Learning from LeBron James: Why I'm not for Barack Obama (yet)

By Curtis Haley of Eugene, Oregon. Curtis describes himself as "an incoming freshman at University of Oregon, former national president of DECA (student organization of 185,000 members), and an ardent Democrat." Previously, he contributed "Lane County: What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Lebron_and_obamaIt's NBA Finals time again. When faced with the matchup of the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers - the basketball equivalent of choosing between vanilla ice cream and vanilla BEAN ice cream - I'm with the superstar - 21-year old wunderkind LeBron James and the guys from Ohio (that a Pistons loss virtually guarantees ex-Blazer Rasheed Wallace threatening to kill the ref on any given night was just a plus).

If you don't watch a lot of basketball, don't worry. My point doesn't require you to actually give a crap about the NBA.

Here's the skinny on LeBron for those of you who don't know: The guy is good. Drafted straight out of high school, hailed as the savior of the perpetually lackluster Cavs, immediately the recipient of a fatty Nike contract that spawned a worldwide trend of "Witness" t-shirts and "The Lebrons" commercials.

Right when he hit the league, people were building him up to be the next Michael Jordan. But with no championships, no breakthrough games and no "Did he just do that?!" moments, he hardly was living up to the hype. It hit me the other day, after LeBron put up 10 and 19 points, respectively, in back-to-back 79-76 losses (not to mention choking on the last possession of both games) that the hype surrounding him and his relatively weak NBA resume captures perfectly my feelings about Barack Obama.

As written here on BlueOregon and on just about every other political blog out there, a lot of people have been touting Obama as "the truth" ever since his arrival on the scene at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He is apparently garnering huge amounts of early support from young people and is playing the role of the knight on the white horse.

But aside from the hype, aside from the excitement, what exactly has Obama brought to the table?

Is it experience? Clinton obviously has more. Is it progressive ideas? Edwards has shown himself to be much more so on important issues such as health care, and certainly Iraq. Is it his ability to win? He is not currently leading in any of the states being polled.

I think it's something different than any of those things. The energy of Barack Obama's campaign is more idea than substance.

When LeBron entered the NBA, everyone WANTED to be excited about him the same way they used to get excited about Michael Jordan - he was young, talented, camera friendly and had a nice smile - best of all, he didn't seem to tout around all of the emotional baggage of the last "next big thing", Kobe Bryant.

What Americans, and especially people my age, see in Barack Obama is hope that we might be ushering in a new era of politics, filled with enough hope and change to undo the horrific amounts of damage eight years of George W. Bush has done to the American psyche. That he happens to be a younger guy, an African-American and from humble roots just nurtures the mystique and hope even more.

But the political world is a hard place - particularly as a Democrat running against a Republican hate machine that will throw anything at you without any regard for truth or morality. I look back at the painful memories of the 2004 campaign - John Kerry's deafening silence in regard to the Swift Boat vets; John Edwards smiling his way through his debate with Dick Cheney, possibly the easiest person in the world to make look bad - and I don't get hopeful. I get scared that progressives might build Obama up into the savior, only to have him torn apart like a paper lion once the primaries are over. Momentum will carry you far when the wind's blowing in your favor, but brick walls aren't as receptive.

I want to believe in Obama as much as anyone - the thing is, he does have the POTENTIAL to embody hope the way Kennedy or FDR did. But in my book he's still a lot of marketing and very little gametime cred.

So what would Obama need to do to make me a convert? Start by facing Hillary Clinton head-on. Enough playing coy. Enough saying things that sound good that don't mean anything. I don't want to support a candidate because I like his style - I want to support a candidate because I like what he has to say about health care, or education, or Iraq, or ANYTHING AT ALL. When the rubber hits the road, I want to know that the paper tiger has some roar and bite to him.

Three games after he choked, LeBron James went into the Palace at Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons, and put up 48 points. The last 25 points of the game. 29 of the last 30. Impossible shots being made on the biggest stage, in hostile territory, in two overtimes with the game on the line. Watch the highlights on YouTube and hear the commentator say the magic words: "This is Jordan-esque". He willed his team into the NBA Finals.

That's why I now consider myself a LeBron convert: A "Witness" to his greatness.

And it's why I'm NOT an Obamaniac - yet.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I have to come correct a minute on your assessment of LeBron and comparisons to Jordan. LeBron's been in for 4 years, having a team built around him, and growing his games by leaps and bounds. Michael Jordan came to the Bulls - after been passed on by the Blazers - and also waited, had a wonderful team built, got the zen coach of all time and that also took about 4 or 5 years.

