Weirdos for President

Weirdos for President
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Can we agree that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are probably the two strangest presidential candidates in American history?

Romeny’s father was born in Mexico on a Mormon polygamist commune of religious exiles. He would later become CEO of American Motors, then governor of Michigan, then a failed presidential candidate. Son Mitt was also a Mormon, an eccentric faith only 2% of the American population practices, and hardly anyone truly understands.  From 1966 to 1969 he moved to France and worked full-time as a missionary, trying to recruit faithless Europeans into his Church. Moving back to America, he earned a double-degree in Law and Business from Harvard, and became the big-shot corporate executive whose legacy we so critically pour over today. His success made him a multi-multi-millionaire, with an infamous 2011 tax return claiming $20 million of income in that year alone. With total assets estimated as high as $250 million, he would be the richest president in two centuries.

Barack Obama’s father, of course, was a Kenyan student who lived only briefly in the United States during a short period of studying abroad. His mother was white, making Obama Jr. part of America’s 3% biracial minority, and the even smaller faction of that group who are the offspring of black-white marriages. As a child, he was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii, and did not reside in the continental United States at all until his freshman year in university. After earning his own Harvard law degree, his life story prompted enough interest to see a memoir commissioned at age 35, a book the New York Times described as a story of “belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither.” Limiting the number to just two seems stingy.

Now obviously there is no objective “right” or “wrong” American background. We’re all deviants from the fantasy mean of patriotic perfection in our own unique way, yet that obvious truism doesn’t disguise the fact that there is such a thing as an American outlier as well. It’s extraordinarily rare to be a Mormon multi-millionaire and it’s extraordinarily rare to be a man with a racial and cultural background as fascinatingly complicated as Obama’s. It doesn’t necessarily make one a bigot for pointing this out. Bill Clinton never knew his father and Gerald Ford was adopted. These backgrounds were mildly unorthodox. Romney and Obama’s are flat-out weird.

The U.S. election should be fought over the future of the American economy, but neither candidate seems to be particularly stealer on this issue. Obama is stapled to high unemployment numbers, a credit downgrade, and ever-worsening national debt, while Romney, as Mr. 1%, is tied to the GOP legacy of tax cuts for the rich and layoffs for everyone else that many blame for creating all the unemployment and debt in the first place. In such a context, it’s easy for supporters of both parties to distract themselves with the much easier side debate over whose candidate is further away from the U.S. “mainstream” in various superficial, symbolic ways. So here come the stories about Obama eating dog meat and Romney having elevators for his cars.

It’s a hard argument to make in polite company, but it can be said that people who are too different from the mainstream might be ill-suited to govern in a democratic society, which — by definition — presumes the nation’s rulers will support and appreciate majoritarian interests. An outsider can overcome his natural ignorance towards the majority only if he possesses a well-horned sense of empathy — and unsurprisingly this is the exact personality trait both Romney and Obama partisans target most furiously in their opponent.

Romney is not only weird, we are told, but he’s so comfortable in his alien world of wealth and status that he neither knows nor cares about anyone not already exactly like himself. His out-of-context quip about “not caring about the very poor” was seized upon by Democrats for precisely this reason, and recent headlines about the Governor’s background as a callous prep school bully will no doubt be woven into this same narrative cloth. Obama, for his part, has long been targeted by the mainstream GOP as a snob, and by wilder elements as an miseducated foreigner. The President is still living down his “clinging to their guns and religion” quip of the 2008 campaign, and his much-deconstructed autobiography does reveal the mind of a man whose emotional attachment to America was somewhat aloof and abstract, as anyone with his background would understandably be.

Putting all partisanship and ideology aside from a moment, does anything about either man’s ultra-minority background genuinely bother you, either in terms of how you believe their unusual biographies have altered their worldview, or any perceived lack of empathy for the majority that may flow from it. A good way to engage with this question is to contemplate a world in which both were members of the opposite party — a Democrat Romney and Republican Obama. Once you attempt to view either guy from this perspective, what immediately becomes obvious is that Romney’s background (rich member of an ultra-strict religious order) is only seen as problematic insofar as it pushes him further to the right, and Obama’s (bitter, activist member of several racial minority groups) is only troublesome  insofar as it pushes him more to the left.

