Thursday, April 21, 2011

Questions For President Obama

Making the rounds of the right wing blogosphere is an interview of President Obama where a reporter from a local Texas station asks questions in a rather confrontational way. The questions are reasonably well-considered and given the tongue bath usually given by the media, it was kind of refreshing. Once done with the gloating at the President's surprise and discomfort, you knew nothing you didn't know when you started. It was cotton candy for the right: delicious, but empty.

What if you started with the assumptions that President Obama is not venal, not stupid, and not driven purely by politics? What if you took him at his word and tried to understand his world view? I would think you could hold a penetrating interview and still treat him with the respect he deserves. Perhaps something along these lines:

What are the mechanisms by which unemployment will fall? Perhaps he believes that low interest rates will lead businesses to borrow money to expand. Whatever his answer, you could test it's validity with real data.

How do you think the deficit will be shrunk? It might be that he thinks he can yoke the rich like oxen and they will pull along at their current rate regardless of how much money you take from them. Again, real data would show whether he was right or wrong.

Is poverty a marker of behavior? To me, this would be quite interesting and could be used for some penetrating follow-up questions. Why should the fellow who stayed in school and went all the way through residency to get his MD pay for the stoner who dropped out of high school? That line of questioning would lead to the last one:

Is fairness limited to money? That is, are we here to redistribute wealth or is there something more - the redistribution of responsible behavior as well?

The answers to those questions would give you something to ponder and would provide a set of metrics to gauge the accuracy of his world view. It might not make the Free Republic lads cavort about in joy, but it would be better than talking over the guy.


Foxfier said...

The scary thing is... what if he is just a a venal little man consumed by power? What if that is his worldview?

He doesn't have to be stupid if he's blinded.

K T Cat said...

I've heard that, but I don't believe it. I truly believe he cares about the poor and really feels that it is the job of the government to even things out.

Foxfier said...

Which goes back to the blind or stupid problem.

Seeing as I believe in layers of motivation, I think he's like a lot of the "good works" folks I've met-- being "the guy who cares" is more important than helping.

K T Cat said...

I think the fellow is just wrong. Well-intentioned, but wrong. As for blind, well eyes are going to be opened pretty darn soon just like they have been in Portugal and Greece.

Foxfier said...

Why would it be different this time? It's always someone else's fault.

Foxfier said...

On that point....

Guess I'm not the only one that doesn't give him the credit for maturity that you do.

K T Cat said...

Foxie, this is called confirmation bias. It's like the black activists who see racism everywhere. They spend their days looking for examples and when they find one, they wave it around regardless of how unusual it is. In anyone's life you can find examples of them being jerks. To pick out just those to illustrate how the guy is a jerk doesn't help anything.

I think we'd make a better case if we understood the way he views the world and then pointed out the flaws in it. It can't be that hard to do so, just look at the totally unsustainable spending he wants.

Foxfier said...

I think we'd make a better case if we understood the way he views the world and then pointed out the flaws in it.

That's what I'm trying to do. Unfortunately, the evidence I've seen from his prior and actions is that he is either blinded by something, or he loves power. That the substance doesn't matter, the appearance does.

No matter what the problem is, the solution is always going to be the same-- give them more power.

He's probably not unlike several of my cousins, including the one that spent an hour lecturing one of his uncles on animal management. Said cousin has had two dogs and a cat in his life; said uncle has been in hands-on animal management for half a century. Also included in the lecture was an aunt who has a bachelor's in Animal Husbandry and agriculture, as well as various other relatives who have spent at least a decade of their lives in various hands-on baseline food creation. Any response was shouted down, mocked, or responded to by blaming the person for starting a fight and ruining a family event by responding. (Short version: "'shut up', he explained.")

We can explain all we want, and it won't work. Doesn't mean we stop explaining, it means that we work to counter the actions more directly-- generally explaining to those he's trying to sway.

Foxie, this is called confirmation bias.

On both sides. You refuse to believe he might actually be a standard issue college activist; I refuse to believe that he's unblinded, rational and genuinely doing his utmost to help those less fortunate.
(I'll accept two out of three, because it'd work with the evidence, but I can't accept that all three are true.)

The lack of results, focus on appearance, vicious attacks on anyone who threatens his self-image and the general childishness make me think he's just not working on one of those levels.
(Remember that "scratching my head" flip-off thing? Totally wouldn't surprise me if the "college activist" type did it, nor the ongoing pattern of inviting "enemies" to places where he can yell at them but they can't respond.)

It pretty much comes down to whose notion of his worldview is accurate, and it's rather impossible to know-- something that he's gone to great lengths to ensure, by limiting how much formative information we have about him. Which supports that assumption that he's going to go for personal attacks, since that's the avenue he's spent the most time defending.

K T Cat said...

Foxie, we might be saying almost the same thing. The lack of results, focus on appearance, vicious attacks on anyone who threatens his self-image and the general childishness make me think he's just not working on one of those levels.

What if he is discovering the world isn't the way he was told it was in the Universities? What if he's lashing out because rather then adjust his view of the world, he blames others for screwing it up before he got there? I would think that would explain just about everything and still leave him genuinely concerned about others.

Foxfier said...

Which would be blinded.

K T Cat said...


ligneus said...

His problem in part is that he's ignorant in that he knows very little about anything, history, economics, the US, you name it. He's been indoctrinated with lefty if not communist ideology from his youth, that's all he knows.

Add to that he's dishonest.