    LeBron has arrived and some argue is going to be the next very prominent star of the NBA. And that is at the same pace of his idol. I love basketball references with my politics for real, but lets get them right, shall we?

  • Missed the Point (unverified)
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    Karol, if you read the last full paragraph of the post, you'll certainly understand that the comparison is apt.

    In fact, it states exactly what you just said. LeBron is starting to show his true greatness.

    But in Curtis's opinion - and mine too - Obama, politically, is at the same point LeBron was, athletically, 3 years ago, and where Jordan was fresh out of UNC.

    Obama may one day be great, but he hasn't shown that yet. A lot of heat, but not a lot of light. Much like the first few years of the LeBron and Jordan careers.

    But the presidential election is not a draft. We don't and shouldn't pick a president based on the unsubstantiated promise of greateness. We should pick based on performance. And Obama isn't that guy. Yet.

  • Ryan Pratt (unverified)
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    So Lebron has carried his team to the NBA Finals... but doesn't his team deserve some credit?

    Here is a list of themost overrated players in sports!

    http://www.listafterlist.com/tabid/57/listid/4349/Sports++Recreation/Manning+Lebron+and+Beckham+Overrated+Athletes.aspx

    From www.ListAfterList.com

  • Eric (unverified)
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    Obviously you have not been watching Lebron's career the last three years. His entire career has been a breakout game. You do know that Lebron was rookie of the year? You do know that coming straight out of high school he doubled the win total of the Cavaliers? Were you watching the playoffs last year? Did you see what he did in his very first post-season outing? That my friend was he's coming out party, his BREAK OUT GAMES. Do you know that the 22 year old is putting up numbers very similar to Oscar Robertson? James was hardly living up to the hype? Dude, you are stooopid!

  • (Show?)

    I think the point he is trying to make is that both are up and coming, on the rise in what they do, basketball and politics respectively. However, Lebron has not won a championship. (He is well on his way to making this happen) With Obama, yes he is a rock star, but does he really have the ability to lead? Hence the comparison. Both are fresh faces for their respective mediums. Both have made bigs strides, but haven't reached the pinnacle of their profession. I do agree the comparison is a bit loose and may have some holes. Let's look past the comparison to Lebron and get to the real point here. Obama brings some swagger to the democratic party, something this country hasn't seen since Clinton (Bill), however, I feel he needs to show a little more of that presidential ability to lead and needs to develop and explain his plans a little better.

  • ellie (unverified)
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    Maybe I'm the only who doesn't like mixing sports and politcs? I love both, but I prefer to keep them separate. This kind of an analogy, while perhaps appealling to some, is a complete turnoff to me.

  • Rizzo (unverified)
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    This might be the dumbest thing I've ever read. When it's premised on this:

    But with no championships, no breakthrough games and no "Did he just do that?!" moments, he hardly was living up to the hype.

    it's not even worth reading.

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    Actually, I think Curtis did a great job of articulating the unease many of us young Democrats feel with Obama. To me, he represents all the hope and creativity the Democratic Party has been lacking in the last 10 years or so. I'm passionate about Democratic principles and active in politics, but I'm always sad to see promising candidates toning down their own passion and drive once they see a camera or a Republican. Obama isn't afraid to let emotion enter his voice, or to talk about nebulous but essential concepts like hope and community.

    But just like Curtis and others, I'm afraid that Obama will turn out to be all lights and no action. I want to see his plans in detail. Unlike some, I don't care so much that he's not very experienced in national politics; maybe that means he won't have developed the "this is the way we've always done it" mentality. But I do want to see that he can apply himself with more than rhetoric. In that sense, I think the comparison between Obama and any number of up-and-coming atheletes is appropriate. We want to believe in them just as badly, and have the same fear that they might not turn out to be as wonderful as they appear.

    My heart says: vote Obama. My head says: wait and see. I'm withholding my support from any candidate right now, but I'm waiting, Barack. I'm waiting.

  • (Show?)

    Rizzo,

    I couldn't disagree more. I think that Curtis used an artful analogy to communicate his hesitation on Obama; one that I share. I want to get behind him. I find him exciting, but he hasn't made the sale yet. He still shows his rough edges in the debates. I want to make sure that he is more than just an incredible orator.

  • (Show?)

