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  • They Just Can’t Stop Themselves

    Posted by David Foster on September 18th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Joe Biden:

    The Republican party and some of the blogs and others on the far right, are trying very hard to paint a picture of this man, they’re trying the best as they can to mischaracterize who he is and what he stands for.

    All this stuff about how different Barack Obama is, they’re not just used to somebody really smart. They’re just not used to somebody who’s really well educated. They just don’t know quite how to handle it. Cause if he’s as smart as Barack is he must not be from my neighborhood.

    (via Rachel Lucas, whose post on this is worth reading)

    They just can’t stop themselves. The Democratic leadership, together with its core of “progressive” supporters, is so convinced of their own superior brilliance that they can’t stop talking about it, even though it should be obvious that the arrogance is turning people off.

    What is the evidence for the claimed superintelligence of Senator Obama? Where are the great scientific discoveries or the patents for vital new technology? Where are the deep analyses of the history of political thought? Where is the carefully-crafted legislation? Where is the brilliant reorganization of a government agency or a business that dramatically improved its effectiveness? Where are Obama’s books and articles dealing with any subject other than himself?

    Obama seems to be a pretty smart guy who can give a very nice talk, as long as he doesn’t have to do it impromptu and you don’t listen too carefully or too often, and who gives the impression, correctly or not, of being likeable. Biden himself can’t even offer those distinctions.

    I’d also note that when Biden spoke at a Democratic rally where he made the above comments, he was introduced by a woman who referred to Governor Pailin as “a bucket of fluff.” It’s part of the same pattern of arrogance. (And, anyhow, isn’t the phrase usually “a ball of fluff?”)

     

    14 Responses to “They Just Can’t Stop Themselves”

    1. fred lapides Says:

      just to twit you a bit: compare Abe Lincoln’s accomplishment and experience before he ran for the office of president, having served the same number of years in elected office as Obama. Now I am not saying O is exactly like L but merely suggestiong that your arguement doesn’t say much. Besides, Harvard Law school thought O. one heck of a smart fellow.

    2. Marty Says:

      Yes, Lincoln lacked experience in elective office—but he was a very successful attorney handling some pretty complicated railroad cases, and even more so he had a clear record and position on the main issue of his day, the expansion of slavery in the territories. He didn’t duck the tough issue, viz the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, and being against expanding slavery WAS a tough issue in the southern half of Illinois. He also had a well-earned reputation for honesty and fair-dealing.

      Obama has never said or done anything that wasn’t for the good of Obama, has zero accomplishments, and lies his head off about almost everything—not just Ayers and Wright and Rezko, but claiming credit for legislation he had no role in crafting and didn’t even vote for–repeatedly claiming it.

      Obama in 2008 is a bad joke compared to Lincoln in 1860, but you have to (a) know something about Lincoln and his times, and (b) have an open mind, to see it.

      So, let’s all stipulate that years in elective office may or may not indicate anything important, and we can all lay off Obama and Palin on that subject, and talk about which candidates have better policies, better advisers, more well-thought positions, and stronger characters.

    3. Vince P Says:

      This is my favorite Bill of Obama’s. It’s one of the first ones he authored during his first term:

      90th General Assembly
      Summary of SR0110

      Senate Sponsors:
      OBAMA.

      Short description:
      11/1/97-ISLAMIC COMMUNITY DAY

      Synopsis of Bill as introduced:
      Declares November 1, 1997 to be South Shore Islamic Community
      Center Day.

      Last action on Bill: SESSION SINE DIE

      Last action date: 99-01-12

      Location: Senate

      Amendments to Bill: AMENDMENTS ADOPTED: HOUSE – 0 SENATE – 0

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Fred Lapides,

      Interestingly enough, Lincoln was the Palin of his day. He came from a frontier state and he lacked the formal education, experiences and connections that most federal officials had. Opponents openly mocked his lack of “sophistication”, his use of common/rural idioms and the brevity of his speeches.

      Lincoln prosecuted the civil war to its bloody conclusion when many other “better educated” men counciled defeat because his experiences with ordinary people in southern Illinois taught him the dangerous of a divided America.

      It’s to have a wise lay man than an educated fool.

    5. boqueronman Says:

      Fred, Guess who has a Harvard MBA? Must make him “one heck of a smart fellow”, too! Or maybe only Harvard Law, and not the business school, indicates actual intelligence?… Or maybe, he never actually graduated and cheated his way to the diploma?… Or maybe…

    6. virgil xenophon Says:

      Lefties constantly confuse glibness with intelligence (although intelligent people can be glib as well.) Obama is a glib master of esoteric B.S. and nothing more–and what good, ultimately, is esoteric B.S? Few to non-existant real, solid accomplishments and little demonstration of the superior “judgment” he constantly claims he possesses in such abundance.

