Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good cop/bad cop

I really really liked Amanda Marcotte's post about what liberals are projecting onto Obama. A comment there got me thinking about how easily politicians can play good cop/bad cop with the public. Obama did it with "change," and had a perfect bad cop to play off of. Commenter Andrew says:

Honestly, what everything since the election has really reinforced for me is how much I would never ever ever want that job.

I am not up to that level of responsibility. I’m not sure anyone is. Of course Obama will disappoint people from time-to-time. Of course he’ll make mistakes.

George W. Bush didn’t make mistakes. The - oops! - lack of WMD in Iraq? A “disappointment.” Abu Ghraib? A “disappointment.”

One of the things I like best about Obama is his apparent willingness to say “I made a bone-headed mistake.” To learn from errors, to adjust his preconceptions when reality intrudes.

I don’t mind a President making mistakes or disappointing people. I mind a President pretending (or worse still, honestly believing) that the mistakes never happened, that nobody was disappointed, that reality didn’t have a different opinion.

The one thing I really hope Obama does, and the one thing I think will really combat cynicism, is simply being honest about things, including mistakes. To say “this is what I’d *like* to do; this is what we *can* do.”

People actually like being leveled with.

"We're wearing the same uniform, but I'm not like that guy. I am like you, so listen to me."

The act works on me almost always, so I find it particularly insidious and unkind.

As to when/how Obama will disappoint: I've grown up with no reason to believe that a president will or can do much to make this country into what I think it can and should be. I'm open to a pleasant surprise, and will consider it one if he delivers on eliminating don't ask don't tell. I am pretty comfortable believing that Obama can't possibly be as bad as Bush. I always said that a random number generator would make a better president than Bush: it would at least be right sometimes, instead of wrong every time. He has a worse track record than a broken clock.
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