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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Kevin Drum begins to doubt his cult leader

I used to read, and frequently argue here with, longtime liberal blogger Kevin Drum, but I haven't done much of either lately. This morning, however, Instapundit sent me to Brian Doherty at Reason.com, who quoted this passage from Drum's recent post at Mother Jones:

So what should I think about this [i.e., the first six paragraphs of his post, in which Drum had listed Obama decisions that have surprised or disappointed Drum and his fellow lefties]? If it had been my call, I wouldn't have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do.

Doherty titled his mocking post "The Loyalty of the Clerks,"* but I think that's a bit harsh to Drum. He's not a clerk. He's just a charter member of, and deeply invested in, the Cult of Obama.

I'm not even going to bother looking through Drum's past oeuvre (to use a 50¢ word I'd just as soon no one ever apply to my collected blogging) for snarky references to the book and movie called "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" to throw back at him. I'll just say this:

The problem isn't that Drum isn't as smart as Obama. I'm sure Obama, for one, shares that view of Drum. Indeed, Obama shares that view about just about everyone else too. And that's a real problem, but it's not the biggest problem.

No, the biggest problem is that Obama thinks he and, perhaps, a very small cadre of like-minded elites (an astonishing number of them either law professors or political hacks) are smart enough to know everything important. But as Ronald Reagan said: "[T]he trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." And a lot of what Obama and the lefties think they've got all figured out, and hence that they can competently manipulate at will, is actually stuff that no one is yet even capable of knowing.

So when, for example, Obama thinks he knows better than the free market how to allocate or price scarce resources, he's deluding himself and anyone who believes him. When Obama thinks he's going to use his intellect and his wit and his charisma to persuade China or Russia or Iran into doing something which their autocratic leaders don't think in their own best interests, he might as well have fallen off the turnip truck at dawn this morning.

Thus we have the free market bringing us increasingly fuel efficient cars, including hybrids and electric cars from Toyota and Nissan and Honda and even Ford that look quite promising — while Barack Obama and Government Motors are bringing us the Chevy Dolt Volt at half again (or more) the price but only half the performance. (Reliable sources inform me that the next big General Motors idea will be the introduction of two new product lines, the Lada and its upscale cousin, the Zil.)

Posted by Beldar at 09:42 AM in Obama, Weblogs | Permalink


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(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Apr 3, 2011 2:16:39 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: It's still worse than you say. Most Presidents quickly learn that for all their power, they can't get through much of what they want, and in Lincoln's phrase, events control Presidents far more than Presidents control events. The One

a) has been in office two years and two months
b) will be fifty in August
c) has taken a hefty beating in many ways. Even his signature achievement made it through by the narrowest of margins, and is under savage judicial attack that may yet succeed in undoing it.

Given all this, you'd think The One's style would change. Nope. He's as cocky and lethargic as ever, blundering along making the same mistakes again and again. The arrogance and laziness that led him to sign the exec order to close Guantanamo Bay in a year has been replicated in his dive into Libyan sands. Such behavior is what you might expect in a teenager. Truly, The One is the perfect Bourbon king: he has forgotten nothing of his radical education and has learned nothing from his mistakes. Given too that Presidential second terms are notoriously less successful than the first, he has gloomy prospects in front of him. Not as gloomy as what faces those of us who have to pay the tuition for the education he persists in rejecting. So I am likely wrong in scorning him for spending all that time watching basketball and making picks. That, at least, keeps him from making yet more blunders at our expense.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Apr 3, 2011 8:29:50 PM | Permalink

Gregory Koster made the following comment
Given all this, you'd think The One's style would change. Nope. He's as cocky and lethargic as ever, blundering along making the same mistakes again and again.

The character of Wile E. Coyote was once described by a Santayana quote, "Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts, when you have forgotten your aim."

Just sayin'.

So I am likely wrong in scorning him for spending all that time watching basketball and making picks. That, at least, keeps him from making yet more blunders at our expense.

Indeed! Cherish what blessings we have.

(3) Allan E. made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 6:54:50 AM | Permalink

Dyer, like so many liberals live in a fantasy world that has little or no connection to the real world the rest of us live in. They still buy into the Peter Pan idea that wishing makes it so, no mater how illogical or impractical their wish is. Casting this aside would mean that they would have to grow up and could no longer pretend to be Peter Pan and fly. They will never do that.

(4) SenatorMark4 made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 7:00:08 AM | Permalink

Obama may be out of touch with reality when his group assumes his great intellect but I wonder where the Republicans are when they write long op Eds about the same thing, from Washington, but can't figure out what to do? Talking horses asses.

(5) Steve S made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 7:10:35 AM | Permalink

Can't help but think of Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest"; of how these ivy league whiz kids in the Kennedy administration were ultimately overwhelmed by the world when it didn't follow their expected academic curriculum. Intimidated everyone around them...and rued it all in their memoirs twenty years later.

