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"The writer is the president of the United States."
February 5, 2009 9:45 AM   Subscribe

In 2007, Dubya wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. Obama has followed suit with an op-ed article in the Washington Post. Both sites mention that The writer "is the president of the United States." Have we entered a new era of the bully pulpit?
posted by JVA (48 comments total)

 
I don't believe for a moment that Bush is capable of stringing three words together into a sentence..
posted by HuronBob at 9:51 AM on February 5, 2009


Roosevelt was right, the president does have a truly wonderful opportunity to be listened to by everyone. I would consider as a failure any president who didn't use his enormous influence to preach the causes he supports. And if Obama's administration can affect changes worthy of Obama's inspiring oratory, then everybody is going to win.
posted by chudmonkey at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the possibilities that a President can exploit using this new medium of "newspaper editorials".
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on February 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


I can believe that Obama's capable of actually writing his piece. Bush? Not so much.
posted by EarBucket at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2009


Fireside Chats. We need Fireside Chats.
posted by orthogonality at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The writer is the president of the United States.

Hey, it's better than "The writer is a black man living in Washington, D.C.," or "The writer is vice president of the United States." Which is what we would have gotten had the op-eds been published in the opposite newspaper.
posted by tepidmonkey at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2009


I'm not sure Bush could read his piece, let alone write it.
posted by mazola at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2009


C'mon, Bush has actually revealed himself to be something of a reader. He claims (and confirmed by Cheney) to have read 70 books one year during his presidency. IMO this is way too much, either he is very fast or he had too much "leisure time", which is really his legacy, squandered opportunity. Maybe if he spent less time reading and more time leading.
posted by stbalbach at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2009


70 books one year

How many My Pet Goat photo ops did he do?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


He claims (and confirmed by Cheney) to have read 70 books one year during his presidency.

Which for me raises one question: "Hardy Boys" or "Nancy Drew"?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:25 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


The first thing I noticed was the absence of "I believe" in Obama's writing whereas Bush used "I believe" to start five sentences. Gosh George, don't they have Introduction to English Composition at Yale?
posted by trueluk at 10:32 AM on February 5, 2009


If you think that an Op-Ed is the bully pulpit, wait 'til what comes next. There are "Stimulus Parties" scheduled for this weekend.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2009


If you include the Apocrypha, there are over 80 books in the Bible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, I am not comfortable with presidents having or expressing opinions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, did someone just say "confirmed by Cheney" without going on to say "lol"? We have already forgotten our past and will be doomed to repeat it.
posted by DU at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, did someone just say "confirmed by Cheney" without going on to say "lol"? We have already forgotten our past and will be doomed to repeat it.

So Bush lied and Cheney swore to it? That's novel.
posted by notreally at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2009


So wait, Obama is President now and we're STILL crucifying Bush on MetaFilter?

LET THE HORSE GO, IT DIED, WAS RESURRECTED AND THEN ITS ZOMBIE CORPSE DIED. IT'S AN EX-HORSE. STOP KICKING IT.

I thought Obama's op-ed was pretty reasonable and well-written, though my high school English teachers taught me never to start a sentence with "Because." I guess when you're President of the US, you can get away with that kind of thing. Though I do kind of wonder if he has a nasty letter waiting for him from his 11th grade English teacher.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, what possible connection to current events could the President from 16 days ago have?
posted by DU at 11:00 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which for me raises one question: "Hardy Boys" or "Nancy Drew"?

I read the whole Hardy Boys series over the course of a weekend- I think I was nine or ten at the time. The librarians kept on trying to talk me out of borrowing them all at once, but I was deadset.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2009


I still can't get over the many "non-believer" references. Obama has to be a closet atheist.
posted by plexi at 11:08 AM on February 5, 2009


It's a little weird to see how deep links to old whitehouse.gov content are now no longer valid (but are redirected to the "briefing room"). We can find them via the Wayback Machine, but it's a little surprising to see how wholesale and sweeping the changes have been.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:10 AM on February 5, 2009


CFL-side Chats. We need CFL-side Chats.