    Rizzo

    Will Rogers said, "Don't squat with your spurs on." I suggest you remove yours. Curtis is intertwining a rising basketball star and Obama by asking a thoughtful question, "Are they ready for the next level?"

  • Eric (unverified)
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    No, the comparison between Obama and lebron is ridiculous. Obama hasn't accomplished anything of note. Barack is an empty vessel. When Barack should perform he falls flat. Lebron on the other hand has performed above and beyond what was expected from day one and continues to do so. Four years removed from high school and he has taken his team(such as it is) to the Nba finals. Not bad for an "over hyped" player. Curtis made a valiant effort, but he picked the wrong athlete for his analogy. And that begs the question of, if he can't get the record straight about something as meaningless as basketball, should he really be popping off at the mouth about politics?

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    Eric: Please review the author's bio: "Curtis describes himself as '[b]an incoming freshman[/b] at University of Oregon, former national president of DECA (student organization of 185,000 members), and an ardent Democrat.'" (emphs mine)

    Clearly you're a huge fan of James and not a fan of Obama at all. Fine. But I don't think you should be discouraging young and interested people from engaging in political debate just because you disagree with their personal opinions. If we tell all incoming freshman who dare to speak up (eloquently and articulately, even) that they shouldn't "be popping off at the mouth about politics," pretty soon we won't have any political leaders at all.

  • (Show?)

    Thank you Blueshift, let's not close the mouths of the 17 year olds we welcomed in to the political system yesterday.

  • Greg (unverified)
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    What Curtis said is exactly what I thought especially, when I saw Obama's performance during the last debate. He's procrastinating and has some hard time being clear on issues. Just like a student who he's smart and has some intuition to articulate things but doesn't do his homework by studying. He did some horrible mistakes which, I think, are not rookie’s mistakes but rather mistakes from someone so full of himself that he doesn’t the time to gather proper information and to analyze the speech he’s given (mistakes about the dead toll in Kansas, mistakes about Anderson Cooper not covering the New Orleans disaster, etc) Don't get me wrong, I am an early Obama supporter. Nevertheless, I think he got some great support from the liberal press and a great deal of indulgence from the conservative press (except a vulgar clown like Limbaugh). Why? Because people wondering whether he is not going to be the next Martin Luther King with the civil right movement. The baby boomers generation missed this historical period of our society when America began to lead the way concerning a real inclusive society(not the one in Canada nor France)and we, as younger generation, need our own "MLK". But I am afraid that he's going to have some hard time wearing this hat because he got some work to do.

  • Eric (unverified)
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    Blueshift, I'm not discouraging young and interested people from engaing in anything but silliness. The fact that he is so young just highlights my question even more. I find it interesting that you would defend Curtis by pointing out that he is young, therefore ignorant. But yet youth and inexperience cannot be used as an excuse for the basketball player and/or Obama. How in the world can someone have the audacity to criticize someone else's lack of substance, or point out their alleged failures when they quite clearly are devoid of the critical thinking skills and life experiences to spot such qualities or situations? So, aside from the eloquence, aside from the articulation" of our young political leader, what exactly has Curtis brought to the table with his assinine analogy? The bottom line is Curtis tried way too hard to be deep, and that is typical of his ilk.

  • Rizzo (unverified)
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    I don't really care about his take on Obama. What I was referring to was the idea that Lebron James hasn't lived up to the hype, which is just plain wrong. Lebron has been living up to the hype from day one. He's had plenty of breakthrough games and "Did he just do that?" moments. The only thing he hasn't done is won a championship, which is a lot to expect so quickly out of a 22 year-old kid who was drafted by a team that won 17 games the year before his arrival. Jordan was in his 7th season before winning one, and he had better teammates than Lebron currently does. So, when the premise of this whole piece is based on the idea that Lebron hasn't yet lived up to the hype, just like Obama, well, all I have to say is, good luck in college, and I hope you don't take any logic classes.

  • Jefferson Smith (unverified)
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    What a great debate -- whether or not the analogy is apt. I think we should take it much further. Note: I am in favor of both the "LeBron as very much realizing his potential" camp AND the "Obama is a great presidential candidate" camp.

    I actually think, it terms of accomplishments, most one-termish junior Senators -- Hillary's not much more, and J. Edwards is exactly that -- don't have numerous "accomplishments" -- often the presidential campaign itself is their biggest test. So let's watch with interest. Now...back to the hoops....

