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The Audacity of Ordinary People

John Pilger in the New Statesman (H/T Seriously) :

The heresy of Greece is that the uprising of its ordinary people provides an authentic hope unlike that lavished upon the warlord in the White House.

The entire piece is a must-read in its own right, as an essay on Greece and modern class warfare (“rarely reported as such” writes Pilger). But, while reading the excerpt above in particular, I was reminded of another entirely different quote about ‘ordinary people’ that I had read somewhere else not too long ago.

Valerie Jarrett’s description of Obama from David Remnick’s The Bridge (H/T Pilgrim) :

“He knows exactly how smart he is…. He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

President Obama paid some pretty lip service to those ordinary people in his inaugural speech:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

Sweet words. Good words. And, sadly just… words.

Again, remember that peek behind the curtain that Jarrett gave us:

“He knows exactly how smart he is…. He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

First we had a faux cowboy for president who flaunted as an asset the fact that he was too full of his own swagger and too entertained by his own smirk to do what intellectually curious people do. Now we have a faux philosopher king for president whose own inner circle brags that he is just too bored and too talented to do what ordinary people do.

The last decade of presidentin’ has been characterized by the worst of both worlds: Bush’s anti-intellectualism and Obama’s ivory tower arrogance. I long for the days when we had intellectuals living in the White House who actually welcomed being thought of as ordinary Americans blessed with extraordinary opportunities. Love or hate the Clintons, they combined intellectualism with populism in a way that has been absent from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since their moving van pulled away.

Bush dumbed down the level of discourse. Obama just dumbs down himself. Both have been nothing but corporate stooges, hard at work on their vacations away from their vacations, distracting Main Street from the puppet strings being pulled by Wall Street.

Ordinary Americans: U.S. History Through the Eyes of Everyday People, by Linda R. Monk.

I do not know exactly what kind of history education either Presidents Bush or Obama were privy to growing up, but when I was in high school I actually had the privilege of studying from a supplemental history text called Ordinary Americans. It is the American story told through hundreds of first-person accounts from voices that have often been left out of the history books. With all the Texas textbook insanity going on right now, I’m relieved that I was able to get a decent public school education–deep in the heart of Texas as a matter of fact. I had a great American history teacher, and I really shudder to think what would have happened if I had to study the whacko curriculum (less diversity of voices, more Christian Nation brainwashing) that’s being debated today. I doubt I would have related to anything being taught at all. I am a woman and one of those hyphenated Americans that so gets on the right wing’s nerve. I am double-divisive! And, if I had been assigned to read about how our country was founded on the story of Adam and what a bitch that Eve was instead of about Thomas Jefferson, I think I would have just taken a big nap instead. Sorry, I don’t do bible study, as is my right as an American.

From the foreword of Ordinary Americans, by PBS filmmaker Ken Burns:

American history is a loud, raucous, moving, exquisite collection of noises, that in aggregate often combine to make the sweetest kind of music, and I have tried to listen as much as I can in putting together the Civil War series and my other films. More than anything else, these myriad voices remind us that history is not just the story of wars and generals and presidents, but of ordinary people, like you and me, who form the real fabric of our history and society.

[…]

History–especially personal, ordinary Americans’ kind of history, as revealed in these pages–is alive, breathing, contemporary. This is the way history should be told.

[…]

We have begun to speak of a synthesis of the old and new histories, a way to combine the best of the top-down version, still inspiring even in its “great men” addiction, with the bottom-up version, so inspiring too at times, with the millions of heroic acts of women, minorities, labor, ordinary people.

This is what the wingnuts on the Texas State board of Education fear: the millions of heroic acts of women, minorities, labor, ordinary people.

Recall Pilger’s description of Obama:

The heresy of Greece is that the uprising of its ordinary people provides an authentic hope unlike that lavished upon the warlord in the White House.

