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It's Like They're Trying To Sell Jonah's Book

Jim Geraghty:

So, the recent news out of the Obama camp is that they're planning a huge rally with thousands of people in a stadium, want to create a mandatory youth corps for national service, and are thinking about a big dramatic speech in Berlin.

Ein Volk, Ein Reich...


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Paul Milenkovic wrote:

Only the original One Empire, One People, One Leader folks had some mighty fine engineers working for them ranging from a Willy Messerschmidt to a Werner von Braun.

This community service kick suggests that Senator Obama had what on one part of campus we call a "non-serious major." All I can say is that I have been on the receiving end of an engineering education, and for some years now I have been inflicting this kind of thing on students.

All of those Obama-major students at the U can sit outside under the shade of a tree and contemplate whatever it is that they think about, while my men and women are hard at work on math problems, lab experiments, and problem sets.

And we are supposed to layer community service on top of the 128 credit hours of an Engineering degree? What my engineering students are doing is community service -- it is serving the community that they get the skills to develop solutions for the Global Warming crisis, the Oil Crisis, and the next Food Crisis, for which those sitting under the tree will take the credit.

Robert wrote:

Paul, Obama is a lawyer. Next time I need a lawyer, you can bet that I'm not going to call an engineer.

McCain, on the other hand, is a... ...what? A warrior? A career politician?

No "serious" majors are running this year. And besides, I bet you didn't like the nuclear engineer who became president.

Carl Pham wrote:

I feel sorry for any poor young bastards caught up in the Obamafluff about "community service." This is nobless oblige, pure and simple, and it's entirely suitable for an aristocracy wondering what to do with all its riches and spare time. Give back to the community, indeed. It's an appropriate attitude for the 90s and 00s, when America was flush with amazing wealth.

But it's starting to look like there's a new cold wind a-blowin'. I'm uncomfortably reminded of the nasty few years we had between the last oil shock, in 1974 or so, and about 1985 when things turned around. A big jolt of inflation that evaporated a whole lot of paper wealth, and made everyone have to work much harder. (Arguably this was the final death of the possibility of the middle-class one wage earner household.)

Folks who have an aristocratic attitude, thinking "community service" is going to give you the chops necessary to beat out the Indian subcontractor and win the high-wage job necessary to make your Prius payments and daily Starbucks hit are in for a ballsack shrivelingly cold surprise. I have a feeling too many young college graduates are going to need to practise saying 'you want fries with that?' -- and in Spanish, to boot.

We have been feeding this kind of leisure-class bullshit attitude to our children altogether too much, and neglecting the serious training that would sharpen their global competitivity too long. They will not thank us when 2020 looks too much like 1979.

Carl Pham wrote:

Robert, Obama isn't a lawyer. A lawyer is a guy who goes into Court and wins cases. I don't know if Obama has ever actually appeared in Court, or litigated an actual case. He's a law professor, meaning he knows all kinds of theories about the law. You want a theory about the law, he's your guy. You can go to the University of Chicago and take his seminar. If we needed a whole new Constitution written, he'd probably be pretty good at drafting it, although his grasp of the practical realities of what should go in it might be a little iffy, inasmuch as he's never lived what one might call a "normal" working-stiff life, and he doesn't seem to understand the concept of live-and-let-live, preferring instead that we drink whatever his minions are drinking so that we do not endanger the tranquility of the Republic by any obnoxious tendency to independent thought.

McCain is a legislator, and a modestly successful one at that (whether you like the results or not). So that means he knows how to cajole and bully and maneuver to get 30 or 40 other mulish aristocratic Senator-types to sign on to his dog 'n' pony show. That's a non-trivial talent, although he's nothing like as good at it as the giant legislators of the past (LBJ, Clay, Madison, whatever).

Does that make him Presidential timber? Not really, no. He doesn't have any serious executive experience. But of course, Obama has no serious experience of any kind. What McCain has going for him is only that he's not stuffed to the nostrils with a bunch of naive (or cynical) slogans masquerading as original thought, probably because he's old enough to remember when they were all tried, in the 60s and 70s, and found to be sadly broken.

Robert wrote:

>McCain is a legislator, and a modestly successful one [...]

Paul, your argument would be stronger if you acknowledged the years Obama spent in the Illinois State House. His Republican colleagues have good things to say about him.

Also, just as Rand's post was about a parallel with the Nazis, including a place name (Berlin), you do know a pretty good parallel can be set up between Obama's and Lincoln's experience, right? Even the place names are the same (Springfield, Illinois State House, etc).

I'm operating on too little sleep to do it, but I keep thinking that you could set up a good parallel with the Nazis and Ronald Reagan, complete with personal charisma, adoring crowds and, of course, that big speech in Berlin....

Rand Simberg wrote:

Carl, he's not a law professor.

Robert wrote:

Rand, U of C says here that he is a law professor:

Brock wrote:

Hey Carl!, I've never been in Court either, but I consider myself a lawyer. There are public filings with the SEC with my name on them to prove it. Hopefully it'll be on an 8-K one day ...