    The primary for Obama is like the Pistons series for LeBron. (The money primary, in which Obama raised a bunch, was like LeBron's 1st two playoff rounds.) If Obama does well in this, he'll have demonstrated the progress towards his potential. If he wins the general (like LeBron beating the spurs, for those following along at home), he'll have fully realized it.

    Is Hillary like the Chicago Bulls? A good team currently, playing of the reputation of a former amazing team, with different personnel? (or maybe the Lakers, with similar rationale. Bill C. might've been a bit more "Showtime" than Windy City.)

    Who is Edwards like? Maybe like the Miami Heat? He was the Dwayne Wade of a successful team (he and Gore won the popular vote after all), who has yet to prove he can be the Shaq?

    Is Bob Shrum the Rick Adelman of politics? That is, the respected coach who gets teams to the playoffs and never wins a championship? Adelman with the Blazers and Kings, Shrum with Kerry and several before that).

    Kucinich seems clearly to be the Golden State Warriors -- the maverick-style candidate who makes a bunch of noise before bowing out.

    Daniel "Boobie" Gibson is my friend Rory Steele, working Iowa for Obama, and perhaps will be a game-changer and help lead the crew to the promised land.

    The Spurs are clearly the Republican presidential-election machine. They've got players like Bruce "Sweep the Leg" Bowen, a "Yes Sensei" pugilistic ethic (that's a Karate Kid reference, for those one-sport fans out there). Plus a very questionable Diebold-like lottery win (to get Duncan while they had Robinson), and some questionable referee/Justice calls on the way to an impressive recent chamionship-winning percentage.

    Draft Oden.

    (And, of course, like Ellie -- remember our civic life is much, much more important.)

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Curtis: Don't let the put-downs get you down. I commend you for the guts to stand up without hiding behind a pseudonym and your ability to express yourself so well. One of the hazards of getting experience is having to take criticism and determining if it is valid or not. If it is valid, learn from it; if it isn't valid ignore it. I'm not in the least interested in basketball so I can't address the pros and cons of your analogy other than say I get your point and think it makes sense. I'm not particularly interested in Obama other than his oratorical skills, which can be used for good or for ill, and observing how people are so impressed by him without checking if there is any substance. And, we have too many examples of people being seduced by images only to regret their choices later on.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Curtis: Don't let the put-downs get you down. I commend you for the guts to stand up without hiding behind a pseudonym and your ability to express yourself so well. One of the hazards of getting experience is having to take criticism and determining if it is valid or not. If it is valid, learn from it; if it isn't valid ignore it. I'm not in the least interested in basketball so I can't address the pros and cons of your analogy other than say I get your point and think it makes sense. I'm not particularly interested in Obama other than his oratorical skills, which can be used for good or for ill, and observing how people are so impressed by him without checking if there is any substance. And, we have too many examples of people being seduced by images only to regret their choices later on.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Rizzo | Jun 7, 2007 10:27:22 AM This might be the dumbest thing I've ever read.

    Did you read after hitting preview and before post? If so, I challenge the veracity of your statement.

  • (Show?)

    "One of the hazards of getting experience is having to take criticism and determining if it is valid or not."

    Apropos of nothing mostly, I recall an interview with someone who was very successful. He was asked the secret to his success, and he said "Experience!" He was then asked how one goes about getting that experience. His answer was "Failure!"

    (not that this was a failure by Curtis at all...)

    :)

  • Over the Top (unverified)
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    You people have lost your minds.

    This is a sports/politics analogy.

    American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source a·nal·o·gy (ə-nāl'ə-jē)
    n. pl. a·nal·o·gies

    1. a. Similarity in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar. b. A comparison based on such similarity.

    No one is saying Obama is EXACTLY like Lebron, or that their situations are perfectly parallel. As per usual, BlueOregon readers take themselves wayyy too seriously.

    And, also as per usual, Jefferson Smith is insufferable.

    Eric, this is a political blog. Clearly, the only thing on your mind is the greatness of Lebron James. If you really want to get into Lebron's relative successes, you should post on a sports blog instead. You're just an annoyance here.

  • nochickenhawk (unverified)
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    I'm sorry to read that you are an "incoming freshman". You obviously need to go back to high school and learn a few more things. Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton has more experience than Obama? Bullshit! She hasn't accomplished one thing in connection with her tenure in the US Senate. Name me one piece of significant legislation she has authored? Obama has more experience having spent valuable time in the Illinois legislature authoring bills that matter to working people. In fact you might say that his experience is very similar to Abraham Lincoln's. Ever heard of him? Perhaps the experience of making sure that Bill Clinton's zipper stayed shut is more important to you than Obama's bread and butter work for working people.

