1.Democrats might begun to understand that looking straight into the camera is counterproductive. We don’t like to feel gamed. Clinton looks at us & says he didn’t have sex with “that” woman; Kerry tells us he’s reporting for duty; Obama says he’s putting country first. We expect politicians to squirm and obfuscate. But we are offended when they become earnest in their pretense; looking us straight in the eye implies a contract. And we know they either don’t understand or don’t care that they aren’t holding up their side of the contract – that it is a lie. (Shannon’s incredibly productive: this reinforces the post he put up while I was writing.)
2. Re. his earlier post: Obama speaks to people that don’t understand because much about our culture discourages what we long considered virtues: integrity, loyalty, duty. All these require putting something or someone’s good ahead of our own. Our customers, our children, our spouse, our community – the point isn’t to game them for our advantage but to enter into an appropriate, sympathetic, productive, and reciprocal relationship. Of course, in some, “appropriate” is hierarchical, in some it includes making a profit. But appropriate still arises from respect. The misunderstanding of this has led to a cynicism and disengagement that permeates our society.
The last comment on my “Pride & Passion” post was “Indeed. Deutschland uber alles!” Then the hurricane hit and I wasn’t able to respond. So, this is an oblique comment on both your post & my commentor:
Michael Ignatieff’s Blood and Belonging discusses the ambivalent and ambiguous feelings of nationalism in Germany in a deeply thoughtful way. (Unlike those that reflexively bring up Germany when nationalism is viewed in any but a negative way; of course they also ignore the quiet nationalism of “Since You Went Away” and “Mrs. Miniver.”) Ignatieff worries that nationalism is expressed either in terms of a “dream of a Germany that never existed” and others “suppose that patriotism is for fools.” He argues that Germans need to regain a healthy, chastened but real patriotism – that it is important. We can see why.
Saddam Hussein and Putin (who value above all personal power) bribe leaders like Chirac or Schroeder; accepting, the Europeans demonstrated little sense of duty or affection for the country in which each held the most representative and consequential of positions. I have my doubts such an absence of patriotism or even national pride is a model.