Sunday, February 10, 2008

Selling The Drama. Buying Into Reality

It's common for people to refer to people younger than themselves, as kids. I find myself doing it to people that I knew as kids; and I did it, despite the fact they may now be in their 30's. I work with these kids sometimes, and I have to say that some of them are really quite bright and talented. Not only that, they have a certain energy level and the resilience to go with it. They are some most impressive young people, you'd ever want to meet.

Yet, despite their excellent attributes, there are certain instances where they remain a bit impetuous and impulsive. Try as some of them might, they don't always think things through long enough. Something sounds good, they want it, sometimes they get it, and occasionally it's not long before they are sorry. Occasionally, some of them will screw something up so bad, they will break down, humble themselves, and ask us older people to fix it.

Most of the time it only involves the small things, but there are times, when it doesn't. I have seen some pretty silly things done by those that really should know better. Just when I have think I have seen it all, something new comes up. And suddenly I become the old sage in the cave that has all the answers, and they are usually answers that were given to them before the situation unfolded, in the form of a fatherly warning (whether they are mine or not).

You see, usually as people age, experience slowly begins to set in and they have a tendency to do more critical thinking before making important decisions. They take their time and think it through. Certainly, it is not true in all cases. But I think it is, more times than not.

The point is, they either learn or they don't. Those that do, happy are they. Those that don't, become destined to repeat the same things over and over, until they have a negative outcome and their lives become ruined. Those that continually make the bad decisions do not think about how the decisions may affect others. If they want something, they do whatever they can to get it, repercussions be damned. Pretty soon, patterns will set in.

With this comes a deeply rooted desire to seek that which is new and untried, at as far as they're concerned. Their ego-centrism draws them to risky adventures, like mice to cheese.

In 1960, there was such a generation. They were the first generation of boomers and when it came their turn to vote for a President, they looked at a young man that had been a war hero in WWII, had served in the U.S House of Representatives for six years, and the Senate for eight. They sized him up and saw that for a politician, he offered a hope, vision, and a new opportunity for change. After seeing what he had to offer, they rolled the dice and took a chance on him, over two "politics as usual" machine candidates.

Today, we have the same scenario brewing. At least that's what we are being told.

But is this really the case?

This presidential campaign has an element of "youth vs. experience" theme already developing. And with good reason, the people of Obama's campaign want to make this a similar situation to the election of 1960. One of the areas this has become noticeable is Obama's speech writing. The speech writers are consulting JFK's old speech writer for their candidate's speeches.

It's no accident the Kennedy magic has infused itself into the campaign of Barack Obama. Theodore "Ted" Sorensen, the adviser whom John F. Kennedy once called his "intellectual blood bank," is lending his unabashed support -- and eloquence -- to the Obama campaign.


"Passing the torch", "new ideas", "new generation", or some other catchy slogans are going to become a catch phrases in the midst of this campaign, if Obama gets the nomination. We can see it coming and yet, on the surface, this doesn't pose too much of a question. It's quite apparent to astute people that have watched this game played before, the people that got JFK elected are now trying to engineer another such task (one more time before they die). They are doing this by selling Obama as the second coming of JFK and using his people from that day, to do it. They are selling influence to these young people, to satisfy their need to re-live their youth and for their own empowerment.

So it is, if we do some critical analysis here, we find that there is one thing that we should ask ourselves before we make the final decision on who will get our vote. If this campaign truly wants to have the torch passed to them, why would they feel the need to consult a veteran from JFK's Administration? Can't they write their own speeches?

It's not enough that Barack Obama is not a true liberal after the JFK mold. JFK was more experienced in government, was a WWII veteran, and was far from being a proponent of "nanny-state style" socialism. He served a total of 14 years in the U.S. Government, Obama has served 10 years less. I see no real connection between JFK and Obama, except for age. So, forgive me if I sound so skeptical, it just doesn't add up.