Divorce them from their preexisting ideological baggage and what you’re left with is just two odd politicians. And is oddness unto itself a dangerous thing?




^ 72 Comments...

  1. lils

    …whose legacy we so critically *pore over.

  2. David

    So, could Obama's background make him the Michael Ignatieff of the United States? (Rarely in the country before running for politics, and seen as a "foreigner" as a result)? If so, why was Obama such a success (in 2008, 2012 remains to be seen, but I personally think he'll hang on) and Ignatieff such a failure? (It can't be because of the Conservative attack ads, as the Republicans (and American political parties as a whole) perfected the art of attack ads long ago.

  3. Dan

    Hawaii is still the USA.

  4. J.J. McCullough

    I was thinking about this analogy as well. Obama at least had a compelling message. Ignatieff didn't, so it was easier for his weirdness to be the centre of attention.

  5. David

    So is Ignatieff's birthplace of Toronto (well, on paper anyways. ;) )

  6. Chris

    Obama lived outside of the country for four years. When he was in grade school. He's lived in the states ever since.

  7. Virgil

    Worth noting though that at the time of the last election in Canada it was widely believed that the result would be a status quo. JJ I recall had a few cartoons demonstrating the apparent pointlessness of the election. Certainly in both Iggy and Obama's cases we see academia in the background. Since academics are overly represented in opinion making and tracking organizations there is a tendency to overestimate their support. I think we saw this in American politics with Adlai Stevens and George McGovern. In 2008 there was no incumbent and the market had just crashed, so the year was exceptional. In 2012 it will almost certainly be close. I think the Wilson-Hughes fight of 1916 might be the closest approximation. Were Obama not the incumbent I doubt he would win in this year.

  8. Andrew

    Good Lord! Is that Dalmatian that Obama is eating?

  9. Chris

    No, pitbull. It's delicious.

  10. A. Apolis

    "We’re all deviants from the fantasy mean of patriotic perfection in our own unique way…"

    For instance, you're Canadian.

  11. Canuck

    Are you saying Canadians can't be patriotic?

  12. Akumest

    You made Obama's hair grey! Very nice.

  13. Dan

    Interesting fact: Car lifts are relatively cheap, only a few thousand dollars.

    For the price of a new Toyota Camry Hybrid, you can by a non-hybrid Toyota Camry and a car lift. And unlike a hybrid power train, your entire neighborhood can benefit from a car lift; no one will have to crawl around on the ground to change their oil.

  14. ThePsudo

    I've always thought that the Parking Lot of The Future ™ would have car elevators set up so that your car changes floors after you get out. The drive-in level of the parking garage would always empty to new traffic, except when you request your car and it is lifted to the correct floor.

    That's a heck of a lot more likely than humanity trusting our idiot drivers to navigate flying cars.

  15. Brian Jonathan Appel

    Am I the only one who finds it weird that you can win a US Presidency solely by trying to demonstrate that your opponent isn't "American enough"? I know the irony of saying this, mind you, considering the last Canadian election was fought on attacking the leader of the main opposition party (at the time) for being too American. I just think it's kind of pathetic – on both sides of the border – that in this multicultural world that we live in, the main issue of leadership is who more closely resembles that nation's core values.

    That's why I'm glad at least that Canada doesn't have a requirement to be born in Canada for its Prime Ministers. Granted, this no longer matters much since the last non-Canadian born PM was almost 30 years ago, but it's good to know that we'd never have a "birther" issue in Canada.

    Bottom line, whether you're Canadian or American, it shouldn't matter whether your next potential leader was born in your country, or someplace across the ocean; if they have a good fiscal plan and don't want to hack and slash your social services all to hell, I don't care if they are from the darkest jungles of Africa – Elect them!

  16. Jake_Ackers

    The birther issue is more about trying to see if the President is lying or not. Because his mother is American so it doesn't legally matter as he still would be a native US citizen.

