Politics Open Thread, Dec 2–8

Any politics on your mind?

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58 thoughts on “Politics Open Thread, Dec 2–8

  1. Baker, who was in office when the wall came down in 1989, added: “Time and again, President Bush demanded that we not dance on the ruins of the Berlin Wall. He simply wouldn’t hear of it.”

    Bush understood something his counterparts of today often miss: Discretion is the better part of valor.

    He makes a good point. OTOH, he also wrote Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents and the Culture of Stardom.

    Walsh makes the point that modern presidents need to be celebrities and build on their fame in order to propel their agendas and rally public support for themselves as national leaders so that they can get things done…. The book also looks at presidents who fell short in their star appeal, such as George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson, and explains why their star power was lacking.

    You can make the argument that current leaders need a compelling gimmick of some kind, whether it’s a dashing personality or an abrasive one, to get things done.

  2. “current leaders need a compelling gimmick of some kind”

    I’d agree, but first things first. They need a gimmick, or perhaps better said, an attention getting proposal, to break out from the crowd, build momentum, actually get elected. Once elected star power probably can help move things along, but maybe it’s not as necessary as it is to getting elected.

  3. Louise – she’s absolutely right, and even Sandberg has backed off some of her conclusions as well.

  4. I’ll tell you who I think is interesting right now – Ocasio-Cortez. Her twitter game is pretty strong in terms of being substantive but also clever. Other than Trump, is she the only politician really using twitter in an advantageous way? I mean in a way where the tweets themselves gain traction, get retweeted, create news.

  5. @Lark – That’s an interesting argument, and I think I agree. She is using social media really well. “On brand” as they say.

  6. I love Michelle Obama’s comment and we have a post coming up later in the week related to it.

  7. I’m guess I am just cynical, but I think Ocasio-Cortez’s fame is due more to her beauty than her Twitter skills. Everyone loves a gorgeous young woman.

  8. And just to keep things equal, I also am of the firm opinion that Beto’s popularity is mainly due to the fact that he is handsome in that Bobby Kennedy way.

  9. I attribute Beto’s popularity to his being an anti-demagogue, but maybe that’s just what attracts me to him. For the many others I’ve spoken to about him, though, they all seem to drawn to his message and his delivery. No one has ever mentioned his appearance.

  10. You think Beto would have the same resonance if he looked like, say, Rudy Giuliani?

  11. I think the Democratic base is drawn to handsome, youngish men like Beto, Obama, JFK, and even Bill Clinton back in the day. Maybe Ocasio-Cortez is proof that the same superficiality also applies to female politicians.

    One thing I can say about Republicans is that good looks and youth are clearly not necessary attributes for them!

  12. You think Beto would have the same resonance if he looked like, say, Rudy Giuliani?

    No way.

  13. MM, Bernie Sanders has the same same effect with a lot of people. Ross Perot did it back in 1992. So yes, it is likely that Beto would do it as well if he wasn’t good-looking.

    I do think it is still easier for an unattractive man to be considered dynamic or whatever terms you want to use than for an unattractive woman.

  14. I think the Democratic base is drawn to handsome, youngish men like Beto, Obama, JFK, and even Bill Clinton back in the day.

    If it’s all about looks and youth then explain Sanders. He had a very energized base.

  15. “Everyone loves a gorgeous young woman.”

    Not as a Congressperson. I think she is just as hurt by her youth & attractiveness. Because of it, people also dismiss her & don’t take her seriously because of those attributes.

    I think Beto has a lot of charisma & an infectious enthusiasm. How much of that is based on the way he looks? I don’t know. There are certainly some attractive people in Congress who don’t have “it”.

  16. There are certainly some attractive people in Congress who don’t have “it”.

    Really? Everyone knows Washington is Hollywood for the ugly.

  17. “If it’s all about looks and youth then explain Sanders. He had a very energized base.”
    He has the look of a sweet old grandpa. He reminds me a lot of my father, in fact. I think that is his charm. Again, picture him looking like Rudy Giuliani. Would he be as charming?

