Competence Uber Alles

I don’t want to write this essay!

For one thing it is the topic du jour in the blogosphere and I hate being a copy cat and a kneejerker. I also hate looking like a toady or an an Obamabot. But mainly I don’t want to write it because it argues against Progressivism….sorta. The twitter in the blogosphere today is over Obama’s Cabinet picks. He is definitely NOT packing his cabinet with Progressives. As the blogosphere apparently wants him to do. At the center of the storm is SecDef Gates. Well, no, actually that is wrong. At the center of the storm is impatience. And a feeling of betrayal. And ideology.

A construction analogy: George Bush blew up the house and Obama has to rebuild it before the snows come.

The first order of business is not, can not be….ideology. The first order of business is ….getting the house rebuilt. You don’t select carpenters on the basis of their ideology, and then have an ideological argument BEFORE starting to rebuild. You take the pieces that have been left to you and start to put them back together so people aren’t left out in the cold. You get some walls up and a roof on. THEN you can start to discuss what the house should look like, and what you want to do with it.

But, before you can even do that… have to gain the trust of the people building the house. NOT all the people. Especially not all the critics. You get the trust of the people who will do the actual work of building. In this case, that is the existing bureaucracy. And then you get the trust of the people who could sabotage the house as you are building it, in this case that is The Powers That Be behind the government. The folks who REALLY run this country.

The Ruling Class.

Obama is going to have to fight SOMEONE as he rebuilds the House That George Blew Up. If you were him DURING THIS PHASE would you choose to fight The Ruling Class…or the Bloggers?

The biggest question about an “inexperienced” leader is….can he do the job? Is he ….competent? Once Obama proves that to The Ruling Class, then you can start to change things.

Do I like that? No. I want to, hahaha, shrink the Ruling Class to the point that we can drown it in a bathtub. That is my ideology. But I do understand the strategy behind it. And one thing the campaign proved is that these guys are strategic thinkers. And competent. And right now, competence simply HAS to trump ideology. Because, to mix metaphors, if Obama doesn’t prove he can right the ship, The Ruling Class isn’t going to let him do anything else. It sucks, but it is true.

Remember the lessons of Clinton and health Care. It wasn’t The republicans that stopped him. It was R’s AND D’s…it was the representatives of the Ruling Class that stopped him. We are in a Class War folks, like it or not, and we have to fight that war strategically. Especially since they have all the power at the moment.

Does that mean that the blogosphere shouldn’t criticize him? HELL NO! But if ‘we’ want to gain and keep his trust so that he will listen to us AFTER he gets some walls built and the roof on, we simply cannot insist that ideology is more important than competence and getting things done.

That, after all…..was the argument of Bush and the Right Wing.

Obama is choosing to fight the Class War by proving that his way works. His way is….Competence Uber Alles. Which will make it MUCH harder for the Ruling Class to oppose his truly Progressive solutions (if and when he proposes them! Knock wood, cross fingers, wait and see) down the road. After the house has been repaired, after he has proven that he is competent to repair it.  


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  1. What we are up against!


    This is NOT going to be quick or easy!

    • robodd on November 26, 2008 at 19:57

    is the cabinet made up of architects or construction workers?  That seems to be the question.  

    And what kind of house do you want?  Certainly something other than the house that Bush built.  

    Is a cabinet made up of people who were largely complicit with the house of Bush capable of building a better house?  Or will they build a house bad by design, unable to think outside of what they have done before?

    • Edger on November 26, 2008 at 20:03

    And is that any reason to not have some fun while we’re at it?

    So the guy isn’t perfect. Not even close. He’s part of their team. Not ours. We knew that a long time ago.

    But at least he’s not an asshole (like george was and is), as far as I can see.

    I know all that sounds a little bit like the old GOS mantra of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, but it’s not… not quite.

    Self leadership, really when it comes down to where the rubber hits the road, is really all we can do. Tearing our hair out because someone way up at the top of the pyramid doesn’t climb down into the gutter and rail away at all the injustices of life with us would only result in us having less hair, I guess.

    • dkmich on November 26, 2008 at 20:04

    But, before you can even do that… have to gain the trust of the people building the house.  

    First, you have to gain the trust of the people for whom you are building the house.  Seems we’re old news.  He got what he needed, and he has moved on.  If it is any comfort, he had MI and OH, too.  

  2. … (well, at least once the govt. ceases spying on us) we organize for the great fight over carpet or tile.

    Huh, its a lot less impressive as a rallying cry from inside the analogy, I guess I’ll drop it and be prosaic … and out here, below the radar, we organize to build the real house, when this temporary ramshackle thing falls apart in or around eight years from now.