  • Hill Bill (unverified)
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    "So what would Obama need to do to make me a convert? Start by facing Hillary Clinton head-on. Enough playing coy. "

    HA! you people here will all, in the end, vote for Hillary, and continue the BushClinton royalty. She will represent the smartest woman on earth, a Democrat, going up against (insert your favorite evil Republican).

    Get real - NO OTHER DEM CANDIDATE HAS A CHANCE! They don't have the $$, the connections, and the willingness to win at all costs.

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    As usual, I think it's better to argue the merits of Curtis' argument, rather than attack him personally. It's actually a lot more convincing if your arguments can stand on their own minus the personal attacks.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    This assessment is similar to how a child would think. Because people have repeatedly mentioned Obama's 'inexperience' to you, you've shut yourself from actually finding out what he stands for. Let me help you out. Go to Obama's Answer Center. You'll find the answer to your questions. Obama's strength and the exciting thing about his candidacy is the fact that he is NOT infected with the usual experience. He has the kind of experience that this country needs today. And I gotta tell you, the guy is actually made of more steeel that many people think. Ask John Howard, ask John Edwards, Ask John McCain.

  • Brian (unverified)
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    I think that there are two broad schools of thought that each person is using as a basis to evaluating presidential nominees.

    The first type is the one being made in this article—a good president must have a lot of experience in order to be qualified. This I would assert is a person who feels that the presidency should be filled by a manager, or someone who knows how to do all the tasks necessary for a country to operate.

    The second type is a riskier stance that is being held by many of the Obama supporters, and that is a desire for a leader. And a leader doesn’t know how every single little detail works out, but they do have a vision, and this is what separates them from the managers. They know what they believe in, what they want to accomplish, and have some idea of how to achieve that.

    I will cast a vote for Obama when the election comes around. To make another basketball reference, most of the greatest coaches of all time have not been the X’s and O’s guys but the guys who can motivate their team to perform to the best of their ability. Because in the end I hope our president is the coach and not the player, and a leader and not a manger.

  • dlake (unverified)
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    I must say you have not paid attention. you listen to the spin and not bother to look for yourself.
    If you did you would find that Obama has done alot of legislation, has given several policy speeches, and is very steeped in many of the issues. also, edwards has reached back far enough for people to forget that his ideas are not original. the touted policies are right out of stuff introduced in the 70s. Senator Obama has worked on health care in Illinois, and has done some very wonky stuff. Actually was a wonk in the State Senate. But, the msm and gop have set up a strawman and have repeated it enough for dems to believe much of it.

    I suggest people do some digging if the msm is so lazy and also into the proposals of Edwards. A little research goes a long way.

  • (Show?)

    I appreciate the effort, but I think Curtis just fired up an airball. (We'll review it to see if he caught some rim.) The metaphor is poor, and it got strained a little bit past its utility.

    First, a factual note. BlueOregon hadn't had a single post about Obama until I put one up on May 14. He's getting some love in the blogosphere, but Edwards is getting as much or more. In fact, a whole lot of people have jumped on him for (pick one): not being liberal enough; not having enough emotion; not being antiwar enough; not being black enough; and of course, not having enough experience.

    On the metaphor. It is apt to this extent--both men came onto the national stage carrying enormous expectations. But LeBron has only been in pro basketball four years; Obama has been in politics since '96 (when James was 12). Depending on how expansive your definition is, his political experience extends back to the mid-80s, when he was working as a community organizer (James was 1). After that, he studied and then taught constitutional law. Imagine if our current president had spent some time doing that.

    This is what I wrote in my reasons FOR voting for LeBron--his experience is actually an asset, not a liability:

    Before becoming a US Senator, he was an Illinois State Senator for eight years. He was an active leader in the legislature, chairing the Public Health and Welfare Committee, and working to pass legislation aimed at helping the working poor, increasing AIDS prevention spending, and banning racial profiling. He also worked on a health insurance bill that didn't pass. After college, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago and then went on to Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude and became the president of the Harvard Law Review. At the University of Chicago (in Hyde Park, the district he represented), he was a Constitutional law professor and worked for a civil rights firm. All of this happened outside the flashing lights of the national press, but the truth remains that he was teaching law before George W. Bush became governor of Texas. He's got more experience in politics than either Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney, neither of whom are regularly criticized for being underqualified.

