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Obama not a people person

Digby speculates on whether Washington establishment types are just being peevish or whether Obama really doesn’t think he personally needs to interact with politicians.

There is a third possibility.  He was hired for his looks.  Yep.  He’s got the right credentials for his employers.  The right academic pedigree, the right insane ambition, the lack of any partisanship whatsoever.  But the fact that he was an attractive African American candidate made him seem unbeatable to the scouts. He didn’t need to be a gifted politician.  In the political skills department, he has about as much as George W. Bush has. He just needed some clever speechwriter to craft some aspirational shit that liberals would eat up about being a transcendent figure who would unite the country.

It doesn’t really matter what he does now that he’s in office.  He’s just a figurehead.  His employers bought off the right people and they’re the ones who are actually running the show.  He doesn’t have to be nice to people or shake hands and it’s not really important that he crafts policy or anything like that.

Obama could decide to take the rest of the term off and the executive branch would continue to function just fine.  The policies that are going to be implemented could happen whether or not he shows up or takes the day off and golfs with Tiger Woods.  His meteoric rise to instant stardom didn’t require him to assemble a coalition of political friends and assets nor did it require him to do any heavy lifting in the policy department.  He was protected zealously in the campaign arena and the only person to challenge him was Hillary Clinton.  After that, he decided to run against Sarah Palin.  Piece of cake.

So, if he’s not a people person, does it matter?

I thought the Bush years were long but with as much damage as the last 5 years have inflicted on me personally, the Obama years just seem interminable.

Focus on your own Venti

When I first heard about how Mike Bloomberg’s food Nazi rules were going to affect coffee vendors, I thought it was going too far.  In case you aren’t up to date, Bloomberg is turning New York City into a helicopter parent’s wet dream.  There are rules on fat content, calorie labels and now, no sugary drink   can be over 16 ounces.  That’s to prevent you from binging on a “medium” soda while you’re watching a movie at a theater once a month.  {{rolling eyes}} So, let me see, most of the time, I order a bottle of water but Ok, maybe twice a year, I get a Pepsi.  I’m pretty sure that my muffin top is caused by my insufficient exercise, not my soda consumption, which is insignificant as far as calories go.  Nevertheless, I can’t be trusted around a large drink.  Whatever.  Mind you, Bloomberg has no power to stop people from buying multiple 2 liter bottles of soda and OD-ing on them at home, which is where the big problem is.  In any case, I don’t go to the city to see movies and now I have even less incentive to do so.

We rarely drink sugary soda at home.  It’s up there with Wonder Bread as the things we consume almost never.  Your mileage may vary.  But all in all, I don’t think fast food soda and drinks are the biggest problem we face as a nation.  I chalk these rules up to control.  Yep, the past 30 years have been all about how we can’t (or refuse to) control bankers and financiers who want to rob us blind but we *can* stop ordinary people from doing things we don’t like.  Lifestyle control.  Funny how conservative focus so much energy on lust and gluttony but completely ignore the deadly sin of Greed.  Hmmm…

ANYWAY, like I said, the whole drink rule is stupidly intrusive.  And then I read this about what effect it might have on Starbucks:

Then there is Starbucks, which interprets the rules as saying baristas can add sugar to large coffee drinks as long as the customer asks first; the city says the amount must be limited. Rather than spending money now on reprinting menus and retraining baristas, the company is waiting to make changes while officials gauge the response from city inspectors — and the outcome of a pending lawsuit against the rules filed by the beverage industry.

“A majority of our drinks fall outside of the ban, and we’re not expecting to make any immediate changes next week,” said Linda Mills, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, which has more than 300 locations throughout the city.

A typical grande beverage at Starbucks is 16 ounces; venti sizes and above will be affected. Many popular espresso drinks at Starbucks, like caramel macchiatos and pumpkin spice lattes, would be exempt from the restrictions, because they often contain a lot of milk. But Starbucks is unsure how to measure the milk content of the popular Frappuccinos, which are about 60 percent ice.

It’s too bad that it is an intrusively stupid health nanny rule that is forcing Starbucks to look at the sugar content of their drinks.  I love Starbucks flavored coffee drinks like pumpkin spice latte but they put waaaaay too much sugar in them, even in the Tall sizes.  What I want from a pumpkin spice latte is the spice and not to be overwhelmed with sugar.  But you can’t separate them when you order.  It’s either get the full dose of sugar or order half as much sugar (which is still pretty sweet) and get the spice cut in half.   There’s no way to just get all the spice with half the sugar. So, these days, I pass on the specialty concoctions even if I prefer flavor in my coffee.

Oh, the Barrista says, we have a sugar-free version.  Blecchhh.  It’s not the sugar I object to, it’s the amount of sugar.  Americans do have a sweet tooth and it’s apparently 5 times less sensitive than mine.  So, if this makes Starbucks rethink their formulas, then I can’t be too upset with this new rule.  If you absolutely must have 10 tablespoons of sugar in your Venti Pumpkin Spice latte, you can always add more on your own. Starbucks could be fully customizable and I won’t be forced to drink a one-size-fits-all formula based on the preferences of some 28 year old woman in Ohio.

I know, I know, first world problem.

Otherwise, this is a stupid rule.  Wake me when Mark Bittman gets in a snit to regulate the bankers over the LIBOR scandal.