I’ve been trying to keep an open mind about the primaries. Among other reasons, because as a registered independent, I can’t vote in them anyway in Pennsylvania.
But everyone has their tipping point, and mine kind of just tipped over to Obama. Reason? The sparring over Obama’s “messy desks” comment at the debate.
It’s no secret around Swarthmore that I have a legendarily messy desk. It works for me, and since it’s mine, that’s really all that matters.
But the spin on the remark coming out of the Clinton campaign really makes me sick. Try Noam Scheiber on for size. Normally you don’t see that kind of straining unless someone’s severely constipated.
The Clinton spin reinforces my fear that she is the fourth coming of Dukakis/Gore/Kerry’s exaltation of technocracy, not to mention Carter’s tendency to micromanage obsessively. Obama’s basically right, in any event: the President is not the Chief of Staff. Bush hasn’t failed because he’s not wonking away late into the night. He’s failed because he surrounded himself with sycophants, axe-grinders, loose cannons and bureaucratic land-grabbers, because he made unquestioning loyalty a more important attribute for service to the executive than ability. He failed because he didn’t ask the big questions or seek a range of advice, not because he didn’t micromanage.
What warms me to Obama in this instance isn’t just his messy desk. It’s that when he was asked a human question (“What’s your greatest weakness”), he answered like a human being. For Scheiber and Clinton’s staffers, that’s somehow evidence that he’s not fit for the Presidency. As Obama pointed out today on NPR, Edwards and Clinton both gave almost freakishly political answers. (Edwards: my greatest weakness is that I care too much. Clinton: I get impatient with people who don’t care enough about the children!) Come on, if you were interviewing someone for a job, and you asked ye olden “greatest weakness” chestnut, what would you think of the kinds of answers that Clinton and Edwards gave? I’d immediately think I was talking with someone who was both phony and unimaginative.
Messy desks arise! You have nothing to lose but your politically hollow micromanagers!