    The righties are going to play the inexperience card on Obama; let's avoid abetting this lie.

  • dlake (unverified)
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    i wanted to say another thing. while edwards was in the Senate he was hardly there and when he was did not do much work.
    Senator wrote 2 bestsellers that would point up to anyone that someone of little substance could possibly do As for clinton, do you want someone who is brilliant and just hitting peak performance and the force to take the country in a new direction or someone who is past prime and is a pinch hitter disgusing herself as a prime player? Clinton follows and then takes others ideas for her own and takes the accolades. Ideas are few and far and old and rehashed. She has not presented a health care policy yet. And when she did she failed miserably. Is this what you would want as a leader? 2 of the top 3 have been lifting others ideas and passing it off as their own. edwards is the bench player and Clinton is the old past time to retire player long past prime. obama is the player who is just starting off =- where jordan was in the late 80s. and both are from Chicago.

  • (Show?)

    Heh. Sorry, that'd be "voting for Barack." Lord, maybe your metaphor's better than I gave it credit for.

  • Mike Litt (unverified)
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    I was an early Obama supporter, but I'm having second thoughts because according to the NY Times he is a co-sponsor of a bill to provide massive subsidies for the generation of liquid fuels from coal. This is a real no-no from the point of view of global warming. I hope he hears from a lot of his supporters and that we can convince him to withdraw his co-sponsorship of this nefarious bill.

  • (Show?)

    Seems to me that Barack Obama is a great example of that old country-music line (not sure who gets the credit for it)... "I was on the road for 30 years before I became an overnight success."

    He's been a progressive community leader for a long while, before suddenly rising to national prominence.

    I'm not supporting Obama, but it's not because he isn't "qualified" in a resume sense. He is.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The second type is a riskier stance that is being held by many of the Obama supporters, and that is a desire for a leader. And a leader doesn’t know how every single little detail works out, but they do have a vision, and this is what separates them from the managers. They know what they believe in, what they want to accomplish, and have some idea of how to achieve that.

    Like Ronald Reagan who was a very effective figurehead creating illusions while his courtiers and other functionaries concocted Iran-Contra and other disasters. If Americans want, as it appears many do, a president who represents and promotes an image, then we need to elect both a president AND a prime minister with the latter managing the government and the corporations that own it.

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    If Americans want, as it appears many do, a president who represents and promotes an image, then we need to elect both a president AND a prime minister with the latter managing the government and the corporations that own it.

    This is a good point, but I don't think that a PM is what we need. Reagan's cult of personality worked out badly for the country because he surrounded himself with the corrupt and the foolish, instead of with thoughtful advisors who had the country's best interests at heart. It is absolutely essential that a president have quality advisors, because there's no way he or she can know and do everything alone. Maybe it's time we all started looking at the people who surround the candidates, rather than at the candidates themselves.

    And before someone makes the argument that the Hillary Clinton machine already has all the good advisors, let's remember that money isn't the only thing that attracts smart, driven people.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Maybe it's time we all started looking at the people who surround the candidates, rather than at the candidates themselves.

    Good point, but the problem is that we rarely know who will be in the cabinet or other vital offices until after the election. My suggestion about a prime minister was purely rhetorical. I have no illusions about that ever occuring in the foreseeable future.

  • Tom in SE PDX (unverified)
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    This post really captures my feelings and doubts. I sent a link to it to the Obama campaign saying I'll commit to them if they follow this post's advice.

    We can't be naive about the GOP/mainstream media coalition and its ever effective ways of making Dems lose even in the best political circumstances. And we can't let them take a great candidate who DOES fight back and allow them to destroy him before he gets a chance at the nomination, as they did to Dean. Dems have to be savvy about when the mighty machine is screwing with them as well as how it screws with the coveted swing voter.

    Thanks for writing this.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    One of the problems I have with this is that I don't find Hillary or Edwards that much more seasoned than Barack. Now add in the fact that Barack showed great foresight and judgment on Iraq back in 2002, whereas Hillary and Edwards floundered, made the wrong decision, and went to bat for GW on the War for a substantial period of time before coming to their senses.

