October
30th 2012
What was excellent advice in 2008 looks positively prescient now!

Posted under: American history, class, jobs, unhappy endings

I always thought this was a particularly good one, and not just because I grew up at the intersection of I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike.  I know a lot of you on the East and Best Coasts probably like to make fun of us yokels from Ohio, but like it or not, friends–those yokels will be picking your next president for you!  (And this yokel, now living in another swing state, has already cast her vote by mail, helping to pick your president too.)

It’s interesting to note (based on this trip down memory lane) that President Obama’s insular tendencies–and even his isolationism from powerful people in the Democratic Party–were clearly evident more than four years ago.  I know people don’t like it when I say this, but the President’s isolation, stemming from his refusal to use a great deal of the “soft power” tools of the presidency, is a political problem.  (And doesn’t the debate debacle in Denver earlier this month look different, having re-read that post?)

Why people decided Obama’s isolation was evidence of his “preference for bipartisanship” or “moderation” is a mystery to me, considering that bipartisanship is usually the product of several hours spent in the company with people you may or may not personally care for hammering out deals that everyone can live with, rather than isolation and contemplative solitary thought.

But is this the reality of the modern presidency?  Is this the only way for people to cope with its pressures and demands in the age of YouTube, social media, and seven bazillion hours of mindless cable TV news chatter to fill every day?  Remember all of those accusations from the left about George W. Bush’s “bubble,” how out of touch and how cosseted by the same circle of advisers and confidants that was a serious flaw in the Bush style of leadership?  No?  The interesting thing is that if Mitt Romney wins, he’ll govern in the same aloof way that Obama has, and that Bush did before him, surrounded by a very small circle of confidants, probably to about the same effect.  Every story I’ve read about his governorship and his current campaign has stressed the very tight group that Romney trusts, and his loyalty to them as well.  (Come to think of it–who has Obama ever fired?  I guess William Daley, his short-lived Chief of Staff, but that’s about it.)

To paraphrase Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard:  The presidency is big, it’s the presidents that got small.

15 Comments »

15 Responses to “What was excellent advice in 2008 looks positively prescient now!”

  1. koshembos on 30 Oct 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    By all indications, Obama will have a second term. Two presidents, W and Obama, don’t make a pattern. Bill Clinton was anything but isolated. W had a marvelous team. They didn’t do what we wanted, but they accomplished a lot for the right. Obama has a lousy team. Proof: they failed to prepare him for the 1st debate; they didn’t understand the term.

    Like his team, Obama lacks what it takes to perform his job. Reflections of that are his misunderstanding of the concept of negotiation, compromise, toughness, creating political support, etc. Obama may be isolated, it’s isolation due to inability to understand his job.

  2. Rad Readr on 31 Oct 2012 at 12:42 am #

    I think Larry Summers was let go, although why he was there in the first place continues to baffle — and probably explains or at least reflects some of Obama’s problems.

    I don’t think the isolation and inner-circle stuff are at odds with a big presidency. Nixon ran a big presidency – maybe too big — and he was paranoid and (I think) relied on an inner circle. The problem goes to Bush not really running the country because he was a puppet for a cabal, Obama not really leading the country because he doesn’t want to shake things up (e.g. not even with good discussions on race), and Romney potentially being another stooge of the right. So I’m not sure isolation is the issue as much as lack of leadership.

  3. smalltown prof on 31 Oct 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Just about all Presidents have ruled with a small group of lackeys. Obama’s problem is that he seems to shut down when challenged. We have seen this over and over during his Presidency, most recently in the Denver debate. His handling of the 9/11 embassy bombing was a disaster. Also, I fear that if he wins we will have 4 more years of gridlock which is partially NOT his fault. I voted for him in 08 but I just voted for Romney this morning.

  4. Historiann on 31 Oct 2012 at 9:13 am #

    A Romney vote, like a McCain vote in 2008, was a bridge too far for me. The Supreme Court is still important to me, although it’s depressing to me to admit that there really aren’t too many more reasons to vote for Obama beyond the SCOTUS. (There’s the federal judiciary, which Democrats never seem to prioritize or take seriously, when the Republican administrations are deadly serious, and thus we are reaping what was sown back in the Regan years now.)

    Foreign policy is another reason, I suppose. I don’t buy the Benghazi bullcrap that the right is trying to stir up. North Africa and the Middle East are regions in turmoil, and although it saddens me that the diplomats lost their lives, I strongly prefer Obama’s foreign policy strategies to Geo. W. Bush’s preemptive strikes & regime change.

