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May 14, 2009 3:18 AM   Subscribe

Tonight in Tempe, a forgiving, but not quite forgetful, President Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University.

A little over a month ago, President Obama was invited by Arizona State University to speak at their spring graduation ceremony. As previously discussed here on MeFi, the honor of the invitation was overshadowed by the school's refusal to signal its appreciation of the President's successes by granting him an honorary degree. After more than a few public complaints about this decision, Michael Crow, president of ASU, offered an apology for any offense and made assurances that the President would be duly recognized by the university. ASU's acknowledgment of Obama ultimately took the form of a scholarship program bearing his name. ASU spokeswoman, Sharon Keeler, supplied the university's official justification for denying Obama the degree, explaining that,

“the University awards honorary degrees to recognize individuals for their work and accomplishments spanning their lifetime... Because President Obama’s body of work is yet to come, it’s inappropriate to recognize him at this time.”

President Obama responded to this characterization of his achievements by making it the driving theme of his message to the ASU graduates.

"...it may be tempting to fall back on the formulas for success that have dominated these recent years. Many of you have been taught to chase after the usual brass rings: being on this "who's who" list or that top 100 list; how much money you make and how big your corner office is; whether you have a fancy enough title or a nice enough car.

You can take that road - and it may work for some of you. But at this difficult time, let me suggest that such an approach won't get you where you want to go; that in fact, the elevation of appearance over substance, celebrity over character, short-term gain over lasting achievement is precisely what your generation needs to help end.

I want to highlight two main problems with that old approach. First, it distracts you from what is truly important, and may lead you to compromise your values, principles and commitments. Think about it. It's in chasing titles and status - in worrying about the next election rather than the national interest and the interests of those they represent - that politicians so often lose their way in Washington. It was in pursuit of gaudy short-term profits, and the bonuses that come with them, that so many folks lost their way on Wall Street....you can make your mark in smaller, more individual ways. That's what so many of you have already done during your time here at ASU - tutoring children; registering voters; doing your own small part to fight hunger and homelessness, AIDS and cancer. I think one student said it best when she spoke about her senior engineering project building medical devices for people with disabilities in a village in Africa. Her professor showed a video of the folks they'd be helping, and she said, "When we saw the people on the videos, we began to feel a connection to them. It made us want to be successful for them...

The second problem with the old approach is that a relentless focus on the outward markers of success all too often leads to complacency. We too often let them serve as indications that we're doing well, even though something inside us tells us that we're not doing our best; that we are shrinking from, rather than rising to, the challenges of the age. And the thing is, in this new, hyper-competitive age, you cannot afford to be complacent.

That is true in whatever profession you choose. Professors might earn the distinction of tenure, but that doesn't guarantee that they'll keep putting in the long hours and late nights - and have the passion and drive - to be great educators. It's true in your personal life as well. Being a parent isn't just a matter of paying the bills and doing the bare minimum - it's not bringing a child into the world that matters, but the acts of love and sacrifice it takes to raise that child. It can happen to presidents too: Abraham Lincoln and Millard Fillmore had the very same title, but their tenure in office - and their legacy - could not be more different.

And that's not just true for individuals - it is also true for this nation. In recent years, in many ways, we've become enamored with our own success - lulled into complacency by our own achievements...

...you can make your mark in smaller, more individual ways.... I think one student said it best when she spoke about her senior engineering project building medical devices for people with disabilities in a village in Africa. Her professor showed a video of the folks they'd be helping, and she said, "When we saw the people on the videos, we began to feel a connection to them. It made us want to be successful for them.

That's a good motto for all of us - find someone to be successful for. Rise to their hopes and their needs. As you think about life after graduation, as you look in the mirror tonight, you may see somebody with no idea what to do with their life. But a troubled child might look at you and see a mentor. A homebound senior citizen might see a lifeline. The folks at your local homeless shelter might see a friend. None of them care how much money is in your bank account, or whether you're important at work, or famous around town - they just know that you're someone who cares, someone who makes a difference in their lives.

That is what building a body of work is all about - it's about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up to a lasting legacy. It's about not being satisfied with the latest achievement, the latest gold star - because one thing I know about a body of work is that it's never finished. It's cumulative; it deepens and expands with each day that you give your best, and give back, and contribute to the life of this nation. You may have set-backs, and you may have failures, but you're not done - not by a longshot."


Extra Credit: Unlike the unruly crowd Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced earlier in the afternoon, Obama was not once interrupted by the ring of a disrespectful audience member's cell phone.
posted by inconsequentialist (132 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm impressed that he managed to speak publicly for that long without mentioning "God" and "faith."
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:48 AM on May 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


i like how the text just lights up like that :P like an illuminated text!

i also wonder too about hyper-cooperative age...
posted by kliuless at 3:54 AM on May 14, 2009


I'm on the one mission
to get a politician university president
to honor,
or he's a goner
by the time I get to Arizona...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:55 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why, that's a good way to start a thread! God damn religion! Wait, I mean gosh darn--

When I heard about the silly honorary honors controversy and thought about what speech he might give, this theme came to mind. I don't know if that means he's predictable or if it's just the obvious way to flip the thing on its head. Although it's particularly resonant these days anyway. Maybe someone will listen! lol
posted by palidor at 3:58 AM on May 14, 2009


Are we gonna do this again after he gives the commencement speech at Notre Dame?
posted by Darned account name at 4:04 AM on May 14, 2009


Why, that's a good way to start a thread! God damn religion! Wait, I mean gosh darn

Well, we could discuss the speech that president read, but he didn't write it and he didn't mean it, so who gives a shit?

And I wasn't damning religion. I was referencing the president's near-constant pandering to religious people.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:04 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


another good one
posted by kliuless at 4:08 AM on May 14, 2009


I like the effect when I scroll my mouse up and down over the HuffPost link.
posted by gman at 4:09 AM on May 14, 2009


Will he distribute photos of torture that he said he would and then decided not to?
posted by Postroad at 4:15 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


...but he didn't write it and he didn't mean it, so who gives a shit?