FTFY
posted by borkencode at 11:11 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe if he spent less time reading and more time leading.

Reflect that he spent roughly 1/3 of his presidency either on vacation or on his way to vacation.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2009


plexi: "I still can't get over the many "non-believer" references. Obama has to be a closet atheist."

Don't forget, President Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope that he had a non-religious upbringing. I don't believe any of the many people who had a hand in raising him were religious, though I think his biological father was the only one he described as an atheist. But that's the sort of thing that's going to make a guy sympathetic to the "non-believers", even if he himself later converted to Christianity.
posted by internet!Hannah at 11:15 AM on February 5, 2009


I read the whole Hardy Boys series over the course of a weekend- I think I was nine or ten at the time. The librarians kept on trying to talk me out of borrowing them all at once, but I was deadset.

Let's see, there were 58 'original series' Hardy Boys' books, each between 175 and 220 pages a piece. Let's be easy and say 200 pages per, so we're at 11, 600 pages.

Let's lie a bit, and say that the 'weekend' includes all day Friday. So, I'll give you 72 total hours, and, let's pretend that you didn't sleep, or use the bathroom, or whatever.
72 hours * 60 minute = 4,320 minutes in a weekend.

So, you're saying that you read 2.68 pages a minute, uninterrupted for three straight days? This is a hell of an accomplishment, as most English speakers can do somewhere between 0.5 and 1 ppm.

Sorry to be a jackass about it, I read the original 58, but it took me a whole summer vacation to do it.
posted by The Giant Squid at 11:16 AM on February 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


The writer "is the president of the United States."

Yet another example of Speechwriter's Delusions of Grandeur.
posted by terranova at 11:17 AM on February 5, 2009


"I thought Obama's op-ed was pretty reasonable and well-written, though my high school English teachers taught me never to start a sentence with 'Because.'"

That's sort of like saying never end a sentence with a preposition. It's not all that important, IOW.

"If it hadn't been for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college."

Could also be ...

"Because of my horse, I spent that year in college."
posted by krinklyfig at 11:22 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Op-Ed pieces in the Journal and Post are open letters to the GOP leadership. They're not for you. The youtube videos and the tweets are for you. Please consume your own content and stop opining on others'.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2009


"Yet another example of Speechwriter's Delusions of Grandeur."

From what I understand, Obama writes all his speeches, sometimes with a speechwriter, but he's directly involved in writing all of them, sometimes by himself. He probably wrote this.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:24 AM on February 5, 2009


(correction: it's Rove, not Cheney, and 95, not 70)

"Reading into Bush's Book List", Washington Post, December 30 2008.
Rove says that Bush read 95 books in 2006 alone. In 2007, he read 51 books and as of last week, he had read 40 in 2008. The numbers are precise because Bush challenged Rove to a contest: who could read the most books. "In the 35 years I've known George W. Bush, he's always had a book nearby," Rove writes. "He plays up being a good ol' boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don't make it through either unless you are a reader."

As might be expected, most of Bush's books have been biographies and histories.

The fact remains that Bush is a prodigious, industrial reader, and this does not conform at all to his critics' idea of who he is. They would prefer seeing him as a dolt..
"Bush Is a Book Lover", by Karl Rove, WSJ, Dec 26 2008
Mr. Bush's 2006 reading list shows his literary tastes. The nonfiction ran from biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, King Leopold, William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, LBJ and Genghis Khan to Andrew Roberts's "A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900," James L. Swanson's "Manhunt," and Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower." Besides eight Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald, Mr. Bush tackled Michael Crichton's "Next," Vince Flynn's "Executive Power," Stephen Hunter's "Point of Impact," and Albert Camus's "The Stranger," among others.
posted by stbalbach at 11:33 AM on February 5, 2009


internet!Hannah: Obama also made reference to his non-religious upbringing in his remarks at a prayer breakfast this morning.