So, when we listen to the coming sales pitches in the following days, weeks, and months; let's keep something in mind. It's nice to want to re-live some of our youth. It truly was a special time, full of innocence and vigor. But, ask yourself if it makes sense to force the past on the present day generation. By that I mean, JFK was the man for the time he lived in, not now. That was then, this is now.

I could say the same thing to the Republicans that want their candidate to be Ronald Reagan. His day is also past. This is now. And we must focus on the here and now, if we are to be successful at solving the problems that are occurring now. Now is the time to look at experience and substance, not reviving ghosts of those that served in years past.

But I suppose I could save all of this explanation and pose it to you another way: Knowing and loving our kids as we all do, can we really be comfortable letting them pick some novice that says nothing about anything, except change, vision, and hope? If so, maybe you feel comfortable letting them manage your retirement portfolio?



ADDENDUM:


AC of Fore Left has a post with some thoughts on this subject that are worth a look, complete with links to some videos that are pertinent to this discussion. I left a comment on his post that I would like to share here, as well:

Barack Obama is an excellent speaker, he knows how to inspire people. Of this, there can be no doubt. But when the time comes to lay out specific stances on specific issues, he will need to have more than just Speech Communications 101 on his college transcripts.

Where McCain will have to concentrate is on those specific issues where Obama will have to reveal what he believes in. I don't think many Americans have much to disagree with in what he has said thus far, mainly because he hasn't said anything that could be contradicted.

I believe in hope, vision, and change (as long as its truly needed and is healthy), I believe in returning America to a prominent standing in the world, and I certainly welcome feeling good about being an American again. But, taking the nation down an uncertain path is not going to guarantee any of this will come to pass. Avoiding the subject of how he plans to do all of this, is not going to do it, either.

Bottom line:

Looking at the problems we face through rose colored glasses will not solve any of these problems. Solutions do not come through feel good speeches and catchy slogans. They come through critical analysis and discussions, and even at that, there is no real guarantee anything will be solved. Emotions are hard to argue with, as we are all emotional beings. But the best leaders do not lead by emotion, they lead by intellect and showing great perseverance through adversity.



Another Addendum:


Note the respondents of the exit poll from the California primary.

This is not a candidacy altogether about race. Obama won 63% of the white vote, age 18-29. He also won the 53% of the 30-44, whites. But the interesting part of that linked page is, 91% said he was the most qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.

Another point to consider, Obama is winning red states. That may hurt him more in the race for electors, because those states will likely stay red anyway.




14 comments:

Mustang said...

This is an interesting post, LA. As it happens, I spoke to my daughter today about this very thing. Our world of politics is based on an incomplete thought that will miraculously fit inside the framework of a bumper sticker. There is not one candidate who has offered anything substantial thus far in the election cycle; one might think so before the primaries, but it hasn’t happened. There are a few possible explanations: (1) There is nothing of substance to offer. (2) Politicians have become so used to bamboozling voters that it has finally come to the point where they think nothing substantial is even needed to win. (3) There are some substantial ideas, but no one is able to express them in a way that most voters will comprehend. Hence, the need for professional “blood banks.” I honestly do not think that I want some one to serve as president who cannot articulate his vision for the next four years. Of course, presidential candidates do use speechwriters . . . but the ideas should originate with the candidate, not the writer.

Why is it necessary for a political candidate to “market” him or herself? I don’t want a packaged good. I want a real human being who can stand up and speak to the audience impromptu. No note cards, no prepared remarks . . . just tell me what is in your mind, and convince me in a concrete way, why you deserve my vote.

Our process has become such a sham, LA. Not unlike the South Park episode, voters today have a choice between a bad and worse; ultimately the bad democrat will run against the bad republican. How do such limited choices make our country better, safer, wealthier, or healthier? We both know the answer. Like you, I am waiting to hear the plan. Something concrete; and I hope you’ll wake me up in December and let me know how it all turned out.

LASunsett said...