Presidents very, very rarely write their own speeches. As to whether he meant it or not, how would you know?

And, I give a shit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 AM on May 14, 2009 [30 favorites]


Will he distribute photos of torture that he said he would and then decided not to?

Only if he gets a degree.

What is the controversy over this? Is ASU known for anything other than sports? If it closed down tomorrow, would the universe blink?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 AM on May 14, 2009


Presidents very, very rarely write their own speeches. It just so happens that Obama is one of the ones who can and has written his own speeches. How much, if any, of this particular speech he wrote I have no idea. I suspect he has a lot less time to write commencement speeches these days than once he might have, obviously.

I was duly impressed when I found out how much involvement Obama had in writing his great acceptance speech at the convention.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm thrilled that we now have a president who can commission and plausibly deliver bullshit at this this high level. No really, I am. Every word of it is a core sample of the purest bovine manure. But man, could you imagine the last guy giving a speech like this?
posted by Faze at 4:30 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


They could at least have given him an associate's degree.
posted by pracowity at 4:33 AM on May 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm impressed that he managed to speak publicly for that long without mentioning "God" and "faith."

I'm not too terribly impressed that it took one post to inject them into the thread.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:38 AM on May 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


Colbert Show's Jason Jones interviews ASU students about the decision not to award Obama an honorary degree. (Quicktime mov)

Dear ASU students: you come across as a bunch of drunken, poorly educated idiots. Good going absorbing the racism and ignorance of your folks.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:41 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops, I mean The Daily Show's Jason Jones, not Colbert. It all blurs into one laff fest sometimes.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:42 AM on May 14, 2009


Will he distribute photos of torture that he said he would and then decided not to?

Yeah, this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:43 AM on May 14, 2009


I was duly impressed when I found out how much involvement Obama had in writing his great acceptance speech at the convention.

He wrote the whole Jeremiah Wright speech by himself and only asked for editing help when he was done composing it. I'm pretty sick of the whole "lost without a teleprompter" meme. They guy is not incapable of rhetorical flourish. He also doesn't seem incapable of having intentions to back it up. People just don't know how to even react to it, yet.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:48 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dear ASU students: you come across as a bunch of drunken, poorly educated idiots. Good going absorbing the racism and ignorance of your folks.

WOW! Who could imagine anyone coming off badly in a daily show segment?! Obviously those clips are totally representative and not at all edited for maximum dumbness and or drunkenness.

(also Quicktime? really? thedailyshow.com has the entire series in flash videos now)
posted by delmoi at 4:57 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is ASU known for anything other than sports?

It used to be known as a party school.
posted by box at 5:01 AM on May 14, 2009


I'm pretty sick of the whole "lost without a teleprompter" meme.

Couldn't agree more. Although there's obviously a lot of preparation and coaching going on, I also seem to remember that he was a pretty effective speaker during the debates. Obama usually promotes an aura of knowing what he's talking about, and it seems to me that's at least partially because he does.
posted by Muttoneer at 5:03 AM on May 14, 2009


Have you read Dreams From My Father? Because I have, and unless Jon Favreau was ghostwriting for him 15 years ago (when Obama was 33 and Favreau was, I dunno..sperm) you really shouldn't sell Barry short in the rhetorical flourish department.

Also, he's a Christian. They tend to talk about God a lot. I know, it bugs me to, but what can ya do?
posted by Optamystic at 5:05 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]




He's right, you know.
posted by swift at 5:15 AM on May 14, 2009


also Quicktime? really? thedailyshow.com has the entire series in flash videos now.

I know. But I like to actually be able to see details in my video clips.

And yes, TDS makes people look bad. But usually that's because they're bad people. I've spent a fair bit of time in Tempe over the years, so the video confirms my first hand impressions.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:19 AM on May 14, 2009


> I like the effect when I scroll my mouse up and down over the HuffPost link.

Do I have to follow the link? Was the speech longer than what was pasted in here?
posted by ardgedee at 5:40 AM on May 14, 2009


Eponysterical?
posted by sfts2 at 5:44 AM on May 14, 2009


I think one student said it best when she said "Hey - you quoted me saying that already!"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:47 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


First black US President? Meh. Let's see what he can accomplish in office before we, the ancient hallowed scholars of ASU, grant him an honorary degree. After all, it's not like you can really compare his achievements with those of previous ASU honorary degree recipients, like John McCain's cousin Alan, Dolores Juárez-Sandusky, Wrangler Lou Serpentine, or Missy Tarbuck.

Plus he's a Negro amirite?
posted by rusty at 5:49 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is it too early to start talking about a 3rd term?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love the way Obama takes touchy situations and turns them into lessons. And goods one at that.
posted by nola at 6:01 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, we could discuss the speech that president read, but he didn't write it and he didn't mean it, so who gives a shit?

Yeah, it's not like he busted his ass for three years on the front lines of the poverty fight as a community organizer or anything.
posted by The Straightener at 6:04 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


From AskMe yesterday. Maybe the poster missed a first reference as "President Obama," or maybe there is still a little tension between the Presidents.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:07 AM on May 14, 2009


Unlike the unruly crowd Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced earlier in the afternoon, Obama was not once interrupted by the ring of a disrespectful audience member's cell phone.

Has Gibbs managed to move beyond semi-incompetent yet?
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on May 14, 2009


First black US President? Meh. Let's see what he can accomplish in office before we, the ancient hallowed scholars of ASU, grant him an honorary degree.

That's not the reason they chose not to give him an honorary degree. There were two committees, one that does honorary degrees, and one that actually arrange speakers. The one that hands out honorary degrees was never told that Obama would actually be there. Without knowing that, why would they give him an honorary degree? Schools don't usually had those out to people who are not actually attending, no matter what they do.

The reason they didn't know was because the presidents speaking schedule was going to be kept secret. until they could announce all of them at once.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's not like he busted his ass for three years on the front lines of the poverty fight as a community organizer or anything.