  17. SES

    Actually, IF he was born in a foreign country (which he wasn't), and IF Stanley Ann Dunham's marriage to Barack Obama Sr. was valid (which is sketchy, since he was already married in his home country), then there's a good case that he wouldn't have been a citizen at his birth. There is no constitutional right to citizenship for people born outside of the states and incorporated territories, so people born anywhere else (including unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico) to anyone (including US citizens) have to look to acts of Congress for citizenship, and there was what amounted to a typo in the citizenship laws at the time making it impossible for a female US citizen aged 19 to give birth to a US citizen if the father was a foreigner and she was married to him. (John McCain probably wasn't a citizen until age 1 because of another typo. Congress kind of sucks at making sure the laws for marginal cases like that are written well.)

    But we don't know what "natural born citizen" means exactly (there are also good arguments that people who are granted citizenship retroactively because of Congressional typos are natural born citizens), and it's a moot point since it's really been indisputable from the beginning of the controversy in 2008 that he was born in Hawaii.

  18. Jake_Ackers

    John McCain much like Goldwater was born on a US Territory. I don't think the marriage law applies here as it's DNA that matters. Unless back then marriage actually determined citizenship. Yah you are right on the notion of US citizen of those born outside US territories, it is quite vague.

  19. SES

    Barry Goldwater was born in the United States (Arizona was an incorporated territory), so his citizenship at birth is unquestionable. John McCain was born outside of the United States (the canal zone was never incorporated), so his citizenship would depend on what exactly Congress had determined.

    I'm not posting to advance any conspiracy theories, but whenever birtherism comes up, a lot of incorrect notions about US nationality law get posted (like that the children of US citizens are always citizens no matter what, or that birth in a US unincorporated territory entitles one to citizenship automatically).

  20. OldsVistaCruiser

    Did you vote for John McCain in 2008? He was born in Panama (the Panama Canal Zone?) to U.S. parents.

    Besides, Puerto Rico has been an incorporated territory since it became a Commonwealth in 1952, 60 years ago. Four U.S. states, including my home state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (as well as Kentucky, Massachusetts and Virginia), also style themselves as "Commonwealth." The only thing that has stood in the way of Puerto Rican statehood are the 3-choice elections, where they ask voters if they want the status quo, statehood or independence. It usually goes about 1/3 for each choice. Hawaii was the most-recent state admitted to the Union, back in 1959, 2 years before Obama's birth.

    On the other hand, by your logic, does that mean that someone who was born and raised in the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) is ineligible for the U.S. presidency?

  21. SES

    Puerto Rico is not an incorporated territory. The only incorporated territories right now are Palmyra Atoll and the District of Columbia. People born in Puerto Rico are citizens from birth, but only because of an Act of Congress (the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment has no effect there).

  22. Monte

    Not exactly, its been a while since i looked up the details, but the exact details of what makes one a natural born citizen can get a bit convoluted. If you are born outside of the US but both parents are citizens, then you are golden, but if only one parent is a citizen then it can be a bit complicated. I think Obama's mother becomes an exception because of her age; like she was too young or had not lived in the US long enough for Obama to obtain citizenship upon birth if he was born outside of the US. It was something like that, i haven't looked up that info in a long… the short version is that in Obama's case it DOES matter where he was born.

  23. Zach

    "…in this multicultural world that we live in, the main issue of leadership is who more closely resembles that nation's core values."

    Am I reading this correctly?

    Because, when electing the leader of a nation, that leader probably should reflect that nation's core values. I think you're confusing core values and aesthetics… but to be fair, so do most of people, which is why campaign strategies harp on aesthetics.

  24. Jake_Ackers

    Right on the money there Zach. A President has to reflect the nations core values otherwise why elect them. For example, the US favors lower taxes. If you get a President that wants to put taxes at 80% you will see Lipton stocks skyrocket and the water in the Boston Harbor turn a bit brown, again.

  25. Chris

    As a non-American, I've always thought Obama's more international background was a positive for the world at large. It's certainly presented that way in the local media, which tends to portray the American right-wing as either crazy or stupid.

