Friday, October 3, 2008

The pivot begins


Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said of Franklin Roosevelt that he had a "second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament." Obama has shown that he is a man of limited experience, questionable convictions, deeply troubling associations (Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Tony Rezko) and an alarming lack of self- definition -- do you really know who he is and what he believes? Nonetheless, he's got both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament. That will likely be enough to make him president.

It's got nothing to do with the economy, or the Iraq War, it's all about Obama and McCain's failed Hail Mary passes. The Bush policy decisions -- and their outcomes -- that forced McCain into those desperation moves aren't discussed, and won't be by Krauthammer or anyone like him, because they supported those policies, and a discussion of those policies' merits can only reach one conclusion. So we get McCain's bad campaigning (would he be any further behind if he hadn't "suspended" his campaign?), and a compliment of Obama's temperament and intelligence -- anything but policy. And as the good ship Straighttalk sinks under the waves, we'll get more stuff like this, until the right starts their counterattack, when Obama's "temperament and intelligence" will almost certainly be found wanting. The sad thing is that many on the motivated left will agree with this sort of thing, and come to believe that they won this year, not because they support better, more deserving policies than the Republicans, but because Obama is such a wonderful candidate. Dems should be smarter than that, smarter than the Republicans were when they turned the past eight years into a Bush fetish party. It didn't work for them, and it won't work for the Dems. Obama will win because the Republicans did an awful job of governing; if the Dems want to keep on winning they will do a good job of governing. That means keeping their policies -- which most Americans agree with -- at the center of the discussion at all times, not Barack Obama.


If someone has "first rate temperament and intelligence," doesn't it make sense that they would make good decisions regarding policy and so on? I mean, what else is there? Temperament, intelligence, and experience are the underpinnings of judgment, and if Obama has the first two, and is rapidly acquiring the third, he would seem to be pretty much ideal, wouldn't he? But when the time comes Krauthammer will have no problem at all pivoting again.