Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1.20.09: The big O

So the date that we saw emblazoned on wishful t-shirts finally came to pass. For what it was worth, we replaced the Bush with the Big O. Now that can only be an improvement, but I have to say I started and ended the day underwhelmed. I know I supported him strongly during the home stretch of the elections (and how I miss Nate Silver), but the fact remains that the man is a politician. He represents profound societal change, yes, but he is a politician. The way people over the last few days have invested him with all sorts of greater saintlike qualities leaves me completely mystified. What has he done, after all, other than win an election on the back of an outstanding organization, speech-writing, and oratory?

And there he was again, the Chicago sharp, using his inaugural speech to dampen down these manic expectations. Did he succeed in that? I'm not quite sure. I watched the inauguration in a large auditorium filled with undergrads, MBA students, and faculty -- many of whom were wearing Obama t-shirts (U-S-A!). He never did give them the grand crescendo they were craving, although many were determined to clap at every possible pause. Indeed, I even caught a few people yawning, and I have to say the moment I felt the happiest was when I saw people's expressions as he was being sworn in.

I wish him well and hope he can do something about the utter mess the world is in. But I think it's delusional to expect that he will do anything except look out for Number 1. After all, he does want to be re-elected, doesn't he?

In the final analysis I think it's easier to go from being politician to president than it is to go from president to statesman. Yes he can?


And now for a piece of news that combines the weather section with a commentary on the economy. Indeed, the longer I stay in America, the more engaged I find myself in the sociopolitical processes at the local level. Recently I put up my first yard sign ever.

This sign was made and the picture taken on a day when the temperature with wind chills dropped to -28F. It has since reverted to the balmier regions of single-degree weather. Of course, now that the teaching semester is over, "Will that be on the quiz?" has been supplanted as the Most Irritating Question. The new winner is "How much is that in Celsius?"


Blogger Space Bar said...

In that case, you'll like this post.

And, well, of course he's not going to end up doing very much, but do you think you may be underestimating the power that symbols hold out so people?

1/21/2009 11:09 PM  
Blogger Veena said...

SB: What I find interesting is that I am yet to meet any sane person who really believes that he will do anything substantial. Everybody has such low expectations despite all this build-up that I think he will actually end up living up to some of them.

TR: Weren't you the one who made a comment about the changes in posture / behaviour of students in your classes post Nov 4th? I think its stuff like that that will be the lasting value of an Obama presidency and not what he will / won't do as President.

1/22/2009 12:43 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

Awww - Abe Lincoln. I have always wanted to climb into his lap at the Lincoln Memorial...

I don't know if he will become a great statesman, but he I do think he has the potential. I am curious to see his ME policy - so far it hasn't been promising (though of course after the train wreck of the last eight years, anything would be an improvement - and I do have a soft spot for Hillary).

Though overall - I do agree with SB and Veena about the symbolism of this presidency and of the kind of optimism that he himself generates. It makes it kind of hard to write him off. The New Yorker had a good take on his speech by the way - here

1/22/2009 11:48 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

i did like the post - thanks!
good point about the symbols. scary.

indeed, i was. thanks for reminding me.

thanks for the link. it's a strange balance, no - generating optimism while dampening expectations?

1/22/2009 11:52 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

I'm not sure Obama's term in office will be everything it's being cracked up to be. Besides everything else, I think he'll find it hard to live up to the expectations.

I really hope he can bring about the change the world needs but, to be honest, I'm not sure he'll be able to. After all, as you said, he is a American politician.

1/26/2009 1:45 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

does the "american" make it worse or better? ;-)

1/27/2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

TR: I think you know what I mean :-)

1/28/2009 12:34 PM  
Anonymous The Graduate said...

Hey, long time no speak. Believe it or not, I was at the inauguration on 20 January - well, standing on a hill in front of the Washington Monument with 2 million other people, freezing most of my extremities to high heaven. What was more interesting than the inaugural action was the crowd response - the "Boos" when Bush I and II and wives came out, the cheers for Clinton and Carter (!), and the laughter both at Cheney being wheeled out and at Rick Warren almost whispering "Sasha" and "Malia". The speech was a dampener - it needed to be, he needs to kick some ass now - and I agree he's not going to do much. But I feel better that he's in charge, and that Dubya is out. 0.02.

Hope you managed to get rid of the snow. Very Tom Sawyer-ish of you. How's life otherwise?

2/20/2009 3:11 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

no kidding!

life is okay. things are happening -- i guess that's why the blog has slowed down :-|

2/24/2009 12:07 AM  

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