We are all Vulcans now

John Harris, in a list of ways to attack Obama that Republicans may find helpful:

Too much Leonard Nimoy

[…..]

But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

Are there other first-world countries where the media spends a lot of time worrying that its leaders are too rational?

The next two criticisms are, by the way, in order “The rap is that his West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols” and “But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.”

The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

70 replies
  1. 1
    Molly says:

    Rationality is highly-overrated, Doug. /snark

    Sigh.

  2. 2
    Gus says:

    Wait, I thought he was really quite stupid and couldn’t get by without his teleprompter.

  3. 3
    Comrade Jake says:

    Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

    I guess the take-home message here is that two people is all one needs to manufacture a “growing critique”. You have to love the mind-numbing stupidity/beltway CW at play here.

  4. 4
    dmsilev says:

    I want one, just one, guest on Hardball or equivalent to say “You know, Chris, we had eight years of governing from the gut and it was a fucking disaster. Maybe thinking decisions over before jumping in is worth a try?”

    -dms

  5. 5
    4tehlulz says:

    >The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

    Consistency is irrelevant as long as you find something that sticks.

  6. 6
    danimal says:

    It’s not an effective attack. People like Mr. Spock much more than the average village journalist. It’s simply logical…

  7. 7
    Legalize says:

    That’s Maureen Dowd the plaigarist, right? Just checking.

  8. 8
    debit says:

    Hold on…if Obama is Spock, then does that mean he’s going to kill Rahm when he goes into Pon Farr?

  9. 9
    Brian J says:

    I can stop here:

    The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy. He’ll announce the results on Tuesday. The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    I’m sorry, is there some other way to decide this issue? After eight years of making national security decisions based on feelings from the gut and seeing the great results, we’re complaining because the guy is spending too much time thinking about things?

    Besides that, I probably know more about the situation in Afghanistan than 95 percent of the public, yet I know so little that my opinion is pretty worthless. Why, then, are we expecting the rest of the public to register an informed opinion on the issue? Simply put, we can’t.

  10. 10
    Punchy says:

    It sucks having a rational and consider-all-approaches leader apparently.

    The media WILL be the death of this country.

  11. 11
    drunken hausfrau says:

    shorter: He’s 2 smart and uses big wordz. He makes mah head ake.

  12. 12
    Malron says:

    No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    No soldier wants to take a bullet. Ever.

    God, these bloodthirsty fucks on the right make my blood boil.

  13. 13
    Ugh says:

    The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving.

    Something like, “We are going to win in Afghanistan, mutha fucka!

  14. 14
    Karen S. says:

    @ Comrade Jake 3

    I guess the take-home message here is that two people is all one needs to manufacture a “growing critique”. You have to love the mind-numbing stupidity/beltway CW at play here.

    Yes. And in Journalist World, it only takes the example of one or two people to indicate a trend.
    To cover up the fact that you only have the word of one or possibly two people, who you can’t get a hold of before deadline, on a given subject or that you’re cribbing your “analysis” from some other news source (or two or three), you write (or intone if you’re on the TeeVee) the all-purpose “Some say that… ”
    It works! And few people question it, not even your editors, generally speaking. Fortunately, I had great editors at the small to medium-sized papers I worked at who would never have let me get away with that if I had dared to try to file a story with the lazy “Some say that… ” Unfortunately, those editors are still overworked at the smallish papers I used to work at and, like me, never hit the so-called big time.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    No soldier wants to take a bullet at all. If that soldier is going to risk taking a bullet, I am pretty sure that the soldier would prefer to take that risk in the service of something that makes sense. We don’t really need a ” C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre” moment. Jaysus, Harris is stupid.

  16. 16
    Bullsmith says:

    But soldiers are happy to take bullets based on empty macho posturing and cynical political exploitation of their service. Natch.

  17. 17
    Violet says:

    @dmsilev:

    I want one, just one, guest on Hardball or equivalent to say “You know, Chris, we had eight years of governing from the gut and it was a fucking disaster. Maybe thinking decisions over before jumping in is worth a try?”

