Obama’s Speech on the Economy

27obama2-531.jpg

It’s like a brief history of US economics, a nice refresher course for those of us who have forgotten a lot since college. I do like that he opened with a quote from Alexander Hamilton and speaks in-depth with apparent subject knowledge, rather than superficially with sound bites (though he does throw in a few one-liners for good measure – he’s a politician, not a professor, after all). I feel I may be warming up to this Obama fellow; still, rhetoric is one thing, and policy decisions are another.

The great task before our founders was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. For Alexander Hamilton, the young secretary of the treasury, that task was bound to the vigor of the American economy. Hamilton had a strong belief in the power of the market, but he balanced that belief with a conviction that human enterprise, and I quote, “may be beneficially stimulated by prudent aids and encouragements on the part of the government.” Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity. So he nationalized the state Revolutionary War debts, weaving together the economies of the states and creating an American system of credit and capital markets.

You can watch the video of the speech here, or read the transcript here.

Through a Lens Wrongly

bill-hillary-clinton.jpgThis is a really interesting article in the Washington Post on the challenges women face all the way from the board room to the White House:

In my remarks to the business group, I noted that it’s common for women to use “we” to be inclusive and to avoid sounding self-promoting when they believe it’s obvious that they’re referring to work they did themselves. A woman in the audience spoke up: “That’s exactly right,” she said. “I presented my work using ‘we’ and was told: ‘You’re not being managerial. You have to own the work you’ve done.’ ” But her experience also illustrated the double bind. “So I started saying ‘I,’ ” she went on, “and my colleagues started saying, ‘She’s not as great as she thinks she is.’ “

We think we’re judging people as individuals, but gender is like a contact lens permanently affixed to the eye. As the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein put it, “One thinks that one is tracing the outline of the thing’s nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing round the frame through which we look at it.” Gender is a frame through which we look at people — and what we see reflects that frame.

I think the author makes some pretty good points about how we view Clinton through a ‘frame’ of sorts:

Women’s status as wives is such a huge part of our image of them that it tends to obscure other roles, while a man’s marital status is left in the background. This might explain why we hear so many references to Clinton’s position as first lady rather than her eight years in the Senate, where, as political scientist Norman Ornstein put it to me, “she has been without question one of the most effective senators.” For example, he noted, “on Armed Services, she dug in, developed relationships with all the best generals and other brass, and learned defense inside out.” And why do we keep hearing about her efforts to ensure universal health care in 1993, rather than her many senatorial successes on the issue, such as a bill she introduced in 2003 to make sure that drugs marketed for children have been tested on children, or her success in securing health benefits for National Guard and Reserve members who served in Iraq?

Not that I’m a Clinton supporter, but I did think it was interesting that I haven’t really heard much about these successes of hers in the Senate. Although I’m not totally convinced that’s due to gender; I haven’t really heard much about Obama’s accomplishments, either. It may be more due to a lack of interest from the public, a lack of effort from the media, and a general opinion that personality is more important than deeds in politics – unless, of course, those deeds are salacious; then we become very interested and those deeds are suddenly very important. That notwithstanding, I’m sure gender issues do factor into this election, and as the author points out, it’s important to keep that in mind when evaluating candidates.

This is why you don’t vote for these idiots

Because what we don’t need more of is ridiculous, chest-thumping rhetoric:

Asked whether the American commanders on the scene were right in not attacking the Iranian boats, Mr Huckabee said he backed their decisions, before warning Iran: “Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next thing you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that.”

Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and Law & Order star who is banking all on victory in South Carolina to revive his campaign, said of the Iranian boat crews: “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they’re looking forward to seeing.” The crowd cheered.