Mustang,

I will add to your list:

(4) Our kids are given over to technology, far more than we were. When CNN came out, we thought it was such an innovative idea. 24 hours of news, anytime you want it. Miss the news? No problem, just hit the button and there it was. What a novel concept.

As time wore on, the news networks realized there wasn't always enough news to fill the 24 hour period. So, they would show the same bites over and over ad nauseum. Audience turnover, it wasn't to grievous at first. But after awhile, showing short footages of newsworthy statements and events became a package wrapped and sold under the banner of news.

It is now the norm and kids think that sound bites are enough to make a judgment on such important matters, like picking a President that will need to make hard decisions, after pondering the nature of such decisions (and carefully considering the cold hard implications of making the wrong ones). That part isn't shown on the National News Wrap-up segments.

Greg said...

I'm hoping things will get better in the general election. There are quite a few important issues facing the nation, and you would think people who fancy themselves worthy of the presidency would have given some thought to these problems.

As to Obama, I could not agree more that the JFK analogy doesn't fit. The Kennedy's are being ridiculous for suggesting otherwise. JFK at least had an impressive record of proven leadership when he won the job. Who is Obama besides a fantastic orator? We do not know and may not find out until he's in the Oval Office. Obama would be the least experienced President ever, if elected - anyone disagree?

So why in the heck is he poised to win the nomination? I think the answer is simple and sad: he's black (and "clean and well-spoken" or whatever Joe Biden said about him). Liberals and many young people need desperately for their votes to have sociological meaning, and electing ANY black man accomplishes that goal. This is what happened in my state's last race for governor. The future governor even stole Obama's campaign slogan from his senate run. The more experienced local guy who knows all the issues and could have hit the ground running had no chance. He's white, you see.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//Obama would be the least experienced President ever, if elected - anyone disagree?//

Except for George Washington, I would say you are right.

Obama was in the Illinois state legislature for awhile. But, I fail to see how that translates into experience at the federal level. And despite the fact there are many that say an outsider is what we need, he is untested in things that a chief executive will have to face.

Even Jimmy Carter, who ran as an outsider, had time as governor of a state. If we are going to insist on an outsider, wouldn't it make some sense to have someone that has actually led something, besides a legislative vote?

A.C. McCloud said...

Agree w/all on experience level. Obama pales in comparison to JFK, Carter or even Dennnis Kuncinich. He's getting by solely on oratory and "change".

Maybe some young people figure that since he made it to the ballroom (primaries) then he must be a pretty good dancer. More likely, it's just a messianic vision.

His supporters also appear to be sensitive to this criticism, almost in the same vein as Paul's. At some point the race card will probably be played and certainly any detractors will be painted as curmudgeons against progress who want to maintain the status quo, etc. Hard to fight against that.

Greg said...

Except for George Washington, I would say you are right.

Oh no!! Without GW, this country still belongs to the Queen! That's worse than the JFK analogy!

Seriously, I know some frat boys from college who now have more experience to be President than Obama.

LASunsett said...

AC,

//He's getting by solely on oratory and "change".//

Alas, AC. The pendulum swings back and forth. Every so often, it swings towards change, for the sake of change.

If we remember correctly, the JFK phenomenon was short-lived due to tragedy and the person that took over screwed the country, really screwed the country up.

LBJ was a machine candidate that was under the thumb of J. Edgar Hoover, who really was the kingmaker at that moment in time. Hoover is gone, the dynamics are entirely different now. But in some ways they aren't.

To be fair to Obama, one has to realize that he is not the first candidate to campaign on change. Nixon did it, as did Carter, Gary Hart, Clinton, and Kerry, before him.

The difference now is the dynamics of the demographics. Young people of all races are flocking to him, because they have been let down by those that have become before. And this demo is really growing in size. They are participating and they are turning out to vote.

Clinton was at one time the hero of the young. But as it happens in the real world, time goes on. And now, they have aged themselves into the establishment, the same one they once railed against. Carter was too.