And then became the ultimate figurehead for global capitalism. It's the ultimate 180-- front line soldier for one faction, change sides and become a four-star general.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:16 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh please.
posted by The Straightener at 6:18 AM on May 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


fourcheesemac thanks for the link, the official Daily Show site won't play videos to those outside of the US, so its appreciated!
posted by jeffmik at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2009


Pfft.
This was just the tepid warm-up. The main act will be Obama's appearance at Notre Dame. It's shaping-up to be a full-on three-ring circus of ugliness, including the Randall Terry sideshow.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2009


I no longer bitch about Hulu, Comedy Central and other blocked content. Hotspot Shield, folks. It's free and it works.
posted by maudlin at 6:24 AM on May 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


That's the best thing I've ever heard out of a President's mouth. Whether he wrote it or not, we know he could write it, and that makes all the difference in the world. I don't think there is a Republican of notoriety who could have expressed that. They would have fallen back on religion, focusing on charity or the nobility of sacrifice, or more likely made cheap shots at the "equality of outcomes" strawman.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2009


My sister was in that graduating class! And my mom was in the audience, but wound up fainting from heat exhaustion and spent the night in the ER. (She's fine now.)
posted by hermitosis at 6:31 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Enamored of, Mr. President. Enamored of.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:39 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


at least his scriptwriters are good, and he seems to have his audience down. If I met the guy I'm sure I'd like him, I'll let you know in 10 years if he's a good president.

not that mho is worth tuppence
posted by fistynuts at 6:45 AM on May 14, 2009


it may be tempting to fall back on the formulas for success that have dominated these recent years

If he's referring to the formula of "suppress evidence of American war crimes", yeah, I'm afraid he found that one all too tempting.

the elevation of appearance over substance, celebrity over character, short-term gain over lasting achievement is precisely what your generation needs to help end

Not electing Presidents like him would be a good start.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:45 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speeches in general usually make me gag. Commencement speeches and Obama's speeches always make me gag. So I was expecting this to be like double triple over-gag. But it was not that awful. Sort of disappointing!
posted by metastability at 6:46 AM on May 14, 2009


And then became the ultimate figurehead for global capitalism. It's the ultimate 180-- front line soldier for one faction, change sides and become a four-star general.

Right because instead of maybe trying to attain the highest office in the land and then work for some kind of change from within the system, he probably should have just snarked on metafilter for the rest of his life. Are you seriously arguing that he should NOT attempt to run for President because the only result of actually winning would be to become a 'figurehead for global capitalism'? Can we give the guy his fucking four years before we call him a sell out? Jesus. You ever try to get the culture at your job changed? Or maybe ask Accounts Payable to change a policy? You think that's bureaucracy, imagine changing culture at the federal level. For fuck's sake let's give the dude some breathing room to work.
posted by spicynuts at 6:55 AM on May 14, 2009 [21 favorites]


Do I have to follow the link? Was the speech longer than what was pasted in here?

The video of the speech is fairly long, almost thirty minutes. I included what amounts to roughly one third of the written speech as the link to the full text, itself quite long, so that anyone who either didn't care to or didn't have time to watch or read the full address had some immediate access to a condensed version of the relevant content.
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:57 AM on May 14, 2009


Aww, pedantic trifling on the public stage. Just exactly what I look for in times of strife.
posted by TomMelee at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Related: Obama and ‘Generation E’ in Arizona

Swallowed up in the audience were 13 students representing the first class of degree recipients from the university’s School of Sustainability. The program, created in 2006, is the first in the country to offer degrees in this multidisciplinary arena mashing up environmental, economic and social advancement.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:12 AM on May 14, 2009


Has Gibbs managed to move beyond semi-incompetent yet?

Back off, he's the best investigator NCIS ever had.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


spicynuts: " instead of maybe trying to attain the highest office in the land and then work for some kind of change from within the system, he probably should have just snarked on metafilter for the rest of his life."

"Change from within", eh? Like ending the disgrace of indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay by instituting indefinite detention without trial here at home?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:27 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I no longer bitch about Hulu, Comedy Central and other blocked content. Hotspot Shield, folks. It's free and it works.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.
posted by joelhunt at 7:28 AM on May 14, 2009


As the Prez pointed out: it's not like we don't have anything important to bicker about.
posted by Twang at 7:45 AM on May 14, 2009


I must've missed the memo about being really sarcastic about Obama. Didn't we just get rid of one of the worst fucktards to ever run this country (into the ground), and you people are shitting on this guy? Let me know when there is a real reason to be up in arms.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:52 AM on May 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


joelhunt, that was a problem and it's since been fixed with a new batch of IP addresses. I just watched a Late Night excerpt this morning that CBS had blocked.
posted by maudlin at 7:58 AM on May 14, 2009


I challenge anyone who has snarked or will snark in this thread to publicly state here what they have done that makes anyone else's life better? This speech was fantastic. It was humble, it appealed to the highest ideals of the audience, it was funny and warm.

Any jackass can snipe in a thread on the internet, but where's your proof that you're the better/smarter/more knowledgeable/more committed citizen?

This entire speech was about helping others, putting ego last, and taking the hard-won skills that graduation from college is meant to imply and using them in service to the community.

You think that is wrong, or that carping over who wrote the speech somehow denigrates it?

I pity the hell out of you. Now get to work.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:00 AM on May 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


You ever try to get the culture at your job changed? Or maybe ask Accounts Payable to change a policy? You think that's bureaucracy, imagine changing culture at the federal level. For fuck's sake let's give the dude some breathing room to work.

I think we still need to keep him and everyone else accountable, but man, this is a really good way of explaining why shit takes a bit of time to change.

As for the speech being "bullshit," hey, just reading that excerpt helped me get some useful perspective on my own career woes. Send some more bullshit like that my way.
posted by ignignokt at 8:02 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


It reminds me of DFW's commencement speech at Kenyon. Excerpt:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:05 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Lipstick Thespian: "This speech was fantastic. It was humble, it appealed to the highest ideals of the audience, it was funny and warm."

Reagan was a great communicator too, they say. Shame about the law-breaking.

