Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clinton Compares Obama To Bush

From today's WP:

"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security," Clinton told students at George Washington University. "We cannot let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many."

Obama, of course, is not Bush.

Whereas Bush is intellectually incurious, and views intellect and complexity with fear, masked by a reflexive and reductionistic contempt, Obama is intellectually curious, seeks out and embraces ideas, and is interested in their utility, rather than their conforming to a narrow and predetermined plan, and will bring this intellectual strength and ability to his policies.

Whereas Bush is inflexible to the point of parody--and tragedy--making a virtue of failing to reexamine assumptions even when it is clear they are not working-- because cognitive rigidity is, for him, equated with strength, as opposed to the "weakness" of making distinctions--Obama has both firm convictions and the ability to advance and adapt those beliefs to changing circumstances. He has the ability to adapt on the basis of effectiveness and utility, rather than to react impulsively, to stand stubbornly still without any substantive basis, or to fail to adapt, based on fear.

Whereas Bush begins from a point of defensiveness, viewing much of the world in terms of those who need to be taken down a peg from their know-it-all-stance--the hallmark of a life of earlier resentments, imposed on the world of foreign policy--Obama operates from a position of engagement with people and with ideas. He wants to know; is capable of objective evaluation, and seeks to bring new voices into his dialogue, rather than deflecting them.

Whereas Bush has used advisers as a circle of wagons and a complexity filter, keeping criticism, real-world intricacies, and cognitive dissonance to a minimum, Obama appears to welcome advice, using advisers as a resources rather than as a shield.

And, whereas Bush connects with the resentments of the angry everyday man, who feels unfairly downtrodden by those that, in their intellectual and emotional confidence and passion, remind them of their own flaws and fears, and who resents those who might receive help, when they feel they have received none, is unlike Obama--who connects with the willingness to aspire rather than to the fear of it; to the hope of devoting the best of oneself to a community and nation rather than self-protectively dividing it; and to the desire to replace the primacy of tactics and cronyism in favor of shared principle and truth.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman