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Change you can enjoy: Republicans Dogged by Obama Mutt

by Frank Schnittger Mon Nov 10th, 2008 at 11:48:16 AM EST

William Kristol is a leading neoconservative activist and founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.  He is the son of Irving Kristol the founder of neoconservatism and was once dubbed "Dan Quayle's brain" upon being appointed the Vice President's chief of staff.  Neo-conservative credentials don't come much higher than that.

He has just written a hilarious column in the New York Times were he chronicles the development of his thoughts on Obama's (unexpected and unexceptional - for him) election victory as Obama gave his Victory address in Grant Park in Chicago and his first press conference as President Elect.


So what, for William Kristol, was the most important part of quite a substantive first Press conference by President Elect Obama?

Op-Ed Columnist - G.O.P. Dog Days? - NYTimes.com

In other words, this was a good Democratic year, but it is still a center-right country. Conservatives and the Republican Party will have a real chance for a comeback -- unless the skills of the new president turn what was primarily an anti-Bush vote into the basis for a new liberal governing era.

Those were my thoughts when, a few minutes into his victory speech, just after midnight, Obama told his daughters, "And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House."

I gulped.

Not out of my deep affection for dogs, fond of them though I am. But because while we've all known that Obama is a very skillful politician, he hasn't until now been a particularly empathetic one. Competence plus warmth is a pretty potent combination. Suddenly visions of the two great modern realigning presidents -- Franklin Roosevelt (with his Scottish terrier Fala) and Ronald Reagan (with his Cavalier King Charles spaniel Rex) -- flashed before my eyes. Maybe a realignment could be coming.

Obama was, naturally, asked about the promised-but-not-yet-purchased puppy at his press conference Friday. (If one were being churlish, one might say that it was typical of a liberal to promise the dog before delivering it. A results-oriented conservative would simply have shown up with the puppy without the advance hype.)

Obama commented wryly that the canine question had "generated more interest on our Web site than just about anything." He continued:

"We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So -- so whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

Here, in a few sentences, Obama did the following: He deepened his bond with every dog lover in America. He identified with every household that's tried to figure out what kind of dog to get. He touched every parent with a kid allergic to pets. He showed compassion by preferring a dog from a shelter. And he demonstrated a dry and slightly politically incorrect wit by commenting that "a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me."

Not bad. It could be a tough four or eight years for conservatives.

Obama has sometimes been considered to be a little po-faced, but he can also do a nice line in self-depreciating humour.  However he has also given some absolutely hilarious speeches.  Watch him roast Rahm Emanuel, his new Chief of Staff, back in 2005 in this speech.

A couple of weeks ago in the heat of a very tense election entering its final phase, he absolutely roasted McCain, Palin, Schumer, a cross-dressing Rudy Giuliani and himself in one of the funniest political speeches I have ever seen.

A few more speeches like this, and it is going to be harder and harder for the hard right to continue to demonize him.  A few more speeches like this, and even conservative Americans may actually start to like Barack Obama.  It doesn't get much worse than that - if you are William Kristol.  Conservatives have understood (much better than liberals) that voters need to be able to identify with and like their leaders as well as agree with their policies.

"Change you can enjoy" seems an odd slogan for an Administration in the midst of an almost unprecedented economic crisis.  However as even the Romans understood in an era of Bread and Circuses, a little humour can also go a long way in fending off a serious depression or military reverse.  Obama is going to need all his communication skills in the difficult times ahead, but if he can keep voters laughing with him, rather than at him, he has won the hardest part of the battle.

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European Tribune - Comments - Change you can enjoy: Republicans Dogged by Obama Mutt
(If one were being churlish, one might say that it was typical of a liberal to promise the dog before delivering it. A results-oriented conservative would simply have shown up with the puppy without the advance hype.)

A liberal would consult with his children first, and, being child centred, would give into their wishes (for a St. Bernard) even if it were wildly impractical.  Those Whites House drapes are sure goin' to get chewed up a little.  And I just can't wait for for a President Sarkozy to be keeled over by a bounding hound....Putin had better bring his rottweiler.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 10th, 2008 at 02:53:11 PM EST
So, when exactly did they show up with the trickling-down wealth, and the greetings with flowers? Because there sure was a lot of hype. Perish the though that conservatives may merely have hyped.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 04:19:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, this was a good Democratic year, but it is still a center-right country.