  18. City Mom – I mostly agree – but what about Sarah Palin? Or Paul Ryan? I think there was more enthusiasm for Paul Ryan than for Mitch McConnell (going solely on the youth/energy/appearance factor). And I think George Bush Jr (I can never keep their initials straight) was on the relatively young and good looking scale at the time.

    I would have a hard time supporting anyone running for president who is 70+ when they are running. Which for me was a strike against Hilary Clinton/Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump. It’s such a demanding job and while I know there are exceptions, I think it’s hard to do it well if you’re in your 70’s.

  19. Sanders looks like a sweet old grandpa? I think he looks like a grumpy maniac. Like the mad scientist character in Back to the Future.

  20. Sanders looks like a sweet old grandpa? I think he looks like a grumpy maniac. Like the mad scientist character in Back to the Future.

    Right – he looks insane. He certainly isn’t getting followers because of his looks.

    And Ross Perot got 19% of the vote as an independent doing infomercials looking like this:

  21. Like the mad scientist character in Back to the Future.

    Totally agree. I am suspicious of good looking politicians. Also suspicious of politicians who proclaim their love for their families overmuch. I just wait for invietable scandal to surface. I am just so cynical.

  22. Well, I am no Bernie fan, but I think the grandpa-ness is part of his appeal to the young. He is the Brooklyn leftist grandpa.

    Of course, we have a corpulent lizard occupying the White House now. He may be the most unattractive president ever.

  23. Ocasio-Cortez’s fame is due more to her beauty than her Twitter skills. Everyone loves a gorgeous young woman.

    I don’t think it’s beauty, I think it’s polish and sophistication. Her hair, makeup, and clothing are, like her twitter posts, spot-on in terms of messaging and signaling. The way she visually presents herself is very savvy.

  24. The Epstein story is going to get big…It has all the elements – ties to Trump, ties to Clinton, I think even Kenneth Starr is involved somehow.

  25. And just to show that George HW Bush may have been more Trumplike than we can imagine
    https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/97/06/29/reviews/iran-pardon.html?_r=1&fbclid=IwAR2BRh7rQ_dnCmCdk-ayadIcNehxu419f1EAfpu4tHJqkd3fQL9VtVJ4Moo

    I didn’t remember this detail, but I remember that everyone was sure Reagan and Bush were involved in Iran Contra, and that it was all covered up.

    So I guess there is precedent when Trump pardons Manafort!

  26. Didn’t I already post about Epstein? I think it’s going to bring Bill Clinton down too, insofar as you can “bring down” a retired president, and insofar as he can sink any lower in the esteem of many people. It’s certainly the nail in the coffin for me regarding him.

  27. MM,

    Now we know for sure that if you’re rich enough (and you know what you’re doing) you can literally do anything you want. I knew that was true in terms of Trumps, Manafort and Cohen’s numerous scams. But those were all financial crimes. This takes it to a whole new level.

  28. Rhett, again, go back and read my posted article about Bush’s pardons. It ties right in – if you are powerful enough, you can get away with anything, including breaking major laws having to do with dealing with foreign countries.

  29. MM,

    breaking major laws ?

    perjury and misleading Congress

    That’s a bureaucratic turf war. it’s not a major crime in the way that child molestation on an industrial scale (3 a day!) is a major crime.

  30. I agree that it wasn’t up to the level of child molestation, but it was more than a bureaucratic turf war. They were selling arms to the frickin Iranians, our absolute enemies, in direct violation of our own arms embargo. It seemed pretty treasonous to me and to many others who were around at that time. And evidently it was hot enough that Bush had to pardon people right before their trials to prevent them from testifying.

  31. The very fact that we don’t see IranContra as being a Watergate style episode directly supports my assertion that the powerful can get away with anything.