(6) VoteOutIncumbents made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 7:10:45 AM | Permalink

Indeed. Magical thinking abounds in liberal-progressive circles. Mr. Obama is the least qualified POTUS since Warren Harding. No thanks to the media, we still don't know who he is...or was; he seems to have been recently invented. The financial crisis of '07-'08 caused the media to reach for a deus ex machina candidate. Mr. Obama was jammed down and we bought him. Still don't know who he is or what he believes. It's beginning to seem he may believe nothing.

Scary thought. It means he can be filled with almost anything.

(7) SteveMG made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 8:49:46 AM | Permalink

Doherty titled his mocking post "The Loyalty of the Clerks," but I think that's a bit harsh to Drum. He's not a clerk. He's just a charter member of, and deeply invested in, the Cult of Obama.

Just a sidebar comment: The piece's title is a play on the phrase (and book) "Las Trahison des Clercs" or "Treason of the Clerks" where clerk means intellectuals. The book was an indictment of French and German intellectuals of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

(8) Bigol made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 8:49:56 AM | Permalink

The scary thing is how far the media is still covering for him... I watched a bit of Sunday news and the lack of critical thinking, pointing fingers or even slightest bit of criticism pointed towards the Obama is staggering.

If the media was even half as critical towards Obama as Bush then we would be seeing headlines like this:

(9) nofreelunch made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 8:56:54 AM | Permalink

Obama has been running a Con Game since the git go, and those who bought into it, like Kevin Drum, are the Dupes.

(10) Kelly made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 9:25:23 AM | Permalink

Obama is treading water only because the media is still holding him up. I can't even fathom a republican pundit spouting the same nonsense this Drum fellow does and not being laughed out of the room.

I wonder what Obama did in the past to make Drum trust Obama's judgment over his own?? I wish he would give examples so I could understand the blind trust. Was it his great community organizing and improvement in Chicago's inner city? Was it his stellar career in the Illinois legislature where he accomplished what exactly? What was it in his 2 year senate term that made Obama someone you would trust over your own judgment?

I was watching some of the Sunday shows yesterday and shouting follow-up questions. It AMAZES me the pure tripe democrats are allowed to get away with and are never called on to explain. How are spending cuts going to ruin this great recovery our economy is supposedly going through?? Shouldn't democrats be forced to explain that?

(11) Mike K made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 10:03:32 AM | Permalink

Ignoring the libel of Warren Harding who ended a severe recession in 1921 in 18 months, Kevin Drum is a smart guy but has been captured by this cult-like atmosphere on the left. They have convinced themselves that intellectuals can run the world without the practical experience we would expect from successful executives. Life is not a seminar. Obama has never done anything but talk and his entire administration is filled with people who have never held a job outside of government. Hillary Clinton probably has more experience in the private sector than 90% of them.

If you talk to most Democrats today, they do not believe in the free market. It is as simple as that. In spite of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure of all command economies to provide the necessities of life to their citizens, Democrats have convinced themselves they can run a command economy.

(12) JAL made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 10:06:22 AM | Permalink

You know, totally weird this left mind set is.

Where is the evidence that Obama is smarter than Kevin Drum (who I know very little about)?

I doubted the intelligence (but not his chutzpah or innate ability to snow people) of the man who claimed that at a particular moment in time the seas stopped rising because he had people falling at his feet.

Call me a skeptic or a cynic, but I am not a fool.

(13) James Frey made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 11:48:17 AM | Permalink

So-called intellectuals precipitated the most horrifically violent and oppressive century in history, the 20th, and now are beavering away at destroying all that makes America great and exceptional. Obama is not a particularly smart man but he has been exposed to what passes for "smart thinking". I'm unsure if that makes him more or less dangerous.

(14) David R. Graham made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 11:58:06 AM | Permalink

"What was it in his 2 year senate term that made Obama someone you would trust over your own judgment?"

His performance in bed? Or someone's fantasies regarding same?

(15) ech made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 12:01:15 PM | Permalink

What objective evidence do we have that President Obama is smart? I'm serious. What were his SAT scores? What about the GRE or LSAT?

We know that he went to some elite schools, but you can get into them via a combination of hard work and a good essay. I had friends that were admitted into elite schools that were a little smarter than average, but not in the top 10% - they had to work really, really hard in high school. Was he in this category?

We don't know how well educated he is. What classes did he take in college? Did he take any science or math? Some of his pronouncements on green energy lead me to think he doesn't have much of an education in technical matters. His college transcripts would be interesting - though I don't read too much into grades since there are lots of ways to get a good education while making mediocre grades.

We know he can sound intelligent when reading off a teleprompter, or in a friendly interview. However, I don't get the same vibe off of him that I do off of really smart people. For example, I think both Bill and Hillary Clinton are very smart.

(16) George made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 12:14:23 PM | Permalink

An ad for the Chevy Dolt has been posted at DarwinCentral: http://forum.darwincentral.org/viewtopic.php?p=777737#p777737

Click on the image to enlarge.

