Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Clooney, Obama, ... Reagan?

I was amused at George Clooney's comment about Barak Obama. He said
something along the lines of 'I have rarely scene a rock-star politician
like Obama. Bill Clinton had this status, Ronald Reagan had it'.

Ronald Reagan? I mean, for Clooney to say that was a surprise to me. Hell, I
agree it. Reagan was great no matter what anyone says. But for Clooney to
say it, that is a surprise.

Got to start blogging more. Been so busy. So much I want to say. . .


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rod said...

Speaking as one who loathed Ronald Reagan's policies, and who views his presidency as an utter disaster, I don't see how any honest student of politics could deny that Reagan had the same sort of "rock star" appeal that Clinton is said to have had, or that Obama's supporters see in their candidate. Say what you will about Reagan - and, if it's unkind, I've probably already said it myself - but there is no denying that he had a level of "star quality" that one rarely sees in a political figure.

In fact, I'll go a bit farther. I will say that Reagan was a "great president" in the same sense that only FDR (among 20th century presidents - Andrew Jackson is one earlier example of the same phenomenon, and there are probably others) could also be said to have been. Reagan had a vision for America - in my view, a sick, twisted, soulless vision, but a vision nonetheless. He enunciated his vision to the electorate, and persuaded the public to embrace it. Then (and here's the difficult part), upon assuming power, he managed to make his vision a reality. He completely transformed American culture and history in precisely the way he intended. And what makes this achievement all the more impressive is that he managed to do all this while the House of Representatives was under Democratic control.

He did this, of course, by appealing directly to the public. In this, he was very much like FDR (whom he once admired, later renounced, but never stopped studying and emulating). FDR was a master of using media - in his case, radio - to mold and influence public opinion. Reagan used television in much the same way; indeed, no president before or since has been more skilled at using television as a political tool. Very probably, no president will ever surpass Reagan in this regard.

Clinton certainly didn't. For all his charisma and charm, and in spite of his enormous personal popularity, Clinton was unable to rise to Reagan's level in this regard. Just as Reagan clearly studied FDR, Clinton clearly studied Reagan - but could never match his mentor's abilities when it came to political leadership (or, depending on one's point of view, demagoguery). Clinton also had a vision, but failed completely in his attempts to sell it. His signature issue - health care - became a disaster from which he never recovered. The remaining accomplishments (so called) of his presidency - welfare "reform," the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act - were in fact Republican ideas which Clinton co-opted.

Clooney's comments reveal him to be a serious student of politics and culture. They are both honest and well-informed. It remains to be seen, however, if he's right about Obama - personally, I don't see it, but then I was never personally charmed by either Reagan or Clinton, so what do I know? Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Come back to blogging. I'll start checking daily. :)