Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stimulus & Budget: Obama's United Front?

Because the crisis is so dire, Obama explained, “we’ve had no choice but to attack all fronts.” His stimulus package, for instance, attacked the financial crisis — a crisis afflicting the banking sector — on the federal-building-construction front, the state-highway-slush-fund front, the green-energy-boondoggle front, etc….Obama’s Dodge, The Editors, National Review, 4/15/2009

Charisma is a treacherous feature of the successful politician. For reasons that you might want to consult anthropologist Robin Fox about, the electorate will look right through bad behavior, gross incompetence, malfeasance in office, misused and misquoted facts, distorted reasoning, broken logic, even treason to uphold their projection of heroism onto someone whose success may be entirely attributable to good looks, fine delivery of speeches written by someone else, and a voice toned to by genes and by training to mesmerize. Fox, who studied group behavior in apes, was not reluctant to suggest that human beings, as part of our evolutionary heritage, might well behave in similar ways in the face of a dominant individual. Those who are discomfited by such comparisons might observe the next committee meeting they attend. Are you listening because the Boss has taken the stage, or because the Boss has something to say? A trait that can distinguish human beings from apes is the capacity, however difficult to train, to stand back from immediate impressions and ask important questions. The first?

Why do I believe what this person is saying? The second question?

What did this person say? Is it consistent, or does it artfully combine half-truths to give the appearance of facts and certainty? What was the tone of the speech? Were there suggestions of irony, as if the speaker didn’t quite believe what he or she was saying? Are there cited “facts” that match anything documented from some other source?

Reporters are supposed ask such questions before posting a story. It’s arguable that, in these days of good feeling that few do -- the blinded leading the blinded.


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