The Coen Brothers on the Upcoming Election

by francine Hardaway on September 14, 2008

I just came out of the Coen Brothers new movie “Burn After Reading.” Disclaimer: I’m a fan. It got bad reviews, but I thought it was a hilarious illustration of how partially-educated, insanely self-confident people perceive issues and events. When people have a superficial understanding of the way things work, they make incredibly bad judgment calls. Very similar to “No Country for Old Men,” their last movie, in its themes, if not its mood.

I went into the movie having just commented on Robert Scoble’s post about politics. Scoble exhorted the Democrats to get back to being aspirational and talking about issues.

I have been trying to talk about the issues” on NewsGangLive all summer, or at least trying to, in the hopes of educating our microcommunity on the importance of having a smart person who can choose good advisors and make nuanced decisions as our next President, but Steve Gillmor keeps telling me people don’t vote on the issues and that it’s about character and values and context. And I dare say he is right. So we continue to point out how McCain lies, and how the media gives him a pass, and how we all should be angry.

I wish I weren’t so well-informed on the issues and could just take a pot shot at Sarah Palin, but like Robert, I too keep asking Obama to aspire to something: in my case, it’s rebuilding our national infrastructure, and I mean more than broadband, while encouraging alternative energy development.

Those are things he can actually DO things about. Health care costs are beyond him, except at the margins; the players are too entrenched. His best bet would be to create jobs that would allow people to AFFORD health insurance, however we decide to tweak the patient-payer-provider system. He can’t do too much about education, either, because most control is local. And on foreign policy, we have put ourselves so much on the defense during the last eight years that the next President will be responding, rather than leading.

The next President, and I hope it is Obama, has to pick one national BHAG that the President can actually have some impact on.

Because of our (fantastic) system of checks and balances, many things are beyond the next occupant of the Oval Office, no matter which party wins. So the only thing to do is build consensus between Congress and the Presidency again — which has been destroyed by Bush.

I’m an Independent, but I wouldn’t vote for McCain if they threatened me with death. Especially now that he has chosen Palin. I’m no dope. McCain can flip flop and shift to fit the political winds, but he is an old man with recurring melanoma, which is a very potentially deadly form of cancer, and I am terrified of the ignorance represented by Sarah Palin.

And here’s a potentially unpopular position, because it is ironic. I want someone who “earmarks” every dollar of the budget to attack the infrastructure and energy problems of America. There’s nothing wrong with earmarks if they actually do some good. We’re tangled in semantics, rather than actions.

Forgive the rant. The Coen Brothers are convinced that the public can’t understand these complex issues. Scoble is bummer. But I’m my usual Pollyanna self: we can fix this, if only we empower the right person to do it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Meryl Steinberg September 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm

For years,the American public has shunned active involvement in politics. It wasn’t cool. It didn’t make a difference. Well it does… and it did. The consequence has been an egregious loss of the traditional checks & balances needed to curb corporate, military & executive abuse. (Republican President Eisenhower tried to warn us) My take is that it matters not if the president is GWB, McCain or Palin. The “men in back” are running this show. All they need are close polls (they can be manipulated) & then massive disenfranchisement efforts– the legality of which will likely be decided by THEIR Federal Attorneys and THEIR S.Ct. Obama needs a big margin & highly effect ground organization. The ground organization exists and Obama is controlled & shrewd. The game is not over. A lot can go down between now & election day. We must give it our all by making calls & hitting the ground to get the votes out.

NVMojo September 14, 2008 at 8:40 pm

I’m with you, Francine. I keep hoping. Only today, I keep hoping we aren’t hit with mass “idiocracy”.

Francine hardaway September 16, 2008 at 9:49 am

I agree, Meryl, especially that elusive youth vote that never comes out for the candidates it loves.

Nonsense September 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

It is so ironic that liberals consider themselves the “enlightened” and highly educated component of society, when in reality nothing is further from the truth. You tend to think that because someone is supporting McCain then they must be either racist or ignorant. Get over yourselves and realize that half this country does not support Obama due to his Marxist tendencies, liberal voting record, support for partial birth abortions, horrible associations, shifting positions, etc. Leave the liberal enclave of left-wing blogs and embrace reality….this is a center right nation!

And Francine, spare us the “ignorance” or “inexperience” argument against Palin….she has more executive experience than McCain, Obama, and Biden combined. By the way, I have no problem with Obama’s inexperience or his ignorance…he is just flat wrong on so many issues. And don’t question McCain’s character and claim he is flip-flopping or shifting to fit the political winds….those statements would more accurately depict Obama as of late:

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