Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday August 21 2008

Indeed.  That was incoming from Mark Holland, to whom thanks.  Thanks also for including the obligatory exclamation mark.

Obama reminds me of the Robert Redford character in The Candidate.  In that, Redford started out saying why can’t we politicians be civil to each other, and talk to each other like humans, instead of shouting at each other like insane robots.  The media loved him.  But by the end Robot was shouting like an insane robot, and because of that, he won his election.

The trouble with being nice is that what politics is actually about is stealing money from people on a huge scale, telling them to do things they don’t want to do and forbidding them from doing things they do want to do.  This generates lots of anger, between all the different and deeply nasty politicians each with his own particular take on exactly who should and should not be robbed and tyrannised over, and further anger from all the poor bastards on the receiving end of all this legalised criminality, viz: us.  Wanting this argument to be nice is, as is forcefully explained to the Redford character in the course his campaign by one of his hired hands, is a childish fantasy.  Basically what the “nice” style says is:  why can’t we all just stop being nasty and agree with me.  Nicely.  When Obama said: let’s be nice, this worked, with all the people who agree with him, for they too want everyone else to agree with Obama, nicely.  It does not work with anyone else.  In fact it only gets them all the angrier.

The difference between Obama and the Redford character seems to be (a) that Obama is and always was a machine politician, from Chicago I believe, where politicians are nothing if not mechanical.  As such Obama didn’t need to be told what the Redford character was obliged to actually learn during his campaign.  But (b) Obama was so good at faking the “be nice” stuff he did at the beginning of his campaigning (which the Redford character did in all sincerity) that he has seriously undermined his ability later to do the insane robot thing, which is what he now needs to be doing.  Trouble is, if Obama now gives McCain a good kicking, like McCain has been giving Obama just recently (vacuous celeb, un-American, all puff and no spine, etc. etc.), Obama makes a nonsense of his own earlier “be nice” spiel.  What Obama needs to be saying now is something along the lines of: McCain is a crusty old coot with a vile temper who could fall down and die at any moment.  Plus all the rest of the dirt on McCain that I don’t know about, but of which there is surely plenty.  But, that would not be nice.  If he did this, the media might turn against him.  Ooh.  Obama.  He was only pretending to be nice.  What else has he been fibbing about?  Obama has, in other words, boxed himself in.

But, what do I know?