----

CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Article 7, Section 1: The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:17 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese, if you want to make a coherent argument criticizing President Obama, go right ahead. But your hit-and-run sarcasm so far in this thread is, in my opinion, tantamount to trolling.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:26 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is the wrong thread for that. But, I'm glad you posted it here, because in order to get Obama to do this, and to do it right and swift, he really needs the will of the people behind him on it, outrage and all, so keep it coming!

As for the rest of the comments here...what a disappointing thread. I'm totally bummed out. I don't even understand what the snark is about. Or is it just snark for snark's sake, because we're all comfy and snarky again? What a drag.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:27 AM on May 14, 2009


I don't give a fuck who you or what you have done. NOBODY deserves an honourary degree. You want a degree you do what everybody else does and earn the damn thing.

It really pisses me off that on the day intended to celebrate the graduation of students who have busted their butts and gone into deep debt some celebrity would skip in and be given a degree just for gracing the university with their august presence.

It's a giant insult to the students.

If you have achieved something spectacular then you don't need an honourary degree to signal it. You already have the achievement and the recognition that you have achieved it.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right because instead of maybe trying to attain the highest office in the land and then work for some kind of change from within the system, he probably should have just snarked on metafilter for the rest of his life.

Snarking on Metafilter is probably less destructive than claiming you're fixing health care by letting the fucking healthcare industry write the reforms.

Are you seriously arguing that he should NOT attempt to run for President because the only result of actually winning would be to become a 'figurehead for global capitalism'?

Yes. He's beholden to every lobby and corporation that put him in office. Indeed, he's less blatantly awful than the marionette and evil handlers that preceded him, but thaty's not good enough for the high praise he gets around here. He's not going to make things better for normal people. No one who could possibly be elected President of the United States ever will. You don't change the machine, the machine changes you.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:32 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Joe Beese--I read the article you linked; the impression I'm getting is that the administration has inherited this train wreck called Gitmo and is trying to figure out how to handle it, legally and ethically. I mean, I've spent time trying to figure out what to do with those interred down there; it's frustrating for me, and I'm just idly speculating. Should we just say, "Sorry 'bout that; our bad" and send them home? Where is home, and will they actually be welcomed, or get more of what we were giving them, or maybe a nice scimitar to the neck? Or maybe we should give them all new identities and U.S. citizenships? Set 'em up in St. Louis or Detroit or somewhere? In my most naive moods, I kind of like that idea, but some of them may actually be dangerous criminals, and many who were not before this ordeal may likely be now, or perhaps unhinged--I suspect I would be. One way or the other, the facility is going to be closed, so the problem is pressing. Do you have any more in-depth article(s) about what the administration is planning to do with the inmates? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Meanwhile, I'm not really sure what this has to do with Obama's commencement speech. I didn't listen to the whole thing--I should probably accomplish something today besides loitering about on the interwebs--but it seems to me he starts out stating the obvious. Only I've discovered over the past ten years or so that what seems morally/ethically obvious to me (and a lot of other people) is often not obvious to everyone. This sounds remarkably like "There are more important things in life than money and power and fame." Uh, yeah. However, it's probably a good thing to state those simple truths from time to time, and commencement is one of those times, a pivotal moment in a lot of graduates lives. So. Nice speech, well delivered (what I heard of it, anyway).
posted by miss patrish at 8:35 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


And then became the ultimate figurehead for global capitalism. It's the ultimate 180-- front line soldier for one faction, change sides and become a four-star general.

That is the hatingist hateration that ever hated. Has there ever been a leader worth a damn in the history of the world in your book? Don't get me started on that cowardly motherfucker sellout Vaclav Havel!
posted by kosem at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this thread about the speech or about everything Obama?

Regarding folks' reaction to the speech:
Since when is helping others bullshit? Since when is engaging in your community a bad idea? Since when is choosing to make a concrete difference in someone's life, a choice that should be insulted?

As to why these were Obama's themes:
Pointing out that his speech undermined the accumulation of false accolades in the face of no honorary degree is a historical point. Historians like to know the circumstances surrounding the production of texts (be they societal or personal). Noted.

The real issue is whether what he said will stick to anyone, change who they might choose to be. I am tired of hearing everyone put their last hope in what Obama will do for America. It seems this is missing the point. The point of what it means to be a citizen. The point that Obama is trying to make. The point is that regardless of who our president is, ever, the way we really make our neighborhoods better is by doing what we can to help, where we are. It's a bigger point than most Presidents take on. It's not only undermining false accolades, but undermining the supposed power of the Presidency. He's saying he can't fix everything. He needs some help from us.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


You don't change the machine, the machine changes you.

You call that fluffy-duffy bullshit cynicism? Fuck that noise. You're naive and kowtowing to the man. The machine requires that people be cynical about it. The entire systemic enterprise is predicated on the fact that whiners will whine and waste their energy whining about how everything is a sell-out and they're the only ones who get it and are smarter than all the machine-suckling sheeple, not realizing that they themselves are sustaining the machine by whining. If you hate the system, pick up a gun and start firing wildly in a crowded shopping mall. Otherwise you're a coward and are just posing to look above it all.

/tired of people who think they are cynical when they're really just repeating something they read
posted by shakespeherian at 8:46 AM on May 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


Has there ever been a leader worth a damn in the history of the world in your book?

Subcommandante Marcos, Eugene Debs, Jose Marti, Leon Trotsky.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:49 AM on May 14, 2009


the impression I'm getting is that the administration has inherited this train wreck called Gitmo and is trying to figure out how to handle it, legally and ethically

The traditional method is the indictment, arraignment and trial of the accused.

The real issue, I think, is that in a Court of Law, there's not going to be a whole log of evidence to support whatever charges might be filed.

That and the instant "Deprivation of Due Process" claim. It's a mess, surely.

Trial for the accused. Settlement offers for those who have been deprived of their inalienable rights. And if citizenship is part of the settlement, then that's cool too.
posted by mikelieman at 8:51 AM on May 14, 2009


I don't give a fuck who you or what you have done. NOBODY deserves an honourary degree. You want a degree you do what everybody else does and earn the damn thing.