  32. MM,

    It was arms for hostages in exchange for money for the Contras. They were doing it to help the hostages and the Contras. It was not primarily to help themselves. Watergate was entirely about Nixon & Co breaking an entering solely for their own benefit.

  33. They were dealing with our enemies in direct violation of laws passed by Congress, who presumably represent the will of the people. If it turned out that Trump had encouraged Russia to intervene in our election just because he fervently believed that the Russian way would be better for America, would that absolve him? I suspect not. It IranContra had not been so effectively covered up, something that everyone at the time knew was happening, it would have been a very big deal.

  34. If you’re looking for a new book to read that is too progressive for the conservatives, too conservative for the progressives, and relentlessly focuses on practical policies to improve the lives of the members of the lower middle class, I recommend Isabel Sawhill’s Forgotten Americans

    This book wrestles with these questions. It argues for policies that are better aligned with American values and responsive to people’s actual day-to-day needs. It focuses on the value of work and the importance of jobs and wages. Work is a unifying concept, something everyone understands and supports. But we need a more honest accounting of what does and does not improve people’s job prospects. That means getting beyond simple “trickle-down” and “trickle-up” theories and political rhetoric about their importance.

    It makes me think of Ivy, if Ivy were an economist at the Brookings Institution. Mainstream and sensible.

  35. Iran Contra was about members at the highest level of government violating the laws passed by Congress and dealing with enemies to raise funds outside of governmental appropriations to pay for secret operations. There was also extensive CIA supported drug running in those years to fund other worldwide covert operations outside of normal appropriations. Not sure which is worse – assisting sworn foreign enemies or abetting the destruction of the lives of US citizens, primarily African Americans in those days.

    Rhett, you make a distinction between Nixon’s hands on personal megalomania and the unauthorized actions of highest national security officers in the Reagan administration, who acted without informing the President or Vice President. Nixon wasn’t getting rich himself, it was power. Cheney and cronies lying about WMD and Sadaam after 9-11 and their companies being part of the war effort is worse than Iran Contra, in terms of personal enrichment, venality, increasing US deficits, and especially loss of life. In all of the cases mentioned a lot of people died, both soldiers and civilians.

  36. @RMS – Interesting! I am putting it on my list. (And I find it a great compliment to be described as mainstream and sensible.)

  37. “the unauthorized actions of highest national security officers in the Reagan administration, who acted without informing the President or Vice President. ”
    Well, actually we don’t know if they were informed or not. By pardoning the IranContra participants who were about to go to trial, Bush kept us from every knowing.

  38. Becky, the photolithography international conference is probably typical of conferences where alcohol flows freely and networking also occurs in a demographic group that is 80-90% male. As I explained to my last manager about why the same late 50-something male engineer who likes going should get to go again, “When I was there in my early 20’s, it didn’t feel like a great networking opportunity for me, so let someone else have that advantage.”

    I regard articles like that as anecdata that is accurate for some times and places.

  39. Becky – While avoiding false accusations or at least differing interpretations of conversations or actions are what is usually cited as the reason for Pence rule behavior, the real issue is that most guys in power positions are not capable of following the advice in the last paragraph, just don’t be an A hole, because they have no idea that they were doing anything wrong or offensive before. How can you change your behavior when you can’t identify it?

  40. I have a different take than Mémé on mentoring that ties into my explanation to Milo that 90% of men are entirely decent. Speaking in broad terms,
    1) Good guys don’t choose to mentor young, single women when there are 4x as many young, single men who need mentoring unless they are assigned to it. They think, “Why go there?”
    2) The men who reach out to young single women are disproportionately the less good guys.

    Young single women in male-dominated fields, then, experience selection bias and disproportionately interact with jerks and don’t get mentored.

  41. Good guys don’t choose to mentor young, single women when there are 4x as many young, single men who need mentoring

    Your theory hinges on everyone having the same ability and mentouring having no return to the mentor. That’s not how it works. No matter what the job, if you have a class of new hires, some are going kill it and some are going to suck. You mentour the ones killing it because your promotions and compensation are based on how well your team does.

