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Politics and Media Headlines 12/26/08

Caro's picture

A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit (New York Times)
[I]t’s all too easy to lie. In more than 100 studies, researchers have asked participants questions like, Is the person on the videotape lying or telling the truth? Subjects guess correctly about 54 percent of the time, which is barely better than they’d do by flipping a coin. Our lie blindness suggests to some researchers a human desire to be deceived, a preference for the stylishly accoutred fable over the naked truth… We’re desperate to believe that what our loved ones say is true.
Just as I’ve been saying—most of the people WANT TO BE FOOLED most of the time.—Caro

Iowa Presidential Watch

It is hard for an empty suit to take a stand - or perhaps even to understand what it means to take a stand (by heidiliofpotpourri at The Confluence)

During the primary season and the general election a friend of mine who spent some considerable amount of time listening to me lament the Democratic Party’s poor judgment in making then-Senator Obama their poster-child, kept saying to me that the real problem with Mr. Obama is that he is an “empty suit”. That term seemed to me too tepid back then. But I have come to see it as the essential problem behind the problem of Mr. Obama’s inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader, and possibly any kind of leader. To be a moral leader, to stand for something means that you have to fill out your suit, your office, your position. To be an “empty suit” is to be a person who cannot draw a line in the sand… To be an “empty suit” is to be devoid of the weightiness that real leadership requires… To be an “empty suit” is to be a moral vacuum…

In some ways, moral emptiness, especially in a President, is worse than moral wrong-headedness… After all, it seems easier to go after people who actually do take stands (Rick Warren, for example) rather than the person who silently enables wrong-headed person to gain in stature. But this is sleight of hand. The real problem is the enabler, the person who allows the sophomoric sexist to put words in his mouth, the person who lets bigoted clerics and their churches affiliate with him… If we cannot give this empty suit some backbone, we need, as I have written before, to start figuring out how we can have a better candidate on offer in 2012. So to the people who are canceling their celebrations, may I suggest that they use the time and effort saved to start solving that problem.

Lack of attendance at a Christmas service shows Barack Obama's church dilemma (Chicago Tribune)
HONOLULU — Barack Obama has long stressed the importance of religion in his life. But as his fellow Christians around the world attended Christmas services on Wednesday and Thursday, the president-elect and his family remained sequestered at their vacation compound on the windward coast of Oahu. His lack of attendance at formal religious services showcased a dilemma faced by Obama, who is between churches and often expresses concern about bringing the disruption of his security detail into the lives of others. Still, he has not attended a public church service since before being elected, a departure from the actions of his two immediate predecessors.
Must we not even consider, Chicago Tribune, whether Obama never was religious, but only used Rev. Wright’s church for political reasons, and now that he’s reached the highest level he can reach in politics, doesn’t need religion any more?—Caro

Obama, Clinton top 'most-admired' lists… (On Politics, USA Today)
"A month before his inauguration," USA TODAY Washington bureau chief Susan Page writes this mornings, "Americans choose Barack Obama as the man they admire most in the world, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. It's the first time a president-elect has topped the annual survey in more than a half-century." Obama was the choice of 32% of those polled. President Bush was a distant second at 5%. Among women, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ranked No. 1 with 20% of the "vote." Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, was No. 2 with 11%.
Taegan Goddard didn’t mention Clinton at all. Isn’t that odd?—Caro

Because I see what's coming... (by J –SOM at Liberal Rapture)
What continues to make my hair stand on end is the hijacking of the process by the DNC and the media. Obama is still not being vetted. It is remarkable. We all need an election break - but Obama's involvement in Blag's gubernatorial campaign is the kind of story journalists once salivated over. In my adult lifetime there are only two examples of this lack of questioning I can think of- both recent. George W. Bush in 2000 and his subsequent win, and the run up to the Iraq invasion. Why we are where we are has everything to do with these two events. Both stories were presented but not covered. Subsequently the media made perfunctory apologies: We treated Gore unfairly, We fell down on the job before the Iraq war - blah, blah. blah…
Who benefits when journalism takes a holiday? And why is it happening more often?... Vast sectors of the economy are now pseudo nationalized and the national conversation has been constricted by a few large media outlets. The illusion of debate has replaced debate… Why was Obama chosen? Who brought (also "who bought") him? Who benefits?