I actually think this is a concise way to put a lot of what is suggested in the speech. Having an honorary degree is as practically useless and worthless to someone who hasn't earned it as an actual degree is to someone who doesn't use the knowledge she's gained in order to attain it. Being a degree holder does not necessarily indicate prolonged success or great achievement in a worthwhile endeavor. The accomplishment a degree signifies is one that is able to facilitate much greater accomplishments in the future, but it is only a step along the way in the pursuit of what is genuinely valuable. To forget this is and to cling to the honor alone as one's success can preclude the possibility of the sort of lifetime achievements we see as honorable.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't want to get in the way of people that are angry with Obama and want to stay that way, but:

Snarking on Metafilter is probably less destructive than claiming you're fixing health care by letting the fucking healthcare industry write the reforms.

Letting them sit at the table isn't the same as letting them have their way, and it's naive to think the best way to change this system is to keep a major player fighting you the whole way, a la 1996. Eugene Debs and Subcommandante Marcos might not have gone about it this way, but then, those guys are about rallying the like-minded, not getting people opposed to you to move on their positions.
posted by ignignokt at 9:23 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It really pisses me off that on the day intended to celebrate the graduation of students who have busted their butts and gone into deep debt some celebrity

did you really just describe the president of the united states as "some celebrity"?

how stupid
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 AM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Waterboarding is torture.

and now we have the interesting question of what did nancy pelosi know, and when did she know it?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:30 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


[few comments removed - please do not turn every thread about Obama into a fighty rant about his torture polices. You can start your own thread, you can go to metatalk, you can stay home and stew and be angry but MeFi is not any one person's particular soapbox, do not turn it into one]
posted by jessamyn at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2009


FYI -- Joe Beese has a new FPP on the issue of torture, as it relates to the 9/11 Commission.
posted by ericb at 9:47 AM on May 14, 2009


No one who could possibly be elected President of the United States ever will. You don't change the machine, the machine changes you.

This is just cynical bullshit. You are saying that no president in history has ever made life better for a real people? Or you are saying that life is so fucked up now that no president starting with Obama can ever again make a real impact on people's lives? Because it seems to me that a lot of young people have been inspired by the simple act of his election. I'm not entirely one of them, but inspiration is a change. Cynicism is easy...that's why there is so much of it here.
posted by spicynuts at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's impressive to me how much more a lot of liberals hate Obama, and constantly take every opportunity to scream about what a fascist he is, than Bush. When GWB was in office, every. goddamn. thread. about him doing something horrible was derailed by "WELL HE'S STILL A HUMAN BEING AND DEEP DOWN I'M SURE HE'S A NICE GUY AND YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T CONDEMN HIM AS A PERSON HURR". Now that Obama's in office, every thread about him, good or ill, is full of "BARACK OBAMA IS PURE EVIL RIGHT-WING CONSERVATISM HURR".

Jesus Christ, folks. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that I'm significantly to the left of everyone in this thread, and seriously: enough. Yes, he's imperfect and prone to the same bullshit every national-level politician is. But fuck, we just got done with nearly a decade of being ruled by Lord George W. Soth; it has not been nearly long enough for you to have forgotten what a horrible President really looks like. So chill out; nobody's going to call you an asshole for not pointing out EVERY TIME SOMEONE POSTS ABOUT OBAMA that he has bad positions on torture and whathaveyou.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:52 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Barack Obama, America's first Aikido President.
posted by Forrest Greene at 9:54 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Change from within", eh? Like ending the disgrace of indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay by instituting indefinite detention without trial here at home?

I'm glad you are willing to define a man's entire track record based on one issue and before his full term is over. Given that it is FUCKING MAY 2009 I am willing to give the guy a couple of years to either hang himself or prove that he's got a long view. Which was the point of my first post.

And now let's predict your response: "ONE ISSUE??? Torture torture torture that's all that needs to be said it's the only issue, you clearly have no right to even breath if you're so stupid to believe that anything else even matters, etc etc".
posted by spicynuts at 9:54 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you guys have to snark up every thread about Obama?

Did you get stuck during the last years into being some endlessly indignant pessimistic cynic (hopefully you'll forgive the double negative).

It's great that you have your own opinion, but posting the same attack on every thread is just tiring. Yes, we get it. You think Obama is the worst president since whenever. Yes, he must love torture since he isn't spending his time trying to punish those who fucked up during the last administration. I mean it's not like he has to deal with two wars, the largest recession since the great depression, an environment that is getting worse, and trying to reform the way our financial markets work as well as healthcare and education.

I'm sure you thought Clinton was a shitty president too, probably Carter as well, but when he tried to take on one issue like health care BY ITSELF he got pretty bloodied.

I also don't really get what you want us to do with Gitmo. The steps he's taken are the best approach I've seen to a very hard question. Of course none of you will ever offer what you think should be done, because being a cynical sniper is so much easier.

Maybe it's because you thought Obama was running on something other than a center-left platform. Maybe you are just too used to being a pessimistic sniper it's hard to give up. Hell, is that the self image you have of yourself. Some cynic who the world won't trick who sees how everything really is. I'm not sure.

The whole point of this post is basically keep your comments on topic instead of devolving into LOL OBAMA LIED or OBAMA IS A TORTURER TRAITOR or WHY IS OBAMA TAKING SO LONG TO DO THINGS HE SAID HE WOULDNT DO.

I dunno, maybe it's just finally getting to me that some people have to see the negative in everything. After 8 years of a presidency that made me doubt a lot of the things I liked about this country, we are seeing some headway in changing things. The military is being reformed and the way the pentagon awards projects is being changed. We finally recognize the danger of a warming environment. Life saving science is being allowed to have work done on it. The utter insanity of wall street will finally have some sever federal oversight. We even have decided to actually work with other countries to figure out the problems that we all face. But of course none of this matters because Obama obviously must be 100% behind torture since he has decided not to enter into what the other party would see as a partisan attack during a time when we need everyones help.