    Gawd, yes. I’d pay some pundit to say something like that on one of the yakfests. Maybe we have another Balloon Juice fundraiser to make this happen. Heh.

    Our media is beyond awful. The Today Show this morning devoted an entire segment to discussing comments from viewers about the whole Tiger Woods non-story. Really. Three seconds on Afghanistan and two full segments on Tiger Woods. Inexcusable.

  18. 18

    The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

    Luckily, Obama can be the consistent one. For example, he can just stay on message, and ignore the taunts.

  19. 19
    MattF says:

    I’m waiting for Politico’s “3,758 Stories Palin Doesn’t Want Told”. Do you think they really want the wingers to be in charge? Hard to believe.

  20. 20
    neff says:

    Yeah I saw some random woman on CNN this morning smarming the same thing about how a young man in the Marines didn’t join the service to be in a holding action! He joined up to win!

    Yeah oorah, random CNN woman

  21. 21
    Brian J says:

    Meanwhile, the liberal media strikes again, in this timely piece, “Why Dick Cheney Should Run in 2012.”

    I get that this isn’t really an endorsement of his candidacy. It’s just that the entire article seems to depend on the idea that Cheney is some sort of honest if unpopular broker of conservative ideas, which is, how do you say, absolute nonsense.

  22. 22
    Senyordave says:

    Let’s face it, the GOP has two constant strategies to go after Obama and its one that might, unfortunately work:

    1. Undermine him at every chance, no matter how innocuous, no matter what cost to the country.

    2. Oppose all policies and, this is important, never offer an alternative.

    Has a president, during a time of national crisis (two wars, an economy that was in shambles) ever faced a situation where the out-of-power party has ever acted in such an overt fashion to undermine all policy?

    At this point Cheney would be using the word treason to describe the Democrat party. After 9/11, the Democrats stood on the steps of the Capital with Republicans and sang.

  23. 23
    SpotWeld says:

    It’s far easier for a news outlet to tape someone emoting “personality” and just run the reel and tack on some commentary than it is for them to tape someone (which certainly being charismatic) speaking on some fairly bland and nuanced policy.

    It takes *effort” to make something sane, rational and measured to be entertaining. And entertaining is what gets those rating numbers (and ad revenues).

    That’s why Palin is so “popular”, it doesn’t matter what she’s talking about, just point a camera at her and she’ll do something “wacky”.

    If only Sarah Palin could run a campaign with Barney from “How I Met Your Mother”… they would be (media-wise) unstoppoable. Perhaps even Legen…..

    (wait for it)

    …dary.

  24. 24
    Blue Raven says:

    “Intellectuality”? Is she afraid “intellectualism” sounds too much like a religion?

  25. 25
    Kryptik says:

    @4tehlulz:

    That’s the whole point, isn’t it? They don’t care if they’re inconsistent, because they’re never punished for it. As long as they can plant seeds for opposition, no matter how irrational or inconsistent it is, they win, because they know they’ll be able to get media to run with it with no consequence.

    @Brian J:

    But we can’t have time to think, we have to act NOW NOW NOW NOW OR WE’RE DEAD, DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND, WE’RE DEAD, WE HAVE TO PUT IN TROOPS AND MONEY AND LASER SHARKS NOW, OR AMERICA WILL BECOME THE NEXT DOMINO!!

    Oooh, but wait, we have a health care bill here, that’s kinda scary. And it has businesses kinda wary. Shouldn’t we push this off until after the 2010 elections, so everyone can read it, and lobbyists can have their input? No one ever died because of lack of insurance or lack of action on their health care or insurance, right?

  26. 26
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Didn’t Spock save the universe like eleventy hojillion times in multiple alternate timelines? Spock’s a badass.

  27. 27
    mistersnrub says:

    The media bobbleheads relate to people like Bush and Palin who make decisions based on “rock-bottom principles” (whatever that means). They are also lazy, vindictive, intellectually incurious, easily distracted by bright, shiny objects, and totally unencumbered by any form of accountability.

  28. 28
    Morbo says:

    But how many people are lining up to have Obama sign their books? Point: dog.

