, but this year's debate has somehow been shifted to a mistrust of intelligence--at first by Hillary Clinton's attacks on Barack Obama as naïve, followed by John McCain's claims of wisdom only through suffering and now by Sarah Palin's salty assertion of hockey-mom shrewdness.

What will be at stake in the next two months is how Americans judge the qualities of mind they want in a president. The threat of terrorism, the woes of the economy, the endangered environment require more than a sound-bite mentality and a determination to, in the most frequently used word in McCain's acceptance speech, "fight" and respond to mindless chants of "drill, baby, drill."

In the campaign, Barack Obama's open-mindedness is being distorted into irresolution, but what he would bring, as conservative David Brooks noted almost two years ago, is "a deliberative style to the White House [that] will multiply his knowledge, not divide it.”

So far, John McCain's campaign has been fueled by the same Karl Rovian "cleverness," the familiar cast of lobbyists, the cronyness of opportunists like Joe Lieberman and now the selection of a VP who puts a fresh face on the same stale ideas of the Religious Right and the Neo-Cons.

Obama himself and those who support him know he doesn't have all the answers, but he will be asking the right questions and bringing to bear what the best minds have to offer in searching for solutions.

If voters are going to risk the future on real change, they would do well to take their chances with brains in the White House rather revert to what Richard Hofstadter labeled "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" and "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" almost half a century ago.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So McCain voted with GWB 90% of the time.

Obama voted with Pelosi and Reid 97% of the time.

GWB's approval is at 30%, while congress, lead by Pelosi and Reid is at 9%.

Your point is what?

Anonymous said...

What does approval of Congress have to do with Obama? The last I checked, Congress is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, and the deadlocked inability to do anything, with the President threatening to veto every measure that comes before him doesn't seem to me to be Obama's fault. If that's an argument to make, please make it better than that.

CHERYL said...

MCcain and Palin will be a disaster for this country!
We need renewable energy sources and affordable college tuitions for our young people just to name a few.
The republicans offer no change at all! At the convention they offered no plan on the economy!
The only thing for sure is we will have more of the same as the last 8 years!
More of our rights will be taken away!
If Sarah Palin wants her 17 year old daughter to have her kid, that is up to her, but don't take away my rights with your conservative agenda!
The last time I checked we still live in a free society.
I do not need some radical wack job trying to push they're views on me! If you have enjoyed the last 8 years and you love funding the war, vote for MCcain.
I am a Hillary supporter, so I have no huge love for Obama
But.......
I DO NOT WANT SARAH PALIN IN OFFICE!
I believe Obama will do a better job!

Anonymous said...

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=184111&title=john-mccains-big-acceptance:
This linbk will take you to a very interesting video with a side by side that makes it plain McCain is not only pushing bush's agenda he used parts of Bush's 2000 speech in his 2008.

Steven James Jerardo said...

You left wing merlot sipping, sponge cake eating hacks are all the same. Obama's rise in politics is equal to that of a rock star with a one hit wonder. The Americans clinging to their guns and religion will define this election. McCain and Palin will succeed and bring this country back to the tradition that made it great.

Anonymous said...

It's almost appalliing that people will be fooled by the Mccain/Palin rhetoric.
Mccain is talking about he's a maverick who has been fighting against his party to "change" the way Washington works. Well that is oxymoronic. If he's for "change" and he's been fighting his party and Washington for 26 years, what change is he proposing. He's not changing anything if he's already been fighting Washington and his party. His claim of "change" is nothing more than usurping and clouding the judgment of voters who, undoubtedly are voting along racial lines only. If they think Mccain/Palin is possible of change when the republicans have been in the White House all this time, they ARE stupic.You people sound ridiculous. How is Obama in trouble. Believe me, he's already factored in the "racists" votes. His plan goes beyond the conventional map and the race-based voters. That's why he said he's got a 50 state strategy. But if people thiink Palin is a "savior" for the Mccain campaign you're dillusional.
Most importantly, its not Obama who's in trouble, its the American people. $hit, Obama has %70million dollars and he's a US Senator. If he loses the election he's not going to suffer from it. But the American people will.
What I don't understand is this: After the 2000 elections, there were massive floods and tornados in the Ohio, Indiana, Iowa region. When the people there needed Federal assistance to recover, Bush refused to provide them with any disaster relief. Afterwards the people there were complaining because they had voted for Bush but he refused to help them when they needed it most. Mccain won't be any different. All these folks thinking Mccain is for them will wake up terrorized after its too late. I will sit back and baske in the glow of watching them suffer. Of course Mccain's policies won't matter if you're someone with $5million dollars in net worth. You'll be happy to keep getting more and more tax cuts. But in the end, if you're not $5million dollars in the black, you'll be fighting the power after you wake from you stupor.

sinz52 said...

I think you and Obama are both drawing the same wrong lesson. It's not that Americans belittle brains; it's that they value guts at least as much.

When Russia invaded Georgia, it was not McCain's encyclopedic knowledge of the geography and history of the Caucasus that appealed to voters. It was McCain's evident willingness to be forceful toward Russia for their aggression.

Likewise, no one knows yet what Sarah Palin thinks about Russia or Georgia. But the subliminal message voters are getting is that a woman who has the guts to shoot and butcher animals herself to feed her family, wouldn't shrink from the use of force in defense of the national interest either.

Of course Obama's willingness to consider all kinds of ideas from all kinds of people is worthwhile. Provided one of those ideas is not to turn the other cheek to our enemies. If Russia invaded Ukraine, for example, a President should be soliciting all kinds of ideas as to HOW, not WHETHER, to face down the Russians and restore Ukrainian sovereignty.

That's a point that Obama and his liberal supporters just don't get. For Americans, unilateral retreat has always been off the table as an option.

Anonymous said...

Please read this:
I'm currently undecided. But this is an email from someone who 'formerly' worked and 'supposedly' has known Sarah Palin for a very long time. Quite interesting.


http://www.crosscut.com/politics-government/17341