March 29, 2009

Oratory skill versus leadership skill


President Obama has had a bumpy ride so far as President
of the United States.
I wish him good luck, and hope that he
will hit his stride and become a great President.
I agree with
some of his politics, as I am pro-union, and think the educational
system,as well as the health care system needs improving. I also think
that in times of recession,there is a need for increased spending.

But there is such a thing as too much spending,
and unwise spending, which is what I think is happening. The world faces the threat of war in Asia and the Middle East very soon, and I hope Obama makes the correct choices. I think McCain would have been a better choice for the violent times we face, but he lost. McCain was too old and short. People prefer taller leaders who give good oratory. Not everybody, mind you, as there are people who vote according to issues. But in enough cases to make those few percentage points to swing a close election, the criteria for any Presidential candidate lies in the irrational. As has been demonstrated by Obama's first few weeks as President, a good speaker does not necessarily make a good President. Sadly, human nature is stubborn, and the Republicans should learn the lesson that they need to run good orators.

23 comments:

Democracy Lover said...

I take it that your concern is with Obama's foreign policy direction. On that I would agree, but for different reasons. The only way we can avoid the threat of war is to address the conflicts through diplomacy and Obama for all his failings is far better at that than McCain would be.

You are quite correct that the criteria people use for choosing which candidate to vote for are often irrational. As long as candidates are forced to spend multi-millions on 30-second TV ads, we are likely to get decisions from the electorate that more resemble purchasing dish detergent than picking the leader of the free world.

Democracy Lover said...

P.S. You would get more comments without comment moderation. You can always delete flamers.

Muggins said...

I selected 'never' on comment moderation, and see how that works.

Muggins said...

There are some pretty hardcore players out there that you are suggesting negotiating with. Reminds me of "Road Warrior" where the Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rollah offers free passage for abandonment of the oil station. Putin is obviously a thug who uses the U.S. as a contrived enemy to enrich himself in partnership with his military. Ditto Chavez. With N. Korea, just how do you negotiate with them? What do you bring to the table? Same with the Ayatollah.
What do you offer the Chinese? Taiwan?

Democracy Lover said...

I have a big problem lumping Putin, Chavez, Ali Khamenei, and Kim Jung-Il together. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in foreign policy.

What we need to do is concentrate on actual threats to our national security rather than worry about nebulous and often ill-defined "American interests" abroad. There are only 2 nations with the capability to threaten our national security, Russia and China, and fortunately neither appears to be posing a military threat. We also need to protect ourselves from international terrorists, but that is probably best approached as a law enforcement problem.

I am reassured that Obama is using diplomacy first rather than threats and that he is showing a willingness to work with other nations to address global issues. I don't agree with some of the things he's doing, but on balance I think he's a lot better than Bush or McCain on foreign policy.

Muggins said...

Well, after I selected 'never' in the comment in Dashboard/Settings/, I reckon I didn't save that change because looking it up, I saw that I had to re-choose 'never' again. I double checked my work and hope that it works next time.

Muggins said...

DemLover,


These are short responses and do not allow lengthy detailed discussions. But the reason those dictators can be lumped in one group is that they invent an outside enemy as their reason to consolidate power for themselves, in their own countries and possibly outside of their countries. It makes zero sense for them to suddenly relate to the U.S. as a friend. They lose power that way. So, when even a leftist like Obama gets elected Prez, they continue to frame the U.S. as their menace. That's why I ask, what could Clinton possibly bring to the negotiation table to change their game? I think Obama will tend to ease U.S. pressure against the dictators, at least in comparison with Bush. Already, Putin, Chavez, the Ayatollah and the Chinese have all challenged Obama, and I think Obama will allow them to expand. Putin into the Arctic and possibly into Eastern Europe. Iran to go nuclear. Chavez to step up his military influence in S.A.. I think China will test Obama with Taiwan. N. Korea will mess up and start an arms race in Asia.

Democracy Lover said...

I don't really agree with your assessment. Certainly conjuring up a convenient enemy can be useful (American Presidents have tried it for sure), but that is not the primary reason any of these men have a grip on power.

Putin is very popular in Russia and it matters little whether the U.S. President calls him Vlad and can look into his soul or whether he's never met the guy. What concerns him about the US are the missile defense installations in countries on Russia's border and the expansion of NATO which are clearly unnecessary and designed to provoke Russia (at least in their eyes).

