A Cure for Your Imposter Syndrome (Open Thread)

Many of us suffer occasional bouts of imposter syndrome*. Michelle Obama is one of our number.

Former first lady Michelle Obama confessed she still suffered from “imposter syndrome,” even as her memoir, Becoming, broke sales records last month and became the year’s best-selling book 15 days after it was published.

[…] Asked at the event how Obama felt about being seen as a “symbol of hope,” she said: “I still have a little imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me,” according to the BBC.

“It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know?”

When I’m dealing with this, I’ll think on past successes, or remind myself of times when I’ve succeeded by soldiering on. Sometimes, yes, I’ll think about the ways I’m more capable than others. Mrs. Obama has a much better tool for this than I do.

But Obama offered a “secret” to young women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.

I’m going to assume she’s using an absolute scale and not a relative scale (it is hard to be smarter than her, after all). And that does make me feel better about myself… but maybe not about like, the world?

In unrelated news, here’s something interesting from the world of data mining.
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Here, Have Some Sanity

Seriously, I miss this man. If it did not embed correctly, go to 2:25:22 in the live feed.

Open thread

(and yes, I know I stepped on Adam, but I’m running out the door and I thought we could use this )


Ben Rhodes On Obama’s Decision To Disarm, Not Bomb, Syria

President Barack Obama’s statements and decisions around responses to Bashar al-Assad’s use of Sarin against Syrian opposition provide a test case for three issues: Intervening in conflicts that have only indirectly to do with US interests, assumptions about the use of force that have gendered aspects, and how a president communicates. If we are to end our forever wars and avoid stumbling into more, we need to understand these issues.

Some time ago, I wrote up an analysis focusing on the gendered assumptions about the use of force and struggled with an editor over it for several months, until Jeffrey Goldberg published his interview with President Obama in The Atlantic. I had predicted some of the new information in that interview in my analysis, but of course the interview precluded the use of that analysis. So I never published it. But the fact that the interview supported my analysis has kept me watching for more information about presidential decisions in August and September of 2013.

Ben Rhodes has provided more information in an Atlantic article taken from his forthcoming book. The Obama interview is a useful companion read. In this post, I’d like to work through my three issues in relation to Rhodes’s article. Read more

Loving You Both Is Breaking All the Rules

I think some of you nerds like science fiction. I do too. Let me weave a dystopian tapestry before your wondering eyes and you can tell me what you think.

The year is 2020. There are now flying cars and cheeky robot companions. You have neither of these things. You have a slightly fancier phone and a couple of new shirts.

Your state’s primary has been pushed to the end of the season and its outcome will be pivotal. Democratic primary voters have said they will not go to Cochella. They will not go to Bonaroo. They won’t even go to Lollapalooza. The voters in the other 49 states have proclaimed that they want Paul Revere and the Raiders or The American Breed. This tortured analogy is trying to tell you they want Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

Let’s say that Joe has stayed his course  as the WWWC (Wooer of the White Working Class) candidate. Bernie has staked out the leftmost pragmatic position on all of your favorites: Healthcare, education, minimum wage, full employment.

And there you are, in the voting booth. Between Scylla and Charybdis. For whom do you pull the lever?

While you muse on this bummer episode of The Twilight Zone, please observe what I have in my other hand: It’s the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

Help Us, Obama-Wan…

Charlie Pierce posted a plea for President Obama to get off the sidelines and join the Resistance full time. I urge you to go read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

You always have been a voice for reason. Defend it now. Angrily, if you must. You always have been a voice for reconciliation. Demand it now. Harshly, if needs be. You always have been the voice of a vision of the American ideal. Fight for it now, ruthlessly, and realize that it has real enemies within this country with whom we cannot reason, who will not reconcile, and who have every intention of grinding that ideal into the dust in order to appease the unappeasable gods of their hate and their fear.

Long ago, I wrote that your capital error in politics was that you offered this country absolution without demanding penance. Look at where that’s gotten us. If you honestly believe in the America you described in Boston, then goddamn it, fight for it against the people to whom it is anathema. It’s time to join the resistance full-time, if you have the stomach for it. A madman is begetting more madmen and, frankly, I don’t know how much time we have left.

I agree with everything Pierce wrote (except the implication that giving speeches to bankers is unseemly — I don’t give a fuck about that). Pierce acknowledges in so many words that Obama owes us nothing — true! But Obama is a patriot, and most Americans trust him. He’s not a nut. He can’t be dismissed as a sore loser.

The very things that make it so unlikely that Obama would lead the resistance to Trump — his belief in institutions, his circumspection, his trust in processes — would make his open, high-profile opposition incredibly powerful.

Again, President Obama doesn’t owe us jack-shit. But could he make a difference? I believe he could. And when Trump’s own cabinet members are discussing tackling their boss to keep his mitts off the nuclear football, it’s pretty clear we’re reaching “desperate times call for desperate measures” territory.

Damn, I miss Michelle Obama

I could be wrong, but I always had the feeling Michelle Obama was a little less optimistic about the goodness and decency of the American people than President Obama. Maybe because they grew up in such different places. Perhaps he’s just naturally more idealistic.

Don’t get me wrong — I think they’re both idealistic as hell; people who weren’t wouldn’t have taken the path they took. And both of them experienced an uglier side of America than I ever will, so I’m not saying either was naive. But maybe she always had a more realistic view of this country than he did.

In retrospect, the way they approached the 2016 campaign sort of signaled that; PBO flatly denied Trump could win (as did I). I bet Michelle Obama knew it was possible all along. At least that’s my impression.

Anyhoo, glad to see her speaking out. Open thread!

Friday Evening Open Thread: Readership Capture Social Notes

Former President Barack Obama will speak to young people at the University of Chicago on Monday, returning to the city for what will be his first public event since leaving the White House.

Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, he said.

The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at the U. of C., and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. He gave his farewell address in January in the city that launched his political career. And the discussion with students lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said…

No tickets remain for distribution to the general public, but the event will be televised. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany her husband on the trip, Lewis said.

The participants on stage with Obama are expected to range from high school to college to recent university graduates. According to Lewis, they have all been chosen and are from the Chicago area, but their names were not released Friday…

Obama has been writing his memoirs amid a succession of celebrity-filled vacations intended to allow him and the former first lady to decompress. Reports have had him as far away as Tetiaroa, a French Polynesian island once owned by Marlon Brando.

Now, the timing of the Chicago event suggests an increasing public profile for the former leader. On May 7, he will be in Boston to receive the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Profile in Courage award. It’s being called the centennial award because Kennedy was born 100 years ago.

What else is on the agenda, as we wrap up the week?