I hate that youth corp crap. The only "service" that that's worth anything is the kind where you volunteer. Otherwise it's just coerced, unpaid servitude. I guess the 13th Amendment doesn't apply to minors ...

Larry J wrote:

Only a moron could think "compulsory volunteerism" is not only an oxymoron, but a restriction on freedom. Forcing people into "community service" is little different than forcing them into the military. In effect, Obama wants to reinstate the draft. However, like every draft in US history, there will doubtless be special exemptions so select people don't have to go.

Josh Reiter wrote:

Carl Pham wrote:
"ballsack shrivelingly cold surprise"

I'm still deciding if this is a good thing or bad.

memomachine wrote:


Obama is not a *tenured* nor *tenure track* law professor.

He's basically a guy who taught a couple courses at the U and now calls himself a "law professor" because the definition is very loose.

Raoul Ortega wrote:

Most state legislatures are filled with party hacks and non-entities, and Obama (pbuh) fit right in with them. Except he's really good at vacuous platitudes, and makes a useful front. (I heard the real reason he doesn't want to wear the label pin is because he has this fear of sharp objects which could cause him to pop.)

And if we are going to elect someone from a place called Springfield, why not "Diamond Joe" Quimby?

Robert wrote:

For those interested in evaluating Obama on his legislative record, this website covers his legislative achievements in the US Senate as of 2006:

I found the section on his collaboration with Sen. Lugar (R) to be particularly interesting.

It would be good to see a similar page on Obama's achievements in the IL Senate.

Carl Pham wrote:

I realize he's not the tenured kind, Rand. I wasn't giving his title or occupation so much as defining his mind set. He has the experience and attitudes of a classroom lecturer, not those of a courtoom litigator.

Brock, I've met four types of your profession (the guys with JD after their names):

(1) Litigators. I call 'em "lawyers" because they think of themselves that way, basically knights errant whose weapon is the law. They like winning more than anything else, and will more often than any other category break the law in order to do so, ironically enough. They keep pistols in the bottom drawer of their desk, just in case.

(2) Counselors. Folks who draft contracts, for example, or advise clients high and low. You may fall into that category. Lots of counselors actually hate litigating and avoid it. They're interested in drafting good contracts or giving good advice to avoid legal conflict. Really the most useful category, the only ones whom Shakespeare would probably not hang. The most useful counselor is actually a hybrid, the counselor-litigator, who doesn't especially like litigating but isn't afraid of it and is pretty good at it. I'm guessing the Powerline bunch fit into that category.

(3) Professors. Like the VC bunch. They love endless speculation on the meaning of the law and follow Supreme Court rulings and appointments with all the addictive passion of movie-star fans. They like to lecture widely on how things ought to work. Amusing and useful if kept from the levers of power, where their naivete about real life and real people is dangerous.

(4) Stealth lawyers. An odd category, these are people who have done the work, passed the bar, but seem to hate the law and practise it largely defensively, e.g. they might be an HR department head or draft wills. Basically help people steer clear of the law.

Carl Pham wrote:

Robert, thanks for the link. Interesting stuff.

I would describe my impression through the filter of my experience as a science professor. Obama strikes me as the very successful graduate-school applicant. He is clearly smart, and he has his ear finely tuned to "hear" the issues the leadership class feels are important ("stop nuclear proliferation!" "watch out for bird flu!" "regulate new Wild-West industries like biotech, genetic testing, etc.!"). He looks great on paper, and he is charming and likeable in person.

However, this kind of person never becomes a successful leading research scientist. He lacks the deep personal convictions that drive you even in the face of general disapproval, and the attention to and awareness of the facts and trends of which most people are currently unaware, but which will be discovered to be important later.

In other words, Obama is the perfect Senate committee chair, or assistant Cabinet secretary. He would do a great job implementing the conventional wisdom. But I don't seem him as a leader, someone with a grasp of the essential currents of history, and the talent to ride them.

That's not so bad, from a libertarian point of view, and as long as we could prevent people from forcing the President to lead on so many issues, he'd do fine, execute a caretaking Presidency that did all kinds of sensible housekeeping things that everyone can see makes sense. But unfortunately people in this quasi-Imperial age keep wanting the President to lead on big issues -- how we get our health care, the fundamental basis of our economy, war 'n' peace and with whom -- and if he's forced to lead (or allowed to lead, since he seems, foolishly, not to be aware of his own limitations), then I fear he will lead in disastrously childish and naive ways.

Paul Milenkovic wrote:

In response to the retort to my remarks, telling me that Senator Obama is a lawyer and not an engineer, and if I needed a lawyer . . .

If I really needed I lawyer, I would not bother with Barack Obama. I would seek out Hillary instead.

Remember when Senator Obama went into this thing about talking with the world's tyrants, and Senator Clinton, forgetting the Left wing talking-points manual, almost reflexively lit into him that you don't agree to talk to such people without getting something up front? That was Hillary's Inner Lawyer talking.

Hillary is a lawyer -- don't know what Barack Obama is or studied over there at Harvard.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 7, 2008 1:21 PM.

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