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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Everything Personal

At the Jeff Sessions’ congressional hearing, people who are against his confirmation speak about the cases he tried, the opinions he voiced, the legal positions he took. People who are in favor talk about how he is a nice guy. One fellow exclaimed with a pained look, “How can you be against Jeff Sessions if you haven’t spent 10 minutes in the same room with him??”

These are not some dumb, uneducated folks who simply don’t know any better. These are people of consequence if they are invited to speak at congressional hearings. But this is the extent of their understanding of politics and law: who’s nice to have lunch with and who isn’t.

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14 thoughts on “Everything Personal

  1. But this is the extent of their understanding of politics and law: who’s nice to have lunch with and who isn’t.

    The Cabinet full of “Lunchables”!
    🙂

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  2. Nearly all of the very terrible defenses of Obama’s legacy have rested on how nice he is, how elegant he and Michelle are, how cool he looks or looked when he did something, how he made people feel; none of them I’ve seen actually dealt substantively with any policy issues or achievements.

    This seems to be most people’s test — even most of the ones who consider themselves to be intellectuals — of the effectiveness and competence of a politician. It’s strange seeing this because one of the most common criticisms during the George W. Bush era of conservatives by liberals was that the conservatives judged Bush by how much they imagined they’d want to have a beer with him.

    To see 99% of the liberal think pieces at the conclusion of Obama’s final term descend into the same playground puerile lunacy wasn’t really surprising, but was disappointing nevertheless.

    I bring all this up not merely to attack Obama’s legacy — as shabby as it is — but to point out that for most people most of the time, emotional reasoning is all there is, with really nothing else present. Cerebration and post hoc rationalization proceed from this, and do not precede the sentimental reaction.

    It’s not that I’m some paragon of rational thought and logic, but rather that I make any effort at all to do this seems to make people angry. I don’t give a crap how Obama makes me feel. I care about what he’s done.

    This also makes people angry: I don’t care very much how ethical or not a president is. Like with a novelist, I don’t think there’s much connection between this and being a good, effective political actor. I’d rather have a president like Kennedy who appeared to have been kind of a scumbag actually get useful things done rather than someone (apparently) squeaky clean like Obama give away the remaining bits of the country to banksters (or at least allow them to keep what they’d already stolen).

    This emotional reaction to politicians and their ilk I just don’t understand. I’ve never experienced it to any deep degree so it is a bit mysterious to me.

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      • Yeah, that Obama was so not perfect. He failed to create paradise on earth, so fuck him. And this, after all the help we gave him by electing a democratic Congress and Senate. And he still couldn’t give us perfection.

        Let’s wait for somebody really ideal, unblemished and godlike. Accept nothing less!

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    • Shakti on said:

      Well said, Mike. This is a very cogent, incisive hot take from someone who can’t be bothered with the de minimis act of voting — for anyone, ever.
      You have no emotion about politicians (or platforms or records of actions) because you don’t stand to lose anything tangible or symbolic. Therefore you have no reason or motivation to do anything whatsoever except bloviate about irrational people and their voting patterns derived from “emotional” reasoning.

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      • Was too young to vote in 1992 — didn’t vote
        Voted for Perot in 1996
        Voted for Gore in 2000
        Voted for Kerry in 2004
        Voted for Obama in 2008 (what a fucking mistake)
        Voted for Jill Stein in 2012
        Voted for Jill Stein (write in in 2016)
        Will almost certainly not vote for the Dem candidate in 2020

        Though I rarely vote in mid-terms, you got me there. I think I’ve voted in one, when I lived in Charlotte.

        Amazing how Dems won’t even hold their own candidates to Democrat standards, or any standards. It’s just, “Rah, rah, go team go!” FUCK THAT. I will have no part of that ever, or the evil it allows.

        Obama was not perfect. No candidate is or ever will be. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even good. Or really a Democrat, even compared to Richard Nixon (who was at the time considered a hardcore Republican). And he was and is pretty damn evil (drone killing FTW?).

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        • Drones are not an alternative to zero military engagement. They are an alternative to an invasion.

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        • Shakti on said:

          Ok, I was wrong about my assumptions about your voting record.

          However:

          This emotional reaction to politicians and their ilk I just don’t understand.

          You absolutely had an emotional reaction to politicians otherwise you wouldn’t have voted for Jill Stein twice. Even if it’s if “Obama and HRC are neoliberal nightmares”. Also if you’re going to call someone “evil” your emotional reaction is not “meh”.

          This also makes people angry: I don’t care very much how ethical or not a president is.

          But you just posted about evil Obama and flying death robots. How is that not a question of ethics with you?

          Though I rarely vote in mid-terms, you got me there.

          And midterms actually decide a lot of what these in/effectual Presidents can do. It’s not ALL executive orders and fiat.

          I’d rather have a president like Kennedy who appeared to have been kind of a scumbag actually get useful things done

          I’m surprised you cited Kennedy as an effective but sleazy president, when it’s really Johnson who was effective (and sleazy and who escalated the war in Vietnam.) (He was so effective they keep trying to undo Medicare and Social Security whenever they can. )If in the alternate timeline Jill Stein was going to take office in a week, she’d be severely constricted by who is actually in Congress. Trump is going to be super duper effacious since he has a pliant Congress.

          You didn’t vote for Jill Stein because she had a chance of being effective. You voted for her because she hews most closely to your ideals.

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  3. Dreidel on said:

    Well, as long as everbody is throwing in his/her two cents on the subject…

    The ONLY practical reason to vote for any candidate is on the basis of ideology (and electability — it’s ridiculous to waste a vote on any third-party Presidential candidate).

    In other words, you vote for the candidate who will actively pursue the political goals you desire, and active oppose those you don’t. Nothing else about the candidate really matters.

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  4. “This is the extent of their understanding of politics and law. Who’s nice to ‘have lunch with’ and who’s not”.
    Fraternal buttfuckers, all of them, in my opinion.

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