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July 02, 2008

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Um, dude, you made further comment. Just sayin'

I am somehow reminded of this unforgettable gem from the wingnut hall of fame:

"It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile."

Not.

"-- George W. Bush - a regular Horatio Alger story. A Hegelian hero. --"

I always pictured him as the guy from Flowers For Algernon, except without the being-smart part in the middle.

The point of Gerson's column, such as it is, is that succesful presidential candidates seize the center by repudiating the orthodoxies of their own parties. That's what he means by "intellectual contribution." So Clinton gave us the Third Way, and Bush II offered Compassionate Conservatism.

Of course, Gerson's a jackass. So what he's missing here is that Obama has, in fact, broken with Democratic convention, even if his new approach hasn't yet acquired a nifty name. The heart of Obama's crossover appeal lies in his tone, not his policies. For the past several decades, liberalism has generally been defensive and gloomy. Obama speaks of his nation with pride and of his policies with assertive optimism. He issues rousing calls for personal responsibility and speaks of the limits of government. In fact, if you want to compare him to another candidate, George W Bush isn't a terrible analogue. Both took the policies of their respective party's bases, and without changing their substance to any significant degree, repackaged them to have more mainstream appeal. But don't hold your breath waiting for Gerson to acknowledge as much.

White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!
White House Iraq Group!

Gerson points out that GWB, as Governor of Texas, came out for educating minority children and addressing homelessness and addiction. Gerson sees these positions as shocking departures from conventional Republican wisdom. To normal people, however, they look like platitudes.

Couldn't he be an accidental Hegelian Hero, kinda, sorta, if you squint. There was once a Crooked Timber Thread where Bush fumbled into history as a "great man" because of his strong negative impact on world-historic events.

I'd suppose that'd make him the anti-hero...

The point of Gerson's column, such as it is, is that succesful presidential candidates seize the center by repudiating the orthodoxies of their own parties.

That's an interesting point and it might be worth reading and considering if it was written by someone qualified to analyze such things like, I don't know, a political scientist. Seeing as how it was written by a two-bit writing hack whose primary achievements consist of stealing credit for other people's work, I'm disinclined to examine it very closely. I mean, historical assessments about what candidates did and what role those actions played in electoral success (or failure) are complex things and really should only be made by people who understand the difference between correlation and causation as well as the importance for checking negative results. That pretty much excludes every single major op-ed writer except Krugman.

Seriously, are there any major candidates from the last 20 years that didn't break with their party in some way? How do we know that liberalism has been defensive and gloomy: what was it about Clinton or Kerry's campaigss that was so gloomy? Wasn't Bush's campaign's use of "voter for me or terrorists will strangle you in your sleep" gloom? I found it kind of depressing...

touche eric -- seriously though, gerson really gets under my skin. for one, he's the biggest hypocrite in DC, a not insignificant accomplishment. i think he's a total phony.

Second, his self-righteous puke-inducing "i'm so moral" schtick drives me up a wall, particularly given that he likes to use pretty language to dress up policies that call for bombing and killing people. but of course, politeness is more important than avoiding war.

but of course, politeness is more important than avoiding war

At last you're learning something!

Did Bush really govern as a 'compassionate conservative', a 'uniter not a divider'? Was he really a centrist?
Either that, or Gersen believes that Obama is not lying enough to qualify for President.

So what [Gersen]'s missing here is that Obama has, in fact, broken with Democratic convention, even if his new approach hasn't yet acquired a nifty name.

I get the sense that this denial (ie that Obama's 'new kind of politics' is incompatible with strategic positioning) is part and parcel of the McCain campaign's attempt to turn the 'new kind of politician' label into baggage. Lately, every time Obama, Obama's staff, Obama's surrogates, or any other Dem does anything they'd like to criticize, they bring up (as Gersen does) the 'new politician' label and say that Obama isn't living up to it.
The recent tiny tempest over Clark's non-belittling of McCain's wartime experiences being another good example.

Let us not forget that Obama is also an elitist, having been President of the Harvard Law Review. Obviously, an intellectual lightweight.

As BOB reminds us too, he lives in a MANSION, which has elitist pretensions written all over it, probably in graffiti, given the low-brow nature of Obama's highly elitist but intellectually vacant achievements.

George W. Bush was not President of the Harvard Law Review, but did voice high-caliber intellectual profundities through cheerleader megaphones.

He is a good dancer.

He obviously is not an elitist, having been born in a hovel and now sleeping in the bunkhouse at the Bar-B-Q cattle ranch.

The black man never makes it, even when he has made it.

Why don't we just go back to minstrel shows?

Gerson can kiss my elitist, WASP butt.

I worked myself up from a sharecropper's shack in Tupelo, Mississippi to be able to bleach my butt for just such an occasion.

Bush's intellectual contributions have been of enormous magnitude. They've been negative numbers, of course...

"But it is hard to avoid the feeling that Obama has gained the nomination without fully earning it."

What a freaky weird to say. As if beating the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party machine nationwide wasn't fully earning it. I would have thought the feat completely impossible. So doing it, certainly counts as earning it. Proving that it was possible fed a little water to the teeny-tiny part of my psyche that was still holding out hope for the political process. Whatever else you might want to say about Obama, he certainly earned the nomination.

you mean the "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" guy is being less than honest about his political enemies ?

ZOMGWTF!

I'm fascinated by the notion that being a Constitutional law scholar at one of the best law schools in the country (University of Chicago) doesn't count as an "intellectual contribution." (Full disclosure: I'm a U of C grad, but from the undergraduate college; I'm not a lawyer.)

I'm fascinated by the notion that being a Constitutional law scholar at one of the best law schools in the country (University of Chicago) doesn't count as an "intellectual contribution."

And neither is writing two well-received bestsellers that weren't ghostwritten.

Are you sure he didn't mean Bush Sr? Because, unlike "W", he apparntly did have a brain. See for example his correct description of "voodoo economics".

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