Chavez is quite another matter. He was elected and re-elected because the US-backed oligarchy failed to meet the needs of the majority of people in Venezuela. The US cooperated in an attempted coup and is funding opposition groups in Venezuela under the guise of democracy building.

The Iranian government is overtly Islamic and the US is the main backer of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, occupies the countries that comprise most of its border, and has pushed for sanctions against them.

None of these three leaders has any reason to be particularly positive or friendly toward the US government and all have plenty of good reasons not to. Since US national security is not at stake in any of these situations, wouldn't it be better to defuse them through diplomacy rather than use them as an excuse to consolidate our power?

By the way, since the Chinese own us I didn't mention them above.

Muggins said...

Chavez, like Putin, puts pressure on media not to be too critical of his regime.
Chavez shut down a television station, threatened to arrest opponents, and has his goons physically harass opponents. Putin has newsmen murdered, imprisons opponents, and has installed a puppet to take his place as President, and now he's Prime Minister. It's all on the up 'n' up (wink wink). You can put them in the record books as being elected, but you have to put an asterisk by their names.
The Chinese do not own us, they own some of our debt. And complain as they may about Obama's spending spree, the USD is the strongest currency in the world. Hopefully, Obama will put the brakes on the printing presses in time to avoid hyper-inflation.
Hillary would like to know just what, exactly, are the bargaining chips with which to bring to the table with the Ayatollah. Don't let this get public but I don't think negotiations with the Iranians is truly sincere. The EU5, along with certain Sunny neighbors of Iran, are waiting and hoping that Israel bombs Iran because there certainly is no political will to attack Iran, and Iran fully intends to become a nuclear power. Iran regards the talks as an easy stalling device, and the leaders in the West know this, but cannot say it. The left would label them as warmongers. Their's is the optimistic belief that these dictators can be negotiated with. That would be just quaint, if it weren't for the fact that the Ayatollah is waiting for the 12th Imam to come back to earth, holds his religious beliefs more important than the earthly welfare of his own people, and he's intent on becoming a nuclear player. And he seems to be obsessed with Israel, having his puppet, Ahmadinejad, announcing that Israel will soon be destroyed.

Democracy Lover said...

Lots of stuff there Muggins. I'll stick with Iran in the interest of getting something else done today.

Sure there are some odd beliefs in Shi'ite Islam, but no really any odder than those of fundamentalist Christianity. We are just accustomed to our own oddities. The Iranians have every right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act and they know it. They have every right to oppose the actions of the Israeli government just like we have a right to oppose the actions of the their government.

Attacking Iran would be a mistake beyond our comprehension. We are already overextended with 2 unnecessary wars and Iran is far more populous and powerful than either Iraq or Afghanistan. Besides, what exactly would we be trying to achieve? The Iranians pose no credible threat to the United States.

Muggins said...

In the West, for the most part, the fanaticism has been weaned from politics. In the West, we don't sacrifice our sons because God told us to do it, even though it's in the Bible. In Iran, they do. Seque to modern history: Ahmadinejad sent young boys to walk through minefields. What do you think Ahmad does with homosexuals? We're dealing with a country run by extreme religious fanatics, as opposed to just normal religious fanatics, like in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. I had a friend who was sitting in jail in Saudi Arabia waiting to get his hand cut off. My brother and his girlfriend were stoned by villagers in Morocco because they found out they weren't married. These are religious fanatics. In Iran, it goes one click further with the business of the 12th Imam and the prerequisites of His return. Mutual Assured Destruction does not apply with Iran. Given this, in essence, your stance is wait until they use the bomb before we do something.

Democracy Lover said...

Muggins, Ahmadinejad was not in power during the Iran/Iraq war. Your point that Iran is ruled by religious fanatics is more or less correct.

Your assessment of the danger of that fanaticism is overblown. Iran is a large nation with a well-educated population. We should not assume that the clerical government is actually the choice of the majority of Iranians any more than Saddam was the choice of Iraqis.

At this point, Iran does not pose a threat to any other nation. They certainly aren't happy about the Israeli government but a lot of people share that view. If they acquire a nuclear weapons capability (which our intelligence services say is several years away), then they could pose a threat to nations in the region.