I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.

posted by inconsequentialist at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2009


If he's President, then what he says is truth an law. Therefore, if "My Pet Goat" is the one book he read, then by law that book is now officially 70 books in 1.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:38 AM on February 5, 2009


So wait, Obama is President now and we're STILL crucifying Bush on MetaFilter?

LET THE HORSE GO, IT DIED, WAS RESURRECTED AND THEN ITS ZOMBIE CORPSE DIED. IT'S AN EX-HORSE. STOP KICKING IT.


I hadn't heard that Bush had been convicted and jailed for war crimes. This is great news.
posted by odinsdream at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


In a related story: friends are reporting that George W. Bush has "sunk into a state of deep depression" after receiving his sixth straight rejection notice from Pluggers.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:52 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


All I know is -- he is indeed a bit of a bully, this Obama fellow, isn't he.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


What we need is more Yance-men.
posted by generalist at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2009


What we need is more Yance-men.

each with his own sprawling personal demesne and small army of leadies, you mean?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:30 PM on February 5, 2009


Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it! Let me correct you on a few things; Aristotle was not Belgian! The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself!" And the London Underground is not a political movement! Those are all mistakes. I looked them up.
posted by MrVisible at 12:30 PM on February 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


my high school English teachers taught me never to start a sentence with "Because."

Because it often results in a sentence fragment like this one. It's a "riding the bike with training wheels" rule used to prevent a common mistake.

Obama uses it correctly, like this:

Because it often results in a sentence fragment, starting a sentence with 'because' is discouraged by many English teachers.
posted by straight at 12:32 PM on February 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


So wait, Obama is President now and we're STILL crucifying Bush on MetaFilter?

It is only through crucifying Bush that America's sins may be absolved.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the problem with the Obama op-ed is that it reads like a speech-- that is, it would be more effective spoken than it is on the page. In a speech, rhetorical grandeur is sort of expected; in an op-ed it sounds heavy-handed and patronising. Give us sources; give us figures; give us examples. Those will turn more heads than empty flourishes.

not that I'm not grateful to have a flourish-enabled President. But still.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:28 PM on February 5, 2009


You lost me at "Rove says..."
posted by found missing at 1:30 PM on February 5, 2009


So wait, Obama is President now and we're STILL crucifying Bush on MetaFilter?

LET THE HORSE GO, IT DIED, WAS RESURRECTED AND THEN ITS ZOMBIE CORPSE DIED. IT'S AN EX-HORSE. STOP KICKING IT.


Rest assured, I will continue to crucify Bush and kick his horse for all eternity. Maybe not here, but somewhere!
posted by orme at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2009


He claims (and confirmed by Cheney) to have read 70 books one year during his presidency.

Whoa, the presidential bible is bigger than most. It must have those secret chapters about aliens we lay people never get to read.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:37 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Albert Camus's "The Stranger,"

I think when Bush read this he took the "killing an Arab" part too literally.
posted by Falconetti at 1:38 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will continue to crucify Bush and kick his horse for all eternity

DO NOT HURT THE HORSE - IT IS BLAMELESS

poor horse!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:07 PM on February 5, 2009


Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.

Humans are a subset of Apes.

Also I'm kind of surprised that there's been no discussion at all about the merits of the stimulus package. Just a totally random walk through philosophy and literature.

I think the problem with the Obama op-ed is that it reads like a speech-- that is, it would be more effective spoken than it is on the page. In a speech, rhetorical grandeur is sort of expected; in an op-ed it sounds heavy-handed and patronising. Give us sources; give us figures; give us examples. Those will turn more heads than empty flourishes.

It's not clear why this is but politicians always "write" "Op Eds" like this. They are insufferably dull and never insightful. There's no doubt that Obama could have written something better. Maybe include some examples of people losing their jobs, their healthcare, etc while washing dithers about whether or not the bill is "bipartisan" enough.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on February 5, 2009


'Are these folks serious?' Obama rips into stimulus-plan critics
posted by homunculus at 3:22 PM on February 5, 2009


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