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Friday, February 12, 2010

Fool me once, shame on you...

A conman's modus operandi is to fleece a victim, and then move on to the next one. He can't keep fleecing the same victim, because that victim is wise to him. And because that victim will inform on him, the con man must move to the next town, or even next state, where he can ply scams anew.

This is why the Presidency is not a good job for a con man. Once the public has caught on to your dishonesty, you can't exactly move to the next state. After your actions have belied your words a certain number of times, people are less inclined to believe you, no matter how smooth a talker you are. Even if you half-believe your words yourself.

Barack Obama, after having said he believed in the public financing option, after having campaigned as the post-partisan and post-racial President, after having said that there would be no lobbyists in his administration, after having said that there would be no earmarks in any bill he supported, after having said that all negotiations on his health care bill would be transparent and shown on C-Span, after having said that he would not support a health care bill which would raise taxes one dime, and after having stated that he intended to choose a Supreme Court nominee who was a strict Constitutionalist, has recently cast himself as a deficit hawk.


Sadly, the type of people who do best at politics (and often, business) are by nature con men. But the narcissism inherent in being good at self-promotion is pretty much a guarantee that you won't be a good leader. Because real leadership requires self-awareness, integrity, and the ability to see both sides of an argument. These qualities tend not to coexist with glibness, self-righteousness, and a strong sense of entitlement.

What would be ideal is a system whereby a group of wise men pluck a somewhat unwilling man from obscurity to be President. As the story goes, George Washington had to be talked out of his reluctance (if not out of obscurity).

I'm not seriously suggesting such a system (who would pick the wise men?) But if it were workable, it would certainly beat our current may-the-best-conman-win system.


Anonymous said...


Your post was perfectly stated.....

Now the newest generation of voters has experienced what we've all known for a long, long time. Politicans will tell you anything you want to hear just to get elected. Once on the job, their loyalty is given to the cronies who supplied the cash during their campaigns.

Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Thank you Tom. And yes, Obama is no different. Though he may write off the banks (which gave him a lot of money in '08) if he feels their loyalty is switching now.

Anonymous said...

My father once told me that anyone who actually wants to be president was already disqualifed in his eyes.

I also wondered what would happen if someone got elected that was not beholden to lobbists or special interests. A very wealthy guy, like Ross Perot, who could finance his own campaign and run the government as if it were a profit-loss business.

Any business that were run like our governmentwould be bankrupt - out of business. NYC mayor Bloomberg is a multi-billionairre and works for $1 a year. He might take a more business-like approach and not be tethered to special interests.

Can't be worse.....


John Craig said...

Michael --
Your father was a wise man.

I actually voted for Perot in '92, before it was apparent that he was a little nutty, partly for the reason you outlined. The problem with the current administration is that they see business as a never ending cash cow which they can milk to expand the power of government. I wonder how easy it would be to reverse their policies even when a new administration comes in.

Anonymous said...

Great post. So, how is it that so many people, i.e., the electorate, could not see who Obama was versus what he said he was before the '08 election? He left the same type of wake as a community organizer and a state senator, even as a presidential campaigner--- say one thing to one group and another to another group. We should ascribe the "Fool me once, shame on you..." to the media just as well.

John Craig said...

Anonymous -- Thank you. You just put your finger on it: a large part of the reason so many people didn't see him for what he is (and still don't) is because of the media. The media is generally far to the left of the population at large (past polls have shown that 90% of reporters vote Democratic), so they WANT to burnish Obama's image. Obama could never have pulled the wool over the eyes of the electorate without the complicity of the media.