  29. 29
    Kryptik says:

    @neff:

    Because football teams win by running the same plays every down, and trying to run up the gut in the middle because that’s what worked the first time (so it must work EVERY TIME). Because planning and strategy and playbooks are for suckers who spend too much time thinking.

  30. 30
    Ash Can says:

    Too much Leonard Nimoy, blah blah blah…

    Christ awmighty, what a pile of stupid. Ya know, I don’t read any op-eds, I don’t read any news magazines, I don’t watch any of the fucking endless pundit shows on the TV (except for Chicago Tonight, which doesn’t count because it’s lucid), and I don’t watch any television news programs at all (except for the occasional BBC America broadcast, which likewise doesn’t count). And I’m all the happier for it. I’m probably better informed as well, because my information intake isn’t cluttered with shitloads of trash.

    I just can’t believe that these idiot pundits get paid for this manure. Wouldn’t you think they and/or their editors would reach the point where they’d say, “Oh fuck it, this is just too asinine even for me”?

  31. 31
    jon says:

    Life was so much better when we had that gay womanizer in the White House.

  32. 32
    valdivia says:

    reading this made me want to go go back to bed. ugh.
    I *hate* this people.

  33. 33
    Brian J says:

    @Kryptik:

    I thought the idea was that if we act sooner rather than later, ACORN won’t have time to foil our plans.

  34. 34
    Napoleon says:

    The MSM can not go bankrupt fast enough. What is really mind numbing about the “he is too rational” BS is the steaming wreckage of what happens when you goven by emotion is all around us and yet someone like Harris can not see it.

    The Village attacks on Obama are just as inconsistent as the winger attacks.

    That is because they take their attacks directly from the wingnunts.

  35. 35
    Catsy says:

    @danimal:

    It’s not an effective attack. People like Mr. Spock much more than the average village journalist. It’s simply logical…

    This.

    The people making these “Spock” attacks against Obama don’t seem to understand just how popular a character Spock is. For many people he’s their favorite character on Star Trek, and for some their favorite, period. People like Spock. Even when they’re amused at him being all cool and Vulcan-y, they like him.

  36. 36
    forked tongue says:

    But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.

    We know where the weapons are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north of there.

  37. 37
    Stefan says:

    Yeah I saw some random woman on CNN this morning smarming the same thing about how a young man in the Marines didn’t join the service to be in a holding action! He joined up to win!

    Funny, I thought he joined up to do whatever the fuck his civilian commander-in-chief orders him to do.

  38. 38
    Ming says:

    I’m for Obama coming out on Tuesday, and laying out a clear, well thought out argument for his goals and strategy, accompanied by a good sprinkling of macho moments — audio/sound bites of him sounding and acting tough that can get played over and over on the news. It’s not like the 101st Chairborne is going to listen to his words — they just want to have starbursts on our President swinging a big dick and looking all-powerful. And the thinking portion of the population, one would hope, is interested in the policy and its rationale, and can look past the posturing. Voila! Everyone’s happy!

  39. 39
    Comrade Dread says:

    It’s just that the entire article seems to depend on the idea that Cheney is some sort of honest if unpopular broker of conservative ideas, which is, how do you say, absolute nonsense.

    Well, he is, if you accept the modern definition of conservative as someone who believes in destruction; radical undermining of tradition, law, and the Constitution; and the elevation of self about your country, your shareholders, and whatever shriveled, dessicated thing that still serves as a conscience that still abides in the thing they claim as a soul.

  40. 40
    mk3872 says:

    The Politico story Doug references made me laugh on so many levels.

    I can’t help but think of the way that MMFA refers to Politico as a “GOP bulletin board”.

    No other article probably sums that up better than this one.

    A story of 7 storylines ripped right out of the GOP smear talking points.

    Each one of these has a line in it similar to “these may not be true” … LOL!

    Now that the DC beltway pundits feel no pressure or fear of the WH, they can get back to their Clinton-era echo-chambers where it is THEIR reality that is detached from “real America”.