Though Obama tries to sanitize his worldview for public consumption with very pretty words, he seems to fear the same thing that the wingnuts on the Texas State Board of Education fear:

The audacity of ordinary people.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago, Obama warned us that the cacophony of voices out there are a threat to our democracy and Donna B echoed that sentiment. I guess the “loud, raucous, moving, exquisite collection of noises” that make up America is not music to their ears.

It is the very voices that we need to hear from most that they fear, which brings me to a recent Huffpo blog entry about the Gulf Coast Oil Kill (that’s what I’m calling it), written by none other than Linda R. Monk–she is the editor of the Ordinary Americans text that I referenced above. Her current piece is aptly titled “The Coming Black Death: BP Destroys Both Nature and the Human Spirit” :

“Delta people are notoriously tenacious and self-reliant,” says Mark Martinez, an engineer whose family has lived in New Orleans for five generations. “Many of the people in coastal Louisiana ended up here because there was no other place for them to go.” French colonists who were expelled from Acadia in the 1700s became two-stepping Cajuns, Canary Islanders brought Spanish flavor to the mix, and the coffee-colored roux of the native-born Creoles combined both imperial French and enslaved African cultures.

“Our folks simply refuse to be beat down,” Martinez told me recently. “It’s like a jazz funeral — everyone is somber on the way to the cemetery, but once the deceased has been laid to rest, the band breaks into an upbeat selection, a second line forms, and the mourners dance.”

People in South Louisiana have “an almost superhuman resilience and a hopeful outlook in the face of almost every kind of imaginable hardship — hurricanes, yellow fever, backbreaking poverty, exploitation. Even the national disgrace of watching our families being separated in the aftermath of Katrina.”

Sounds to me like Invisible America, whose resilience has been taken for granted.

Monk’s article goes on to paint a very bleak picture:

But even Martinez notices a new attitude among his neighbors and friends. “It’s like their fight is gone,” he says, “and I can honestly say I have never seen this before, not even after Katrina.”

“I don’t know if it’s that we haven’t had a chance to properly recover from Katrina, or if there is a shared perception of this oil spill being sort of like finding out you have terminal cancer. There is just a kind of hopelessness everywhere.”

“People were stunned by Katrina for a long time, but they came out of it. This is different. I hate to say it, but I think this oil spill will make a lot of people give up for good.”

I’m from the Houston area, but I practically lived in New Orleans at one point, back before Katrina, back before Bush altogether. It was only for a few months, but it was my home away from home when I needed to get away from a toxic situation. I got around by streetcar half the time, and there was something therapeutic about that–it was my piece of zen. The carefree spirit of the Big Easy was exactly what I needed then–it helped to nurse my spirit back. It just doesn’t seem right that New Orleans is now the scene of unprecedented despair and helplessness. How can the American president sit by while an oil kill destroys the spirit of people who have persevered through so much?

In 2005, during a benefit concert for Katrina, Kanye West said George Bush didn’t care about black people. Who does Barack Obama care about? (And, who is the ‘jackass’ now?)

In 2008, Jesse Jackson Jr. went on national television and said that “Mrs. Clinton’s tears” on the campaign trail in New Hampshire needed to be “analyzed,” noting that she did not cry for Katrina.

What is there to even “analyze” with Obama? He scheduled his anger at BP for one day. He later announced a panel that will take six months to figure out how to prevent the circumstance that the Gulf Coast is already in and needs a solution to right now. This is what he calls Hope, but there is nothing there except a hollow emptiness.

Speaking of hope, Monk concludes her Huffpost piece on the following note:

On Saturday President Obama announced the creation of a federal commission to examine the causes and extent of the BP disaster. But what residents of the Gulf Coast need now is not a commission, but a solution. Helplessness breeds hopelessness.

Monk told progressives to suck it up when it came to their complaints about Obama’s healthcare reform. She got into a kerfuffle with Glenn Greenwald on the Elena Kagan pick. Yet, even she is calling attention to Obama’s inaction on the oil spill, because the bottom line is so clear. The aftermath of the oil kill is about the lives of ordinary Americans who have been invisible to both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

What did we elect a community organizer for if he cannot organize a real response to this crisis?

