Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Are Women Never Frontrunners and Is Obama Offering Despair?

If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.

Is Gloria Steinem right? Quite a few men I know think so. This is very interesting to me, because as a woman, I don't like Hillary for the same reasons I don't like Obama and Edwards--I find her policies repugnant. But some men I know, one called her a "beast of a woman", dislike her viscerally. Now, another friend says it's not because she's a woman, but a woman with horrible baggage. And that's true, too.

Well, Hillary just won New Hampshire, so maybe the voters will pick a woman there. Time will tell.

Now, onto Obama, the man audacious enough to hope. Hope what? Shrinkwrapped has a piece you absolutely must read about Obama. He describes, better than anyone the emptiness of Obama's campaign:

Some of these thoughts have been sparked by Barak Obama's peculiar construction of The Audacity of Hope. (I have not read the book and do not plan to; I am strictly concerned with the title and its meaning.) I have thus far found Barak Obama to be a very appealing and very interesting candidate. At the same time I am struck by the paucity of details in his presentation. His speeches are uplifting but platitudinous. Beyond his record, brief though it is, of traditional left-leaning Democratic liberalism, his major appeal appears to be his "audacity of hope." The language is almost an oxymoron. COnsider Audacity:

au·dac·i·ty [aw-das-i-tee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun, plural -ties. 1. boldness or daring, esp. with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.
2. effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness: His questioner's audacity shocked the lecturer.
3. Usually, audacities. audacious acts or statements.

Audacity is an acitve, aggressive word.

Contrast with Hope.


Hope, Shrink points out, is all you have when everything is lost:

There is absolutely nothing audacious about Hope; if anything it is the last shred we hold onto when despair threatens. It requires no "boldness or daring," no "confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions" to have Hope.

Hope is what we have left when events have overtaken us and we have recognized that the outcome is independent of our efforts. We can no longer control or influence events, we can merely Hope that Zeus will be merciful on us.

The spirit of passivity that accompanies Hope fits with the traditional liberalism (proposed by populists on both left and right) that proposes larger government as the answer to our current difficulties.

On the Left and the Right, the field is filled with deeply flawed people. Either lacking in character or empty of vision or small-minded or too slick, the candidates all seem to be problematic in a major way. Some might say it's the over-analysis by the press or the exceedingly long season that's heightening the flaws, but I don't think so.

The next American president doesn't seem destined for greatness, no matter who he or she may end up being.

2 comments:

David said...

There's a saying sometimes used in business--possibly its origin was military:

**Hope is not a strategy**

Obama reminds me of a certain kind of person one sometimes meets in business: the guy who talks incessently about "passion" and "excellence" and "innovation" but has little understanding of what products his company actually sells, or of critical issues that are about to come out of the shadows and hit everyone over the head.

sandy said...

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