    My sense now is that koshembos is right: Obama will likely win in a squeaker, although he may lose the popular vote as Bush II did. And it’s four more years of the same congressional temper tantrums, gridlock from fake, unconstitutional fillibusters in the Senate, and a continuing absence of theories in the WH about how to use presidential powers. I’d be all for the Senate revoking current fillibuster rules and Obama jamming an entire generation of federal judges onto the benches, but Obama & the Senate Dems will never do this.

    Then again, Obama could lose, and become this generation’s Jimmy Carter. Maybe he could have as productive a post-presidential career as Carter.

  5. Sweet Sue on 31 Oct 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I voted for Jill Stein this weekend; first time I ever went third party on principle and it felt good.
    I live in Ohio, btw.

  6. Profane on 31 Oct 2012 at 9:50 am #

    A week ago I would have guessed Romney by 3 in the Popular Vote, with a narrow Electoral College win by Obama. Polling today that has Obama up by only 4 here in PA suggests an outright Romney win. I cannot bring myself to vote for flippity floppity Mitt. I cannot bring myself to vote for Obama, given the disdain for international law and civil rights that his administration has displayed. This leaves a choice between Gary Johnson or John Stewart.

  7. smalltown prof on 31 Oct 2012 at 10:15 am #

    @ Profane — you could choose Roseanne Barr and her VP Cindy Sheehan.

  8. LadyProf on 31 Oct 2012 at 10:33 am #

    “Then again, Obama could lose, and become this generation’s Jimmy Carter. Maybe he could have as productive a post-presidential career as Carter.”

    Never in a million years will he (or any ex-president) be as productive as Jimmy Carter. Obama consistently does as little as possible. To me his ‘isolated’ style is as much work-avoidance as anything else. He’s not lazy: I’m not invoking a stereotype of the black male loafer. He just doesn’t see the point of doing extra work and he defines extra as unrelated to his individual, nonpolitical, self-focused goals. Just more of his apathy. He will do enough to win the Electoral College votes he needs.

  9. Indyanna on 31 Oct 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I take Ohio very seriously on a range of fronts; one in the SW corner, another in the very middle, and a third at-large. Caught between the story of the storm and the rest of the story, I’m trying to break my recent addiction to every last “tracking” poll. But I think that state will hold for Obama, and I’ll eat my hat if the Romneycrats aren’t wasting their time in Pennsylvania. Just ain’t gonna happen for them (t)here. We might even be able to hang onto New Jersey, with the governor’s convenient endorsement yesterday. Praise be!

    Good analysis on “moderation” and mystery part. My new-old rule on fillibusters would be that you can go on as long as you like, but you actually have to be there in person, reading out the last year’s editorial debates from Wikipaedia.

  10. Historiann on 31 Oct 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Yes! Stand up and talk, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style, or go home. Stopping legislation from passing on a majority vote is for closers.

  11. Profane on 31 Oct 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    @ smalltown prof – Indeed, I suppose there are more creative ways to spoil my ballot!

  12. truffula on 31 Oct 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Well, the President’s strategies for addressing the challenges we face are sometimes divergent from my own, but at least we seem to share a common vision of what those challenges even are. Can’t say that for his opponent. Jesse Jackson was the last candidate on the national stage who I felt spoke for my concerns in ways I might have spoken. Seems so long ago.

  13. Rad Readr on 31 Oct 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    I agree with Historiann that the Supreme Court is too important — and we could get stuck with more Alito-Scalia types for decades.

    I suspect that the possibility of a Romney win (momentum, etc) is a creation of the Republican party (along with all their other fictions) and the media, which wants a good story and a race and wants us watching the news for the latest on polls, etc. Like Indyanna, I also spend a bit too much time on polls. I just don’t know if Romney is going to be able to win Virginia, where he has dropped to a .7 lead after the so-called surge. Unless there is a huge change of heart on Romney in the next few days, I just don’t see it. What I don’t know is if the storm will affect PA, OH, MN or any of the swing states enough to possibly alter the election. And there’s always those OH voting machines.

    Don’t get me going on filibusters! Darn freebooters. Piratas. William Walker is their poster boy.

  14. JeanP on 02 Nov 2012 at 10:59 am #

    What’s with the sexualized poses of the women in these three posters and did i miss the explanation? I thought this was a site where i wouldn’t have to experience this, except as some history lesson.

  15. Historiann on 02 Nov 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    JeanP: thanks for asking. This post may provide some insight.

    The artist Gil Elvgren created most of the cheesecake images I use on this blog. I started using his images of cowgirls first, but then I found some seasonal, non-cowgirl images that I use when appropriate. I think they’re sexy but kind of sweet and nostalgic, too, but YMMV.