So, which is it? Is Obama too bored to find a solution for the residents of the Gulf Coast? Or, is he too talented?

The chattering classes love to dismiss Hillary Clinton as nothing more than a boring Methodist girl who makes silly to-do lists. So they help Wall Street install fascinating characters in the White House, like Bush and Obama, who put the concerns of ordinary people on their To Don’t list and send tingles up Chris Matthews’ leg.

Mission Un-accomplished.

Then a crisis hits, and Matthews acts outraged that the president is behaving like a Vatican observer.

It would be a comedy of errors if it were not for the fact that the consequences of the media’s dysfunctional relationship with both Bush and Obama have been so grave. Oil. It keeps on killing. And, the media only asks questions after the damage is done.

Authentic hope is a call to action, and that appears to be above the paygrade of “the warlord in the White House.” But, ordinary people get it. Their survival has depended on it.

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118 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, Wonk.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Delphyne. (Everytime you do I go over to your blog and see some post from you that makes me grin. Last time it was the short film about the 105 year old woman, today it’s your dog post. I would leave comments at your place, but my wordpress info never works at blogspot.)

    • Brilliant !!!

  2. Wow, wonk. Just WOW. That’s an amazing piece of thinking and writing!!

  3. “Bored to death all his life,” is he?

    Give me an effin’ break. Anyone as “smart” as Obama allgedly is, is smart enough to think of something to do that won’t bore him/her. He wasn’t Prince Eddie, after all, forbidden to go into business or any other occupation, with nothing to do but stand around for decades and wait for the Mater to die.

    On the other hand, maybe that’s exactly how he’s seen himself–king in waiting. And now that he’s got the job, he’s not up to it. The smart response to that situation is outright terror, not “peel me a grape.”

  4. Great post, Wonk. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to take Valerie Jarrett’s word on how bright Obama is. I have yet to see the evidence of it.

    Regardless, intelligence without moral character isn’t a prescription for wisdom or leadership.

    • Regardless, intelligence without moral character isn’t a prescription for wisdom or leadership.

      Wise words 😉
      2008 was the complete triumph of marketing over morals.

    • how true! We have seen that illustrated for us over and over have we not.
      Personally I think we should take both Obama and Bush (or maybe more properly stuffed dummies of them) and use them the beat the media who shoved them down our throats.

  5. Wonk, you give me hope. Because if there’s one thing I do believe in, it’s the ordinary rank and file – the salt of the earth.

    The anti-incumbency sentiment is a shared across party and class (well, not all classes) lines kind of response that emanates from ordinary people (Republican Party not withstanding). The “ordinary” person knows that something is deeply wrong, while not necessarily knowing what to do about it. I don’t. But the expose provided by you and the other posters and commenters here are essential to pulling that rug out eventually!

    • Wonk, you give me hope.

      Back atcha, pf. Great comment. The salt of the earth is the one thing I believe in as well. I hope the anti-incumbency sentiment keeps going until we get someone who will put people before profit. And, you know, there was a time I would have been upset if it was the “other” party to do produce that leader, but that time is past. Don’t get me wrong–I still can’t envision the living corpse that is the GOP allowing any real deal to ever rise amongst its ranks, but hey, if the unthinkable ever happened, I would just be glad someone was finally working for the American people.

      • What are the chances of your throwing your hat in the ring at some time?

      • If you ever throw your hat in the ring, you’ll have my vote. Early and often 😉

      • LOL. I asked the Magic 8 ball next to me about those chances, it said… Oh barnacles! (It’s a spongebob magic 8 ball).

        I don’t meet the height requirement for that carnival ride anyway. Not Christian–and not interested in pretending otherwise.