  26. drs

    “does anything about either man’s ultra-minority background genuinely bother you”

    No.

    Romney’s displayed personality and out of touchness and lack of empathy bother me.

    “Rarely in the country before running for politics”

    Obama was out of the country for about 4 years, from 1st to 4th grade. He’s lived in the US before and since. He’s lived on the continent since going to college.

  27. ThePsudo

    To what specific displays do you refer?

  28. Iokobos

    "Romney's displayed personality and out of touchness and lack of empathy bother me."

    Oddly, you describe qualities I find disturbing in Obama. He only displays empathy when it's in the script. His narcissism and ideology take over when he's forced to ad lib.

  29. Jake_Ackers

    Although Romney himself has money, JFK and the rest had way more family money. Which mentioning, is Mitt Romney more like JFK then? JFK was weird for his time. Catholic, Irish, rich as heck.

    And wasn't the Kennedys accused of making money because of prohibition and through some fishy deals in the stock market? Wouldn't be surprised if JFK was called the first "trafficking" President or "Mafioso" President or something of the sort.

  30. @MHR_Topher

    Great discussion, and it really presents the presidential paradox's.
    – We want a powerful leader but want to limit his power, I mean Americans look to the President to fix their problems but the executive branch actually has little power to fix financial, economical and social issues.
    – Americans all want a bipartisan president and legislators, but at the same time, many Americans refuse to even vote for moderate person. Take Romney, he's too liberal for Republicans and too conservative for Democrats. In the American primaries the runners are forced to the extremes and the rapidly pivot to the general election.

    And what we are looking at today:
    – We want a common man, the everyman, someone we can relate to, go bowling and have a beer with. But at the same time, most Americans don't really want that, I don't want my neighbor being president and he's a perfect example of the everyman. This dichotomy of what voters want where they want the everyman but at the same time credentials are incredible important. Voters want the extraordinary, deep down, they want charisma, heroism, vision, courage and empathy.

    I want a president who is set apart from the rest of us, either being raised and trained to greatness or built themselves up to greatness. I agree the few presidents have truly been in touch with the average American (or any country), and I'm not even sure it's incredibly beneficial. I mean the last president of the United States to truly be connected to Americans when he ran for president was Jimmy Carter and his legacy is more than a little mixed while some of the more respected presidents such as FDR, Kennedy, Truman, H.W. Bush and Reagan were incredibly distant from the average American. I see no need for a president to have a tight connection with the American majority, as long as they are a strong leader, qualifications, and have problem solving ability, I don't care if they've never lived in a small apartment, ate cheap ramen or struggled against racial issue.

    Not sure if that was the direction you were going, sorry for going off tangent if this was the case. Good discussion.

  31. Jake_Ackers

    Well Truman and Reagan were both poor or middle class a portion of their lives. Same goes for Bill Clinton. The American people want the President to have experienced what they have a PART of their lives and have been able to overcome that to become great. We don't want a good enough President, we want a great one.

  32. ThePsudo

    I don't think the problem is that people agree they want X (whether X is an everyman or an elite). Rather, the problem is that they don't agree about what they want. A candidate trying to appeal to a huge base is inevitably going to fail because a huge majority doesn't agree on nearly anything.

    That's also an argument in favor of the Electoral College — even when the popular vote is very, very near to a tie at 50%, the electoral vote can spread sharply, somewhat like a magnified picture of the electorate's wants. By diluting the samey-same attitudes within a given state in favor of the differing attitudes between states, you get more vetting and discriminating competition. Or, anyway, that's my impression.

  33. Iokobos

    I think it's safe to say we don't have everymen for candidates on either side.

    I find it funny that people say they want an 'everyman' but when Palin was just the VP 4 years ago she was pointed out by Obama and the media as 'uneducated, not smart, too rural, unprepared, not worldly, not elite. etc."

    Now we have Romney and his is pointed out by Obama and the media as just the opposite: "too educated, too smart, too metro, too prepared, too worldly, to elitist, etc…"

    And let's not forget OWS and the 99%… though I think after the May Day protests that turnout was dismal enough that we *can* forget OWS.