I guess to sum it up, this is all cyclical. The feel good only lasts for so long after the euphoria and the adrenaline wears off. Then the hard work needs to begin.

"There is no new thing under the sun", is how the scripture reads. Pete Townsend said it good too: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

LASunsett said...

Greg,

I did some checking. In the CA primary, did you know that Obama won the "whites age 18-29" demo with 63% to Hillary's 32%? This isn't totally about race here. Sure, blacks are going to Obama in droves But so are white kids.

There's a lot of them that couldn't vote 4 years ago and now they can. And they do. MTV campaigns have worked, in their short time in existence on this earth.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

I meant to put the link up here.

This is to the CA exit poll showing the data I just mentioned.

Greg said...

LAS: I did some checking. In the CA primary, did you know that Obama won the "whites age 18-29" demo with 63% to Hillary's 32%? This isn't totally about race here. Sure, blacks are going to Obama in droves But so are white kids.

Well, just b/c white kids are voting for Obama doesn't mean it's not about race. Why are they voting for him? I'm telling you - liberals (especially the young ones) are dying to vote for a black man. They think this will bring meaning to their vote, this election, and their lives.

I can assure you the choice b/w Hillary & Obama is not about issues. They agree on everything, no? Ok, here's a test for everyone to gauge how much race matters. Next time you meet an Obama supporter, at the appropriate moment in the conversation, mention that Obama isn't black - that he's white. I guarantee a ferocious response, though it's equally accurate to say he's white as to say he's black.

I saw the same crap 2 years ago with Deval Patrick. Back during the election, I would ask his supporters (just about everyone in Boston) to give me 3 good reasons for voting for Patrick. Most couldn't give me one. And no one admitted the obvious - they were dying to elect a black man. I hope they got it out of their systems and will not vote for people based upon their skin color, b/c Patrick's inexperience is really showing. Maybe they did - Hillary won the primary here. I don't like her, but she's more qualified than Obama.

BTW, notice that Hillary fired her white campaign manager over the weekend and hired a black woman to replace her? Coincidence?

And did you see what Bubba said over the weekend? He went to a black church (query to LAS readers - are your churches segregated??) and said:

All my life I have wanted to vote for a woman for president. All my life I have wanted to vote for an African-American for president. ... I wonder why God gave us this dilemma.

[BIG eye roll]

Pardon the longwinded post....

A.C. McCloud said...

LA, some have described it as Barack "catching a wave". It's more than just change for the sake of it, Obama expresses optimism, like Reagan. People want optimism. Right now a large mass of voters are so disenchanted with Congress and Bush (20-30 pct approvals) they are willing to overlook anything negative about Barack, in the same fashion as the Paul supporters, which is the only thing that scares me a little bit.

Greg said...

AC: LA, some have described it as Barack "catching a wave".

Or maybe it's just that there's no White Bitch Month. LOL. Check it:

http://tinyurl.com/2pvhks

LASunsett said...

AC,

I understand what you are saying, and believe me, I think there is some validity to what you are saying. But, I don't see it as impossible to overcome.

To beat Obama, McCain must be sharp on the issues and articulate his stances clearly. He must draw a distinction between himself and Obama. He must bring Obama's stances to the forefront. Once that is done, people will be able to see that this man will be a tool of the far-left. I just do not believe that the country is ready for a far left President. Maybe somewhere down the road, it will be inevitable, but not now.

If Obama doesn't cooperate and identify where he stands for the record, the McCain camp simply must highlight the fact that the level of uncertainty is too big of a risk. Remember, we are baby boomers and until we start dying off in droves, we still hold the reins of power. We still outnumber Generation X.

Remember, there are moderates in the Dem party that may not like Bush and company, but they do have enough brains to see through this hope, vision, and change strategy. Obama will have a lot of trouble triangulating, based on his voting record, which is as far left as anyone.

Like I said, I think you are right on the catching a wave analogy, but waves fizzle out when conditions warrant.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

Only you can come up such stuff as that video. ;)