Oh right, of course according to you snipers I must just be naive.
posted by Allan Gordon at 9:56 AM on May 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


Say what you will about the Daily Show showing what a party school ASU is, but mentioning honorary degree recipient Kim Campbell, whose 142 day "body of work" includes being on the losing end of one of the biggest electoral wipeouts in the history of the world?

This is why they're brilliant.
posted by dw at 10:08 AM on May 14, 2009


It's impressive to me how much more a lot of liberals hate Obama, and constantly take every opportunity to scream about what a fascist he is, than Bush.

It's impressive to me how someone can read anything like those statements here. What kind of pharmaceuticals do you use to achieve that?


Allan Gordon - what's up with the all-caps, dude? Nobody else here is doing that; just you and the Pope.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:08 AM on May 14, 2009


Let's review where we were at about this point in Bush's first term, just for a little good old perspective:

March 2001 Bush sends a memo to the United States archivist requesting a delay in releasing presidential personal records, followed by an executive order limiting access to all presidential papers from Reagan forward. Also: The Bush administration overturns a Clinton-era regulation reducing the amount of arsenic in drinking water.

April 2001 Bush signs a $1.65 trillion tax cut for large corporations and the wealthy.

April 1, 2001
President Bush faces his first major international crisis when a U.S. Navy spy plane and its crew are detained in China after a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

May 17, 2001
President Bush unveils his plan for solving the nation's energy crisis, calling for less regulation, more drilling for oil and gas, and increased roles for coal and nuclear power.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:09 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Letting them sit at the table isn't the same as letting them have their way"

Exactly. I get the feeling that unless Obama makes composting mandatory and outlaws Religion people in this thread will never be happy.
posted by rosswald at 10:16 AM on May 14, 2009


spicynuts: "I'm glad you are willing to define a man's entire track record based on one issue and before his full term is over."

Are you willing to mount any challenge whatsoever to my 9 points laying out the argument you asked for that Obama has publicly declared his intention to violate United States law? Or do you work strictly ad hominem?

Look, if you simply trust Obama is doing the right thing - even when it's diametrically opposed to what he said was the right thing two weeks ago - that's your prerogative. Just remember who else thought that way...
posted by Joe Beese at 10:20 AM on May 14, 2009


Joe Beese: Saying he won't prosecute operatives is not the same as granting them immunity, surely?
posted by clockzero at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2009


Ah...never mind.
posted by clockzero at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2009


He's not going to make things better for normal people. No one who could possibly be elected President of the United States ever will.

Lincoln and FDR were such phonies.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lincoln and FDR were such phonies.

They were from a different era. Do you think FDR could get elected today?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2009


Do you think a remarkable person could get elected today?
posted by found missing at 10:44 AM on May 14, 2009


Let's review where we were at about this point in Bush's first term, just for a little good old perspective

I'd love to see a table of President's First Year Achievements. Side-by-side, Reagan, Clinton, Bushes, Obama. Let's see which Presidents did things that were of overall net benefit to the majority of Americans, and which Presidents were foul.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you think FDR could get elected today?

Absolutely. Do you think Subcommandante Marcos could be elected president of Mexico?

And thus the difference between revolutionary leaders and political leaders. Political leaders compromise and horse-trade in the name of doing what's right. Revolutionary leaders will do anything but compromise and horse trade in the name of doing what's right. Idealism may power revolutions, but pragmatism keeps those revolutions alive. Idealism got Obama elected, but pragmatism is what runs this country, and he knows it.

He's the coolest, most calculating president we've had in a long time. What's scary about it is that cool and calculating should breed cynicism, but right now it's not.
posted by dw at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


[few comments removed - what part of don't call other people names is confusing to you? metatalk stat for that sort of crap.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:52 AM on May 14, 2009


I'm confused about the part where it is a rhetorical flourish, rather than an ad hom. But, whatever.
posted by found missing at 11:02 AM on May 14, 2009


Well, I was at the speech, and found it remarkable and inspiring. A sitting U.S. president stood in front of several thousand graduates and about 70,000 spectators and told them that the values presented to them as important by U.S. culture for the past several decades were selfish and would not lead to any meaningful reward or fulfillment. He told all those young people to go out into the world and make a life that is successful in terms of what contributions you make to your fellow human beings, and that that work never ends.

That's a pretty great message for a sitting president to deliver, and the effect on the crowd--who listened in rapt silence for the entire speech--was noticeable.

Also, comments like this piss me off hugely:

What is the controversy over this? Is ASU known for anything other than sports? If it closed down tomorrow, would the universe blink?

...because of how obviously stupid they are. Seriously, do a minute of research (you're on the internet) and you'll find out that ASU actually has some vibrant graduate programs that are doing some very impressive things. Is it a big party school? Sure, for some students. But even if only 15% of the ASU undergraduate student body is serious about studying and learning, that's around 6,000 kids--not to mention the 20,000 or so graduate students. So, yeah, I think the "universe would blink" if ASU shut down.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:03 AM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Has Gibbs managed to move beyond semi-incompetent yet?

Hey, I'll take semi-incompetent (but improving) Gibbs over coolly mendacious Snow, willfully obtuse McClellan or aggressively evil Fleischer any day.

Anyway, as a resident of Arizona and an alum of ASU, I thought Obama handled the whole situation with expert aplomb. The comment above that he is an Aikido president seems so apt.
posted by darkstar at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2009


Barack Obama, America's first Aikido President.

I agree with darkstar. What a lovely way to put it.
posted by kosem at 11:26 AM on May 14, 2009


the impression I'm getting is that the administration has inherited this train wreck called Gitmo and is trying to figure out how to handle it, legally and ethically.

The answer is clear. Send them to Joe Beese's house.
posted by cjets at 11:45 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It really pisses me off that on the day intended to celebrate the graduation of students who have busted their butts and gone into deep debt some celebrity would skip in and be given a degree just for gracing the university with their august presence. "

Well, AFAIK, it is a tradition with the commencement speaker at ASU to give them an honorary degree. They broke the tradition with Obama. The controversy is why, when he's certainly accomplished a lot already, and Arizona as well as McCain in particular were infamous as rare hold-outs in opposing MLK Day.

