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mike shupp

I remember a fellow once giving a short speech to Housing and Urban Development employees back in the early 1980's. Reagan era, this was the HUD director, a chap named Sam Fuller if memory serves.

Anyhow. Ronald Reagan loved HUD, he told them. Loved thedepartment, loved its goals, loved all its people just a tad less than he loved Nancy and all the goodness of America. Inspired by his vision, HUD was going to march into the wonderful future and accomplish splendid things!

This at a time when HUD was pretty definitely on Reagan's list of things that could be reduced in size or eliminated. But Reagan was President, which was tantamount to being Roman Emperor in the Augustus-to-Marcus Aurelius period, which was tantamount to being a god, and Sam Fuller spoke of his accordingly.

I don't think you can read a whole lot into Presidential speech or speeech about the President anymore, is what I'm trying to say. It may be that Obama really is the mindless self-glorifying twit that Republicans enjoy imagining. But it's equally likely that he's got a dozen pollsters and political strategists who stress to him over and over again that Americans don't want to hear politicians mention "The Federal Government" all that much, they want to focus all their attention on the Presidency, and Obama should overcome his natural modesty and say "I" and "me" as often as possible.

(I'm not claiming this is the reality, please note, just trying to make the point that rhetorical style doesn't necessarily define a speaker's actual personality. This is NOT an Obama re-election ad!)

Dave Tufte

Point taken.

More specifically, I do think it's possible that Obama's advisors are the ones pushing the I/me thing.

Now the backtracking ... maybe I'm wrong ... but doesn't Obama seem like more of a narcissist than anyone we've had in the White House in our lifetime?

mike shupp

I dunno about YOUR lifetime, but in mine ... JFK, LBJ, RMN, and Bill Clinton all scored pretty high in the self-regarding, self-indulgent, and self-rewarding class. Not all in the same way, admittedly. Modest, accepting types don't run for President.

Obama ... my thought back in 2008 was that he looked like a typical Chicago Democrat --very liberal on race and some other issues affecting big cities, fairly conservative on spending and foreign affairs as fits the Midwest ethos, and a little too familiar with wheeling-and-dealing businessmen. I sort of thought he'd govern the country that way and I haven't been disappointed. (Well, take it back, I 've been disappointed but not very surprised.)

Dave Tufte

I think Obama is different from the 4 you list. JFK was groomed, and had some talent. LBJ and WJC wanted to be top dog very badly. I think they differ from Obama in that they had the good sense not to believe their own bulls***. I think he does believe it. This makes him most similar to Nixon. I hope he turns out better.

P.S. I haven't been surprised by Obama much either. If anything, I've been surprised by the extent to which he's followed Bush's leads. His base was so very anti-Bush that I thought he'd have to do more than pander to them.

mike shupp

Hmmm. A lot of people were "anti-Bush" without having a firm set of policy preferences, just sentiment to guide them. Ditto, there's a lot of anti-Obamaism that that doesn't really point to any sort of program. Trying to govern the country right now by fulfilling a true-blue liberal or conservative wish list is probably a prescription for failure; I don't see that changing until the economy fully revives, or till it's clear to all us that the US economy just isn't going to revive as well as we'd like. 2020 maybe.

Dave Tufte


I teach macroeconomics in Utah, and I have a lot of students who are unwilling to accept anything done by Obama or the Democrats, even if it would be something Republicans would do too.

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