Mmmm.

In other words, this was a good Democratic year, but showing that it is still a center-right country.

Ah, fixed it. You have to be demented like Kristol to think that Obama is anything to the left of centre-right, or indeed (a more absurd misconception) that Republicans these days can see the centre-right from a high hill on a clear day.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 04:25:53 AM EST
In other words, the democratic party are a centre right party, not the evil marxists we've been lead to believe they are?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 06:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You guys have got it all wrong.  The centre is always where the MSM pundit sits.  Some identify marginally to the left or right to give them an angle and a target to aim their prose at, and in order to give a sense of direction as to where they think the country should be going in the future.  So for Kristol, Bush wasn't a true conservative at all, and the country needs to move rightwards from its current centre.  In other words, the American people really want what Kristol wants - hence they are centre right - but they have been temporarily bamboozled by that guy, who's turning out to be a slicker salesman than they ever imagined. Damn those puppies.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 06:18:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so your not truely conservative till you turn up in a Dark Grey Hugo Boss uniform?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 06:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure Joe the Plumber has one...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:45:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No but Heinrich Himler did.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 11:02:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's self deluded.

We've had a center right electorate.  Old people vote, kids don't.  It's shifting under his feet and he doesn't want to admit it.

 

by HiD on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 05:03:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You had a far-right electorate. Now you have a right-wing electorate. Obama can see the centre - on a sunny day without too much smog - but there's no way in Hell or Heaven that he's a centrist.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 10:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In what political spectrum? Among Mongols in the time of the rise of Genghis Khan, he might be on the liberal side of the spectrum.

IOW, the idea that it is possible to have any one-dimensional political spectrum that is defined in any absolute terms seems wrong to me ... the only reasonable way to identify a one-dimensional spectrum is with respect to a given polity and the issues in play in that polity.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 11:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't get the feeling that Obama hates ordinary people enough to make him right-wing. Unfortunately, he's in the US system that basically doesn't admit a lot of the things he'd need to do to be left wing as allowable.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 11:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If being in the US system doesn't permit being as left wing "as allowable" ... in what sense is the allowable bit allowable?

Obama during the primary showed no inclination to press against the left edge of the Overton Window ... which itself has been pushed quite a far way to the right over the last three decades. So there is no actual basis for anticipating that he will be anything other than a "centrist progressive" in terms of pushing for progress on problems that a majority of Americans wish to see progress on and framed in terms that a majority of Americans are already inclined to view them.

Obviously, in terms of foreign affairs, the US is so far to one extreme on the world stage that the center within the US political system would still be an extreme position in the international context.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 11:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't anticipate that he intends to be other than a centrist. Depending on who catches his ear and on how long it takes for him to work out that the solutions being made available to him are stupid, he may end up being pushed elsewhere by events.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 11:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a civilised political spectrum. One where opposition to torture, wars of aggression, wage slavery, debt peonage, colonialism and the police state are entry requirements, not something you get brownie points for.

Which may be absurd cultural absolutism. But IMO that's less absurd than calling - say - Milton Friedman or Boris Yeltsin "centrists" (which they would be relative to Chilean politics during Pinochet and Soviet politics during Gorbachev...).

There is also a political point: The Overton Window does not move on its own, or at least does so only very slowly. If the Left (whether in relative or absolute terms) is ever to move the zeitgeist in a more appealing direction, it must first acknowledge that there is a problem with where the zeitgeist is at the moment. Permitting Obama to be framed as a "centrist" (in what other developed country is "we'll see what we can do about it" a centrist position on universal health care?) is counterproductive to that objective.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 05:22:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... in the Chilean political spectrum. He was working hard to pull the system further to the right.

It does not make sense to try to shoehorn the kind of spectrum described in the comment into a single-dimension, "left right" spectrum. More dimensions are needed to identify a political position with respect to stable reference points.

