Monday, November 30th, 2009

Obama's Got Jokes. Robot Jokes.

Barack Obama's first-year approval ratings have dipped below 50% (just like Reagan's!), his recent trip to Asia was deemed a failure by many in the pundit class, and The Economist labeled him "The Quiet American," asking "is he merely a presidential version of Alden Pyle, Graham Greene's idealistic, clever Quiet American who wants to change the world, but underestimates how bad the world is-and ends up causing harm?" And then there's the robot threat! Last week at the White House, though, talking to a group of competitive teenage robot designers and mathletes in an event to promote new initiatives in science and technology innovation, the president proved yet again that he has it all under control.

9 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

He ought to be a lot more concerned about the Cougar Cannon that was aimed at the White House during last week's state dinner.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

I was going to make a "Cougar Canon" joke about Candice Bushnell….

beingiseasy (#1,735)

News from The Future: Will Smith hired as Robot Czar

Abe Sauer (#148)

"Is he clever or weak?" The Economist defines the terms of assessment so that it can make it looks like it has the analysis. Why can there only be 2 possibilities? Maybe -SHOCKER- he's just a mediocre president. We've had plenty of middling presidents and as much as we'd like to think Obama's presidency is somehow weighty, maybe it isn't.

Also, I do not for the life of me understand how any thinking person could equate Obama with an idealist. Maybe if you only take the "hope / change" message bite… maybe. The guy, from the beginning, has been all about meeting in the middle and compromise and arbitration and diplomacy. These are the opposite traits of an idealist.

beingiseasy (#1,735)

By American standards, anyone who isn't completely cynical and skeptical of every thing/person is an idealist. Definitions are useless when comparative analysis is employed.

Abe Sauer (#148)

John Kerry. Idealist.

Dave Bry (#422)

Good point, Abe. I agree that he's at the core a pragmatist. But his speeches, which are a huge part of his appeal, and i'd say, his project, and which I believe he makes honestly, are certainly idealistic. He has a lot of idealist in him, along with the pragmatism. In a perfect world, a great president would use meeting in the middle and compromise and arbitration and diplomacy to achieve idealistic goals. I don't think the two sides necessarily conflict.

Abe Sauer (#148)

I think it SEEMS that way but if you listen close, not at all. Healthcare may be the perfect example of how Obama was an idealist before he ran for office (strongly supporting the single payer, now shamelessly on record). But after he started running (and now) that changed completely. The only thing he was an idealist about was winning. Idealists on the left don;t win presidencies.

To really get a handle on just how much of a middle-roader non-idealist Obama is, read Luke Mitchell's (tremendous) current Harper's essay (subs only SO GO BUY A COPY!)
which rightly notes, after listing all the healthcare reform demands on the far reaches of the left and right, "The president, as is his habit, proposed that the appropriate solution lay somewhere in between." and the gross danger of this that by pushing the right further right in its demands (Hands off my healthcare!) and with the left having turned into the concessionary, fiscally-responsible to appeal to everyone barely-molded jell-o it is, "somewhere in the middle" only continues to get more right.

Dave Bry (#422)

I was talking about this with someone this weekend. I was saying, too, how Obama's instinct toward tacking to the middle – and seeing various sides of an argument, and in fact taking into account views opposing his own and making concessions based thereon – could cost him progress. Like might he compromise away more than he would even have to, just because he believes in the notion of compromise for compromise sake (is he too idealistic about the idea of pragmatism?!) The guy I was talking to suggested that all this was Obama outfoxing the foxes. and suggested that if he does, in the end, get a health care plan with the public option, that will be proof. And i would think it would. But i'm doubtful. I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and more time, but we'll see…

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