  34. @MHR_Topher

    You are right, Americans don't have everyman running, but they want it. Some major knocks on of Romney is he seems stiff, can't relate to the majority of Americans. The relatibility factor is very key in most elections, and will have an effect in this one, especially with younger voters. People may say they don't want an everyman, but looking at recent polls, the everyman theory has an impact on elections. I do agree neither runner is truly an everyman, but have the benefit of seeming like an everyman, or the struggles with trying to be an everyman, can be clearly seen in the news cycle, polls and political discussion.

    Also don't bother relating Russian elections to American or Canadian elections, not much in common there.

  35. SES

    I'd bet that Romney has actually worn white robes with a strange-looking hat more than Barack Obama has.

  36. ThePsudo

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka, Mormons) do not wear strange-looking white hats.

  37. SES

    LDS temple vestments actually do include a hat. "Strange-looking" is in the eye of the beholder, but they certainly are white.

  38. drs

    “If you get a President that wants to put taxes at 80%”

    Like FDR?

    History tip: the US has had top marginal tax rates of 90%. During our most prosperous period, even.

  39. Jill

    How much of that prosperous period was due to every other industrial power being bombed into oblivion during World War II?

  40. ThePsudo

    I'm pretty sure distance from Hitler was a stronger force for economic prosperity in WW2 America than high taxes.

  41. Iokobos

    Quite a bit, along with lowered regulations on the industrial sector.

  42. @Cristiona

    And it was severely slashed by… JFK.

  43. Jake_Ackers

    You do realize only one person was affected by the 90% tax rate? Rockafeller. The rest had so many taxcuts that the rate was a complete joke. And like Jill said, it's not like a company could leave the USA and go to well anywhere else.

  44. Iokobos

    History tip II: Tons of loopholes made it such that people never had that much taken from them and the tax receipts never totalled to more than 20% of GDP, ever.

    When tax rates were lowered and more people either 1) didn't have to hide their money and/or 2) had more expendable income the revenue increased *PAST* 20% GDP to 21-22%

  45. @kfuchko

    Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, and the Prime Minister doesn't hold the same symbolic power the presidency carries; but I'll take a transgendered Malaysian cocktail waitress as PM if it'll mean a prosperous economy, sound government finances, transparency, and a rational social policy.

  46. Erick

    I must disagree on a couple points about Romney. First off, Mormonism isn't weird. Contrary to popular belief, they ARE Christians. It's baffling that people don't get that. Also, the polygamy thing is a moot point. Obama's father was a polygamist. The Left wouldn't be doing itself any favors bringing up a practice that the Mormons stopped doing 100+ years ago. However, after reading this commentary, I admit that I don't feel 100% comfortable with either candidate. I don't agree with Obama's values, but reading that Romney was a "prep school bully," kind of bothers me.

  47. Nicolasrll

    I don't think it's surprising at all that people find Mormonism weird. I mean, there's the baptizing and marrying of people after their deaths, the institutionalized racism (until 1978), the temples which are barred to non-mormons… But to be honest I don't think it's really fair to hold that against Mormonism, since none of this is really much weirder than anything you'll find in "mainstream" Christianity: people just get used to their brand of religious weirdness and find other people's jarring.

  48. Erick

    "Rascim" is a strong word. While it's true that blacks weren't able to receive the priesthood until 1978 (and the reasons for that are unknown), the Church gladly accepted blacks from the beginning. I knew a black man in my congregation who considered the date the priesthood was extended to all worthy males as something special. But at any rate, I appreciate your repky and I'll try not to detract from the main purpose of this thread of comments too much.

  49. zaitcev

    Romney wasn't a bully. It's a bald-faced lie, made up by his former classmate, now a lawer. Sisters of the supposed victim (who is now deceased) claim that the supposed incident never took place. That said, there's a lot of substance about which to disagree with Romney.

  50. Nicolasrll

    Sisters of the supposed victim said they had "no knowledge of the incident", and added that if it did happen, the supposed victim "probably wouldn't have said anything". That's pretty far from saying that the incident "never took place", as you did. I would like to know what sources you're relying on to state that all the witnesses and participants to the incident who have come forward on this are lying.