        Chelsea is a year older than me, though. Chelsea 2016! (A wonk can dream…)

  6. seriously great post.

  7. I’m glad the confluence is posting on this disaster. It helps keep me sane.
    The situation is fubared to the nth degree.

  8. It feels like we (common people) ought to be able to do something at least symbolically to show we are worried about the Oil Gusher. At least after 9/11 people started using flgas as a symbol of grief. WTH can you use for this? Tie a dead oil-soaked bird to your car’s radio antenna?

    • California bill takes aim at new Texas standards

      A bill introduced in California seeks to protect the country’s largest school system from the Texas Board of Education.

      The board yesterday approved a series of changes in the social studies standards that will be taught to the state’s nearly 5 million schoolchildren and that were essentially expressions of panel members’ conservative political views.

      Historians–and even conservative former secretary of education Rod Paige–argued that many of the changes skewed history, but the board majority wanted what it wanted.

      Under Yee’s bill, SB1451, the California Board of Education would be required to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. The board must then report any findings to the legislature and to the secretary of education.
      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/history/california-bill-takes-aim-at-n.html

      Wonk The Vote,

      Thank you for writing about this, as it gave me great sadness to see the Board member say that it was MEN that gave WOMEN the VOTE, not that WOMEN WORKED FOR YEARS TO GET THE VOTE…such patriarchal stance minimizes the work done by feminists on behalf of all women in the US for Equality and Women’s Rights.

      School House Rock – Sufferin’ Till Suffrage

      • School House Rock – Sufferin’ Till Suffrage

      • Thank you for writing about this, as it gave me great sadness to see the Board member say that it was MEN that gave WOMEN the VOTE, not that WOMEN WORKED FOR YEARS TO GET THE VOTE…such patriarchal stance minimizes the work done by feminists on behalf of all women in the US for Equality and Women’s Rights.

        WV, love that sufferin’ till suffrage video! The scardey-cats just walk on the backs of everybody else and then puff up their chests like it’s some amazing feat that they did something when they are finally forced to do it by the little gals and guys. They don’t have the balls or the ovaries to study or pass on ordinary folk’s history.

    • It feels like we (common people) ought to be able to do something at least symbolically to show we are worried about the Oil Gusher. At least after 9/11 people started using flgas as a symbol of grief. WTH can you use for this? Tie a dead oil-soaked bird to your car’s radio antenna?

      😦 Accurate description of the predicament we’re in though.

  9. Awesome post-thank you. I have been thinking alot lately about ordinary people. They do know that ‘something is not right’ and they are not stupid. The Obamas and MSM s of the world under rate us at their peril.

    I have not bought gas from Exxon since ’89 (I did send them my Exxon gas card back with a bird feather stuck on it with oil) and I will do the same for BP. Economic boycotts can work-wittness South Africa. So, pass the word.

  10. btw, that quote from Jarrett is a joke, right??

    He certainly is too talented to do what ordinary people do–work. His life is a never ending series of photo ops and teleprompter moments. Jarrett is giving us the ‘brand’ spin. It doesn’t work. Was Einstein bored?
    His ‘being bored’ makes it sound like he already knows the mysteries of the universe. Really smart people don’t get bored-they know how much they don’t know. That shut my children up the only time I heard that pitiful whine from them.

  11. too bored or too talented?
    just pathetic what we’ve settled for in this country

    thank you for this excellent post

    • Thanks, DJ, and you’re welcome 🙂

      just pathetic what we’ve settled for in this country

      It really is, and Michelle did call Obama pathetic on the View that one time. (She meant empathetic, or at least that’s what the vapids on the View tried to cover it up as.)

    • Beautiful. What is he singing?

      • Lyrics to Cape Enrage:
        The wind tears me skin
        He lashed the flanks and the soul of ice my boat
        Moored at the bar, I hear your voice, I hear your words,
        Every time the lightning strike me its echo.

