On Presidential Pedestals And Crazy Controversies

Mar 25, 2009   //   by Hackadelic   //   Blog  //  1 Comment

OBAMA and Chief Seattle´s LetterOnce upon a time, I wrote an article called “Obama’s SEO Counterstrike“. It was written out of a twofold motivation: Mr. Obama’s (then-current) high-quality speeches, his rhetorical skills, and his extraordinary expressive power, which stood in strong contrast to the average, highly uninspired language frequently found on the Internet – a phenomenon I dislike, and which I see worsened by the seemingly omnipresent SEO madness.

The article remained unnoticed for a long time (Sigh! Why oh why nobody seems to share, or care about, my personal opinions? ;-)), or at least without any feedback. Until recently.

The interesting thing about the comments was that the commenter felt provoked to express his political view despite the highly unpolitical topic of the post. I do respect that people have strong political opinions, so much so that it gave rise to a stream of thoughts on why there’s so much emotional controversy with presidents1.

Here is what was originally meant to be my final response to the aforementioned comments:

I would have thought it should be clear that I’m not “fawning” over Obama. I’m “fawning” over Obama’s language. If he wasn’t the president, but, say, a television presenter, nobody would object on his substance. It would be clear that the subject of my post is his way of presenting, not him as a person, or a family father, or a boss to his staff, or whatever.

But with presidents (especially U.S. presidents, so my impression) like with no other high-exposure position, a short-circuit seems to occur in people’s heads. Everybody feels he’s got to be either for, or against him. All of a sudden, the fundamental truth2 – that there’s no such thing like absolute right and wrong, good and evil, nice and ugly – is forgotten, and gives way to emotional controversy.

This is unfortunate, because, ironically, it is exactly that type of controversy that raises presidents to a larger-than-human pedestal. With “normal people”, you recognize that they can be great speakers, but miserable economists, or husbands, or whatever, and you accept it.

Why not acknowledge that presidents are just usual people in an unusual position? People made of flesh and blood, not of some mystical material that makes them perfect in every respect.

I believe Mozart and Beethoven were not the best characters of their time, but they are, and will be, remembered for the great music they gave us. And this is perfectly OK.

BTW, my expectations on politicians regarding “substance” are close to non-existent. That qualifies my measurement for substance somewhat. For example, if on an imaginary “substance scale” the average human being scores 10, an average politician scores 0.1, and a particular politician scores 0.2, then he would still beat the average politician by 100%, regardless of his miserable score compared to normal human standards.

On the other hand, “this guy” scores 100 in language and speaking skills, where everybody else is perhaps 10 or below. And – just so I come back to the original topic of my post – I’m affraid SEO and the Internet are continuously contributing to further lowering the average language score. And: I have a famous supporter on this! 😉

Of course, this is not the “whole truth”. I recognize that with the ability to literally talk people into a certain direction (often referred to as “leader quality”), there is great abuse potential. History proves I’m right. But this is the case with every power. It can be used for the better or for the worse. The greater the power, the greater a sense of responsibility and ethics it requires in order to be truly used for the better. It’s possible that the amount of achievable power in this world has already outdistanced the level of responsibility a human being is capable of. But that’s another story, to be told another time…

Any thoughts on this? Anybody? Come on, guys, lay it on me. 🙂

  1. Some other “heads” of countries like kings or queens undergo a similar controversy []
  2. For the records: I’m deliberately using an expression from Obama’s repertoire here []

1 Comment

  • I totally agree with you about Prez Obama’s oratory skills and I also agree with your whole post actually…

    After the unfortunately often inept communication skills of the previous president, it is refreshing to have a US leader who actually “sounds” like he knows what he is talking about 😉 It should help to improve the world’s perception of America…

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