    Hmmm … guess I stayed within the analogy after all.

  3. that what we need first and foremost is competence. Just imagine what kind of sea-change that will mean after these last 8 years!!!!

    And here’s what Obama said at his press conference this morning,

    What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand where the — the vision for change comes from first and foremost. It comes from me. That’s my job, is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing it.

    And finally, BooMan has a very interesting essay today on Understanding Obama. I don’t think I can pull a summarizing quote – just recommend reading the whole thing.  

  4. this essay as while I’m typing carpenters, gas line guys and mudders are down stairs working on my hundred year old kitchen. The kitchen has not sat in it’s original shape for 100 years it has been tweaked by some really nasty incompetent remodels from every era both professional and do it yourselfer’s. Some of it butt ugly, some toxic as hell. I am a purist about this house I bought it because it still had it’s architectural beauty intact, I’m trying to do a green remodel. I have kept the built ins and even reclaimed the old wood floors. It is not possible to do this without some compromise, both esthetically and functionally. As they peel away the layers I’m amazed at what is uncovered. The problems are often resolved in finding the best adaptation of whats gone on before. Recycling is being done as why rip out what makes the house great.  

    I had to hire people to do it that are both experienced and experts. The main carpenter I hired shares my vision for the house, but knows that compromise is needed to adapt all the history and basic structure in the best way possible. their is also the money and budget to consider. The surprise I got which I now realize is his strong suite is the people he brings in. They work for him he works for me. If I start going down and freaking out at every impure thing, or worker, I think is going on it would not get finished and their would be no movement. Whoops got to go I smell glue! I don’t want any toxic substances involved! LOL.    


  5. Old houz wuz berry bad.  When noo houz here?

  6. I am amazed and amused by how closely Obama’s every move is being discussed and dissected from every perspective. No President elect in history has had so much scrutiny in the interim before inauguration, and the degree to which his core electoral supporters are leaning towards freaking out is most amusing of all.

    Buhdy I think you hit the nail on the head in your observations- the man is picking a team that can function. Will it please everyone? No of course not. But as you rightly point out, along with BooMan in the article linked above, he is owning the Center in a manner that will allow him to shift everything to the Left over time. The wise ruler consolidates his power before beginning his next campaign (imitation Sun Tzu).

    Let’s all take a deep breath and give thanks tomorrow that we are getting to scrutinize Obama and not the Bimbo of Wasilla.

  7. I do have to say the coming meme is Complicance Uber Alles.

    Is that agent Smith?

    The only good news is that I do believe the meditating monks are growing in number.

    • Valtin on November 27, 2008 at 01:16

    But of course I disagree.

    Obama is not going to change anything, only the people will really change anything. They can make Obama their instrument, or they can cast him aside, if need be.

    It’s not between the ruling class and the bloggers… it’s a struggle between the ruling class and the working classes (I say classes as the middle class is split between a group very close to the ruling class, and a bunch of hard working small business and professional types, small shop owners, etc., whose natural ally is the regular working folks who punch a clock).

    You’re right about one thing. “They have all the power at the moment.” But if the people should turn on them, including those who fill its army and navy, as appeared to be close to happening when the bailout first occurred and was met with a wave of revulsion from society, then their power will be as nothing. At that moment, the guns (figuratively speaking) will be turned the other way, and the ruling class will be marked as the criminal class, and marched off to jail and punishment.

    A new era will dawn. I doubt very much Obama sees that as his portent of change. By “change,” the new “liberal” rulers mean, “we won’t totally be evil” or “we’ll hide our evil better”. Meanwhile, they probably won’t even get a chance to enact that program, as the crisis of capitalism currently doesn’t allow it.

    Take back promises to rollback Bush’s tax cuts to the very wealthy — done! And nary a peep from the progressive bloggers.

    Makes a person want to run through the streets shouting “fuck you all fuck you all”, and I’d count that person sane. Me? I’m too neurotic for such blatant truthfulness. I try and be a decent blogger propagandist. And so do you. And, well, here we are…. Now what?

  8. …especially since we have not yet seen what his intentions are.  But we have seen some fairly interesting titilations — ie: Larry Summers positioned between the 2 gals looking like he was Abu Graib Man standing on a milk crate, afraid to move for fear of triggering the electrical shock to the…  I thought this action was brilliant.  I still need to see how it works out.

    But, yes:

    We are in a Class War folks, like it or not, and we have to fight that war strategically.

    The adept brilliance with which Obama is conducting this “war,” so far, looks incredibly strategic.

    I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and to wait to see just how brilliantly he can play this one.

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