        Off Cape Enrage
        Off all that I lost everything I saved
        Maybe I went too far to prevent,
        My poor boat took on water and sinking.

        Refrain
        Show me the star to guide me,
        Takes the wind in your arms to calm him.
        I’ve loved, I loved you,
        Not much love, that off Cape Enrage.

        At Cape Enrage
        She watches with eyes abandoned
        Send a prayer with a sail desperate.
        If only I could make you understand the truth.

      • He’s a local cajun boy made good! He sings a lot about life down here.

  12. What a pleasure to read. Great post Wonk.

    • I will take some issue with John Pilger’s analysis of Greece though. The uprising among the young and ordinary people there is earnest and real for sure, unlike the rock concert like Obamania we experienced here during the last election. But the debt that is miring Greece is just as real, exacerbated by corrupt bureaucrats and the wealthy, but inevitable none the less given their demographics and the productivity dynamics of their economy. A fairer more socialist system there would not necessarily provide the better living standards and working conditions for everyone that the Greeks are protesting for, even without their current debt, or the euro. Even in more socialist societies where the distribution of wealth is fairer, social services and retirement have to be paid for by taxes on the private sector, and if that sector is not producing, the economy does not work for anyone…something that the rest of Europe is also coming to grips with as their population ages. The alternative of course is a completely controlled economy where all work, money and resources are rationed by the government. Sharing equally from an even smaller pie. Not sure that’s the answer Europe is looking for either.

      • Excellent observations, TW. I can definitely see a new nationalism going forward. People need jobs so that they can buy all that “stuff”. Jobs then produce the taxes to support the social programs. Cheap “stuff” is hardly a bargain if you can’t afford to buy it at any price because you have no income.

      • *Grins* I knew you would have some insight to add on Greece, TW. Or, maybe I was just wishful you would. Thanks for your reply. I think you and Pilger both make compelling points. I don’t think a fairer system will necessarily fix everything either. I just think a less fair system doesn’t help.

  13. Hopelessness describes my mindset now.

    I’m realizing: even if the human species survives; even if technological civilization survives; the USA is not going to survive, at least not as a major economic and technological power. If we’re lucky, we’ll merely go the way of the British Empire, but I fear we’ll go the way of the Roman Empire.

    I turned 47 recently, and I have no children, so at least I can hope it will hold together long enough for me to die of old age first. 😦

    • me too – I’m 37 and I seem to have nothing but a painful demise to look forward too. I’m getting my phd in a humanities field, so I won’t be getting a job anytime soon either.

  14. HAL let me through? Hey, maybe there IS hope! 🙂

  15. Obama gets bored easily? Big surprise.

    Boredom has no relation to intellect: boredom is a symptom of emptiness.

    Intelligent creative people are never bored because they’re always finding something interesting to explore.

    The people who get bored are the people who always need someone else to come along and fill them up, they can’t do it themselves.

    Just another sign that BHO is as he appears: an empty suit. There’s no THERE there and never has been.

    Here’s an audacious hope: that the presidency will prove so excruciatingly boring he’ll decide to move on to something else before the rest of the country is sucked into the black-hole nothingness of his presidency and completely crushed.

    • “The people who get bored are the people who always need someone else to come along and fill them up, they can’t do it themselves. ”

      Yep, a narcissist.

      And he is not even smart enough to grandstand on this environmental disaster.. He could fashion himself a hero to the folks in the Gulf Coast but nooooo — he’s too “brilliant”.

    • Boredom has no relation to intellect: boredom is a symptom of emptiness.

      Or clinical depression. Is Valerie Jarrett saying Obama has had a mood disorder his entire life?

      • Lol! Exactly. I know plenty of people who are smart but bored, but that’s because they’re paralyzed from dealing with emotional issues or abusive, dysfunctional environments (not a whole lot of access to intellectual stimuli and too depressed/lethargic to make a lot of extra effort to overcome those barriers, you might say). O really doesn’t seem to fall into any of those catergories except “overpriviledged jerk.” 😉

        • One of the first things that felt wrong to me about him was that he never seems to have considered any job he held to be worth taking seriously. As soon as he started one thing, he seemed to be looking for the next. That spells “narcissist” to me.