      Many years ago a sweet young thing with whom I was semi-seriously involved, in one of our tender moments looked up into my eyes and said: “Are you really smart? Or are you just glib?”
      It was at that moment that I realized that I was going to have to drop her like a hot potato–she was far too analytical for my own good….Perhaps that question should be put directly to Obama more often….

    7. virgil xenophon Says:

      PS: As the old saying goes, it takes one to know one… Obama should never try to BS BSers.

    8. david foster Says:

      virgilx…glibness vs intelligence…see the smart-talk trap.

    9. LotharBot Says:

      I’ve found one good measure of intelligence is your ability to explain a complex topic in a way that other people can understand. If you can describe a deep theological, mathematical, economic, scientific, or technical concept to non-experts and have them “get it”, you’re probably highly intelligent (this requires you to understand the concept you’re trying to explain, which of course requires some intelligence.) If you can take a concept that’s normally surrounded by technical jargon, distill it to its core, and explain it in plain language, you’re probably highly intelligent. And if you can’t do that, whether because you don’t “get it” yourself or because you can’t figure out how to explain it in simple terms, you’re probably not all that intelligent.

      Leftists seem to think Obama is highly intelligent because of his clever phrases. But he doesn’t seem to use his cleverness to explain complex ideas in simple ways; he seems to use it to tug at peoples’ emotions. Obama doesn’t, for example, describe the principles behind the credit crunch in simple language; he just describes how unhappy people are and says we can’t afford any more of the last 8 years. He’s a master of the catchphrase.

      Leftists also seemed to think John Kerry was highly intelligent because his views were “nuanced”, which really meant he wasn’t able to explain them clearly enough for people to understand them. The truly intelligent will explain nuanced positions by describing the principles that go into the decision-making process, and explaining how they fit together. When John Kerry tried to describe his positions, he’d often use the form X BUT Y. This rarely resulted in a clear conception of how X and Y fit together; it normally came off as though he was trying to dismiss Bush’s position X by overriding it with Y. It reminded me of a gay marriage debate long ago where I gave my own description of marriage from first principles, and asked my opponent to do the same. My opponent just took my definition and tweaked it to include and exclude the groups he wanted, and presented it as his own. The result was that I knew my opponent disagreed with my conclusions, but I didn’t understand what principles his conclusions were based on.

      Sol Vason’s comment in the other thread was right on. People who use technical jargon or unnecessary big words, who are unable to explain things simply, and who think people who explain things in simple terms are idiots, are themselves not really all that intelligent. People who rely on their credentials rather than on their ability to clearly describe concepts are (usually) not all that intelligent.

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      LotharBot,

      I’ve found one good measure of intelligence is your ability to explain a complex topic in a way that other people can understand.

      Richard Feynman famously said that if you really understand a subject you can explain it to anyone. He was talking from the viewpoint of a nuclear physicist so I think that applies to other fields.

      I have noted that people who really understand things can come up with many different metaphors to describe the same phenomena. Their detailed knowledge of the phenomena means that they analogize its components to many other things. On the other hand, those who just repeat the same explanation over and over are just repeating from rote.

    11. Dave T. Says:

      Speaking of comparisons between Lincoln and Obama, this line was interesting:

      Where are the great scientific discoveries or the patents for vital new technology?

      Lincoln is, AFAIK, the only President to have been awarded a patent, for a flotation system to get rafts over sandbars and other river obstacles. Lincoln was interested in technology, in addition to his pursuits of law and politics. Not sure if Obama is as interested in anything outside of the political world.

    12. Kent G. Budge Says:

      I’m guessing Herbert Hoover also held some patents. He was an enormously talented mine engineer.

      And a great illustration that such qualifications are kind of irrelevant to the Presidency.

    13. virgil xenophon Says:

      David Foster: Thanks for the tip. I hit Photon Courrier sporadically, so missed that one. Interestingly enough, such findings/observations as expressed in the posting seem to be reversed in the Armed Services. Not only was that my personal experience, but no less than David Halberstam, in “The Best And The Brightest” makes the downgrading of critical naysayers as a feature of military “can do” culture
      and a factor in our failure in Vietnam. “The doubters were seen by their very doubts as lesser men,” Halberstam writes. If such be the case (And I think it is) such findings only serve to further spotlight the cultural divide between the civilian and military world and goes far to explain much of the constant negative coverage of military operations in the media separate and apart from ideological slant (which is also there.)

    14. OBloodyhell Says:

      > I’m guessing Herbert Hoover also held some patents. He was an enormously talented mine engineer.

      Apparently not, according to About.com:

      http://inventors.about.com/od/lstartinventors/a/Abraham_Lincoln.htm

      Note the first sentence.