Saturday, March 28, 2009

American History SAT Question.

Barack Obama is the worst president since:

(a) Jimmy Carter
(b) Warren G. Harding
(c) LBJ
(d) Jefferson Davis

The correct answer is (b) Warren Harding. It is tempting to answer Jeff Davis, if only for the sheer irony of it. After all, Davis wanted to keep men like Obama enslaved. And Davis's idea of dividing the country geographically is analogous to the modern statist's idea of dividing the country by socioeconomic and ethnic groups, aka balkanization. Davis wanted to balkanize the U.S. into 2 parts; Obama and his followers want to balkanize the U.S. into black, white, latino, wealthy, poor, gay, straight, Muslim, infidel, etc. This is all very logical and compelling, but unfortuntely, (d) Jefferson Davis is the WRONG ANSWER.

Warren G. Harding is the correct answer, because Harding and Obama were elected for the same reason. Many people think that Obama was elected because he is part black, and there may be some truth to that assertion (and it is a good thing that we have finally elected a "person of color" to the White House, because now that that is out of the way; we have proven that we can do it, and we do not have to worry about it any more). However, the main reason Obama was elected is that he is good looking; secondary reasons are that he is a good public speaker with a teleprompter, and he makes you feel like you are his best buddy. Malcolm Gladwell, in Blink, gives essentially the same reasons for Harding's election (73 ff.). In fact, chapter three of Blink is entitled "The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark and Handsome Men" (73). Also, according to Gladwell, "...[Harding] was not a particularly intelligent man," and "He of the worst presidents in American history" (74,75). If this is true, then it was fortunate for our country that Harding died of a stroke 2 years into his presidency.
We now have another tall, dark and hansome president; whose intellectual powers have been exaggerated; and who has started his reign with the worst first 50 days of any American president. In reality, it is too soon to say that Obama is a worse president than Harding, but if he keeps it up, he will easily earn the title of worst president of all time.

Also, Harding and Obama both have catchy, middle eastern sounding middle names.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. 2005. Back Bay Books/Little, Brown. New York.


Bafflegabbed said...

Ah, the old teleprompter jibe. Valid, except that it's really a criticism of every single politician in Washington. It also conspicuously ignores his non-telepromptered press conferences (which the last president gave extraordinarily few of).

First of all, it's hard to argue that he's had a worse first 100 days than William Henry Harrison.

It's also hard to argue that's he had a bad first 100 days. Sure, the economy ain't great. But he can't be blamed for that yet. He's had some confirmation issues, that stinks but no one has ever experienced the epidemic of resignations that the last admin saw. So confirmations are an overrated benchmark.

Getting $100 billion for education and completely reinventing American foreign policy in fifty days is pretty outstanding.

Great? No. Worst ever? Certainly not. Need the last fifty days to really figure out how he's doing? OBVIOUSLY

akates said...

This is too ridiculous for a real response.

Fact check: Al Gore circa 2000 was way hotter than George II. So is/was John Kerry. Mitt Romney is way hotter than John McCain too. And nobody, but nobody, is hotter than Sarah Palin.

Desman said...

Reinventing american foreign policy? By that you mean donating $900 million to Hamas; sending a happy new year video to ahmadinejad; angering european leaders by deficit spending that staggers the imagination and going against their wishes in afghanistan. speaking of afghanistan, obama will be employing a strategy identical to the "surge" that gave us victory in Iraq, the same surge that obama and almost all democrats vehemently opposed when it was employed by President Bush. Now, all of a sudden its a great idea. Oh, lets not forget, he's the first president to fire a CEO. Usually, its the board of directors that does that. The government is supposed to stay out of private business, or is there a part of the Constitution that I missed? I still say its the Warren Harding error, and Reagan was not told what to say by a teleprompter.

akates said...

Desman...did you vote for Reagan?

And, to what victory in Iraq are you referring? Did I miss somethihg? Are all of our troops home? Is Iraq a peaceful, democratic nation? Gee, where have i been?

And, Obama did not donate $900 million to Hamas (that figure is incorrect, for one thing). Funds have been proposed to help a relief effort in the war torn Gaza strip. You know - something we neglected after our initial declaration of victory some five or six years ago now (there was a banner, and everything, if you'll recall) in Iraq, turning the country from one recovering from a dictatorship, to one "governed" by terrorist organizations.

And, Should we not be trying to catch Bin Laden? That's why we've spent billions of dollars in Iraq, taking our country from a surplus, to a giant defecit - I wonder if that has anything to do with our economic crisis. Anyway, Bin Laden's in Afghanistan, right? Isn't that why we went to war in Iraq in the first place....wait. I'm confused.

Also - the surge helped, some. I admit it, and I'm a lefty. Obama's a democrat, but he's willing to try something that a republican came up with (if we're really going to compare sending troops to Afghanistan with the surge in Iraq). Fancy that. Doing something just because it works.

Glenn said...

Now I know why you told me to read Blink! In the interests of compromise, I say that Obama is definitely the worst president we've had in the last couple months.

Also, another reason that Jefferson Davis would be the wrong answer is that he was never the President.

akates said...

Glenn - I also have read "Blink." I had to read it for Art School because it is a self help book.... I do not think that Malcolm Gladwell would approve of Desman's application of his chapter about Harding. Nonetheless - I do not recommend the book. It is a self help book that wants to be "Freakonomics."

Desman said...

The only person that "Blink" helped is Malcolm Gladwell, so it is hardly a self-help book. But it was easy reading. Are you denying that Obama is taller, darker, and handsomer than John McCain and Hillary Clinton? I think the Warren Harding analogy is apt.
The democrats themselves must agree. Less than one year ago, they--including Obama--were railing about the huge deficits that Bush and the democrat controlled congress had run up. As I recall, the deficits were in the 400-500 billion range. Now, Obama, with the help of an intimidated Congress, has guaranteed deficits of over a trillion per year for the forseeable future. You guys are younger than me, so you will end up paying back more of that than I will, and more power to you.

akates said...

More power to us, indeed.

JP said...

Now I see why. Obama is a good public speaker with quite a number of teleprompter. So, that is why he won the election. We were all convinced for the great change that he has promised. I do hope before his term ends the change he is telling would come.

P90X Workout