(17) luagha made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 1:26:55 PM | Permalink

To answer ech - one of Obama's old professors who was at a dinner with him brought up to reporters (as he was having his picture taken with Obama and some such) that Obama had asked for a regrade on one of his papers that was graded a 'B' trying to talk it up to an 'A'. They had a little laugh about it - the professor kept it at a B.

But ask yourself. Knowing how charismatic he is, how good he is at giving speeches and convincing people of things, how many other papers and assignments did he manage to 'talk up' to a higher grade?

(18) teapartydoc made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 2:42:50 PM | Permalink

Smart people are looking less and less smart these days. If this keeps up average folks might stop listening to them. I can't wait for that glorious day when "free" will once again be the word people use to describe this country.

(19) Sardondi made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 3:17:12 PM | Permalink

Wait, I've seen this before. This so-called brilliant guy who organizes people or something, comes from out of nowhere, raises money, makes people happy, promises to make a paradise if they'll just come with him. But he's really a liar and nut who turns his paradise into a dictatorship. Weapons are permitted to only his corrupt & cruel aides, & they're a law unto themselves.

Drum is with a Congressman's party who flies in to investigate complaints of imprisonment & illegality. Things spiral out of control & the Congressman's group & Drum make a break for the plane, only to have the cult leader order them shot on the runway. Then the leader goes Full Retard, gets on the loudspeaker and orders everyone to drink the KoolAid. Everybody dies, so the Earth, I mean "Gaia", is saved. Happy ending.

Is that the one?

(20) Pa Deuce made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 4:04:13 PM | Permalink

If beauty is as beauty does, the same applies to ignorance. If the emperor has no clothes, he at least has a teleprompter. Obama is a rhetorical idiot savant whose only talent is speaking eloquent nonsense. Obama's lack of experience before the election was widely noted and widely ignored; when Drum and the Mainstream Marxist Media bought into the Obama narrative, it had to rationalize Obama's initial failures. They continue to rationalize Obama's continuing failures as those failures approach catastrophic levels: national debt, healthcare, Middle East.

It is time to recognize that Obama is a bullsh*t artist pulling a con job on the American people, and we will spend the next three generations paying off Obama's debts if everything works perfectly from now on.

[Edited for profanity per blog's guidelines and general PG-13 environment. I swear like a drunken sailor in my private conversations, but prefer a little higher tone here because I'm old-fashioned that way. — Beldar]

(21) mockmook made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 7:24:10 PM | Permalink

We have only learned one thing from Drum:

He is stupider than Obama.

Drum is the dupe, Obama is the duper.

BTW, he isn't doubting Obama:

"I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do."

(22) Beldar made the following comment | Apr 4, 2011 8:01:01 PM | Permalink

Thanks to all who've visited to read this — most of you following Instapundit's generous link. Those of you who've left comments have been remarkably thoughtful and well-spoken.

SteveMG (#7): Thanks very much for the illumination on Doherty's allusion. That's new to me, but I'll remember it! I'm asterisking the original post with a hyperlink to your comment.

JAL (#12): Back when I followed Drum's blogging regularly, I held him in pretty high regard for a Leftie. For all I know he may be as smart or smarter than Obama, but I would bet my ranch (if I owned one) that Obama would agree with Drum that Obama is the smarter of the two. My point isn't that either is stupid, but that nobody can be as smart as Obama and Drum both think Obama is.

ech (#15): I agree that there are still a lot of voids in what Obama has chosen to make public from his past. I'm assuming those voids are strategic, rather than the result of modesty; that is, anything which possibly could reflect well on The One has been trumpeted in the New York Times and every other media outlet sympathetic to Obama, and anything that wouldn't has been buried by Team Obama and left undisturbed by the press.

By far his two most impressive public credentials are his honors degree from Harvard Law and his membership in, and presidency of, the Harvard Law Review. Those, too, may have circumstances that might slightly dim their luster (the members of the HLR elect their new editor in chief, which they call "president," so politics can go into that and, from all accounts, did; and Harvard Law in the 1990s was notorious for riotous grade inflation that produced way too many honors degrees). But they're nevertheless traditional indicia of intellect.

What they don't prove, or necessarily even correlate positively to, is wisdom and judgment.

I'd gladly concede for purposes of argument that in any given room — including a room that I'm in (and I'm vain enough to think that I'm as smart as anyone I've ever met, and that includes lots and lots of former law review editors with honors degrees from top schools, because I'm one of those too) — Obama may be the smartest guy. What I'm concerned about is that no one is as smart as he or she would have to be to do what Obama thinks he is smart enough to master. And no one is so smart that it would justify the sort of servile obedience and deference that Obama routinely evokes — lives off of, apparently — from people like Drum, and from people much more credentialed and accomplished than Obama himself, including, for example, many (but not all!) of the faculty of Harvard and Chicago law schools.

Mr. Koster, the preceding several paragraphs are your cue, as I know you have strong opinions on this topic.

George (#16): Thanks for linking that inspired bit of photoshopping of the new Chevy Dolt.

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