Monday, August 08, 2011

In the paper on Sunday was this editorial entitled "What Happened To Obama?" by an academic named Drew Westen, who teaches psychology at Emory University. The editorial is a kind of psychological analysis of Obama's political decisions, and more or less trashes them/him. It's a powerful piece of writing, talking about how Obama has lost his sense of self and is bullied and how his language has lost its poetry, and how all of the above contribute to his failure of leadership. Westen makes this observation regarding the Democrats in general:
In fact, the average American had no idea what Democrats were trying to accomplish by deficit spending because no one bothered to explain it to them with the repetition and evocative imagery that our brains require to make an idea, particularly a paradoxical one, "stick."
Which I think is key, making sure there are real world analogs to go along with the sound "reasoning" of the left. That our two wars were launched not on the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans (a fraction of how many Americans die, say, of obesity yearly), but on the image of airplanes crashing into New York City. Or at the very least because of a combination of the two. The importance of poetics, or poetry as a memory aid. Numbers are unreal and unconvincing, and if you want to move people you have to tell a story. At least that is part of Westen's argument.

But who are we to make pronouncements about the person of the president? I guess it's a public office and one puts themselves out there, but if the president were standing in the room with me, of course I wouldn't have the nerve to criticize him on that level. A couple weeks ago I wrote a little about the Women's World Cup Final (Japan won, the US lost) but what I posted here, under my own name, was heavily edited compared to what I posted semi-anonymously on the comments page of the Times. That to call someone out is easy when you're sitting alone with some cats on a sunny morning in Oakland. Regardless, the article is interesting, as is this editorial on Westen's editorial.

This Friday I'm off for the glory of Madison Wesconsin in August: crickets, humidity, warm nights, and a relatively empty downtown. Of course there is my mother and step-father, which is really why I'm going, to visit for four days and then, driving down (in my aunt's car) to Indiana (via Chicago) to visit some professors and current graduate students at Purdue's composition and rhetoric program. The one I'm applying to this fall. Then to Kentucky (Ken-tuck) to see uncles and cousins and sister and clan, and then I'll be headed back to 'sconny' for a day and then back here for a week and a half of pre-semester meetings, adjusting curriculum and hanging out in Oakland. That is to say I'm going to be gone for a little bit.