Obama And Political Man

Political man, like his mythical counterpart ‘economic man’ is not entirely a rational creature. How odd then that Obama’s campaign which so shrewdly catered to emotions and aspirational imagination should begin with reason and an inauspicious start.

We’ve been silent this week. We apologize. Frankly, there’s not much meaningful to say. Day to day tactical ankle biting before a stimulus bill goes to conference just doesn’t interest. Unless we are in the thick of it on the Hill. And we’re not.

Of course, there’ll be a stimulus bill of some sort. Tweety’s hot stroking is the embodiment of ‘ick factor.’ It’s going to happen. Nothing to see, move along. At the end of blah, blah? The bill will have far too much in useless tax cuts; the Administration’s premature flinch cum bet on enticing Republicans was based on rational inclusion calculations. Repaid with spite. The bill’ll also be too small in aggregate to jump start a U.S.-sized economy meaningfully. It will re-order some U.S. spending priorities for years to come. Not a whole lot for the Stiftung to get excited about.

Obama does get a valuable lesson. Change and politics are fundamentally not rational exercises. A change agent can never allow a self evident case to speak for itself. This is as true when turning around a start up or the leading the Executive Branch. Presiding and delegating – albeit with more detailed understanding than the Warlord — to toadies from the ancien regime on the Hill is a recipe for derailment.

Just as HRC made the wooden Obama a better candidate, Rush, Cantor and the rump Movement’s inspired Stand ultimately may make Obama a better president. A president as change agent above must be *engaged*. Rationality should underpin optimum policy choices. But the selling and politics of their adoption will require tapping into the penumbra of the irrational. We can be thankful these minor mistakes came early and will not affect matters greatly — the Stimulus Bill was a boondoggle from the get go. Perhaps Obama can internalize the lessons before he sits down with say, Vladimir Putin. For example, Obama should realize that one can talk about missile defense and Iran till one is blue in the face, but the real bond is how Vlad’s covert ABBA obsession can lead to some Momma Mia.