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September 19, 2011

Obama’s Latest Relaunch: Titantic or PT 109?

Blechman Obama illustration

I love the (ambiguity of the) “life preserver illustration” on Bill Keller’s Obama op-ed today as BK fashions himself as the Frank Rich replacement. Question is (with Obama coming out swinging on the economy, but with a history of walking most of it back), is this drawing — certainly, a far cry from ‘08  – good news or bad news?

And then, what does that second panel mean, anyway?

(illustration: Nicholas Blechman.  front page teaser: Why does President Obama let his critics define him?)

  • Anonymous

    Obama tosses out the life-saver and the drowning American people are too (something…dumb? panicked? inattentive? far gone?) to grab it.

    It’s that, or I have no idea.

  • Anonymous

    OK. Responding just to the image. I’ll read the op-ed after I post this, but before that I wanted to consider what I saw the image on its own saying.

    Both vessels sank. So is the question whether a lot of people are drowning, or just a handful? Is it whether Obama’s plan — and follow through — will help a lot of people, or just a few? Yeah, I know. Those options aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • LanceThruster

      PT 109, it’s been said, with a skipper less connected than JFK, would have been a case of determining what reprimand was called for as a faster patrol boat was found in the unenviable position of being broadsided by a much heavier and far less manueverable craft do to a lapse in situational awareness. His post collision acts were indeed heroic, and required to be depicted as such as a king making exercise in the chase for the presidency. Joe Kennedy was first up for that slot, but his heroic secret mission ended in disaster and his death.

    • LanceThruster

      PT 109, it’s been said, with a skipper less connected than JFK, would have been a case of determining what reprimand was called for as a faster patrol boat was found in the unenviable position of being broadsided by a much heavier and far less manueverable craft do to a lapse in situational awareness. His post collision acts were indeed heroic, and required to be depicted as such as a king making exercise in the chase for the presidency. Joe Kennedy was first up for that slot, but his heroic secret mission ended in disaster and his death.

  • Sirius_TheStarDog

    Panel1
    One Adam-12…One Adam-12.  Drowning in progress.
    An underwater…cuff-linked ‘right’ arm calling for help? — and they say irony is dead!

    Panel2
    O-bama life preserver to the rescue?  Not a chance.
    The ‘right’ is still drowning under the O-pression of uncertainty and the cuffed tyranny of O-ver regulation.

  • http://www.growababy.com Realhanan

    http://www.dangerousminds.net/images/uploads/afiles/obsmadidssappint.jpg

    If you vote against Obama because he can’t get stuff done, it’s kinda
    like saying, “this guy can’t cure cancer. I’m gonna vote for cancer.”

    • LanceThruster

      Perfect analogy.

  • BooksAlive

    Sirius sees a cufflink, I see a button on the cuff. Maybe there’s a clue in the Teaser: Obama is not grasping his symbolic “O” – and he’ll sink if he doesn’t.

    I feel that neither historic event illustrates what is happening with Obama. What I see is him sitting on the patio, sharing a beer with the newsmaker of the moment. He tries hard enough to associate with success stories, but most of the time, the theme is blurred. Cabinet members ought to be more effective in promoting Obama’s success stories. Rep. Rob Andrews did an outstanding job this morning on C-Span, countering many disparaging caller’s remarks. But one or two good exponents is only a start. The Prez should be armed with the same statistics and reel them off each time they are needed.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    I just don’t get that second panel, and if it’s positive or negative. 

    I often find myself, caught up in the political wars, having unrealistic expectations of Obama.  (That is separate from my frustrations about his actions and nature, which I don’t feel conflicted about.) In the former regard, though, maybe the fact that America was drowning, and now, in the second panel, there is a sense of some stabilization (with the hand up, relatively balanced like that) is real progress, even if he is/we are still underwater.

    • http://www.growababy.com Realhanan

      ‘Unrealistic expectations’, Michael, was an understatement. I’m sure we are not not the only ones who though that he will turn water into wine. That did not happen.
      Struggling with the horrible hands that were handed to him, it seems that he’s been trying to do the best he can with the tools that he got.
      Considering the deep hate & abject cynicism that the ‘other side’ uses in the fight to defeat him, we all want to see him fight harder for the left that we thought he represents.
      But didn’t he always proclaim that he is on ‘our’ side’, not only on the United State’s side?
      It sure looks like he lost some of his early fire in the last few years. Also, his poker skills.
      Maybe the food in the WH is too rich.
      Surely there’s much we don’t know about how the inner circles of big decisions work.
      I hope he gets his shit together now, re-positions his 2012 campaign explicitly against the party that is interested ONLY in dodging taxes, and uses his 2nd term to achieve some of his earlier promises.

  • Progressive Mom

    I immediately saw the panels as Obama being in the water, over his head, and drowning…and the upcoming presidential campaign is the lifesaver, if only he grabs on.