Don't worry. Honorary degrees don't mean anything in the job market. Your prospects will not be affected. If it bothers you, then just ignore it.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:56 AM on May 14, 2009


it is a tradition with the commencement speaker at ASU to give them an honorary degree.

No, it isn't. As delmoi said above:

That's not the reason they chose not to give him an honorary degree. There were two committees, one that does honorary degrees, and one that actually arrange speakers. The one that hands out honorary degrees was never told that Obama would actually be there. Without knowing that, why would they give him an honorary degree? Schools don't usually had those out to people who are not actually attending, no matter what they do.

The reason they didn't know was because the presidents speaking schedule was going to be kept secret. until they could announce all of them at once.


None of this would have been nearly as big a deal if the PR spokesperson for ASU had not issued a ham-handed response that said something about Obama's "body of work" not being complete, instead of actually taking a day to respond to breathless press inquiries, to make a few phone calls and find out the real reasons he was not offered an honorary degree, which are the ones pointed out above. This is a tempest in a teapot, sparked by a dumb, incorrect response from a PR person. Goodness.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see what breaking news has happened regarding the fascinating Miss California controversy.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2009


Look, if you simply trust Obama is doing the right thing - even when it's diametrically opposed to what he said was the right thing two weeks ago - that's your prerogative.

I did not say I trusted he is doing the right thing. I said I was willing to give him a reasonable amount of time to establish that he has a plan other than that which is immediately public. This is politics. He's a politician. Not everything is as it appears. I do not think that 5 months is a reasonable amount of time to tar and feather him. A year, two years, probably.

Are you willing to mount any challenge whatsoever to my 9 points laying out the argument you asked for that Obama has publicly declared his intention

I am re-checking my posts now, but I don't recall asking you to lay out an argument in that regard. I also must have missed your 9 points. Re-reading.
posted by spicynuts at 12:44 PM on May 14, 2009


"No, it isn't"

Well, that doesn't actually say anything about what ASU's tradition is. I don't have time to look it up ATM. But it also contradicts the excuse given by ASU that Obama had not accomplished enough to warrant the degree. It can't be both ways, that there was a lapse in communication and that there was also a decision.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2009


A control F for "joe" reveals no 9 points. Was it a link? What did I miss?
posted by spicynuts at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2009


Seriously, do a minute of research (you're on the internet) and you'll find out that ASU actually has some vibrant graduate programs that are doing some very impressive things.

When I see some Nobel Prize winners or the like from ASU, I'll be perfectly happy with the explanation that ASU's Sharon Keeler gave, as to why this institution needs to withhold its precious honorary degrees from a sitting President.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on May 14, 2009


[We don't generally delete things accidentally. If you have an issue with this, take it up in some way other than just reposting stuff to spite us.]
posted by cortex at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2009


BP, check out the 2004 Nobel Prize winners. Use the Internet, man. It's right in front of you!
posted by found missing at 2:05 PM on May 14, 2009


did you really just describe the president of the united states as "some celebrity"?

how stupid



I grant you an honourary degree in Journalism for your achievement of being both insulting and completely missing the point.
posted by srboisvert at 2:41 PM on May 14, 2009


BP, check out the 2004 Nobel Prize winners.

To be fair to BP, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, while arguably the most prestigious economics award in the world, is not an actual Nobel Prize.

So, we can't count Edward C. Prescott, the W. P. Carey Chair of Economics in the W. P. Carey School of Business, as an actual Nobel winner. Sorry.
posted by dw at 4:13 PM on May 14, 2009


Cute, but you're making a distinction that even the Nobel foundation doesn't make. They list the Economics award as one of the "Nobel Prizes", and they list the Economics winners as "Nobel Laureates."
posted by found missing at 4:24 PM on May 14, 2009


But it also contradicts the excuse given by ASU that Obama had not accomplished enough to warrant the degree. It can't be both ways, that there was a lapse in communication and that there was also a decision.

I don't understand. This is what happened, as I understand it:

--There are 2 faculty committees involved, one to select a commencement speaker, another that deals with honorary degrees (honorary degrees are given out at more than commencements)

--Normally these 2 committees communicate with each other. Because of restrictions from the White House, the commencement committee could not announce to anyone that Obama had been confirmed as speaker at graduation until the WH confirmed the rest of his commencement engagements. Thus, they could not consider awarding Obama an honorary degree because they did not know he was coming to campus.

--When it was announced that he was speaking, someone asked "the university" (meaning ASU's PR office) why he wasn't being given an honorary degree. A spokesperson in that office at ASU (who is obviously bad at her job) issued an erroneous statement about Obama's "body of work not being complete".

--What is unknown is whether or not the spokesperson was told to say that, or just neglected to find out what really happened.

It is entirely feasible to me that this resulted from simple miscommunication and incompetence. Regardless, it's a dumb issue to generate this much noise, and a dumb way to evaluate a huge institution.

When I see some Nobel Prize winners or the like from ASU

Well, as pointed out, you have, and besides, it's silly to use that single type of data point to evaluate a university the size of a smallish city. Universities do a lot more valuable things than are recognized by the Nobel foundation.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2009


What is the controversy over this? Is ASU known for anything other than sports? If it closed down tomorrow, would the universe blink?

I'm so completely tired of this bullshit. Yeah it's the absolute high-point of comedy to snark on ASU for being a party school, but do you actually know a goddamn thing about the school? No, it's not a great school, but I'm willing to guess that most mefites didn't go to a top 10 school, or even a top 30 school, and still got a damn fine education (or as fine as they were seeking), just like the students going to ASU do. Sure, a lot of students spend more time partying than seeking the great enlightenment I'm sure you have attained from your top-ranked school (which one was it again?), but welcome to the world of trying to educate people in their late teens and early 20s. I just graduated from ASU with a BS in Engineering, and I can tell you that I worked goddamn hard to get my degree, and in the process was taught by some amazing, dedicated professors.

