Thursday, October 2, 2008

A matter of temperament

National Review has a provocative article (via TPM) on temperament and the presidency. It's not a bad argument, actually, and it lands a few decent points, even though it's not very insightful as it's basically the same "Obama's too cool and too disconnected" pablum we've heard for ages, despite every poll showing voters feel Obama connects more with them than McCain, shares their values, etc.

But it also makes the case that McCain's temperament is better suited to the presidency, which is an interesting one. I don't dispute its assumptions, or even its arguments to a degree, but I do dispute its conclusions. McCain's temperament manifests itself in flying off the handle whenever something goes wrong. It leads to brash and unnecessary consequences that just make the overall situation worse. See: Sarah Palin. While a "fighter" (more specifically, in FDR's parlance, a "happy warrior") is something the American people want in a leader, McCain doesn't come across a happy anything, and rather than harnessing his anger he allows it to diffuse indifferently. He presents the appearance of a man who is not entirely in control of his emotions, which is most assuredly not a good thing. And I'm not sure in what universe the authors of this piece are living when they tick off this list of positive attributes about McCain:

zeal, decisiveness, perseverance, a certainty of opinion on fundamental matters of right and wrong and on our core national values

I'll give you zeal, and I'll give you the certainty, but perseverance from a guy who has changed his positions so many times? Decisiveness from a man who keeps sinking time and resources into states he can't win, like Iowa. And I, like most Americans, believe Obama better embodies our core values than McCain. But then again, I like a man who is confident and self-assured enough not to throw a tantrum every time something bad happens. But I'm a Bay Area Liberal, so what do I know?

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.