If the US or Israel decides to attack Iran, it will make things a great deal worse and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. It would make a lot more sense to work toward a nuclear-free Middle East, something the Iranians would welcome.

Muggins said...

http://www.iranchamber.com/government/articles/structure_of_power.php

Democracy Lover said...

An interesting link. It does a pretty good job of reinforcing the points I was trying to make. To consider Iran an imminent threat to the United States you have to venture almost as far into lala land as Bush did in making the case for the Iraq War.

Muggins said...

Not the response I expected. I expected you to concede that Iran is not a democracy, since the Ayatollah is in charge, and not an elected official.

Democracy Lover said...

I would have conceded that from the beginning. Of course Iran is not a real democracy. What does that have to do with anything? It's not as though the US only supports real popular democracies.

Muggins said...

It has to do with the will of the Iranian people versus the intent of the Ayatollah. They are not the same thing. If the Ayatollah wants ICBMs and nuclear missiles, that's what he gets. If the Ayatollah wants Israel destroyed...that's what he'll try to do, regardless of what the Iranians want. If the Revolution in Iran wants to expand it's influence by arming insurgents, developing nuclear weapons and ICBMs, it's not up to anybody except the Ayatollah. And if he decides not to cooperate with the IAEA, for whatever reasons.... that's what he'll continue to do.
What would Clinton offer to Iran, at the negotiating table, to encourage Iran to cooperate with the IAEA?

Democracy Lover said...

First of all, the Ayatollah doesn't have a death wish. He's not about to launch an attack on Israel which would turn Iran into a nuclear wasteland.

It seems likely that Iran is using its nuclear technology development as a bargaining chip. They want recognition from the West and a respect for the sovereignty of Iraq. They feel threatened by a nuclear-armed and belligerent Israel and by the fact that the nations on both east and west borders are occupied by the US.

Instead of inventing nightmare scenarios about what the evil Muslims might do, we would do well to think about their legitimate interests and what we could do to defuse the situation.

What prevents the US from working toward a nuclear-free Middle East? What prevents the US from demanding that its Israeli ally withdraw from the occupied territories and reach an equitable solution to the Palestinian question? What prevents the US from withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan and helping both nations return to normalcy?

None of those actions would have any negative effect on US security and all would greatly improve our relations with most of the world.

Muggins said...

The U.S. is slowly drawing down troop levels in Iraq, but Iraq poses no threat to the Iranians. It's the other way around. Iran seeks influence in Iraq, both politically and with arms to those hostile to the government. Afghanistan is under fire from the Taliban and al Qaeda, that's why the U.S. and NATO has not withdrawn from Afghanistan. Israel withdrew from Gaza. What lessons did Israel learn from that? They now receive rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel does not call for the destruction of any nation. No nation on earth calls for the destruction of a country, except Iran. Iran is working to destroy Israel. Do you deny that?

Democracy Lover said...

The US did Iran a big favor. We took out the secular dictator of Iraq that had waged a war against them and installed a Shi'ite government whose leadership was trained in Iran. What more could they want?

Certainly there are Taliban and probably Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but we've been in there 8 years and haven't done much to deter or disarm either group. That should tell us something.

As for Israel, it alone among nations in the region has a record of invading its neighbors (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine) and occupying their land. Until they withdraw from Palestinian land back inside their internationally agreed borders and allow a viable independent sovereign state to be created in Palestine, they will never have peace. The US with its unquestioning support for the most extreme elements in the Israeli government is helping perpetuate unrest and prevent peace.

Muggins said...

Why do you think Israel invades it's neighbors? Not that I like Israel, since I don't like nations dedicated to a religion, but I recognize unfair criticism when I see it.

Democracy Lover said...

Israel invades its neighbors for two reasons: It invades the Palestinian Territories because it wants to expand its borders and neutralize if not obliterate the original inhabitants of its land. It invades neighboring countries because they provide support to Palestinians trying to free their land from occupation and oppression.

We are only given the Israeli side of every news story because any attempt to provide even-handed coverage is immediately and viciously attacked by the Israeli lobby in the US.

Muggins said...

You're incorrect, Democracy Lover.
Israel ceded back Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005. Since then, Hamas has launched rockets into Israel from Gaza. Recently, Israel re-invaded Gaza, not to occupy or to expand, but to destroy Hamas' rocket capability. So your point is incorrect. Or maybe you think Hamas does not rule Gaza?

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