  42. Well, since our offices are all glassed in display cages, we don’t have to worry about hanky panky or accusations of hanky panky. We generally keep doors open too, in case we have to escape an angry student.

    This article is just so far outside of my experience. I meet all the time with male colleagues. My old chair loved to trap me in his office for 3 hours on end, not for hanky panky but so I would have to listen to his endless spiels about this or that. I guess that was abuse of a different kind :-) Back when I worked in industry, I had a great mentor who was a guy about my age. I learned a lot of good stuff from him. He did have an interest in me socially – he always wanted to set up playdates with his daughter and my son (they were born 2 weeks apart)!

  43. I have also had some excellent male mentors in my career, a couple that I travelled with, and never had anything but positive experiences. The men that were a holes were never mentors, more just on the periphery of my work group. For the last decade at least I have worked with great, decent men who I consider my friends. They all are champions of strong employees, regardless of gender. I cannot even fathom any of them suddenly refusing to meet with a woman if the work required it. It probably bothers me more because the poster has been predicting this for months. She is very anti-feminist.

  44. Good guys don’t choose to mentor young, single women when there are 4x as many young, single men who need mentoring unless they are assigned to it.

    That wasn’t my experience at all when I worked in IT. Maybe some of the men I thought were “good guys” actually weren’t, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of them weren’t.

    To paraphrase the guy at the end, men don’t have anything to worry about if they don’t do anything they need to worry about.

  45. Based on one person I know who works in finance in NYC, the Bloomberg article rings true. When you see a male colleague punished for being what you consider being a run of the mill a-hole, it makes you reconsider your mentoring but often not reconsider your a-hole behavior. This is a field where women are already under-represented and it’s hard to see how that will change much.

  46. Having worked at a bank in finance for over 13 years, that Bloomberg article does not ring true for me at all. Instead my experience has been very similar to Becky’s.

  47. “I have also had some excellent male mentors in my career, a couple that I travelled with, and never had anything but positive experiences. The men that were a holes were never mentors, more just on the periphery of my work group. For the last decade at least I have worked with great, decent men who I consider my friends. They all are champions of strong employees, regardless of gender. I cannot even fathom any of them suddenly refusing to meet with a woman if the work required it.”

    This is true where I work now and in most places where I have chosen to work in the past. However, I think I’ve specifically avoided jobs and companies with a predominantly A-hole culture.

    When I read this stuff too, I often think about it from the opposite side. What would society think if I refused to mentor men for this reason? I have more direct reports that are men than women. It’s ludacris. And I agree with Rhett that it would also be bad for me personally because my success if dependent on nurturing a successful team. But I am a normal middle-ish manager in a business that is not dominated by A-holes working in a group that is fairly evenly split between men & women, with plenty of women in senior and middle management positions. So it’s a totally different culture.

  48. Interesting article on how corn has changed the climate in eastern Nebraska
    “We studied data from the past 30 years and found that the intensification of corn production has increased average summer rainfalls by about 35 percent and decreased [average summer] temperatures by as much as one degree Celsius,” says former MIT researcher Ross E. Alter, now a research meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Alter was the lead author of a 2018 report published in the journal of the American Geophysical Union that demonstrated how land use has impacted the region’s climate more than greenhouse gas emissions. “What makes these findings so fascinating is that, while global temperatures have risen, areas like eastern Nebraska have actually cooled,” continues Alter, referring to yearly averages. “We think it’s likely heavy agriculture counteracted rising summer temperatures that might have otherwise resulted from increasing greenhouse gases.”

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/corn-belt-weather

  49. Like Trump, Ocasio-Cortez is perceived by some as “mind-numbingly stupid”, but that should not be a reason to discount her.

  50. That’s a good article. The other issue is if the right demonized very middle of the road Obama policies as Socialism!!! When an actual socialist comes along what are they going to say? They are like the boy who cried wolf.

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