Click here for more politics and media news headlines.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

NY1 is owned by Time Warner/CNN/etc, but in the city only -- i just caught a little on tv -- she's not good on-air at all. NY1 Exclusive: Caroline Kennedy Discusses Senate Hopes, Remembers Her Family

AP -- Kennedy says 9/11, Obama led her to public service --

... Since Kennedy's name first surfaced as a possible replacement for Clinton, her advisers have shielded her from the media, with the exception of a few brief interviews on a swing through upstate New York and a visit to Harlem with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Some commentators likened her to Sarah Palin in the way her dealings with the media were being carefully managed.

She agreed to sit down for interviews Friday with The Associated Press and NY1 television.

Kennedy acknowledged that her recent time in the limelight — after a relatively private life as a wife, mother of three, best-selling author and fundraiser in New York City — had not gone entirely smoothly.

But she said she had turned down interview requests and tried not to appear to be campaigning for the job because she knew that the choice rested solely with the Democratic governor. ...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

from the AP article --

... She also was asked to explain why she failed to vote in a number of elections since registering in New York City in 1988, including in 1994 when Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was up for re-election for the seat she hopes to take over.

"I was really surprised and dismayed by my voting record," she said. "I'm glad it's been brought to my attention."
...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

on not voting -- the transcript is here --

...Dominic Carter: Let's talk about something that has appeared in the New York City papers over the last couple of days. One, an allegation that you missed several major local elections, that you did not vote. And also, an item that appeared recently that apparently you have not financially supported Democrats, some Democrats in the last couple of years. How do you respond to those criticisms?

Caroline Kennedy: Well, I was dismayed by my voting record. And you know, I think, obviously, going forward, I would make sure to vote in every primary.

Dominic Carter: So when you say "dismayed," you mean you were upset that it was released? Or that you didn't vote?

Caroline Kennedy: No, no, no. No, I thought that I, that I mean I, you know, I, everybody can always find excuses not to vote in, you know, on election day, especially in the more local or primary elections, and there isn't a good excuse. So, I don't have one, and obviously going forward I will make sure to correct that. So I appreciate the fact that everybody in the city now knows about my mistake. But beyond that, I think, you know there's a lot of ways to work for the goals of Democrats, of Progressive Democrats, which I am. And you know, I try to do that in many ways. I've campaigned for people. I've campaigned across the country for people. I have supported people in local elections. I do work with groups and causes. So, I feel like I am a participant and a civically-engaged citizen. ...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

... After weeks of criticism that she had not opened up to the public or the press, Ms. Kennedy has embarked on a series of interviews. But in an extensive sit-down discussion Saturday morning with The New York Times, she still seemed less like a candidate than an idea of one: forceful but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way. ...

declined to describe her positions on some other pressing public issues — even in an area like education, where she has some expertise. Ms. Kennedy would not say, for example, whether she supported proposals to abolish tenure for teachers and offer them merit pay instead. ...

But when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall.

“Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”

...

--

As a Candidate, Kennedy Is Forceful but Elusive

Caro's picture
Submitted by Caro on

Sadly.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

1. A study about lying. A topic of ongoing interest, so sure.
2. An unwitty caricature of the 44th president before he's served a day in office. I cringe when cartoons that say little more than "Obama sux" are posted on my site. Yes, it segues into the next article, and no it's not terribly offensive. But, dang it, I don't want convinceable people to visit this site and see it as a place with veritable Obama dartboards on it.
3. A thumbsucker that flips the bozo bit on the of the 44th president before he's served a day in office
4. A critique of Obama's church-going habits. I don't disagree that Obama's "finding God" and hyping it to the heavens might reasonably be seen as rather convenient developments for his public life, but this business of maintaining scorecards for church visits is unhealthy for many reasons, including creating even more motivation for religious showboating by elected officials.
5. A survey of "most-admired" people. OK, a little factoid and a note about how you'd expect a blurb about the results to also mention Hillary Clinton. Personally, I'm not too weirded out that someone mentioned the #1 most admired person and no others, but YMMV.
6. Another low-content thumbsucker.

