The vortex of performance politics sucks in another victim . . .

Thoughts on reading this psychologist’s write up of the Gulf of Mexico disaster:

A long time ago I stopped calling my Mum a Labor supporter and called her a Labor barracker. She’s disdainful of my interest in football – a thoroughly trivial activity which is arresting for those who involve themselves nevertheless. And there’s some comfort in its utter lack of deeper meaning. At least if you’ve earned yourself a break on the weekend, you can relax and watch the footy. Anyone who listens to abuse question time is either a pundit or a barracker – what on earth would be the point of listening if you’re not one of those?

Meanwhile more and more things seem to be sucked into the genre of barracking. When you read motoring magazines, you find a lot of the articles are written as little set pieces between ‘The General’ and ‘Ford’ or whatever. So if you’re reading a review of a Commodore v the Falcon you read about the features and performance of the cars, but it’s all packaged up as a story about this great rivalry – and your loyalties somehow become part of the story.  Are you a Holden man or a Ford man?

And politics is more and more about this. When Katrina hit New Orleans, there was a huge stink because the rescue effort was pretty woeful (though they’re hard to do well, because they can’t be properly routinised or rehearsed) and it was done by an agency that George W Bush had just put a new CEO into – Brownie whom we were told was ‘doing a heck of a job’. In that case it was legitimate to consider the story as one about some political chickens that were coming home to roost, even though more sober counsel might have had one thinking that it could happen to anyone.

Meanwhile the focus on Obama and the Gulf oil spill seems completely farcical. I wonder if there’s a single substantial story on the news that reports the disaster without telling us about it’s impact on the Presidency. Aside from making sure things are functioning properly, there’s nothing the Pres can do. So the pundits will stare into the camera, and say something like “it’s hard to see what the President can do” and then lyrically opine about how his ‘rhetoric’ is going down, how he needs to be seen to be more in control, how he can’t say he’s not in control and on and on.

If we discover a comet about to hit the earth, our political leaders can all get up on little soap-box pedestals and and we can see who looks most serious and in control. Then we’ll ask them to stop the comet.

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Steve at the Pub
11 years ago

Obama could try to do more than stand around looking stunned, he hasn’t a clue. Solving an engineering problem by calling in the lawyers.

God help USA.

Dave
Dave
11 years ago

Beautiful satire Steve! Spot on Nick, WTF do they want from Obama? He’s done all he can and they don’t even bother to pretend to have any substantive criticism of him.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

it’s hard to see what the President can do

Well if I were President I’d say something along the lines of, “You have until YYYY-MM-DD to stop any new oil spreading onto beaches, whether you do this by floating boom or by well-cap or by vacuum cleaner, I don’t care, but if you fail to achieve this then the entire drilling lease goes void and I open it up to open, public tender and take the best looking proposal and the winner (when they get the job done) gets all future drilling rights in that region”.

As Honest John would say, “Incentivation”.

Then again, if I were President, a whole bunch of federal mandates would be handed back to the states and I would probably be leaking blood through all the bullet holes. Obama has a strong survival instinct and I can respect that.

Steve at the Pub
11 years ago

The current President of the USA has no background in achieving tangible results.

He is an empty suit. Calling lawyers, shaking down people who HAVE made money, and making legal threats is all he knows how to do.

A far cry from the “can-do” that made the USA great. This man isn’t capable of doing any more than talking about “kicking ass” (a line most unbecoming of such high office, and no way to run a country)

Who said he is doing all he can? He could have ordered exceptions to the Jones act to allow Dutch oil spill cleanup ships in to start work rightaway. He didn’t. He could have approved the building of sand berms by the state of Louisiana to prevent the oil spill reaching coastal marshes. He didn’t. Man of action he ain’t. He freezes in the face of a real live honest to goodness crisis.

USA will rue the day they voted this doofus into office.

conrad
conrad
11 years ago

“The current President of the USA has no background in achieving tangible results”

Well, I guess if those health care reforms wern’t tangible, we needn’t worry about all those people complaining about them, since it won’t make much difference anyway.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

I guess if those health care reforms weren’t tangible…

They are still working through the Nancy Pelosi “so that you can find out what is in it” stage… it will take quite some time to see anything tangible, after which we can argue about the results.

If you are presenting evidence that the Obama presidency has had significant influence in the thread of American history, I doubt anyone would argue with you. However, when Steve said “achieving tangible results” he was implying a measurable positive outcome in real-world terms (at least, that’s my interpretation) so early days for Obamacare on that particular score. Early days on any tangible employment outcome too (and that’s the biggie), you can’t build a nation out of census takers.