Friday, November 21, 2008

Talk about Lincolnesque “Team of Rivals” Is Just That—Talk

This “Team of Rivals” talk has its roots in a January interview, where Barack Obama told Katie Couric:
“Doris Kearns Goodwin's book ‘Team of Rivals. It was a biography of Lincoln. And she talks about Lincoln's capacity to bring opponents of his and people who have run against him in his cabinet. And he was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices and confident enough to listen to the American people and push them outside of their comfort zone. And I think that part of what I want to do as president is push Americans a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It's a remarkable study in leadership.”
It caught fire when it appeared that he had reached out to primary foe Hillary Clinton with an offer to consider her as a serious candidate for Secretary of State.

Excuse me, but didn’t Hillary—as well as, near the end of the campaign, Bill for that matter—Clinton jump wholeheartedly into the Obama campaign and go all out for his election? Before that, hadn’t Senator Clinton shown herself to be a consummate team player who could work effectively with her colleagues across the aisle to their surprise? These are grownups we are talking about. Compared to her and the other non-Obama team nominations so far, the Lincoln cabinet members were a virtual madhouse of huge egos, some contemptuous of President Lincoln and/or unable to stand each other. Obama is not going to bring in a Rudy Giuliani or a Mike Huckabee. (Although in the unlikely event that they were asked and agreed to serve, I’m sure they would at least be far more civil than Lincoln’s contentious appointees, who were only a few decades removed from the times when public figures routinely had settled their differences by duel and were destined to fight a most uncivil war to determine the fate of the nation.)

Not to deny that these are momentous times, but, like the comparisons with FDR, the media are overplaying the historical import of the Obama administration. Does the press think the public to be so dumb that it can only understand politics as some kind of a soap opera?

One more thing: If Bill Clinton speaks out of turn, I’m sure a President Obama will drop a load on him, to make sure there’s no repeat performance. Obama has spent his whole life getting here—the media ridiculed what they saw as the Clinton campaign’s attempt to ridicule Obama’s pre-school presidential ambitions by way of his kindergarten essay, but the Clinton website had shown with Obama’s own words that the flames of his ambition had continued to burn through grade school, high school and college—and he is not going to let anyone undermine his authority if he can help it. A man who is willing to leave his church of twenty-some years—after the offending pastor had retired—to further his political agenda is not going to wilt in the face of disobedience.


Anonymous said...

Why do you think it is such a big deal that he left the church of his lunatic pastor to further his political career?

The only reason he joined the church to begin with was to further his political career.

You don't think he actually believed any of that crap, do you?

It didn't require any more courage for him to leave the church than it would have to throw away a soiled Kleenex.

Strivers don't have any principles other than striving to get ahead.

Jun Okumura said...

The anonymous one must be an atheist and/or have not read Obama’s books if he believes that Obama’s choice of place of church and pastor and his twenty-odd years of worship there were purely a matter of political convenience. It is also obvious that the anonymous one is not an Obama supporter. There is a delicious paradox here, because his (her?) claim actually reinforces the fundamental assumption that I make about Obama in my post; that is, his ruthlessness—a prerequisite for effective (I use the word in a strictly value-neutral sense) political leadership. Having said that, I also believe—and I am writing here as a non-Christian—that it is wrong to dismiss Christianity or any profession thereof as “that crap”.

As for the sweeping claim that “[s]trivers don't have any principles other than striving to get ahead,” isn’t that such a bleak, view of humanity and its aspirations? I actually feel sorry for the synonymous one.

And if anyone wants to know, I don’t think Reverend Wright is a lunatic, any more than the “angry black man” is one, or to choose an example perhaps dearer to the anonymous one’s heart, any more than Sarah Palin is a “whack job” because of that one Katy Couric interview.