Wednesday, February 17, 2010
There's got to be a way to figure out what they'll do next.
A QUESTION I WON'T LET GO. Machiavellian Manchurian Candidate? Or Shallow Opportunistic Incompetent?
We've got new information to digest. The earthshaking election of Scott Brown. The stubborn "stay the course" (non)response by the Obama administration. The sudden Biden Blitzkrieg (funny but not really) which seems designed to offend absolutely everyone. A new poll being touted by Drudge which suggests that 52 percent of Americans don't think the president merits a second term. A new interview which suggests that Obama is exactly who his most extreme detractors always thought he was.
My impression is that a lot of you still want to have it both ways. He's a ruthlessly clever Marxist ideologue. And he's also a self-absorbed cipher who can't get over the mirror image of himself climbing into Marine One in his perfect suits while his handlers schedule the next magazine cover and fawning MSM interview. But it can't be both. And I'm the only one asking the question this starkly. Is he a 21st Century Marxist Napoleon or a puppet of his cynical campaign advisers? The correct answer matters more than all the flailing, indeterminate fulminations you can pack into the Comments section and all your emails, twitters, and private conversations with one another. It can't be both.
So now I'm going to use the intellectual pop culture against itself. There's a TV show called Numb3rs. Its whole premise is that advanced mathematics can explain everything from where the next criminal act will occur to what the decision making process of networks of terrorists will choose to do next. As a liberal view of the universe, it's kind of perfect. We're all just pattern-makers, which makes us explicable to the pattern identifiers in the science community. A taste:
Best thing about the show? Seeing the wizard in a wetsuit.
Mrs. CP (the math major) likes the show more than I do, I confess. I find the math genius at its center dull, charmless, and dim-witted. It's simply a pose, in my opinion, that human behavior -- anymore than, say, climate behavior -- has ever been accurately described by mathematics.
BUT. Isn't this the ideal opportunity to put it to the test? What's going on in the White House? If human behavior is about math rather than, uh, human behavior, shouldn't we be able to discern how and why the Obama White House is committing political suicide? You know. Network theory. Matrix calculations. Statistical domino theory in a gaming algorithm? Something to explain why an intelligent man cannot perceive reality and so dooms his entire agenda to destruction when dumb ordinary folks would choose to take a step back and compromise with reality?
Are you getting my point? If human behavior is really reducible to patterns, algorithms, and mathematical models, then it should be possible to analyze what is going on in the White House amongst Obama, Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarrett. It really should. Some dynamic that explains why they can't see the catastrophe that's building before them.
You see, it's my own suspicion that math has nothing to do with human behavior at all. Math relies on logic. And logic has nothing to do with what's presently happening in the White House. I think it has more to do with the recently rediscovered mystery of weather. We're looking at a perfect storm of personalities. A perfect storm of passive aggressive empty suits.
My theory. (Numb3rs aside.) We have a president who is constitutionally incapable of making a decision. His experience has always been to wait for others to make decisions and then, like a community organizer, use their decisions against them. He has three constant companions, two of them go-for-the-throat political campaigners and one a pure racially obsessed ideologue.
Doesn't this seem like the kind of scenario that the Numb3rs guy could dial into his math mind? Has anyone in the intellectually superior party done it? No. So I'll do it in his place.
This is a formula for executive paralysis. A perfect storm of passive-aggressive self-destruction. The decision maker cannot make a decision. The factotums cannot compromise or yield even an inch when attacked. Their whole being urges them to destroy the opposition. So what do they do when faced with the absolute necessity of negotiating with the enemy? They choose to attack in defiance of reality while the prize they're protecting, the decision maker, continues to waffle and delay and defer even the most necessary clarities. Obama is the Dauphin, defended by Joan of Arc. Who will be burned at the stake.
But it would be so much cooler if a CalTech professor explained all this in terms of network matrix math. Bummer. None of them are Republicans.