Friday, January 31, 2014

Post No. 188f: The Anticipation (Or Perhaps Lack Thereof)

We first generated this piece in January 2011, just minutes before President Obama delivered his State of the Union Speech at that time. Upon reviewing it earlier today, we concluded that not much has changed. What do you think?

© 2011 and 2014, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

It is now 7:59 pm EST, as we begin to type this piece. President Obama delivers his State of the Union message in just 61 minutes, and it is our intention to have this article posted long before the broadcast begins.

In addition, Turner Classic Movies will air, at 8:00 pm EST, what some consider the best Laurel & Hardy movie ever made, Sons of the Desert.

Suffice it to say that we are ”under the gun.” But not nearly as much as our President, following what many have termed the shellacking he took during the mid-term elections. As he walks to the podium, he will be subject to intense scrutiny, and before the night is over, he might wish that he had walked across the Sahara under the glaring light of the equatorial sun.

This piece is not about how he will perform or be received, at least not in an objective sense, but rather how so many have already peeped into their crystal balls, and know how he will perform. For the past three days, the talking heads have told us what they expect of him this evening.

Part of the responsibility for this attitude can be laid at the foot of the President and his staff themselves. In preparation for the speech, the White House has leaked its intentions, put out press releases, and employed all manner of preemptive and public relations vehicles to gain the upper hand and capitalize on the moment.

His detractors have exerted an equal, if not greater, amount of energy preparing to do the Tonya Harding, and test his knee caps with their version of Obamacare, a lead pipe.

As ridiculous as it may seem, somehow we yearn for an era (if ever one existed), where all of us wait in anticipation to listen to what our President has to say, hoping that it will somehow inspire us, and lift us out of our doldrums.

In a recent documentary on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and the final days of the Civil War, a noted historian quipped, “One of the great ironies about American democracy is that we claim that control is within the power of the people, and yet we yearn for a savior to deliver us from our problems.

[Those of you reading this before the President’s speech might switch over to the Laurel & Hardy movie right now. It’s a beauty.]

A couple of posts ago, in Where Our Heads Take Us, we spoke of pre-conceived ideas and their power. At the end of the evening, we strongly suspect that the Democrats will give the President an “A,” and the Republicans will provide a grade of C-, noting that the President is a gifted orator, although he is wedded to the teleprompter.

And that can’t be good.

For any of us, and definitely not for the Nation.

And so we must confess that we are guilty of having pre-conceived notions also, because we anticipate that nothing will change, and the politicians will all return to business as usual, and all the talk about the potential for a change in tone in Washington following the Arizona shootings will be for naught.

Is that sad? Yes, especially because we consider ourselves to be idealistic optimists. We are also pragmatists.

But there’s hope out there even amongst some of our most cynical followers. Take for example Douglas, who has been with us from the very beginning. In response to our last post, Sticks and Stones May Break Our Bones, he commented:

“I would argue that each of us, if we are concerned about violent speech, not engage in it. Who knows? It might catch on.”

Douglas is also the guy who from experience told us that when he decided to not argue with his wife and agree with her, it didn’t work, and she continued to argue.

We’ve often told friends of the Institute that this experience (operating this blog) has been simultaneously one of the most rewarding during our lifetimes (in that we have learned so much about how others think), and one of the most frustrating (wondering whether they read the same article that we wrote).

S___ has to got to get better than this. It just has to….


  1. I have to say I am disappointed in the status of government. Of course, it is not all the fault of Obama. That is very clear. On the other hand I think I expected a stronger approach to the blockade presented by Republicans. He had a difficult place trying to be a President and a Black President at the same time. Tough job. Tough choices. I think he could have been and should be tougher in his last term. What's to lose?

    1. Thanks much NotFarFromLakeMichigan for your comment, and visiting us again. Some general observations:

      (a) The current status of our government has been 55-60 years in the making, if not more; the same applies to our economy;

      (b) When either of our two major parties claim that any situation is exclusively the fault of the other, and that the complaining party has the only solution; we have a problem in governance; and

      (c) Disregarding President Obama for purposes of this discussion, should every President, upon being elected to a second term, be "tougher" and less flexible in pursuing his or her goals, since there is theoretically nothing to lose?

