David Thompson
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September 14, 2008

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Matt M

Schwarzenegger for President?

David

Heh. There *are* limits.

But I’m reminded of, for instance, Thatcher’s performance in the wake of the Brighton hotel bombing. Whatever one’s view of Thatcher’s politics, it was hard not to admire her defiance in the immediate aftermath and in delivering the speech she gave, with no sleep, six hours later. The ability to perform in this way under extraordinary pressure registers with voters, and character of this kind, like physical bravery, is not a trivial thing. I’m not entirely convinced that much of the left comprehends this in quite the way it should.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/12/newsid_2531000/2531583.stm

“This attack has failed. All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”

Anthony

Signourney Weaver for Vice President?

David

It’s interesting that both Matt and Anthony suggested actors. But at least they’re actors who’ve entered the popular imagination for *playing* characters that are determined and capable in the face of extreme adversity. As opposed to playing, say, lawyers, academics or “community organisers”.

Matt M

Schwarzenegger is also a politician.

While the Nazis/Communists/Martians scenarios are a *little* extreme, I agree that the ability to cope under intense pressure is a valuable trait in a politician. While neither candidate in the US Presidential election really interests me, my opinion of Obama has sunk even lower after his weak response to the Palin nomination.

R. Sherman

Ms. Paglia's comments are spot on.

Governor Palin is quite recognizable to those who reside in the great wilderness which exists between Hoboken, NJ and Hollywood, CA. She is our mother or grandmother -- the type of strong woman that has held families together in good times and bad for generations of Americans. She is someone whose hands are dirty during the week but gets the family up on Sunday morning to get to church.

In short, she is a "feminist" in the sense that she's the one who calls the shots, but doesn't need a lot of praise for doing so.

Regards.

David

Matt,

“Schwarzenegger is also a politician.”

So he is. It’s surprisingly easy to forget.

“I agree that the ability to cope under intense pressure is a valuable trait in a politician.”

I think it’s more than that, though. It’s rarely enough to have ideas about policy, whatever one’s position; the job is also about symbolism and character, or perceived character. Obviously there can be a mismatch between perception and reality, but so far as I can see Obama has given very few indications of possessing the kind of character that’s expected (by many, at least). When your country is attacked indiscriminately, much of the electorate will not be impressed with exhortations to empathise with the attacker, or with disingenuous attempts to construe a well-funded strain of Islamic supremacism as an expression of “poverty, helplessness and despair.” And the patronising attacks on Palin by doctrinaire feminists may well make her more attractive to voters, not less.

Anna

I really want to see Camille Paglia bitchslap Judith Butler. :)

JuliaM

"grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance"

The 9/11 hijackers didn't grow up in 'poverty', even by the left-wingers' standards of 'poverty'...

David

Anna,

“I really want to see Camille Paglia bitchslap Judith Butler.”

Oh, she’s had the occasional swipe at Butler. Rhetorically, I mean:

“I feel that post-structuralism has deadened not only the students, but the professors themselves, to literature... It is such a dead end, a terrible dead end, and what has happened is that talented people have fled the graduate schools… The people at the top now, people from my generation, who are in the Ivy League, from coast to coast, to Berkeley, their work is mediocre. They have not done what they claim to do, and what they’ve done is driven out talented people…

Judith Butler, she pretends to be a philosopher out there [University of California, Berkeley], but she’s not recognized in philosophy… her background in anything is absolutely minimal. She started a career in philosophy, abandoned that, and has been taken as this sort of major philosophical thinker by people in literary criticism. But has she ever made any exploration of science? For her to be dismissing biology, and to say gender is totally socially constructed -- where are her readings, her studies? It’s all gameplay, wordplay, and her work is utterly pernicious, a total dead-end.”

http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_04_005030.php

AntiCitizenOne

McCain Manta Grundy

http://minx.cc/?blog=86&post=273406

Jamie

Looks like somebody's been watching Red Dawn again. How about John Milius for president.

If it ever gets to the president of the USA having to lean out the window with a rifle it'd be time to start stocking the cellar with canned food and bottled water. One would hope that there are enough marines and secret service agents at the White House to make the president's contribution to it's defence unnecessary.

Call me a killjoy but shouldn't the most powerfull person in the world know something about what the rest of the world thinks. If the fight against Islamism is to succeed we do need to understand where it comes from, so that it can be wiped out at the source.

David

AC1,

I do believe that’s made my morning. Lex Luthor for president!

Jamie,

“Looks like somebody’s been watching Red Dawn again.”

In case it isn’t sufficiently obvious, the above scenario isn’t to be taken *too* seriously. It’s just a fanciful thought experiment – an attempt to account for a candidate’s appeal, or lack thereof. Not terribly scientific, I grant you, but not entirely without point.

“Call me a killjoy but shouldn’t the most powerful person in the world know something about what the rest of the world thinks.”

Indeed. But being aware isn’t the same thing as *doing* what the rest of the world says, or is imagined to say. See, for instance, the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, who seems to confuse the two:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/09/projection.html#comment-129925522

“If the fight against Islamism is to succeed we do need to understand where it comes from, so that it can be wiped out at the source.”

Again, quite so. But I refer you to Obama’s statement, linked above, and its dubious assumptions.

The Thin Man

What first drew me to the idea of the "last stand" thought experiment was that it not only provided a "fun" image of our leaders charging around waving guns in the air, but I think it also speaks to something much deeper - the candidates sense of attachment to the entity of which he wishes to be in charge.

Whilst policies and plans and the nuts and bolts of manifesto commitments may tell us about the intellectual and political strengths of candidates, we no longer seem to value discussions of the less tangible connections (patriotism, honour,duty and other such out of favour concepts) our politicians have to our institutions.

At its root, I think the experiment, in a small way, makes us consider WHY a candidate stands. Is it vanity or a sense of duty and love of country/constitution?

I'm sure the fine minds hereabouts can refine or amend the experiment. I would be glad of any suggestions.

David

Well, I suppose the ‘last stand’ experiment presupposes a grasp of territory and its importance, literally and psychologically. But an understanding of territory and what it means to people isn’t a defining attribute of the modern left, which often disdains the idea of national boundaries and national symbols, and disdains the idea of defending national interests. (Just as it often disdains notions of individual territory.)

The Guardian’s Joseph Harker is one of many examples, with his sneering at symbols of national identity as de facto evidence of racism or xenophobia - as if that’s all they could possibly signify. Or Pendle Council, which reprimanded Matthew Carter, a black dustman born in Barbados, for wearing a St George’s Cross bandana to keep his dreadlocks out of the way:

“Ian McInery, the operational services manager for Pendle council, defended the decision to discipline Mr Carter. He said: ‘We have made it clear to staff that they are not allowed to put stickers or flags on bin wagons or wear clothing which shows support for a particular team, group or country… It’s just a common-sense approach’...”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/02/territory.html

However fanciful the scenario may be, the image of a last stand is, I think, particularly alien to people whose worldview is arrived at via, say, the Guardian.

dre

"However fanciful the scenario may be, the image of a last stand is, I think, particularly alien to people whose worldview is arrived at via, say, the Guardian. "

McCain/Palin campaign slogan - "Country First"

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