The only way that a one dimensional spectrum can make any coherent sense is in lining up the coalitions pursuing political change in a given political system ... and even there, the effort to impose a stable one dimensional spectrum in a given political system eventually falls apart in the face of the political evolution of that society.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 11:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if you get far enough out on the left, everything else looks like the right.
by HiD on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 04:32:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you really think that has been the trend over the last thirty years?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 04:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we shifted slightly rightward as a nation after 40+ years of the New Deal and Great Society.  Unfortunately we have a binary system.  Reagan was to the the right of the electorate, but after Carter's inability and with exploitation of the social and racial issues of the times, the center gave him a mandate  to try things his way.  We're reaping the harvest right now.  The center is giving the left a shot again.  If Obama can be successful, the R's are toast for a generation.

I note Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy are also in charge in Europe.  It hasn't been just us.

by HiD on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 05:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It hasn't just been the US, no, and I am sorry if anyone got the impression that I was insinuating this. Europe is also embracing ideas that should be beyond the pale in a civilised society.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 13th, 2008 at 05:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither did I mean to imply it was only the US. It's global. But what's known as the Overton Window has shifted considerably to the right, not the left, which made your comment look a bit off point to me.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 01:14:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I didn't say in the Diary is that McCain spoke first at the Alfred Smith Dinner.  Just like in the election campaign itself, McCain spent a lot of time talking about Obama.  I swear he's sectretly in love with the guy.  He ended by trying to set Obama up with impossible expectations - and as usual - Obama delivered.



notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 07:03:53 AM EST
McCain apparently wants to work with Obama as a means to building his legacy back up.  That's at least what the pundits say reading the awesomesuperdoublesecretponyspeak from people like Silly Little Lindsey Graham.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:14:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are now entering a critical period.  Once this bus gets rolling momentum will become a factor.  Losers love to get on a winning team if they can. That includes the Clintons.  Of course, the ultra-wealthy will do literally ANYTHING to derail this movement so expect a lot of public demonstrations funded by the wealthy.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It could be a very smart move for Obama to engage McCain on a specific project where the objectives are already pre-defined.  Nobody could then accuse Obama of being excessively partisan (in any sphere), and only the far right Palinista wingnuts could oppose.  The Republican's would effectively be tied into Obama's agenda.

How about making McCain head of Veteran affairs, or something messy like housing foreclosure prevention - with a defined budget and targets.  Obama would be inoculated against big Government intervention charges, and the Republicans would cop the flak for any failure to deal with the problem effectively.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 09:47:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right.  That seems to be the story too: Obama is going to play the good cop, which is why he's being surrounded by bomb-throwers like Emanuel and Axelrod.  Biden will play the good cop as well, since he has a lot of friends on the Hill, Democratic and Republican.

Rahmbo and Biden should also work well together, since Emanuel was Clinton's guy on the Crime Bill (assault weapons ban) back in the 1990s.  As you probably know (since Biden can never shut up about it), that was a Biden bill.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not Vets Affairs though.  McCain has an abysmal record on vets' issues.  If he'd be willing to drop the "Drill Here, Drill Now" nonsense now that the election's over, it'd be fine to bring him into the fold on climate change legislation.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:19:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why I suggested Vets affairs!  Not sure about climate change though - I'd keep that for Gore

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 10:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But if you're gonna put him in a position where you know he's gonna screw up, you should put him somewhere he can't do a lot of harm.

Veterans Affairs is A Bad Idea on that count.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 11:35:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its hard to come up with a prestigious policy area where an erratic publicity-hound is not a risk to screw up.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 12:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't matter how much he screws up there because it's all going to get nationalised in the end anyway (and at any rate, McCain can hardly screw up Wall Street any worse than Wall Street is doing all on its own).

Just make sure he knows that he's on a budget. Give him some billions to play with, but make sure to get the message out that it's all he'll get to play with - it can always be recovered when the various more or less criminal CEOs get a haircut by the IRS or (preferably) a federal court.

And while we're doing the Wishful Thinking(TM), I'd also like peace on Earth.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 12:21:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the Clean Coal initiative, since its just a sop to log-roll the real New Energy Economy R&D spending through, and it'll never work in any event.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 12:37:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
was absolutely amazing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 12:29:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which one?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 02:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The sound quality in the above video seems to have gone awry, so this is a better version to view:
Part 1

and Part 2 contains the bit where he tries to set up Obama



notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 11th, 2008 at 02:23:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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