Friday, November 14, 2008

One Good Thing About the Election Outcome

I don't know whether Barack Obama will do a good or bad job of being President. But I think it is already clear that listening to him will be a pleasanter experience than listening to most politicians.

My most recent basis for that opinion is an interview with Sarah Palin, where she reports Obama, in a phone call, wishing her "luck--but not that much luck." A while earlier, I saw a news clip where Obama was discussing the question of what sort of a dog they were going to get for their daughters. He explained that this was a major issue, but there was a problem. They would like to get a puppy from a shelter, but one of his daughters had an allergy problem, so they needed a breed that was hypoallergenic. A dog from a shelter was unlikely to qualify since it would be "a mutt like me."

The general impression is not only that he is a competent speaker--most successful politicans are--but that he does not take himself too seriously.

And one bad thing? A President, House and Senate all held by the same party.


At 1:14 PM, November 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time I read your blog, I'm honestly surprised at the partisan way you present yourself.

At 3:22 PM, November 14, 2008, Blogger Arthur B. said...

I listened to the same speech and had the opposite reaction. The dog from the shelter thing sounded phony to me.

Did you find it pleasant as well when he explained 10 seconds earlier that automobile production was the backbone of American manufacturing and had to be saved?

Your appreciation of Obama is quite a puzzle to me. As a president, he will have little powers anyway, but he is charismatic enough to create popular enthusiasm behind the worst economic policies.

In this time of crisis, many people are expecting a new new deal, and Obama is ready to incarnate a new FDR, with a hint of JFK (including a somewhat likely assassination that'll make a legend out of him).

Social security was introduced by FDR, Obama will introduce universal healthcare. "Alternative" energy will be the new Tenessee Valley, etc. Already Krugram is drawing parallels, blaming FDR for being to tame, seeking a balanced budget, and not spending enough - calling Obama to have the audacity to go much further than the new Deal.

Even if you see positive things about Obama as a person, consider that the real danger lies in his public image.

At 8:50 PM, November 14, 2008, Blogger David Tomlin said...

The last time the Democrats controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress was 1993-94, the first half of Clinton's first term. The federal government's share of the national income went down, from 22.1% in 1992 to 21.0% in 1994.

Republicans naturally like to credit Republican control of Congress for the fiscal restraint of the Clinton years, but that restraint was already in evidence before the 1994 elections.

Carter's single term was also a time of relative fiscal restraint.

At 11:20 PM, November 14, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

I sympathize with your post. A president without wrong policies was never an option. Therefore, a president with some sense of humour can at least be appreciated for that; though I suppose John McCain also has some sense of humour.

At 7:28 AM, November 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rather expect that at least once during the next two years, a Republican filibuster in the Senate will save us from some deranged Democratic scheme.

At 3:16 PM, November 15, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"Every time I read your blog, I'm honestly surprised at the partisan way you present yourself."

Quite a lot of people online seem to share your view that I'm partisan. The only disagreement is on whether I am partisan in favor of Obama or partisan in favor of Palin.

At 9:33 PM, November 15, 2008, Blogger dWj said...

I mentioned to a few people over the past couple months that, regardless of who won, I would find the President more pleasant to watch than any since Reagan.

Still, I do hope he doesn't do anything disastrous.

At 2:20 AM, November 16, 2008, Blogger J. V. said...

Actually, David is one of the few bloggers I read regularly that doesn't have an obvious partisan slant to his posts.

At 5:28 PM, November 16, 2008, Blogger Nigel Kearney said...

There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dogs. All races of dog are created equally allergenic. I dream of a day when dogs will be judged, not by the dryness of their skin, but by the content of their character.

At 10:04 PM, November 16, 2008, Blogger Robert Wenzel said...

Wouldn't a less charismatic president have less ability to lead the masses on mad schemes?

At 7:56 AM, November 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the hairless dog breeds, two Mexican and one Chinese, are much less allergenic than others. Also much, much more expensive to buy and to care for.

At 4:26 PM, November 17, 2008, Blogger John Sullivan said...

Obama's policies have to be judged according to his and his party's objectives, which is first and foremost to remain in power.

Don't expect anything different than what you have thus far observed.