          It confounds me how many people truly believe that he is brilliant, in the absence of any evidence. Or they cite as evidence that he ran a brilliant campaign; by that logic, Bush Jr. is also brilliant. I think Bill Clinton’s intellect is dazzling. Whenever he spoke, you saw not only how quick he is, or how much he knows, but the genuineness of his interest in so many subjects. He’s spent his whole life thinking deeply about public policy. Obama very obviously has not. He’s flying by the seat of his pants. He’s never cared about anything except promoting himself. He’s never accomplished anything either, or been responsible for anything, or been a leader, or been courageous. He really is a hollow shell. Everything I feared about him from the beginning has been true.

    • It amazes me that the people around him that he is closest to Like Jarrett, actually think this was a compliment. Talk about clueless.
      Can you imagine anyone saying that about Hillary Clinton or Bill either?

  16. Fantastic post! Jarett’s comments remind me of David Brooks’s identification with Obama because of the impeccable crease in his pants. Arrogance has been his defining trait since the elections. His speech about the PA voters, his giving the finger to Nevadans – it all showed his “bored with the little people” attitude.
    I think it was one of the reasons TPTB thought he was a safe bet to be their pawn.

    • Yup, I think TPTB see it as part of the job description. Oh, and David Brooks and Barack Obama seem to be twins separated at birth. They were born a week apart (I think.)

  17. Have you ever known a really intelligent person? Boredom is the last emotion they ever use. Usually, there is not enough hours in the day to satisfy their curiosity. Bill Clinton…did you ever get the slightest hint that he was ever bored. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Steven Hawking, etc. Have you ever read anything about them being bored. It is too hilarious for words to believe that he is so brilliant that he is always bored. That explains how stupid Valerie Jarret and her band of fools is. Imagine being that gullible to believe that insanity. LOL< LOL< LOL 0bama is as pedestrian as they come. Never heard an intelligent thing he ever thought or said or wrote. People are so willing to suspend disbelief.

    • AMEN!

    • Exactly! I couldn’t agree more!

    • Anybody who says that an intellectual kid is bored … well what you said Alibe. Preach it !!! My brother has a genius level IQ and is NEVER bored. He reads medical and scientific texts and legal records for fun. He actually read the whole 2,000 page healthcare bill in a weekend.

      More like Obama’s bored with the little people not loving his awesomeness …
      It’s too bad its the “little people” who will believe this drivel sprooling out of Jarret’s mouth!

    • +1000 for that. Couldn’t agree more!

  18. First we had a faux cowboy for president who flaunted as an asset the fact that he was too full of his own swagger and too entertained by his own smirk to do what intellectually curious people do. Now we have a faux philosopher king for president whose own inner circle brags that he is just too bored and too talented to do what ordinary people do.

    Great Wonk! The upper crust loves an idjijt too full of themsleves to notice anything else BUT themsleves…far from sure, both men are actually super insecure and cannot bring themsleves to test thier “genius” even a little bit . Perfect frontmen for the upper crust

  19. Been away for awhile … But, I must say that rereading that quote from Jarrett about Obama’s brilliance combined with boredom made me want to throw up! Until someone can prove the idiot has a genius IQ level and/or has a photographic memory (like Bill) … let’s just call Obama what he is … an ordinary being who is willing to whore himself to the highest bidder! Too bad those low bidders got PLAYED!

    Just a t-shirt thought … it would be great to see an image of the “New Emperor has no Clothes’ with Obama looking in the mirror and seeing George W.

    Thanks, Wonk for reminding us … We could have had sooo much more. The New Democratic Party … mfers!

    • Obama has potential but he wastes it toward being a conartist.