By "thumbsucker," I'm referring to posts that muse freely about something, as opposed to news-based information, analysis, or snark.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

is not at all maintaining a scorecard -- it's pointing out lies and hypocrisy, and Obama himself is the one who has made his Christianity a giant thing -- for years.

It's also--as you yourself have linked to--related to how he will govern and how he makes decisions, according to his own words.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

People need to go to church more often? I'm certainly not going to argue that he needs to go more.

joel dan walls's picture
Submitted by joel dan walls on

[I]t’s all too easy to lie. In more than 100 studies, researchers have asked participants questions like, Is the person on the videotape lying or telling the truth? Subjects guess correctly about 54 percent of the time, which is barely better than they’d do by flipping a coin. Our lie blindness suggests to some researchers a human desire to be deceived, a preference for the stylishly accoutred fable over the naked truth… We’re desperate to believe that what our loved ones say is true.

Just as I’ve been saying—most of the people WANT TO BE FOOLED most of the time.—Caro

Actually, the only defensible scientific interpretation of this sort of psychological study--and by the way, have any other psychological researchers reached the same conclusion?--is that people are not skilled at detecting lies. The assertion that there is a "human desire to be deceived" is most certainly not an interpretation supported by what is presented in the linked New York Times article.

Beyond that, what can we say about Caro's commentary?

--Her assertion that "most of the people WANT TO BE FOOLED most of the time" is simply repeating the highly dubious interpretation that I've just mentioned. Caro is making an appeal to authority when the authority itself is highly questionable.
--Caro is pretty obviously implying that she, unlike those poor, naive fools (otherwise known as "humans") sampled in the study, is an exception to the rule--that she is not amongst "most of the people", is more intelligent than the doofuses who "WANT TO BE FOOLED", and so on.
--Caro's post has been cleverly edited to juxtapose her assertion about people wanting to be fooled with a caricature of Barack Obama as an empty suit. OK, aside from the obvious polemical merits of this editing, is there anything else noteworthy about the editing?

Lack of attendance at a Christmas service shows Barack Obama's church dilemma (Chicago Tribune)
HONOLULU — Barack Obama has long stressed the importance of religion in his life. But as his fellow Christians around the world attended Christmas services on Wednesday and Thursday, the president-elect and his family remained sequestered at their vacation compound on the windward coast of Oahu. His lack of attendance at formal religious services showcased a dilemma faced by Obama, who is between churches and often expresses concern about bringing the disruption of his security detail into the lives of others. Still, he has not attended a public church service since before being elected, a departure from the actions of his two immediate predecessors.

Must we not even consider, Chicago Tribune, whether Obama never was religious, but only used Rev. Wright’s church for political reasons, and now that he’s reached the highest level he can reach in politics, doesn’t need religion any more?—Caro

The most obvious problem here is that Caro is setting up a straw man so she can knock it down by alleging that Obama's Christianity is bogus. But beyond that, I find it really, really odd that Obama is being criticized for insufficient religiosity on a blog that regularly sneers at anyone who has a religious/spiritual practice.

Oh, and by the way, why is it that Caro assumes that Obama's Christian practice is bogus unless he regularly attends church services? In my experience, folks who take their religious practices seriously--meaning their lives are expressions of those practices--may not even be affiliated with an organized religion. Caro seems to be implying that sincere religious practice is impossible unless it is mediated by a church and clergy.

One wonders who is holding Carolyn Kay accountable.