    But grabbing on means supporting the progressive positions of his last campaign, many of which he either abandoned or cut to shreds, and grabbing back on to the people who gave him victory, many of whom he has forgotten, rebuffed or chastised.

    The hand in the second panel hasn’t grabbed on to the life preserver, because he’s still considering his options.

  • Anonymous

    [Interesting username, LT! :-) ]

    Thanks for the info. I remember reading something about this at the time the movie version of Kennedy’s book came out, but I’ve never known the specifics. Henceforth I’ll remember.

    In respect to the image, though, I doubt the creator of the illustration was thinking about that. And I doubt he expected the majority of the audience to know about it. I mean, I didn’t. And I suspect I’m as knowledgeable as the average bear.

    But of course even the dumbest and most clueless among us feel the same way, right?

  • LanceThruster

    I was thinking more along the lines of observations about the title. My trivia known to even less people about the Titanic
    is that fairly recently, a school class was asked to devise a way more
    people could have been saved and it was actually quite brilliant
    (something to remember as we try to deal with our current dilemmas).

    It consisted of working together and exploiting the properties of what
    they had available to them. The calmness of the water that night would
    have been quite helpful in their strategy. Since the ship had much
    woodwork and other items that could float and labor to salvage as much
    as they could in the time left afloat, the school kids figured that to
    create a large floating island of buoyant debris ringed by the lifeboats
    roped together would have provided as much extra surface area as
    possible to lessen or delay the passengers’  succumbing to rapid
    hypothermia from the frigid water.

    I’d like to think that these same attributes are being brought to bear
    for all of us now in peril to whatever degree. A tea-bagger at a GOP
    debate might shout out instead, “Let ‘em drown!” and be cheered on by
    those sharing a disdain for anyone that supposedly can’t pay their own
    way. Serves ‘em right for not paying the Platinum Lifeboat Seating
    Priority Premium Plan fee.

    Their disdain for facts as well would be embodied by the shout in that
    “Let them freeze to death!” might actually be more accurate as that was
    the most crucial precursor to their ultimate demise.

  • LanceThruster

    I was thinking more along the lines of observations about the title. My trivia known to even less people about the Titanic
    is that fairly recently, a school class was asked to devise a way more
    people could have been saved and it was actually quite brilliant
    (something to remember as we try to deal with our current dilemmas).

    It consisted of working together and exploiting the properties of what
    they had available to them. The calmness of the water that night would
    have been quite helpful in their strategy. Since the ship had much
    woodwork and other items that could float and labor to salvage as much
    as they could in the time left afloat, the school kids figured that to
    create a large floating island of buoyant debris ringed by the lifeboats
    roped together would have provided as much extra surface area as
    possible to lessen or delay the passengers’  succumbing to rapid
    hypothermia from the frigid water.

    I’d like to think that these same attributes are being brought to bear
    for all of us now in peril to whatever degree. A tea-bagger at a GOP
    debate might shout out instead, “Let ‘em drown!” and be cheered on by
    those sharing a disdain for anyone that supposedly can’t pay their own
    way. Serves ‘em right for not paying the Platinum Lifeboat Seating
    Priority Premium Plan fee.

    Their disdain for facts as well would be embodied by the shout in that
    “Let them freeze to death!” might actually be more accurate as that was
    the most crucial precursor to their ultimate demise.

  • LanceThruster

    I was thinking more along the lines of observations about the title. My trivia known to even less people about the Titanic
    is that fairly recently, a school class was asked to devise a way more
    people could have been saved and it was actually quite brilliant
    (something to remember as we try to deal with our current dilemmas).

    It consisted of working together and exploiting the properties of what
    they had available to them. The calmness of the water that night would
    have been quite helpful in their strategy. Since the ship had much
    woodwork and other items that could float and labor to salvage as much
    as they could in the time left afloat, the school kids figured that to
    create a large floating island of buoyant debris ringed by the lifeboats
    roped together would have provided as much extra surface area as
    possible to lessen or delay the passengers’  succumbing to rapid
    hypothermia from the frigid water.

    I’d like to think that these same attributes are being brought to bear
    for all of us now in peril to whatever degree. A tea-bagger at a GOP
    debate might shout out instead, “Let ‘em drown!” and be cheered on by
    those sharing a disdain for anyone that supposedly can’t pay their own
    way. Serves ‘em right for not paying the Platinum Lifeboat Seating
    Priority Premium Plan fee.

    Their disdain for facts as well would be embodied by the shout in that
    “Let them freeze to death!” might actually be more accurate as that was
    the most crucial precursor to their ultimate demise.

  • Anonymous

    That’s cool! I’m retired now, but I taught college for 4 decades. I love the ingenuity of students. I miss them… :-(

    One thing I do know about the Titanic (apart from how many people, especially the privileged wealthy, tried to ignore the rules and jump the line, so to speak) is that many of the lifeboats were only partially filled.

