Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Eleven Dimensional Telepromter

The phrase should unite the left and right blogosphere. "Eleven dimensional chess" is often used in the left blogosphere, always sarcastically, to refer to Obamaniacs who allegedly insist that every apparent mistake by Obama is, in fact, a subtly brilliant strategic move. This is a mild exageration. I should know, I am one of those Obamaniacs.

I understand that over on the right, they are still telling teleprompter jokes based on the premise that the President can't talk without one. This is a bit odd, since Obama has demonstrated an amazing ability to speak eloquently without a teleprompter. I guess they just haven't accepted the fact that George W Bush isn't President anymore.

Now I see a link between the overused phrase and the overused word -- health care reform. You knew I was going to get back to that didn't you ?

However, I am serious. I was semi convinced of the 11 dimensional chess hypothesis (not the mockery I semi held the mocked belief) when the health insurance lobby AHIP said that they would support health care reform if and only if it included an individual mandate.

Suddenly the Obama campaign's proposal (with no mandate) didn't seem only to be terrible policy (it was) but also brilliant politics. 11 dimensional chess. The problem with the proposal was that, while it sounded great, it would bankrupt all the health insurance companies. That would be a bad thing to do, but heyyyy not a bad thing to threaten to do.

However, that 11 dimensional sacrifice came at a heavy price. Obama had to defend his unworkable policy in countless debates with Clinton and Edwards. He couldn't say "I'm just saying this to get elected -- I don't mean it" or "I'm just saying this to get elected and scare the bejesuses out of AHIP."

So what does this have to do with teleprompters ?

Well the origin of the joke is that Obama sounded much much better in set piece speaches (with a teleprompter) than in the debates. Well of course. If you propose an unworkable policy, you can give good speaches but you will have trouble in debates. It's not that he couldn't debate well, it's that he didn't have a case. I'm pretty sure I recall correctly and that this was the origin of the teleprompter insinuation (presumably insinuated off the record by the Clinton and Edwards campaigns).

Of course Obama had another problem in those debates. He was debating Clinton and Edwards both of whom are (like Obama) super hot shot lawyers who are very very good at debate. Also Clinton knows an amazing amount about policy (like her husband).

Now that Obama is defending a health reform plan with a mandate, and, especially, now that Obama is debating congressional Republicans, he appears to be an absolutely brilliant debater.

Now I have no idea why Republicans keep telling the jokes which just make them look both stupid and rude.

I guess that they are playing 1 dimensional tick tack toe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly where you're coming down on the 11 dimensional chess thesis. If it is on the side (assuming there is one) that holds that Obama is in fact maneuvering with amazing subtlety to get a good health care package, explain why the following Glen Greenwald analysis is wrong:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/02/23/democrats/index.html

I think we're on the same side, and I supported Obama during the campaign. I also respect both you and Greenwald. I'd be most interested in your view of the situation.