The Myth of the Non-Ideological Presidency
August 26, 2010

I’m traveling to DC this weekend, so further Nietzsche blogging will probably be on hold for a day or so—but in the mean time, here’s my Salon column for this week.

“It’s true that Obama often spoke in transformational terms about the practice of politics,” Scheiber writes. “But if you listened to the way he and his campaign discussed policy, it was always clear that they preferred a relatively pragmatic, non-ideological approach to some sweeping progressive vision.”

The offending word here is “non-ideological.” This isn’t the first time someone has used that term to characterize either Obama or his team: Scheiber did it himself in 2008’s “The Audacity of Data,” and others have pointed to the president’s supposed lack of ideology as both one of his greatest strengths and one of his fatal weaknesses.

But to describe anyone as non-ideological is nonsense. Data is non-ideological. Inanimate objects are non-ideological. People, however, are ideological creatures.

Bonus trivia from the piece: Obama is a Nietzsche fan! And a Sartre fan. If I were a paranoid social conservative, I’d be way more freaked out by that than all these “secret Muslim” rumors.

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In defense of Carly Fiorina
September 16, 2008

The CEO of Hewlett Packard and the POTUS require very different knowledge bases, so it’s not unreasonable to say that a person might be qualified to be one and not the other. For example, the CEO of HP doesn’t need to be well-versed in foreign policy, where as the president does. And Alaska is sort of close to Russia!

No grapes for Richard Cohen
September 16, 2008

Sure, to borrow a phrase from Josh Marshall, he’s off the tire swing, but I’m going to resist the urge to pat him on the head for today’s column. Coming around to a dim awareness of reality is good, but when you package it in the same silly platitudes that we’ve come to know and love from you, then it makes us wonder how much you’ve actually learned.

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains — his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that’s all — but just as honorably. No more, though.

What I want out of this election isn’t for the pundits to acknowledge McCain’s lies – that’s a side effect of what I really want, which is columnists and commentators who actually have a sense of perspective and are capable of rational thought. I mean, that should be a prerequisite for the job, right? So far, the response we’ve been hearing from the press about McCain’s myriad falsehoods has seemed more about the way McCain has personally affronted them through his open contempt than a newfound love for actual journalism. Unless that congeals until anything more substantive, I’m going to hold off on the champagne.

Visions of South Carolina, circa 2000
September 15, 2008

Well, this doesn’t sound very good:

Jewish voters are complaining of a poll that, after confirming their religion, asks a series of questions that appear aimed at alarming Jewish voters, including linking Barack Obama to Palestinian terrorist groups.

Which, of course, is remarkably similar to the deplorable tactics Karl Rove employed against John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary.

I can’t wait to find out where this is coming from.

Olbermann would reward her with a grape
September 15, 2008

This is what the kids call a “doth protest too much” moment.

Any journalist who actually decides to hold a McCain surrogate accountable for the campaign’s numerous lies deserves some kudos, but that point at the beginning where Megyn Kelly says, “I want to hold you accountable for what McCain is doing” as if this is some kind of novel idea reminded me of the last time she showed up on this blog.

But if Kelly has, in fact, discovered the wonders of journalism, then all is forgiven. The same goes for any other hack who wants to tentatively dip his or her toes into the integrity pool.

September 12, 2008

This ad is really stupid. And very inartfully phrased.

Just throwing this out there: If Sarah Palin really takes that much umbrage at being accused of lying, then maybe she should stop lying all the time. Insulting the intelligence of the American people is pretty disrespectful too.

Sarah Palin: Not Particularly Smart
September 11, 2008

This is pretty amazing:

“Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?”

“In what respect, Charlie?”

“The Bush … Well, what do you interpret it to be?”

“His worldview.”

I really wish Charlie Gibson had asked her if she knew what the Bush doctrine is. Or maybe if he had asked, “Wait a minute, are you seriously running for vice president?” Or maybe just laughed in her face hysterically until he started crying because a major party vice presidential candidate doesn’t know what the doctrine that’s defined the past seven fucking years of foreign policy is.

Admirably, Palin at least managed to get through this whole exchange without suggesting we go to war with another nuclear power.

What the fuck, indeed
September 11, 2008

I think Mike’s pretty much got exactly the right reaction here, and I have nothing to add.

Except to say that it should be pretty obvious that a McCain-Palin administration would base their foreign policy on trying to figure out what the most insane use of American military force would be and then doing that.

“Lipstick on a pig.”
September 10, 2008

Now that we’ve observed the strategies of the two candidates in action, it’s pretty easy to see the exact point of wild divergence:

Barack Obama is running his presidential campaign on the fundamental assumption that, as he puts it, “Americans aren’t stupid.”

John McCain, on the other hand, is gambling everything on Americans being really, really, really fucking stupid.

Either way, America’s going to end up with the president she deserves at the end of this.

Sarah Palin still responsible for every bad thing ever
September 9, 2008

Holy crap. The more we find out about this woman, the more I become convinced that she can’t possibly actually exist. She’s like some terrible political novel’s version of what a hateful neo-Nixonian fundamentalist apeshit lady should look like.

I can’t imagine the mind of a human being who thinks it’s perfectly reasonable that the government subsidize hockey but not medical testing for rape victims.

I can’t wait for the VP debate. Tell Joe Biden to bring a goddamn fork with him.

UPDATE: Kay Steiger says that this actually isn’t all that uncommon in the United States, which is even more mortifying.

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