  51. Erick

    I guess I got hung up on something little. Not that bullying is little. I consider it a crime against humanity. But in the context of Romney, I guess it's not necessarily something to make a big fuss about.

  52. Iokobos

    It's more of a an "alleged hit job" than a lie, because no one can prove it did or didn't happen. In the arena of political combat it's the perspective that matters, not the reality. Will voters be swayed by the report? If not the media will drop it, which it seems like the did. Expect another hit job in 2 weeks or less.

  53. J.J. McCullough

    Hah, it's wild that both presidential candidates have polygamy in their immediate background.

  54. Iokobos

    I think it's an unexpected wrinkle in the 'gayrriage' debate. If SSM becomes a mainstream talking point, how soon before the polygamists come forward and demand equal treatment?

  55. Thornus

    When people say Mormons aren't Christian, they're speaking more of the rather major theological differences between mainstream Christianity (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicanism, and Protestantism). While those four general branches have their differences, they all accept the same general beliefs and mostly quibble about some fairly small stuff (all complaints about the Pope aside). Mormonism introduces some foreign concepts such as denying the Trinity (as the Trinity is understood by mainstream Christianity), ascension to godhood, and a kind of personal salvation rather than salvation purely through Christ. Then there are the additional scriptures.

    To many Christians, the core concepts are what make Christians Christian. By denying or significantly altering them, Mormonism becomes a kind of non-Christianity. Without getting into debates on theological merits, I'll grant Mormons the general category of Christianity. However, they're not mainstream Christianity, and that is what creates the belief that Mormons aren't Christian.

  56. Erick

    Actually, Mormons DO believe that it is through Christ's grace they are saved, but only after they've done all they can do for themselves.

  57. ThePsudo

    When people define Christianity such that it excludes Mormons, who else do they exclude? Many people in history have rejected or never heard of the doctrines of the Trinity (first argued in the 3rd century) or of salvation by grace alone (John Calvin, 16th century) and yet been called Christians in their own times. Catholics have more scripture than Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox more still, but you list them as not just Christian but mainstream; clearly Christianity is not entirely settled on the Bible's borders.

    Perhaps more interestingly, all Christianity is based on adding to an existing book of scripture (the Jewish Tanakh). What logic dictates that this can never happen again? Surely, we do not yet know all God can teach. The only Biblical argument for its own completion is Revelation 22:18-19. which clearly refers to the Book of Revelations itself since there was no New Testament compilation to refer to for more than a century thereafter.

    As a Mormon, I would personally prefer even the lowly title of "Christian heretic" (like the Gnostics) over "non-Christian" because it lets me wear my Savior's name.

  58. Virgil

    Very entertaining comic JJ! Regarding Romney's alleged bullying…..I really don't care. I know a lot of people who are a lot different between 15 and 25. Going back to high school to dig up dirt seems pretty desperate to me and unintentionally comic. Now at least I am aware that if I one day run for office it may be held against me that I once displayed social discomfort…….at a junior high dance. I really think inquiries before graduation from college should be shut down lest we have to suffer horror stories from every ex significant other and schoolhouse rival.

    All of that said, I agree the two candidates are unorthodox. This doesn't particularly bother me and could make the debates entertaining should the traditional format be abandoned in favor of a cocktail lounge setting. I like individual and unique characters. I suspect that the difference that will make the greatest practical impact is where they chose to work. Obama has had a career in government related work whereas Romney worked most of his life in the private sector. In that regard I think that the two candidates are perfectly poised to debate the central issue of this campaign….namely whether market based or government based solutions to the economic situation should be pursued over the next four years.

  59. ThePsudo

    On the last day of school, one of my bullies apologized to me. It was awkward and uncomfortable at the time, but in hindsight it is strong evidence of humanity's ability to grow up.

  60. Kwyjor

    Psst: "stellar", not "stealer".

