Thursday 5 April 2012

No Sale

I said in discussion recently that Barack Obama’s slogan for the coming Presidential election should be “No, I can’t”, a more honest and apt statement about him as a man, a leader and a chief executive than “Yes, we can.”

There was something else I said, that if a play is ever written about his time in the White House it really should be called The Death of a Salesman. It’s such a pity that it’s already been done. But I wasn’t actually thinking of Obama in the guise of Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman. It’s another salesman I had in mind – Samuel Bick from the movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon.

This is a movie about personal drift and decline that I saw last year on DVD, with Bick drifting in ever faster eddies, a yacht without a compass or a rudder. Bick is a salesman in a furniture store, not a very good one, diffident and lacking in self-assurance. His boss tries to motivate him in various ways, pointing to the then President Richard Nixon as an example of the perfect salesman. Why? Because in the Presidential election of 1968 he sold America the idea of ending the war in Vietnam and then failed to deliver. Nothing deterred, he sold exactly the same idea in 1972. Bick, in an increasing mood of despair, then takes Nixon as the avatar for all that is wrong in his life.

Obama is far more like Bick than Nixon. He tries so hard to be a salesman, tried to sell the idea that all that mattered was positive thinking. Time and again he has shown that it doesn’t. As his abysmal presidency, in so many ways the worst in American history, drifts from one nadir to another, he flails around, looking for scapegoats and excuses, looking for his own personal Richard Nixon, if I can put it like that, as an explanation for his failure

I noted from an article by Andrew Roberts in the political journal Standpoint that he is now is blaming the “millionaires and the billionaires” for blocking the recovery – i.e. tax hikes - , the kind of scapegoating that small people always resort to when in difficulty. But it’s the millionaires and the billionaires who have been taking up the reins that the state has allowed to drop.

The Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, a research body which monitors corporate giving trends, reporting from a database of 184 companies that corporate giving has increased by 53% since 2007, not at all bad in the midst of one of the most serious recessions since the 1930s. The total contributions across all respondents in cash and products amounts to more than $15.5billion. The biggest increase of all has been among companies working in the healthcare sector.

There are individuals like Mark Zuckerberg, Mr Facebook himself, who has contributed $100 million to create a better grading system in public schools. And then there is the financier Toby Forstman, who responded to America’s failing education system by setting up the Children’s Scholarship Fund, a programme that so far has provided scholarships to the value of $483million for thousands of low-income children to get into private schools. In foreign aid programmes the state now provides a mere 15%, the balance coming from private capital.

As Roberts says in his article, this is the ‘can do’ attitude that built America in the first place. Get the state out of the way, and then see what happens. This is yes, we can, in sharp contrast to Obama’s no, I can’t, and I never could. All he sells is hot air, big, windy meaningless speeches.

In 2008 many greeted Obama as a new Lincoln, the same grand words, the same lofty vision. In reality he has turned out to be more in the image of Franklin Pierce or James Buchanan. Yes, the fact that many of you probably now have to pop over to Wikipedia is a measure of how little trace they have left, a measure of their mediocrity. In generations to come other people, I suspect, will have to do the same for Obama.


  1. Obama is the poster boy for poster boy politics. While he himself is all superficiality and false image, he serves as a perfect screen to conceal the machinations of those who created him.

  2. At least Mitt knows how to make money and shelter it from taxation.

  3. So much Ana appears to be judged on presentation, style and image rather substance, content, and results.

    1. It's true of so much of modern politics, Nobby. This really is the age of mediocrity.

  4. Obama was destined to be a failure by the simple fact that he is a socialist. That being bad enough there is the added dimension that he harbours a grudge against whitey for their involvement in the slave trade and colonisation of Africa. He offered idealistic peace, prosperity and fairness policies only to find that they could not be delivered without very adverse effects. A second term, which he is most likely to serve as the Republicans will not be able to field a decent candidate to run against him, is going to prove very damaging for the US.

  5. The frightening thing is that he'll be returned.

    1. James, I hope not but the challengers are not terribly inspiring.

  6. Ana in many ways this illustrates the techniques of survival necessary for a modern politician. In the old days we had great Statesmen, who would not survive today.

  7. I agree 100%. I love your writing, insights and the way you tear things apart to get to the truth.

  8. Any President or tyrant placed into office or places of power will only add to the world's growing unrest.

    A bottomless pit was already dug for all nations, no man can challenge it and resistance is futile.

    Any man with a sound eye can see how prophecy will be fulfilled cause it would take a God to crush and silence it for good.

    Start praying.

    1. Ah, TBM, I feel sometimes that we really have reached the end of days, politically speaking anyway.

    2. Ana, I think perhaps you and the others may be a little TOO pessimistic - while I agree that the American Republic is in great danger, I believe that if the Republicans (especially the conservative sort) can regain control of the Senate while maintaining control of the House, it can survive the misrule of the "liberals". This will especially be true if the likely Republican Presidential candidate, Gov. Mitt Romney, (a "moderate") wins this year's presidential election.

      Of course, if the opposite happens and the "Progressives" retain control of the White House and Senate, I really don't hold out much hope for the Republic (at least not in its current form). With the US military being reduced to pre-WW1 levels, our allies abandoned, and our enemies embraced, the Obama Regime is fecklessly leading us to open global conflict far worse than any experienced in the past. Not only would conflicts break out in Europe and Asia as before, but within America itself.

