Sunday, March 14, 2010


Sam Smith
- His supporters didn't read the small type above the box marked "I
accept." If they had they would have learned during the campaign that
Obama was pro-military, anti-civil liberties and conservative on
economics. They got what they paid for, just not what they thought they
had paid for.
- Obama got where he is by repeatedly pleasing the establishment. He still
- Everyone from his mother to his law professors to the Democratic
Leadership Council kept telling him how great he was. He came to believe
them. Wisdom and judgment in life requires losses as well as victories.
- He understands how to create transparent data but not how to create
visible programs. No one knows why we're in Afghanistan, what's really in
the healthcare bill, or what's being stimulated in their communities. It's
hard to argue for things people can't see and it makes it easy for your
opponents to claim that they're something awful. The best politics is the
sort you can see and feel.
- Obama's a lawyer surrounded by too many lawyers. The legalocracy has
been taking over Washington for years, but with Obama it's reached a new
peak. Lawyers do somethings well, like write contracts, sue people and
draft your will. In other matters - like actually doing whatever it is
they're providing legal support for - they are not particularly qualified.
Harry Markopolos, the Bernie Madoff whistleblower, recently described how
it works at the SEC:"The five commissioners of the SEC are securities
lawyers. Securities lawyers never understand finance. They don't have the
math background. If you can't do math and if you can't take apart the
investment products of the 21st century backward and forward and put them
together in your sleep you'll never find the frauds on Wall Street."
- Further, lawyers think truth lies in documents and not out on the
street. Which is one reason FDR did better with his stimulus package: he
put a social worker, and not a lawyer, in charge.
- Rahm Emmanuel. Hope and change don't go over so well when they are
accompanied by threats.
- As soon as Obama got elected he dumped his liberal supporters, thereby
ignoring the advice of a wiser Chicago politician, Richard Daley the
elder: "Dance with the one that brung you."
- He has too many economists. Multi-factor crises are not handled well by
one-factor thinkers.
- Obama thinks bipartisanship is great. A better politician, Harry Truman,
said that when anyone told him they were bipartisan, he knew they were
going to vote against him. My Coast Guard navigation instructor told us
that if you take a navigational fix and it puts you on one side of a rock
and then you take another fix and it puts you on the other side of the
rock, "Don't split the difference." Obama doesn't seem to grasp this
- There's nothing intrinsically wrong with compromise, but wise
compromises are made by those who know where they want to go. Using a
compromise as the starting point is a premeditated act of random, like you
know, whatever.
- Looking deeply pensive when someone else is speaking or doing a little
jog up to the podium is cute the first few times; after that it becomes
- Obama's problem is not that he uses a teleprompter but that he seems
totally dependent on it, such as using one when speaking to a group of
school children. Joe Biden should give him lessons in human conversation.
- Academic intelligence takes you only so far. At some point, you have to
apply it and that requires other skills such as social wisdom, empathy and
- Obama, who has a hard time running those governmental functions covered
by the Constitution, can't keep his hands off things that are none of his
business like local education or how health records are maintained. The
wisest leaders know how to share power with others and to respect the 10th
- People don't want more laws and regulations; they want more money, help
and happiness. Obama doesn't seem to understand this.
- Everyone talks about Obama and race, but it's really class that's
causing the problem. People feel they're being talked down to, scolded,
and told what to do by people who come across as intellectual snobs. This
didn't used to be a problem, because liberals were the ones who helped the
workers and the less fortunate in society. Now they don't seem to care all
that much. If liberals, beginning with Obama, had a people-friendly
economic policy, the right wouldn't be able to get away with their
hypocritical blarney and the Democrats would have some weapons to combat
- With Obama as with the rest of his party, there is no interest, concern
or respect for the local - where people really live. Getting through life
doesn't happen at a White House summit but in the 'hood.
- After you've had all your summits and your speeches and special meetings
with special people, it helps to make a decision or two that everyone can
understand and a lot of people can get excited about.

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