Libertarian principles have direct utility for people who tend to succeed on level playing fields, and we'll admit that they posess indirect, and to a large extent unrecognizable utility to the portion of society less adept at competition. Sadly, Obama would fail politically if he became more libertarian. He understands that the secret to political power is to promise the less adept but far more numerous masses that they will be provided for. He is a master at that.

At 5:06 AM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Unknown said...

Obama should dissolve the present people and choose a hypoallergenic one.

At 6:56 AM, November 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Every time I read your blog, I'm honestly surprised at the partisan way you present yourself."

Quite to the contrary, I'm honestly surprised at the level of authoritarian lunacy this blog author will accept to be non-partisan.

This preference for style over substance is the main reason that many libertarians have moved this country towards larger government and less freedom over the last 20 years.


At 6:18 AM, November 21, 2008, Blogger John Sullivan said...

Mr. Vetsel writes in the prior comment that libertarians have moved the country toward larger government over the past 20 years. That's similar to saying that Obama is a capitalist if he doesn't eliminate private property once in office.

It's all easy to argue that every self proclaimed libertarian is as authoritarian as anyone else. If that were not the case then what did Lord Acton mean when he wrote that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutuely..". Or was he referring to everyone but the libertarians?

At 11:06 PM, November 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not faulting libertarians for lack of ideological purity!

Quite to the contrary, libertarians don't understand the basic political framework and therefore most of the effort libertarians put into politics has the opposite effect.

Libertarians get so wrapped up in this fantasy about not being part of the bipolar political world that they fail to support the candidates that can best support liberty or at least slow the descent into statism.

If you ranked everyone in the U.S. based on how much freedom they supported (from the voting records), John McCain would be in the top 15% and Obama in the bottom 5%.

And yet libertarians looking at that choice just stick their heads into the sand and say "they book look the same -- don't trouble me with voting records, etc.".


At 6:45 AM, November 23, 2008, Blogger John Sullivan said...


I see your point now and am sorry my post twisted the point of yours.

I don't, however, think that the best way to vote is always for the most liberty oriented candidate who has a chance to win. It might be better if the libertarians defected from the Republican party and joined the Libertarian party. This would bump it to where the middle classes would begin to ask questions about it. As the Dems create a prolonged stagnation, more people will gravitate toward the party of individualism, or individual opportunity.

The major tenent of the Libertarian Party should be to require greater levels of congressional consent for legislation--such as 3/4ths of both chambers, and to leave it at that. If the Republicans would adopt this, we wouldn't need a Libertarian party.

At 9:41 PM, November 23, 2008, Blogger David Tomlin said...

If you ranked everyone in the U.S. based on how much freedom they supported (from the voting records), John McCain would be in the top 15% and Obama in the bottom 5%.

Voting records are subject to lots of interpretation. For example, in Illinois Obama worked to reduce the chances of convicting innocent criminal defendants. I would consider that pro-freedom, but many conservatives would dismiss that as protecting criminals.

McCain wants the U.S. to take punitive actions against Russia, such as lobbying for it to be kicked out of some international organizations. He has called for a 'League of Democracies' to bypass the U.N., a transparent play to isolate Russia and China. Such actions threaten a new Cold War, which I don't believe would be good for liberty. Against that, I don't see much weight in a bunch of votes against piddly earmarks that amount to a tiny fraction of the total budget.

Speaking of budgets, McCain voted for most of Bush's, helping him push federal spending from 18.4% of the national income to 20.4%.

At 10:59 AM, December 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pleasanter??? seems like an ironic yet hilarious adjective choice.
i have just discovered your blog and appreciate your stimulating contributions. the entries are always a satisfying read. thank you for sharing your perspective.

At 2:50 PM, March 08, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a bunch of you are putting words in David's mouth.

He stated his opinion that Obama is pleasant to listen to. This opinion is totally independent of what he thinks of any of his policies or previous actions.

"Every time I read your blog, I'm honestly surprised at the partisan way you present yourself."

I'm honestly quite shocked that anyone could read this post in particular as being partisan for or against Obama. It was an innocent little opinion on communication skills.

This is akin to claiming that someone is partisan because they think someone was wearing a nice suit.

-Zachary Anthony


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