      Not necessarily the best fit for a t-shirt, but
      “The problem with Obama is not that he has no clothes but that the clothes may have no emperor.”

  20. If he’s so damn smart why won’t he release his college papers? Or has he finally and I didn’t hear/read about it?

    • I’ve always wondered about that, too. My guess is that he was no more than a “C” student. However, allowing his grades to be published would have damaged the narrative his campaign team was trying to build–namely, that he was just as smart as Hillary.

  21. Oh, Wonk. I want to say “that’s beautiful,” which I don’t think is necessarily appropriate considering the subject matter, but you know what I mean. 🙂 Just awesome. I just saw an ad for E!, “Celebrating 10 Years of the Celebrity Universe,” or something and it pinged uncomfortably. Bush and Obama and the people who follow them–it’s like “Cruel Intentions.” they’re not bored because they’re so smart, they’ve had all these opportunities, more than most people, to think and learn and develop empathy and make something of themselves. But someone along the way they learned that a cute smile and a slick line will get them a lot farther than studying primary philosophy texts, and if you can slide by, why bother to do more? That in itself makes you smarter than people who know all the answers, because to get there they have to study all the time, and boy, if you ever put all that raw talent everybody says they see in you to use, you’d leave them in the dust!

    It’s such a waste. None of these people are as smart as they think they are, but they do have something to contribute. But like everything else, it gets wrapped up in their resentments and the way their self-image is wrapped up in an unearned sense of superiority. It’s hard and you might fail, so you just stand there and sneer and everybody excuses you. My favorite comment ever is that we could elect someone transformative or we could elect “someone’s wife.” I don’t deny the fact that Obama’s election, as a symbol, is transformative, and that’s great in that sense. But I don’t think that’s what the person meant, even. I think they were talking about Obama being transformative in terms of this entire class of people who have so many advantages and who want to be validated without Doing anything that deserves validation, who want to be part of something without getting involved in any meaningful way, who want to feel something looking at a pretty picture or an inspiring slogan without worrying about the fine print. And along with that comes the contempt for a nation full of somebody’s wives. They’re small time, they don’t see the big picture, they work 10,000 hours for a small return because they think it’s important, they don’t understand how small but concrete changes that will actually benefit millions of lives can’t compare to the tingle Tweety feels when he looks around the Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s like our entire country is being sacrificed on the altar of bored people looking for meaning who always have to take the shortcut. 😉

  22. “He knows exactly how smart he is…. He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

    So he did nothing?

    • When you’re that smart and talented, you can’t waste your time actually doing something. Doing something is what ordinary people do. You know, like ordinary veterans. Ordinary fisherman. Ordinary teachers. Perhaps he will give all of us ordinary people the honor of talking down to us again, and maybe tell us to eat cake.

    • Too bored to do what ordinary people do, too alienated to do what extraordinary people do, being a professional gamer doesn’t pay well, and “Reality Bites” was already written. You can see he was smack out of options for a productive life.

      • Too bad the blogosphere hadn’t been invented yet – he could have been a blogstalker (cuz they’re the smartestest people in the universe)

        “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  23. Ooooo–some “ordinary people”, otherwise known as shareholders, have filed suit against BP’s directors (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-24/bp-directors-sued-by-investors-over-gulf-spill-costs-update1-.html)! From the article:

    The April 20 wellhead explosion and fire in the Gulf claimed the lives of 11 workers and “threatens to be the worst oil spill disaster in history,” shareholder Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority claims in a Delaware Chancery Court lawsuit filed May 21 in Wilmington.

    Directors violated their duties to the company, causing “enormous economic harm for failure to act in the interests of BP and its shareholders” and exposing the company to liabilities in the billions of dollars, Septa lawyers contend.

    The lawsuit lists potential damage claims of about $2.5 billion to the Gulf fishing industry; $3 billion to tourism; $700 million in remediation efforts so far; $6 million a day in continuing costs and “incalculable damages to BP’s reputation.”