      I fully expect that when/if the Federal Government's finances collapse (due to the Progressives' unsustainable spending), and the food supply is interrupted,(you should know that surveys have shown that the big urban areas like NYC, LA, and Chicago only have ~3 days worth of food on hand), large, unthinking, violent, starving mobs are going to start rioting and swarm over any opposition. It would be pretty grim - since the "Blue State" governments don't trust their law-abiding citizens with weapons, only the current outlaw gangs are going to be armed. The Police won't stand a chance, and the Army and National Guard units are pretty much all serving overseas. But things would change once the mobs hit the "Red State" borders.

      Unlike the "Blue" state governments, the "Red" state governments trust their citizens w/firearms. Since the coming of our "Liberal" President, they have been rearming w/a passion. Ammunition and weapons sales are at an all-time high, provisions are being stored, and gardens planted. I am certain that if the authorities can't stop the rioters at the state borders, the residents will.

      But our local authorities are well equipped.

      The Air National Guard (ANG) of [my home state of] Virginia uses the most advanced fighter planes in the world (the F-22 Raptors of the 149th Fighter Squadron), the Florida ANG uses the somewhat less capable F-15, and the Texas and South Carolina ANGs are equipped w/F-16s. Other Southern units are equipped w/support equipment like tankers and cargo planes. In general, the state pilots are MUCH more experienced than those of most USAF units, as they are retired USAF personnel with thousands of hours of flight experience.

      While almost ALL states have standard infantry guard units, Alabama & Mississippi also have their own heavy armor brigades. Tennessee has an armored cavalry Regiment, and Texas (being TEXAS ) has a FULL Heavy Armored division!

      It goes without saying that if units like these were to be used on American soil, it wouldn't be good for ANYONE on the planet - with the collapse of the American Republic, there will be nothing to deter those nations with aggressive, oversized armies (such as Russia, China, Venezuela, and North Korea) from imposing themselves on their neighbors. Arab theologies that despise the Jews (Iran, Egypt, and possibly Syria and Lebanon) will try again to exterminate them. If they use WMD's, the Israelis will reply in kind, and the Middle East will go up in flames. Pacifist Europe wouldn't stand a chance of surviving.

      Like I said, though, this is a worst-case scenario. I think there is a good chance the American voters will see through the "Progressives" smoke screen, and vote correctly.

      We have every incentive, as it is obvious we are now playing for keeps.

    3. Ah, CB, I think in some respects you are even more pessimistic than I am! The picture you paint, with some modifications, might very well have been done in 1860.

  9. "[Obama]is blaming the “millionaires and the billionaires” for blocking the recovery – i.e. tax hikes - , the kind of scapegoating that small people always resort to when in difficulty."

    This is completely untrue in several senses. America has had a +100 year history of a progressive tax policy (which, incidentally, was implemented by a republican and affirmed by every republican president through Reagan except Hoover.) All Obama is advocating for is the closing of the loopholes (e.g. Romney paid 13.8% marginal rate - less than 18% average for middle income)and restoring the integrity of the progressive taxation rates.

    The suggestion that Obama is forwarding these tax code changes as a recovery tool is pure nonsense and demonizing the rich is a straw man. It is also a fact that the republican congress could not provide any meaningful spending cuts because their own republican base would kick their buts out if they touched Social Security, Medicare and Medical, etcetera. US military spending is larger than the next 5 biggest spending nations put together but reducing that budget is completely tabu. So in a mathematically rational world, where will the money come from to make up the deficit?

    Please do chime "If we reduce taxes, the jobs will bloom." History shows no meaningful correlation and Laffer himself has acknowledged the limitations of this policy. Besides, follow the logic of these two simple facts: The average US marginal taxation is the lowest in sixty years and the economy is at its worst in sixty years. Ergo, there is NO connection between higher taxes and job growth. If there were - the recession never would have happened.

    Zuckerberg, Forstman, Bill Gates, et. al. are to be applauded for their civic minded generosity. It is a bit unrealistic to suggest, however, that the solutions can be found in the private sector, though. Los Angeles Unified School District alone has a $12 billion annual budget and about $500 billion spent annually. Do you realistically see private money stepping up to this?

    BTW, nice blog.

    1. Thank you, Radarc. I appreciate your appreciation, whether you agree with me or not. :-)

  10. Ana, one of our family rules has always been "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best" (you should see all of the cr*p Mother brings along when we go out sailing in the Bay ).

    Your reference to 1860 is very appropriate - the Southern cities have already been looted and burnt to the ground once by mobs from Chicago, Philadelphia, & New York - we aren't very interested in a repeat performance.

    BTW, does it cause any problems for you when people post such large tracts in the comments section of your blog? I debated doing so (especially after running into a 4096 character limit), but I thought you (and your readers) might be interested (or horrified) to learn how heavily armed the local governments actually are over here.

    Would you prefer extensive responses to you be limited to less personal venues like Broowaha? Or conversely, would you prefer receiving them more directly (via email or Facebook)?

    (or continue using AnatheImp - whatever you think will best assist you in your quest to inform the world )

  11. CB, I love your comments, wherever they come. Here is as good as anywhere. If you find you hit the limit on words allowed just post in as many separate parts as you wish.