So yeah, if ASU closed down, plenty of people would notice, and the world would be worse off. We can't all be Nobel laureates (which Nobel prize did you win, anyway?), but that doesn't mean we aren't educated.
posted by !Jim at 5:00 PM on May 14, 2009


WTF? Why was JoeBeese's second list deleted? Is his axe-grinding now explicitly off-limits? Is it now verboten to state that Obama is breaking the law by not prosecuting the people who committed war crimes?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on May 14, 2009


More like ver-Boring-ten, eh?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:04 PM on May 14, 2009


WTF? Why was JoeBeese's second list deleted? Is his axe-grinding now explicitly off-limits? Is it now verboten to state that Obama is breaking the law by not prosecuting the people who committed war crimes?

The mods are just trying to make this a safe place for Obama fans. Some people think he's basically more of the same, but you certainly can't allow them to document why, especially with facts like Joe Beese did. That's too upsetting.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:23 PM on May 14, 2009


Cute, but you're making a distinction that even the Nobel foundation doesn't make.

Just pointing out it's not listed in Nobel's will and technically isn't a "Nobel" even though that's pedantic nit-picking best left to cranky Nobel descendants.

PS: My party school alma mater has four Nobels AND issues with rioting. Now that's a high quality liberal arts education!
posted by dw at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2009


WTF? Why was JoeBeese's second list deleted?

The mods are just trying to make this a safe place for Obama fans.


FFS, take it to MeTa already.
posted by dw at 6:27 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


WTF? Why was JoeBeese's second list deleted?

We'd deleted it already and left a note in the thread to please not do that sort of axe-grinding here. Joe Beese knows where MeTa is. There is an open thread about Obama's torture policies (which he opened) where people can debate his list. It's not okay to make every Obama thread into an "oh yeah what about his stance on torture?" lecture, just like it's not okay to make every thread about Israel a referendum on Palestine.

You can go to that thread, or you can go to MeTa or you know how to contact us.
posted by jessamyn at 6:31 PM on May 14, 2009


You see? YOU SEE?? The mods hate Joe Beese AND they suppport torture! I KNEW IT!!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:46 PM on May 14, 2009


The mods are busy, tired, and a little cranky to be perfectly honest.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on May 14, 2009


Does that mean you didn't smile at my little joke, jess? Now you are torturing me...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 PM on May 14, 2009


A lot cranky is my guess, as you've been shutting down arguments and discussions in a number of threads.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on May 14, 2009


Seems to me, since I was deleted too, the deletions are an attempt to keep the thread on track re: the appearance at ASU rather than a rehash of an existing thread. Seems reasonable as all Obama threads don't need to hash out one issue only
posted by spicynuts at 7:19 PM on May 14, 2009


A lot cranky is my guess, as you've been shutting down arguments and discussions in a number of threads.

I wish there was a part of this site where we could talk about this sort of meta discussion.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:18 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


To my (Australian) ears, Obama's speeches tend to read better than they sound. When I listen to him speak, he basically drones on and on not saying much about anything in particular. It was always surprising to me during the election to hear people talk about what great speeches he gave. With a couple of exceptions, there didn't seem to be anything remarkable about them.

At the time, I thought to myself "Maybe it's something you have to be American to really appreciate. Maybe they just have a better sense for this stuff."

I'm still not sure. This speech was actually pretty good, but then it still came across better on paper than when he delivered it.
posted by Ritchie at 8:26 PM on May 14, 2009


With a couple of exceptions, there didn't seem to be anything remarkable about them.

I can see that, his delivery is fairly even. Yesterday, hearing him in person, I realized the riveting effect he has on an audience. Everybody in that stadium (near as I could tell) was really listening. It was quiet, and I've never been around a crowd of 70,000+ people who were noticeably attentive.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:39 PM on May 14, 2009


For those interested in US News rankings (which I admit are flawed), here are some interesting tidbits showing ASU in the top 25 in a number of programs. It's not the hick party school many would like to imagine. Or, at least, it's not ONLY a hick party school, it also has some redeeming intellectual qualities.

And while it doesn't translate well in US News rankings, the ASU Engineering and Chemistry/Biochemistry graduate programs really are very good and getting better every year.
posted by darkstar at 10:44 PM on May 14, 2009


Also, that Mars Rover that recently did so extraordinarily well, lasting far longer than anticipated and collecting some truly impressive data about the Red Planet? Researchers at ASU designed it.
posted by darkstar at 10:49 PM on May 14, 2009


Please stop. You're confusing BP.
posted by found missing at 9:12 AM on May 15, 2009


Not that any of that should have anything to do with honorary degrees, though. Everybody knows they're essentially meaningless...a pat on the back, really. They aren't in any way comparable to real, earned degrees except to folks who don't understand the dynamic.

And in this case, it was a simple matter of miscommunication at ASU, as opposed to any real plan to deny an honorary degree for Obama. So basically, the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot in Tempe.
posted by darkstar at 11:16 AM on May 15, 2009


Whoever linked to that DFW commencement speech from 2005 at Kenyon, thank you.

Between Gitmo and the newly announced Military tribunals and the disinterest in prosecuting the former admin, I have paused a little bit with Obama, but as someone said above (and Euripides said originally: The millstones of justice spin slowly, but they grind very fine and the Bush Admin. is goiing to go down as criminals whether they actually go to jail or not, and Cheney pathetic "it's not torture" tour is almost tragic in it's unconscious admission of guilt, for if he really thought he did right than why would he feel like he had to explain to the American people for the umpteenth time the whole sordid sickening justification for profoundly unAmerican Behavior. Anyhow, back to my original point, it's been 5 months, Obama is going to need to be reminded of things (as even FDR was), but ultimately I trust him to do what's right and I thought the speech was fine. Put away your knives and keep your shirts, on those who would like to begin to rip on the guy. Have some faith.
posted by Skygazer at 1:40 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


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