  2. Hopefully Obama believes that the timing of his attack against the blockade is crucial, and will make it when most effective. To mistime is what he has to lose. It may well be that the republicans need to be in power when a more serious crunch occurs - one driven by the passing of cheap oil (and the luxury life-styles enabled by it). The voting public will blame austerity on the party in power, not the real cause.

    However, political parties maybe another luxury that the future will not be able to afford, and the takeover of government, by a mechanism of which the general public will NOT be apprised, is going to be interesting indeed. Expect a new genre of movies about the 'Wild West, East, North, and South' ...

    1. Thanks much CorfuBob for participating in our forum again. Hopefully our comment technical difficulties have been addressed, although we are not quite sure based something which occurred this morning.

      Oh well..

      Two sentences in your comment struck really caught our attention. (BTW, for those of you who do not frequent our forum regularly, Mr. Loosemore is a British expatriate who currently lives in Greece, and thus provides us with the view and perspective of someone beyond our borders.)

      Back to the two sentences:

      (a) "The voting public will blame austerity on the party in power, not the real cause."

      While we agree with you that this is the reality, it doesn't bode well for solving societal problems. What would you suggest we do to change this, if it can be changed?

      (b) "However, political parties maybe another luxury that the future will not be able to afford...." We have long argued that having only 2 political parties is a real problem in this country, particularly since tons of money are required to effectively function within them. Our solution? First and foremost, eliminate the role of money in politics.

      Second, from a structural perspective, consider eliminating all parties, or inserting in the Constitution that there must be at least 5 of them.

      Here's another possibility. One party controls the Executive and Legislative branches of government for 10 years or so, so that there policies can have an opportunity to work or not. If after the 10 years, the public is satisfied in a general election, they stay. If after 10 years the public is dissatisfied, they go, and the other party replaces them in their entirety.

      We need to consider SOMETHING different. Governance is pretty much ineffective at this point in our evolution, and the citizens have lost faith in government.

      Thanks again for weighing in, and Happy New Month back at you.

    2. "We have long argued that having only 2 political parties is a real problem in this country, "

      But we do not have only 2 political parties, we have several (38, if my count is right). That many are not viable parties in terms of electability says more about the parties and the voters than anything else. This system supports multiple parties and we have had numerous parties with the power to elect to high office over the years.

    3. Technically, Douglas, you are correct. There are plenty of parties in name and organization. However, as a practical matter, since they do not have funding which even remotely approaches the millions available to the two major parties, and further because the debate and primary rules in effect work against the alternative parties. It is somewhat akin to small group of middle class investors here trying to start professional basketball leagues to compete with the NBA and the European Basketball League.

      Possible? Maybe. Likely, probably not.

    4. Perhaps you ought to look at the list here:

      and wonder why most no longer exist.

    5. Fascinating lists. Thanks for sharing it, Douglas. There are many conclusions at which one could arrive upon reviewing the various lists. We're not sufficiently versed in history to comment about why so many came and went. Suffice it to say that both of the current major parties in this country go back quite some time, and since arguably they are both "coalition" parties (in that members with seemingly disparate interests are under the same umbrella), they have morphed and evolved taking on different "looks" over time. We'e just guessing here, but maybe, to some extent, that's why they have survived: "Their ability to change to a certain extent, but not too much, with the times."

  3. And Happy New Month Reggie, as we say here.

  4. I thank you for your mention and wonder if you saw clips (or the original) of Jimmy Kimmel's "man on the street interviews the day before the President's SOTU speech. To see it, go here:

    1. You're welcome in regard to the mention. We consider you to be a valuable participant in our forum.

      As for the Jimmy Kimmel video, WOW!!

      It makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Talk about real anticipation....


    2. Apparently, one can never overestimate the general public's willingness to... uh... "embellish."

  5. A classic movie from 1939 about the corrupting influence of politics in Washington is starting right now (3:48 pm EST) on Turner Classic Movies: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    If you want to follow the story, click here.


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