  61. Rolleyes

    Actually, in 2008, Obama's background worked in his favor. He was the new American Dream – the candidate who came from nowhere and no background, and which managed coming from nowhere to coming from everywhere. He had enough of a complex background to be able to incarn, himself, his strong campaign idea that racial, societal issues could be solved by working together toward a common goal – a more social, fairer society.
    Is it an American ideal ? I'm not American, but Obama did not seem like an exceptionnal american occurrence to me – we have seen and loved some similar things from the US before ; I take Obama's way of coming from everywhere as a new occurrence of the US' universalism – because the US has qualms about being universal. And in that regards, Obama promoted, by his background and election, this idea of the universalism of US' example and ideas. US' image drastically improved without him needing to do much anything (well he could have done idiocies, and he didn't).

  62. Iokobos

    "and no background"

    That's going to be Obama's downfall this time. The newness has worn off and people are starting to wonder about his past, they want to know more about him. For being so popular, people realize they just don't know a lot about him.

  63. truteal

    All Romney needs is a pair of scissors

  64. Les

    Myself, I'm voting Obama over Romney if only because Obama's oddness is an oddness I'm familiar with…

    …that, and I want to punish the GOP for being an enormous pack of Douche-Licks the past four years.

  65. Iokobos

    That amazingly rational of you.

  66. guest

    As a complete outside to the discussion (Australian) I think they are both exceptional rather than odd.
    There is no question that Obama is an intelligent, urbane and likeable person.
    I also think that Romney is an intelligent, successful and motivated person.
    I think they are both quite principled.
    One, a senator with a community background, the other a successful businessman who managed to be a Republican governor of a pretty blue state.
    I think they would both be excellent presidents.
    However, one has had a chance to fix the economy and hasn't been able to do so.
    The other guy hasn't yet had the chance and looks like he might have the background to give it a good shot. Will he succeed? Who knows.
    So, do you change your horses in those circumstances and give the new guy the chance?
    I probably would but I suspect not enough Americans will.

  67. Jake_Ackers

    That is a very true and very well thought out post. All great points. Yah I suspect if things stay as they are the US won't change Presidents. HW Bush lost the election to Clinton even though the recession was over by election day. The point is that it depends more on perception of how things could be. People thought the economy under HW should of been better that and he raised taxes so it pissed a ton of people off.

  68. Yannick

    The world doesen't complain that Obama is intervening. The world was complaining that Bush was intervening.

    The difference is the conciliatory and diplomatic nature of Obama, and the brash and agressive nature of Bush.

  69. Jake_Ackers

    Not sure. They world has been complaining about US intervention for years or lack there of. Rwanda, Somolia, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Panama, Haiti, Cambodia, etc. All countries US has went into or refused to. The world always seems to find a reason to complain. The US is not the world police nor should it be but yet the world wants it to be. So when the US acts in its best interest they complain when the US acts in the interest of others people complain.

    Does the way the US intervene matter? Yes of course. But complains still arise just because it is the US. Nevertheless, conciliatory and diplomatic? Obama has invaded another sovereign country in order to get Bin Laden. Bush united a forty plus country coalition.

    But I do see your point. Obama gives a perception of diplomacy while Bush gives a perception of being a cowboy. But my point is it just hasn't been with Obama and Bush. It has been with every single conflict on the planet, the world expects the US to invade, give money or do something on the international stage.

  70. Iokobos

    People will always hate the kid on top of the mountain. The USA is that kid. Obama seems hell bent to climb down off the top of the mountain, but when he does it seems everyone else climbs down so the USA will stay on top, even China.

    Was Bush a cowboy diplomat? Yes, he made the calls no one else wanted to. I admired that, and it was just more fuel for alreay-existing America-rage. (And ye gawds I miss John Bolton.)

    Obama is not a diplomat, he's an apologist. I do not admire that, and other parts of the world interpret it as weakness and insecurity. Obama is turning America into a laughing stock that people still hate.

    I have no idea what Romney would be like. As an ex-CEO I assume he'd be more of a negotiator – somewhere between Bush and Obama.

  71. Iokobos

    "Can we agree that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are probably the two strangest presidential candidates in American history?"

    We can agree to that: Yes they are, and that is one of the reasons I love American so much.