    Now add in the substance that many of you who haven't studied Barack are missing. Go to barackobama.com and read his speeches and policy proposals. Read his detailed strategy for bringing our our troops home. Read his unique proposal to the auto industry, etc. Watch one of his town hall events and see him pick the issues apart with great insight and understanding.

    Lastly, but perhaps most important in our age of cynicism and loss of faith in our system, add in his unique vision of unity and the inspirational communication skills Barack possesses that we haven't seen in National politics since our inspirers were gunned down in the 1960's.

    Put each of these items together and you'll see that Barack Obama is no Lebron James. He's MJ and its time for us to give him the ball because the shot clock is running down.

  • Curtis Haley (unverified)
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    Thanks for all of the responses. When I wrote this, I definitely wasn't expecting the amount of, um, "response" that it did.

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. I stand by my LeBron-Obama comparison. Completely. I found it funny that the same day this was posted on the front page, Maureen Dowd wrote an article that was published in the R-G that said almost the EXACT same thing - except she said that Obama was Superman needing to learn how to harness his powers rather than LeBron being all hype and little results.

    2. I laughed at the irony of someone calling my opinion about LeBron being "asinine". It's a sports comparison. There are literally entire shows and practically an entire network devoted to sports debates. I like LeBron. I like LeBron MUCH more than I like Kobe. He's my favorite individual player in the NBA, except maybe Steve Nash. And he strikes me as the person that has the most POTENTIAL to be Michael Jordan. But he's not the greatest - not yet. Most basketball fans would agree that Kobe is the better player between the two (and I LOATHE Kobe), but a couple of championships mixed with the media coverage WOULD make LeBron the new MJ. In any case, not considering him the greatest is my prerogative, and I've spent many hours amicably arguing with friends about matters just the same without being told my opinion is completely invalid.

    3. I'm also bemused by the fact that people interpreted this column as either anti-Barack or anti-LeBron, since I like and ROOT for both of them to be the greatest. But they're not, and per the original point I tried to make, I can't call either one of them the greatest without them actually being it. In terms of the primary, I would probably vote for John Edwards right now, but if Obama wins the primary, I'm not going to think it's the end of the world.

    4. I agree that a lot of people took this all way too seriously. The intent and tone of this article don't even APPROACH being persuasive. It was to state my opinion, and judging from the comments, some people even agree with it.

    Thank you to everyone for the support. For those that hated on it, I accept that - criticism is part of the process, and I've long accepted that.

    But don't attack the person. Please.

    To quote an oft-repeated Jerry Springer phrase, "You don't KNOW me". I promise you that I am very involved in politics, very intelligent, very progressive and very aware of the world around me.

    As I said before, I can take criticism on the ideas and the writing, but telling me, effectively, to "just shut up" because I'm not qualified/intelligent enough to write for A BLOG? I'm sorry, there's no respect in that in my book. You're free to do what you'd like, but I would ASK you to please not do that for my sake and for the sake of just looking like progressives can more more respectable than conservatives that specialize in character attacks.

    I'm going to continue writing here from time to time because I like writing and I love this site. I hope I write things that you enjoy, and maybe even agree with, but if I don't, I hope people will at least not be very negative when they respond.

  • Brian Lafayette (unverified)
    (Show?)

    If Americans want, as it appears many do, a president who represents and promotes an image, then we need to elect both a president AND a prime minister with the latter managing the government and the corporations that own it.

    I think you are misundersting the distinction I was trying to make between leaders and managers. I am pretty confident that no matter who we have in office our government will continue to work fluently (i.e. Ulysses S. Grant complete idiot).

    I feel that people can often not come to consensus on which presidential nominee is the “best” because they are not sharing a framework from which to debate. Thus they are really arguing the framework to judge a nominee and not the nominee him/herself. For example people arguing over weather or not Barack has enough experience to be president are really arguing how much experience does a president need to be effective, and thus they are not gauging his effectiveness as a leader. Do not get me wrong both debates need to be had, but if we were all working within the same framework we could get to the more important issue of policy.

    And back to your original point of the PM, I think you are dangerously assuming image vs. substance is synonymous with leader vs. manager.

  • ellie (unverified)
    (Show?)
    <h2>Excellent response, Curtis. I couldn't have said it better. Though I didn't care for the analogy, I certainly didn't think that you're un-intelligent because of it (nor would I say so if I had - ha). I'm glad you're mature enough to see the personal attacks for what they are and not take them personally. I look forward to reading more from you - just don't spend too much time on here when you should be doing schoolwork. ;)</h2>
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