  41. 41
    Kryptik says:

    @Brian J:

    There’s that too, but remember, every day that Obama dithers, every death that happens is on his head, because if he only brought in more troops, every single person that died there wouldn’t have, and we’d be drinking victory lattes in Kabul!

  42. 42
    Kryptik says:

    @Stefan:

    But his Commander-in-Chief is a Democrat now! That means he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing, so he doesn’t have to listen, didn’t this become clear the last decade or so, maaaaaaaan?!

  43. 43
    chrome agnomen says:

    sanity has a well known liberal bias, if not an exclusive contract.

  44. 44
    gnomedad says:

    @Brian J:

    Besides that, I probably know more about the situation in Afghanistan than 95 percent of the public, yet I know so little that my opinion is pretty worthless.

    This. And maybe another way to frame the division in this country is people who want their leaders to be smarter and better informed than they are and people who feel threatened by this ande want to believe in a world where intelligence and fact are irrelevant.

  45. 45
    Trueblood says:

    The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving.

    So I guess the grading rubric for Obama’s speech looks something like this:

    Logical?
    More Visceral?

    Also, is Harris admitting he has no idea what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving? Because that’s what he wrote (not that that means anything).

  46. 46
    noncarborundum says:

    Funny, I don’t remember Spock as a ditherer. That would be the Good Kirk from The Enemy Within.

    The speech’s success will be judged not only on the logic of the presentation but on whether Obama communicates in a more visceral way what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving. No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    Yeah, like Bush ever communicated “what progress looks like and why it is worth achieving.” Is taking a bullet in the name of nuance any worse than taking it in the name of “because shut up, that’s why”?

  47. 47
    JenJen says:

    I see I’m not the only Juicer who became mightily pissed when I read this line:

    No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.

    In 2003, jingoism was a fine reason, though, for our national press corps.

  48. 48
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @dmsilev:

    I want one, just one, guest on Hardball or equivalent to say “You know, Chris, we had eight years of governing from the gut and it was a fucking disaster. Maybe thinking decisions over before jumping in is worth a try?”

    And I want a pony! I think a lasting Middle East peace will occur before what you describe ever happens.

    Or when monkees start flying out my ass. Oh wait, I’ve seen that…with help. ;)

  49. 49
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I thought it has been crystal clear at least since the Spanish-American War that news people don’t give a fig for the lives of the troops, nor are they the least bit patriotic in the sense of looking out for what’s best for the country. They just want to blow shit up because that’s what sells newspapers (and today, that’s what gets eyeballs glued to the TV).

    Ever since it came out that “no drama” was one of the guiding principles of the Obama campaign, I knew that his administration and the media were going to be deadly enemies. His goal is not to make news, at least not of the slick and superficial sort, and theirs is the exact opposite.

  50. 50
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Erik Vanderhoff:

    Spock’s a badass.

    Just like the time in Star Trek 4 where he nerve pinches the asshat on the bus with the boom box.

    Too bad we can’t do that collectively to the Villager Heathers. Instead, we have to wait another 10 years while their bidness model finishes circling the toilet.

  51. 51
    noncarborundum says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Or when monkees start flying out my ass. Oh wait, I’ve seen that…</

    Mickey Dolenz must have been particularly painful.

  52. 52
    noncarborundum says:

    @noncarborundum:
    Blockquote fail.

    Or when monkees start flying out my ass. Oh wait, I’ve seen that…

    Mickey Dolenz must have been particularly painful.

  53. 53
    Anton Sirius says:

    Thanks for the reminder of why I don’t read Politico. Ever.

  54. 54
    Kryptik says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    I make the mistake of looking at the articles sometimes.

    The comments on each article are a good reminder of why I never read unless linked. It’s a wingnut wasteland in there.

  55. 55
    Sputnik_Sweetheart says:

    I read the article this morning and it made me want to throw my computer against the wall. Here’s another bit from the article:

    He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money
    Economists and business leaders from across the ideological spectrum were urging the new president on last winter when he signed onto more than a trillion in stimulus spending and bank and auto bailouts during his first weeks in office. Many, though far from all, of these same people now agree that these actions helped avert an even worse financial catastrophe.

