Monday, November 30, 2009
Peggy Noonan makes some interesting points Barack Obama should heed about why an image can become shorthand for a Presidency:
In a presidency, a picture or photograph becomes iconic only when it seems to express something people already think. When Gerald Ford was spoofed for being physically clumsy, it took off. The picture of Ford losing his footing and tumbling as he came down the steps of Air Force One became a symbol. There was a reason, and it wasn't that he was physically clumsy. He was not only coordinated but graceful. He'd been a football star at the University of Michigan and was offered contracts by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.I have to say that that picture is what comes to mind now when I think of Barack Obama, along with the fact that he's acting like a servant to everyone except the public whose servant he actually is.
But the picture took off because it expressed the growing public view that Ford's policies were bumbling and stumbling. The picture was iconic of a growing political perception.
The Obama bowing pictures are becoming iconic, and they would not be if they weren't playing off a growing perception. If the pictures had been accompanied by headlines from Asia saying "Tough Talks Yield Big Progress" or "Obama Shows Muscle in China," the bowing pictures might be understood this way: "He Stoops to Conquer: Canny Obama shows elaborate deference while he subtly, toughly, quietly advances his nation's interests."
But that's not how the pictures were received or will be remembered.
But did he finally get one right?
Via Glenn Reynolds, I was thrilled to learn that Honduras has prevailed in its fight for freedom:
[L]eftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be "transparent and participative." Second, all the presidential candidates--save one from a small party on the extreme left--wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a "military coup," the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.Here's hoping that Mary O'Grady isn't being too generous with Barack Obama--which is about as close to praying as you're ever going to see me get!
At least the Obama administration figured out, after four months, that it had blundered. It deserves credit for realizing that elections were the best way forward, and for promising to recognize the outcome despite enormous pressure from Brazil and Venezuela. President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.
Looks Like Fudge
ClimateGate evolves by the minute. Glenn Reynolds discusses apparently rigged climate models to go along with the apparently cooked data. The below is a from a longer quote from the CBS News web site:
As the leaked messages, and especially the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file, found their way around technical circles, two things happened: first, programmers unaffiliated with East Anglia started taking a close look at the quality of the CRU's code, and second, they began to feel sympathetic for anyone who had to spend three years (including working weekends) trying to make sense of code that appeared to be undocumented and buggy, while representing the core of CRU's climate model.Sadly, I expect that Reynolds' prognostication about the possible outcome of the Copenhagen conference is a rosy, best-case scenario, even were all of this to be conclusively proven.
Call Me Scrooge
I found this article (via GeekPress) about the psychology behind the decision to buy extended warranties very interesting.
It's been shown experimentally that people--counterintuitively--become more risk averse the better a mood they're in. The reason appears to be that compared to a neutral mood, a good mood makes contemplating a potential loss feel worse. Basically, if you're in a good mood, you have more to lose: Contemplating a financial loss makes you think not only of the loss itself, but also of the loss of the good mood.Also going into the equation are bad estimates of risk.
I pretty much hew to the following policy: "The only time to insure something is when replacing it would represent a real financial hit that you can’t afford to take."