    The complaint also says BP’s stock-drop has wiped out about $40 billion in market value.

    The suit seeks monetary damages from directors to be paid to the company; corporate governance reforms to strengthen company oversight; increased shareholder input regarding operations; backup systems to guard against future spills; and legal fees and expenses.

    Start popping some corn. The article doesn’t say how much SPTA is asking in damages, but I’m not sure D&O insurance will cover them–or their legal fees–if it appears they were negligent. If I were the D&O carrier, I’d argue that just because you received an environmental waiver from the EPA doesn’t mean you were allowed to be reckless.

  24. Obots fall for the” he’s so brilliant, he’s too bored to do anything line” every time because they have been trained to identify compleltly with Obama and noting swells thier heart or wells up their eyes faster than the thought of their own unrecognized genius . When Obots are speaking of Obama, they are talking about themselves( of course.) Obama is just a cover.

    Great post Wonk, as always!

    • “Once those damn Boomers are out of the way we will rule the world!”

      • Once those damn Boomers are out of the way, they’ll have to pick up our own socks and make their own cocoa–creative class productivity will fall a further 88%.

      • Oh, really? Ugly-looking world, just judging by what they’ve done so far: oil-poisoned the water and the seafood creatures. Then there’s letting climate change and ice cap melting drown those beachfront properties.

        • And raised the snottiest, laziest, greediest, most tiresome generation of hedonists since the late Roman empire.

          • et tu tle?

          • you’d better not be talking about us Gen Xers! We never had a goddamned chance!

            I recommend the documentary “Following Sean” a fascinating account of a gen xer having to reap the crap his father sowed.

          • In aggregate though, Gen Xers entered the workforce during the greatest period of sustained economic expansion in the past century. Millenials will have a tougher time landing their first jobs. Also like Boomers, the population of Millenials are bigger than Xers.

          • we had and are *still* having a TERRIBLE time finding decent jobs after college, unless you were one of those dot-com computer types. Every other field was outsourced already. Yes, it’s even worse now, but we never had it good. I’m one of the glut of phds who will probably never find sustained work, like so many of my gen. I’d say I’ll have to go back to being a cafe barista with my phd, only cafes aren’t hiring much either now. And the student debt.

            economic expansion does not and did not in the 90’s = jobs.

          • I hear ya. Congrats on the Phd. More than anything else, I think this country needs smart well educated people to lead.

      • Since Obama’s a boomer too, does that mean he has to get out of the way?

        • After all the work he and his cohort put in inventing a pretend generation to distance themselves from their own so they can demonize them while pathetically refusing to grow up, you can’t just go along? That’s cold.

      • Who are you quoting myiq? Is that from one of the books.

  25. 🙂

  26. Great post, Wonk! Most people are very ordinary – some of them just don’t know it yet.

  27. This is an incredible post, WCMB. I don’t know how the people of NO are ever going to recover…. sometimes I don’t know how this country is going to recover. *sadness*

    • and one more thing: Valerie Jarret’s comment is repulsive. Not to say Obama isn’t intelligent, but he is quite obviously not as smart as he is projected to be. If he were, he might be able to actually govern effectively.

      • Even if he were actually that smart, it’s such a reflection of the Obot mindset. Really, we should make him President because he’s so bored and narcissistic that being President might be the only thing that he wouldn’t consider beneath him and might, finally get him to engage, really? Yeah, those seem like great qualities for a President. And if it doesn’t work out, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s all just one big ol’ therapy session for Barack, after all.

        • He wastes his potential on conartistry.He reminds me of the show The Riches…Eddie Izzard’s character. There’s a skillset there but it’s all being applied toward shortcuts.

  28. […] what Wonk the Vote calls it in this extraordinary post titled, “The Audacity of Ordinary People.” A must read that discusses the disdain with […]

  29. Best thing I have read on Al Gore’s Internets in a long long time.

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