    Really? Where were you John Harris the past eight years? Why weren’t you crying about monopoly money when the past administration claimed that the war would pay for itself? And does John Harris think that Obama should have ignored the experts so he could get political points?

  56. 56
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    @ comrade scott:

    Just like the time in Star Trek 4 where he nerve pinches the asshat on the bus with the boom box.

    I was more thinking like the end of Wrath of Khan where he sticks his hand in a giant bunsen burner to switch on the warp drive. “The good of the many outweighs the good of the few,” anyone?

  57. 57
    Brian J says:

    @Sputnik_Sweetheart:

    And yet if he tried to get some of that money back–say, in the form of a financial transaction tax that wouldn’t affect anyone in any big way except those who helped get us into this mess in the first place–something tells me that they wouldn’t do much to stop the impression that the tanks would soon start rolling through the streets. Because, you know, he’s a socialist or something.

  58. 58
    Cris says:

    Not only do people like Spock, but now he’s getting it on with Uhura.

  59. 59
    Llelldorin says:

    If this were actually Star Trek, could we just see the media all yelling “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock! I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?”, draw the obvious conclusion, and conclude that they’ve been replaced by androids? (Possibly Randroids, now that I think about it.)

  60. 60
    Sly says:

    The world will crumble once it finds out that Obama can convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius in his head.

  61. 61
    Tonybrown74 says:

    @Cris:

    Seems fitting to mention that, considering the couple we now have in the White House …

  62. 62
  63. 63
    CalD says:

    Thanks again for reading the Politico (so I don’t have to).

  64. 64
    Steeplejack says:

    “No soldier wants to take a bullet in the name of nuance.”

    Yeah, they much prefer taking a bullet in the name of our un-nuanced “America, fuck, yeah!” foreign policy.

  65. 65
    Sly says:

    Thanks again for reading the Politico (so I don’t have to).

    I just read the whole article. You have no idea how thankful you are. Shorter John Harris:

    Obama spends too much money, especially on stuff that George Bush actually spent the money on. Obama thinks too much about whether or not its a good idea to send people into mortal danger. Obama is too aggressive. Obama isn’t aggressive enough. Obama doesn’t like America. Obama let some woman do his job for him. Obama likes himself too much.

    Throw a bunch of Teabagger tropes in a sack and pick seven at random.

  66. 66
    sacman701 says:

    Comparing someone to Spock is the highest possible compliment.

  67. 67
    Splitting Image says:

    @Catsy:

    The people making these “Spock” attacks against Obama don’t seem to understand just how popular a character Spock is. For many people he’s their favorite character on Star Trek, and for some their favorite, period. People like Spock. Even when they’re amused at him being all cool and Vulcan-y, they like him.

    The key thing to understand is that the Villagers of the day didn’t like Spock either. The network execs tried to get rid of him after the first pilot film because they were convinced that reg’lar folks wouldn’t like him. Roddenberry worked hard to keep him on the show because he correctly thought otherwise.

    It’s hilarious that today’s political pundits are making the same argument about Obama that the 1960s network heads made about Spock. Both groups have about an equally good understanding of how reg’lar folks think. Sarah Palin is basically a real-life “My Mother, the Car”.

  68. 68
    Llelldorin says:

    This is also the flip side of the line Obama has to walk as a black politician. Obama isn’t “allowed” to show anger, because the moment he does he becomes The Angry Negro. That gives him two modes:

    (1) Even rationality
    (2) (rarely) Amused contempt (“It’s like they take pride in being ignorant!”)

    It’s a very good thing that Cheney keeps emerging from his undisclosed location and violating the rules of the Evil Overlord list, so that everyone remembers what “even rationality” was a switch from.

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    @Ash Can:
    I just can’t believe that these idiot pundits get paid for this manure. Wouldn’t you think they and/or their editors would reach the point where they’d say, “Oh fuck it, this is just too asinine even for me”?

    That’s how they get a raise, every time the level of asinine gets higher their pay envelope gets fatter. If you are a whore it’s not the definition, it’s the amount.

  70. 70

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