    Wonder how the teabaggers would have behaved? Especially if a person of color or, say, a Muslim were in line ahead of them.

  • LanceThruster

    Scarabus – may I humbly offer a “thank you for your service.” I have led the life of wonder and discovery that I have thanks to some marvelously insightful and caring educators that demonstrated the value of curiosity. It is said that the best teachers are the ones who can share their love of a subject with you. These students are a concrete example of what that means to this world. They listen, learn, and participate in a manner that connects the dots and adds to our collective knowledge and understanding. We can learn from everyone and no one’s contributions should ever go to waste.

    One of my biggest problems about the lack of curiosity about 9/11 investigation is what credible examination might uncover. I was fascinated when Robert Ballard found the wreck of the Titanic. They had more detail to address questions such as did it slide below the surface in one piece or break in two? Was it the length of the gash that doomed the ship or something else? Did the quality of the smelting and purity and consistency of the metal work make the material too brittle in the cold so that popped rivets were a problem? The historical forensics is just as fascinating to me as Dr. Richard Feynman’s demonstration at the Challenger hearings with the O-ring segment and the glass of ice water.

    Regardless of what actually happened on 9/11, what didn’t happen was a proper investigation and the prevention of the destruction of crime scene evidence.

    Cui bono?

  • LanceThruster

    Btw, the rush to get lifeboats away from the sinking vessel even when not fully loaded was the misconception that when it finally went under it would create a tremendous suction capable of pulling everything in the vicinity down with it as well. Certainly fear of overloading or panicked victims in the water scrambling for and capsizing lifeboats was a possibility, but that’s when human fortitude and calm resolve in the face of danger should be most supported. Most people prefer to make a valiant stand than helplessly surrender when shown that there’s at least a possibility.

    One part of Bernie the Attorney’s TOE was “the 80-20 rule.” 20% of people from just about any group or subgroup are willing to walk over the other 80% (as well as each other) to protect their own interests. It heretofor even had an evolutionary value to pertpetuate the illusion of mutual interests and working for mutual benefit until that time when one person/side saw the advantage in crossing the Rubicon first.

    As comic Colin Quinn put it in his latest cable special, “We didn’t evolve from the tribe that starved to death patiently waiting for their turn at the dinner table.”

    Bernie put it in bumpersticker form – “Nice Guys Finish Last – by Design”

    I told him I thought the movie “Lifeboat” was somewhat analagous to the concept. Friend and foe worked together for the common good (or at least pretended to) until that point that the opportunity for gaining the upper hand had to be taken or lost (by the 20%er). We even deduced that it worked like fractals, in that even in the good guy group (or any subset for that matter), there were those truly seeking to work for the common good, and those whose tendencies magnified the propensity for all of us to be motivated by ego and laziness (i.e. conservation of energy). To deconstruct the tea-tard, the ego requires the peer approval of like minded lemmings, and the laziness means that new information will not only be rejected, but will be resented because learning new things or coming to the realization that one was fully in error over basic understandings is just too much damned work.

    As a species we haven’t changed much in that regard. What might have been a successful survival strategy earlier on might now be one of our greatest liabilities to our future survival. He referenced a primate study were the individual introduced to the group was led away (misdirected) to an inferior stock of fruit so that the “regulars” could maintian their exclusivity over the premium stash.

    Still sounds like us.

  • Anonymous

    LT, you might be interested in this. It’s the text of the very last lecture of my college career. Traditionally a professor would give a “Last Lecture” at the end of a course. The purpose was to tell students how this course fit into the larger scheme of things in respect to values, meanings, and such. Only difference is that this was for a lifetime and not just a single course.

    http://agrippinaminor.com/scarabus/?p=1869

  • LanceThruster

    Scarabus – thank you so very much for including this; extremely thoughful and appreciated. I’ll comment further once I get a chance to view it.

    Regards,

    LT

  • LanceThruster

    That was a masterfully written piece. We seem to have a lot in common (quotes – including the Roy Batty one, the “full of stars” wonder at everything truly examined), the desire get involved when ignorance and apathy seem to be the default position for most far too often.

    I kept a $.13 USPS stamp that says “Learning Never Ends” and you are still sharing, teaching and fighting the good fight. Making your acquaintence is another of those “happy accidents” that my non-praying self relishes. My friend Bernie the Attorney came up with his “Theory of Everything” (TOE) when he retired (it’s not a comforting observation). I’m trying to find a way around it. I’d love your input on any part of our dilemma if you would consider it. I can be reached @ [myname]ATatheistnetwork.net. I would love to continue this at your leasure.

    “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” ― Mark Vonnegut

    http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/15852.Mark_Vonnegut

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